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World's Fastest Cells Raced On Petri Dish

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the stick-timekeeping-duties-to-the-intern dept.

Biotech 61

ananyo writes "In a tongue-in-cheek contest of microscopic mobility, a line of bone marrow stem cells from Singapore beat out dozens of competitors to claim the title of the world's fastest cells. They whizzed across a petri dish at the breakneck speed of 5.2 microns per minute — or 0.000000312 kilometers per hour."

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61 comments

Speed demons (5, Insightful)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38260114)

Still faster than congress debating a bill.

Re:Speed demons (2)

axlr8or (889713) | more than 2 years ago | (#38261722)

Yeah, but you can't compare apples to oranges. Congressional constituents are considered single celled amoeba. They are just about as likely to eat one another as do anything productive. Marrow cells on the other hand.....

Re:Speed demons (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38261792)

I think you just insulted yourself by accident.* The constituents of Congress are the voting public.

* Unless you're from outside the United States, in which case you've insulted America, and the drone missile is already on its way free-of-charge.

Re:Speed demons (2)

Alsee (515537) | more than 2 years ago | (#38261880)

Speed of Congress debating a bill: NaN

Debating bills went the way of buggy whips. Modern political technology initiates the filibuster simultaneously with the bill's original proposal. Politicians are excited about the recent neutrino results, and the possibility of initiating the filibuster process prior to bill proposal.

-

I want congress to be even slower. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262482)

Still faster than congress debating a bill.

Every bill that becomes law is that much less freedom. The slower the better.

Re:I want congress to be even slower. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263646)

Some might argue that laws can increase freedom too. Take the 13th amendment, for example.

Re:I want congress to be even slower. (1)

cfalcon (779563) | more than 2 years ago | (#38266964)

Heh, the amendment that worked by banning whole classes of existing laws?

Re:Speed demons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38263124)

Still faster than congress debating a bill.

You do not want Congress to work faster. In fact, life is probably better the more bogged down the government is. The less they do, the better things are it seems.

Perhaps if you guys enforced the 1 per 30,000 rule, the government will get so bogged down that the economy will recover because they can't pass anymore bills.

Misleading summary (5, Informative)

tpjunkie (911544) | more than 2 years ago | (#38260178)

They were simply the fastest cells that were among those that were raced; many cells from various species of protists, not to mention sperm cells are capable of faster speeds than that.

Re:Misleading summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38260248)

Although my sperm normally moves at one-quarter impulse, it can achieve warp 9.7 for up to 3 hours.

Re:Misleading summary (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38260438)

Although my sperm normally moves at one-quarter impulse, it can achieve warp 9.7 for up to 3 hours.

Your boyfriend farting doesn't count as self-mobility so the 9.7 warp data is invalid.

Re:Misleading summary (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38264398)

Ramming a hand-grenade up your arse may help you to a temporary victory in this contest, but may have other deleterious effects.

"just sayin, y'know"

Re:Misleading summary (1)

SirJorgelOfBorgel (897488) | more than 2 years ago | (#38260372)

This just in: Winner of contest actually a contestant - crowd riots ! News at 11 !

Re:Misleading summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38260612)

What would be more interesting is a race to find which cell is the fasted in multiplying/dividing itself.

Re:Misleading summary (2)

ortholattice (175065) | more than 2 years ago | (#38261740)

Indeed, sperm cells from the rhesus macaque have been clocked at over 200 um/sec [ucsd.edu] , or 12000 microns/minute, which is 2300 times faster than the 5.2 microns/minute winner in this race.

Re:Misleading summary (1)

Bowling Moses (591924) | more than 2 years ago | (#38261770)

"They were simply the fastest cells that were among those that were raced; many cells from various species of protists, not to mention sperm cells are capable of faster speeds than that."

The first thing that came to me was Listeria [wikipedia.org] . These bacteria are intracellular pathogens, using the host cell's cytoskeleton (actin filaments) to shoot around the interior of the cell (and eventually punch through the cell wall IIRC) at 0.12-1.46 microns/sec [nih.gov] , faster than the cells tested.

Ever wonder where your cell culture went? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38262576)

Not only that, it depends on the conditions they were under. Many cells respond to specific signals and move towards higher concentrations of these chemicals (chemotaxis). If a drop of a particular chemical attractive to that type of cell were placed on one side of the Petri dish in that experiment, then a more accurate title would be 'world's fastest cells to respond to a gradient of [chemical name]. On the other hand, if there was no specific stimulus, then they could be described as the "world's fastest cells-that-weren't-actually-supposed-to-be-going-anywhere".

Re:Misleading summary (2)

ananyo (2519492) | more than 2 years ago | (#38264042)

They were simply the fastest cells that were among those that were raced; many cells from various species of protists, not to mention sperm cells are capable of faster speeds than that.

This is a fair point - though the story points to the fact these cells were being raced for a reason - it tells us more about embryo development. Racing sperm cells wouldn't tell us much about that (well, except how quickly a species could actually create the embryo in the first place).

