Life

Awakening a Sleeping Organ

The green ring of cells lining this fruit fly’s digestive tract normally lie dormant, but after injury they spring into action, growing and copying their DNA to help the fly’s gut heal. To repair damage, organs either make new cells to replace those that were lost, or enlarge the cells that remain.

A Blood Cell's Journey

Biomedical Engineer Amanda Randles is building models to simulate how individual blood cells travel throughout the human body. But running these simulations is no small feat; even powerful supercomputers struggle to calculate fluid flows that include pulsing heartbeats, webs of blood vessels, and trillions of cells. To speed up the simulations, Randles’ algorithms divide each vessel into smaller regions, and calculate the blood flow in each region separately.

Genetic Code to Computer Code

Tiny spirals of DNA can encode more than just the color of your eyes or the shape of your nose. Using self-assembling DNA wires, Duke engineer Chris Dwyer is building optical computing chips so compact that you could cram 5,000 movies on a single CD-sized disc. The chromophores (red dots) absorb light and transform it into packets of energy called excitons. Then these excitons leap from chromophore to chromophore in a specific pattern.

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