As instruments in large-scale user facilities are becoming more powerful, the volume of data and its complexity also grow. To leverage these heightened capabilities and accelerate scientific discoveries, a field known as autonomous discovery has emerged. It uses algorithms to learn from a comparatively little amount of input data and determine the best next experimental steps — all with minimal human intervention.
Researchers from Berkeley Lab, UC Berkeley, and Caltech devised a more efficient way to collect “high-dimensional” infrared images, where each pixel contains rich physical and chemical information. The new technique, implemented at the Advanced Light Source’s (ALS) infrared beamline 1.4, uses a grid-less, adaptive approach that autonomously increases sampling in areas displaying greater physical or chemical contrast. With the new method, scans that would’ve taken up to 10 hours to complete can now be done in under an hour.
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is supporting the development of a unique microscopy concept pioneered by researchers at Berkeley Lab as part of the Foundation’s Symbiosis in Aquatic Systems Initiative (SASI). The Berkeley Lab effort has received $500,000 and will be led by senior staff scientist Hoi-Ying Holman of the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) Division.
A team of scientists led by Elizabeth Boatman at the University of Wisconsin Stout used X-ray imaging and spectromicroscopy performed at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS) to demonstrate how soft tissue structures may be preserved in dinosaur bones – countering the long-standing scientific dogma that protein-based body parts cannot survive more than 1 million years.
In their paper, now published in Scientific Reports, the team analyzed a sample from a 66-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex tibia to provide evidence that vertebrate blood vessels – collagen and elastin structures that don’t fossilize like mineral-based bone – may persist across geologic time through two natural, protein-fusing “cross-linking” processes called Fenton chemistry and glycation.
Human skin is teeming with microbial life, and not just bacteria. An international collaboration among researchers at Berkeley Lab, led by Hoi-Ying Holman, the Medical University of Graz in Austria and at the University of Regensburg in Germany, found representatives of the domain archea–which inhabit some of the most extreme environments on the planet–coexisting alongside more run-of-the-mill microbes. What’s more, according to the paper published in Scientific Reports, the relative abundance of archea varies with a person’s age. Holman, a senior author on the report, is head of Chemical Ecology in the Earth & Environmental Sciences Area and has a secondary affiliation in Biosciences in the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) division. Using the Advanced Light Source (ALS), her group developed a rapid and label-free method to screen cells and tell if they’re bacteria or archaea. Read more from the Berkeley Lab News Center.