This laser microscope can look through your skull!

Also join us in celebrating the winners of the National Science Reading Day Contest!
Lasers are capable of some remarkable things, including creating hyper-precise images of the brain. (Photo 17227995 © - Dreamstime.com)


A brand new laser microscope from scientists in Korea can actually see inside your skull and map your brain.

Talk about mind-blowing stuff!

Called laser-scanning reflection-matrix microscopy (LS-RMM), the invention is able to get high-resolution (extremely detailed) images of the neurons that criss-cross through our brain. (Neurons are essentially the wires within the computer of our mind.) And it is able to do this without harming the patient at all.

According to a statement from Korea University research professor Yoon Seokchan and graduate student Lee Hojun, “our microscope allows us to investigate fine internal structures deep within living tissues that cannot be resolved by any other means. This will greatly aid us in early disease diagnosis and expedite neuroscience research."

Remarkable. But couldn't we already do this with X-rays?

How this is different?

Above are two existing images of a mouse's brain neuron, which were then corrected by the LS-RMM technology into the very clear images below. (Yoon et al, Nature, 2020)

One of the keys to modern medicine has been ability to use scans like X-rays to 'see' inside our bodies to discover problems within. But when it comes to the seeing an organ like the brain—which is encased within layers of skin, flesh, and thick bone—things have always been more difficult.

CT scans (which use X-rays) and MRIs (which use magnetic fields) are able to scan our brain and skull to see what is going on. But amazing as they are, these scans have limits and risks. These include radiation exposure, high costs, and an inability to see certain things.

In particular, they can't see certain very fine details. But the LS-RMM can. In the past, to get the kinds of brain images that this new technology can scientists would need to cut a hole in a person's skull. And wouldn't it be nice to avoid doing that? We thought so, too.

Though the tech is far from being ready for hospitals, it is a glimpse into how doctors might get a more than a glimpse into our noggins in the future!

Science Reading Day winners

Laura Dickson leads her Queenston Drive Public School class in Mississauga, Ontario in some science reading! (Courtesy of Laura Dickson)

We hope you liked reading this brainy science news. And speaking of reading about science, you might remember that this fall we celebrated the 4th annual National Science Reading Day. And that there was a contest!

Well, we're very excited to announce the winners. You can see their names below—each won a stack of science non-fiction and fiction books. And if you want to do more science reading yourself, sign up above for the OWLconnected newsletter above so that you can get our stories sent directly to your email everyday.

Congratulations to ...
The individual winners:
Kallen Leung
Brooke Gillin
Liesl Gerullis
Emily Martin
Kaminder Puar

And the classroom winners:
Jill Ginn
Stephanie Gilman
Laura Dickson
Peter Hanson

See you all next fall for National Science Reading Day!


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