Physicists Describe the World with Math – Latest BiophysJ Cover Art

The authors of the latest paper featured on the cover of Biophysical Journal, Characterization  of curli A production on living bacterial surfaces by scanning probe microscopy, explain the image in the post below.

Thanks to authors Yoo Jin Oh, Yidan Cui, Hyunseok Kim, Yinhua Li, Peter Hinterdorfer, and Sungsu Park for contributing to the blog!

The scanning probe microscopy (SPM) image used for the cover was actually taken during Biophysical Journal Covera public event, ‘the long night of research.’ Our aim at the event was to demonstrate to the public how SPM can be used for microbiology research and to record a bacterial SPM image live on stage. With about 20 attendees in the room during the recording, we surprisingly obtained a stable image with high resolution showing morphological details of the bacterial surface on the nano-scale.

We decided to submit our image as cover and took some effort to make the image look nice – in pseudo-3D and color – to bring it to the attention of a broad audience. This image answers the question of how bacteria adhere to the surface. The bacteria use their fimbre structures such as pili and flagella and form clusters on the surface, with a high density of flagella structures that importantly contribute to the spreading of the growing bacteria.

We are happy that our image was chosen because it consists of pure experimental data. All contributors to this cover image are scientists. Nevertheless, the first author of this paper remembers that one of her professors said that musicians describe the world and what they feel with sound, writers describe it with language, and physicists describe it with mathematics. In this view, we might also be partly artists.

– Yoo Jin Oh, Yidan Cui, Hyunseok Kim, Yinhua Li, Peter Hinterdorfer, and Sungsu Park


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