- Title: Super-bright X-rays to help us explain insect biodiversity
- Date: 1st July 2021
- Summary: ATHENS, GREECE (MARCH 18, 2021) (REUTERS) A BEE ON AN ALMOND TREE BLOSSOM BUTTERFLY ON AN ALMOND TREE BLOSSOM
- Embargoed: 15th July 2021 12:48
- Keywords: Diamond Light Source Ltd Natural History Museum insect collection positioning insects robot arm scan scanning x-ray beam
- Location: HARWELL & LONDON, ENGLAND, UK / ATHENS, GREECE
- City: HARWELL & LONDON, ENGLAND, UK / ATHENS, GREECE
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Europe,Life Sciences,Science
- Reuters ID: LVA004EK0CWNV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: An x-ray beam brighter than the sun is helping scientists explain the incredible biodiversity of the insect world, by automating the scanning process to collect the vast amount of data needed.
A robotic arm has been installed next to an x-ray 'beamline' at the UK synchrotron, the Diamond Light Source, rapidly boosting the detail in which living and fossil insect specimens can be scanned in high-resolution 3D.
"We're going to be using this incredible new data set to tackle one of the most interesting questions in biology, why are there so many insects?â€ said Professor Anjali Goswami, a Research Leader in the Department of Life Sciences at the Natural History Museum.
The new robot arm system already allows the Museum to capture many more specimens than previously possible. Today it can scan around 300 insect specimens a day, but this is expected to soon increase to around a 1000 a day.
"The challenge of the experiment is that they want to study biodiversity and biodiversity means that you have a large, large number of samples you want to study,â€ said Professor Christoph Rau, Diamondâ€™s Principal Beamline Scientist.
The Diamond Light Source works like a giant microscope, accelerating electrons around its huge ring to near light speeds, to produce a light 10 billion times brighter than the Sun, which is then directed off into 33 laboratories known as â€˜beamlinesâ€™.
"Here at the Natural History Museum in our collections we have over 27 million specimens of insects and so hopefully, one day, with technology like this coming online we'll be able to cover that entire collection,â€ Goswami said.
(Production: Stuart McDill)
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