Nanomicrophone Listens to Bodily Cells

The most sensitive listening device ever has been created from a gold sphere just 60 nanometers in diameter, which may allow scientists to hear the body's cells for the first time.

What's the Latest Development?


Using nanotechnology, researchers at a German university have created the most sensitive microphone ever. The device could be used to hear previously silent phenomena such as the movement of bacteria and the functioning of other single-celled organisms. By trapping golden nanoparticles in a drop of water and firing lasers into the droplet, researchers were able to heat the tiny particles. The heated particles caused small fluctuations in the water, indicating the presence of sound waves.

What's the Big Idea?

The device registered sound down to minus 60 decibels, a level one-millionth of that detectable by the human ear. The microphone could allow researchers to listen to the smallest living structures, including individuals cells. While cells can be seen vibrating under a microscope when they divide, for example, nobody has ever heard what sound the vibrations produce. The listening device could also be used as a diagnostic tool. When red blood cells are infected by the malaria parasite, they vibrate less, meaning they might sound different.

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

The 4 types of thinking talents: Analytic, procedural, relational and innovative

Understanding thinking talents in yourself and others can build strong teams and help avoid burnout.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to collaborate within a team and identify "thinking talent" surpluses – and shortages.
  • Angie McArthur teaches intelligent collaboration for Big Think Edge.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Do you have a self-actualized personality? Maslow revisited

Rediscovering the principles of self-actualisation might be just the tonic that the modern world is crying out for.

Personal Growth

Abraham Maslow was the 20th-century American psychologist best-known for explaining motivation through his hierarchy of needs, which he represented in a pyramid. At the base, our physiological needs include food, water, warmth and rest.

Keep reading Show less

Brazilian scientists produce mini-brains with eyes

Using a new process, a mini-brain develops retinal cells.

Surprising Science
  • Mini-brains, or "neural organoids," are at the cutting edge of medical research.
  • This is the first one that's started developing eyes.
  • Stem cells are key to the growing of organoids of various body parts.
Keep reading Show less

Believe in soulmates? You're more likely to 'ghost' romantic partners.

Does believing in true love make people act like jerks?

Thought Catalog via Unsplash
Sex & Relationships
  • Ghosting, or cutting off all contact suddenly with a romantic partner, is not nice.
  • Growth-oriented people (who think relationships are made, not born) do not appreciate it.
  • Destiny-oriented people (who believe in soulmates) are more likely to be okay with ghosting.
Keep reading Show less