Ambience: room temperature cell song
Weâ€™re listening to the highly amplified sounds of a living cell. When scientists discovered that cells make sounds, what did they do? They poured vodka on them. Iâ€™m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
â€œWhen we detected these sounds from the cells, the next sort of stage as a scientist is to say â€œhow can we change it?â€ Because this would give us some indication of the true essence of whatâ€™s going on.â€
According to UCLA professor Jim Gimzewski, thatâ€™s when they got the idea to pour vodka on the cells.
â€œNow, the first experiment was rather crude. I know that cells donâ€™t like very strong alcohol. So we just put a little bit of pure Absolut Vodka into the Petri dish and they responded violently. So they were sort of screaming, you know, a screaming type of sound or agitated.â€
Ambience: screaming cells
â€œThe next experiment we did was to change the temperature of their environment. And we did this because, if indeed there are protein motors inside the system, small changes in temperature change the frequency of these motors.â€
Ambience: yeast cells at room temperature, 71 degrees
â€œAt 71 degrees fahrenheit, you can hear that one of the things weâ€™re interested in is the pitch. And the pitch is fairly constant. And when we changed the temperature from like room temperature and then maybe ten degrees above room temperature, there was a very large change in the pitch. And this was a very clear indication of it being a metabolic process.
Ambience: yeast cells at 86 degrees.
Gimzewski is using the changing pitches of these cell voices to determine how the cell lives and sustains itself. Weâ€™ll hear more in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. Iâ€™m Jim Metzner.