With her team, Kathy Vandiver, director of the Community Outreach and Education Program at MIT's Center for Environmental Health Sciences, creates eye-catching animations of cellular processes like meiosis, mitosis, and DNA translation and transcription, using Legos. These sophisticated simulations of what is going on in the cell are used as teaching aids for both school-aged and adult students, mainly to pique their interest in the subject matter at the beginning of a class.
Popular Science spoke to Dr. Vandiver about her Lego creations.
The waning black crescent is all that remains from an Escherichia coli sample. "If it could scream, it would," says University of Iowa microbiologist John Kirby, who led a recent study on bacteria behavior. The E. coli has fallen victim to Myxococcus xanthus, a type of bacteria that forms unique rippling waves as it feasts on other bacteria. During an attack, M. xanthus secretes enzymes to break down E. coli, and then each bacterium moves back and forth like a vacuum cleaner to suck up its food.