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SHBURN, Va. — “I would be happy to have a rudimentary understanding of a single cell.”

That doesn’t sound like a shocking statement, but coming from a Nobel-prize-winning microscopist who has spent most of his career trying to peer into the tiny powerhouses of life, it really is.

Eric Betzig knows how deep the mystery of the cell goes. He’s been trying to catch it in the act of normal life for decades with his microscopes. But few in this world have actually glimpsed the cell as it really is.

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“Much of what we’ve learned has been by looking at cells in isolation, and even if the microscope is non-perturbative, the fact that you ripped the cell out of its normal happy environment means it’s unlikely that you’re seeing it in its native form,” Betzig said during a recent interview in his lab at Janelia Research Campus in Ashburn, Va.

But he’s managed to change that by getting closer to spying the undisturbed cell than nearly anyone. Betzig is, in a way, an inner space astronaut. And what he has seen amazes — and depresses him.

Watch the video above to find out just why that is.

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  • Just viewed the several videos within this specific newsletter. What I saw was extraordinary indeed, and I am thankful for the opportunity, because of the staff who are STAT.

    The most disturbing video is about a toddler who was born with an underdeveloped trachea, and his amazing story, which includes the adoptive parents who are phenomenal individuals indeed.

    The topic of how this administration is intent on not continuing to provide the health care that is most definitely required, in order for this amazing little life to possibly even be allowed to live, as our health system is being destroyed by the most egregious, soulless individuals who have ever been in our federal government. Their leader and his bff’s are actually doing everything possible to get rid of any individual who would drain their own coffers first, and those of the countless companies who don’t give a damn about anyone who has needs, to live productive, meaningful lives that they could have possibly created an equally amazing strategy to combat the vagaries of their own experiences, and probably countless others too.

    I highly recommend viewing the several different videos; I have learned so much about several different topics. The most significant aspect of acquiring the insight of these experiences of the human being, is the key here- parsimonious discourse that includes the science in ways that most people never had before seen.

    Thank you to the STAT team for this presentation of so many different topics we have now, because of your commitment to this organization.

  • Fascinating subject. Would have been a lot better without the constant distraction of the elevator musak. What’s it there for? It’s not part of the message and has no purpose except to distract the audience towards elevating the producer’s ego

  • Jeffery:Your ability to understand the big picture with one example and three structures of knowledge(nature/human/space) is badly needed in the education and research system.

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