Imagine if we could track every single cell in an organism as it develops. The sheer volume of information about how life forms and works would be invaluable for scientific research. The only problem is the startling amount to computational power it would take to crunch that much data. At least until now it was.
A team of researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute just announced the creation of what can only be described as super software to visualise the cellular universe. The program can track and render the three dimensional movements of cells as they develop. They can also fast-forward and rewind the processes to gain new insight on how globs of organic matter organise themselves into the beautiful systems of the living. And perhaps most impressive: the software is efficient enough to run on the graphics card of your average desktop computer.
The huge hope for this new cellular imaging technique, of course, is that we will be able to understand better how things go wrong and how inherited diseases develop. At the very least, it's just awesome, bio-eye candy to turn on, when you're listening to your favourite ambient records. Death metal works too, although that might not be the best connotation. [NYT, HHMI]