Re:Misleading summary (1)

ananyo (2519492) | more than 2 years ago | (#38264452)

Also it turns out that the contest was about 'crawling' cells not 'swimming' ones (just got a response from the journo).

Re:Misleading summary (3, Funny)

MrIlios (2524820) | more than 2 years ago | (#38264048)

Sperm cells were not allowed to enter this particular event as they were registered for the sack race...

Re:Misleading summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38266564)

Yup, the cells submitted were all crawling cells studied in laboratories. These were not swimming cells, which are faster. Swimming cells may be a separate competition.

I have watched some spirochetes (2)

mark_reh (2015546) | more than 2 years ago | (#38260204)

moving pretty fast. Hard to believe cells that are not normally motile (bone marrow stem cells) would beat cells that are exquisitely evolved for high speed locomotion. Come to think of it, paramecium can move pretty fast, too.

Re:I have watched some spirochetes (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38260344)

Come to think of it, paramecium can move pretty fast, too.

http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2000/RossKrupnik.shtml [hypertextbook.com]

2 mm/sec?

I believe it. Those things are a PITA to observe under a scope without adding this slime stuff that slows them down.

Re:I have watched some spirochetes (2)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 2 years ago | (#38260442)

Detain. I remember that stuff from bio labs. One of the dumbest labs I ever did. First, they expected freshmen undergrads to have the skill to catch a paramecium with a dropper and a dissecting microscope. Then, they expected us to know just how much detain to add to the slide so that we could find the damn thing, but not so much that it was totally immobilized. Then, they expected that if we added some food to the slide, we would be able to observe it eating...

I don't think anyone in my lab class managed all three. I remember wishing I was still at home, in my bed.

Re:I have watched some spirochetes (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267472)

Detain. I remember that stuff from bio labs. One of the dumbest labs I ever did. First, they expected freshmen undergrads to have the skill to catch a paramecium with a dropper and a dissecting microscope. Then, they expected us to know just how much detain to add to the slide so that we could find the damn thing, but not so much that it was totally immobilized. Then, they expected that if we added some food to the slide, we would be able to observe it eating...

I don't think anyone in my lab class managed all three. I remember wishing I was still at home, in my bed...

And the joke ends thus: ... immobile, covered in slime stuff, and eating?

Hey Muslims! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38260218)

Fuck you and fuck your lie of a religion. You're the worst of the worst. Lumps of shit that should be flushed.
 
Fuck Mohammad! Fuck Allah! Fuck Islam!!!!

Re:Hey Muslims! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38260870)

Yes, yes, yes, but tell us. How do you REALLY feel about those sheetheads?

Kinda the nerdy version of (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38260242)

Taking your girlfriend to see the submarine races.

Free Hitchhiker's Guide Tribute Novella
http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/6848623/Perfect_Me_By_Jason_Z._Christie

That's nothing... (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 2 years ago | (#38260324)

Who cares about speed anymore? Power efficiency is what counts!

Let those cells race, and then decide winners on criteria like "microns moved per sugar molecule" or something.

0.000000312 kph is XXX in scale speed? (2)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#38260330)

If they're 0.000000312 kilometers per hour how fast is that "scale speed"? If they were the size of a car, how fast would they be traveling?

Re:0.000000312 kph is XXX in scale speed? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38260416)

If they're 0.000000312 kilometers per hour how fast is that "scale speed"? If they were the size of a car, how fast would they be traveling?

That's kinda variable, like how fast is a person, you mean a kenyan olympic sprinter or a 600 pound walmart shopper?

None the less, figure "about a dozen microns" within an order of magnitude bigger or smaller. I do not have a prepared slide of those for my little microscope, but I have a gut sense they are about that big based on pictures. Figure about one an a half times the diameter of a red blood cell? Supposedly they vary a lot more in size than a RBC.

In "car speed" for the standard /. car analogy, that would be like three mph or so.

Re:0.000000312 kph is XXX in scale speed? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38260488)

well I f'd that up pretty well. a mile is about 6000 feet and theres about 60 minutes in an hour so 3 mph is about 6000 / 60 * 3 = 300 feet per minute, so that would imply my car is 150 feet long if I'm going two car lengths per minute.

In car speed that would be a lot more like two car lengths is 2 * 10 feet = 20 feet per minute, times 60 to get about 1200, call that 1000 Kft, divided by about 5000 Kft per mile, thats about a fifth of a mile per hour.

Re:0.000000312 kph is XXX in scale speed? (4, Funny)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38260572)

theres about 60 minutes in an hour

About sixty? Now I'm scared.

Re:0.000000312 kph is XXX in scale speed? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38260744)

Well see, you've got Imperial hours and metric hours. One of 'em is about 1.2 times the length of the other.

Re:0.000000312 kph is XXX in scale speed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38261246)

Well, it depends on how fast you are going relative to your clock. If you pass it by nearly light speed, one of your minutes would be thousands of years for your clock.

Re:0.000000312 kph is XXX in scale speed? (1)

axlr8or (889713) | more than 2 years ago | (#38261768)

No. I think he's been turned upside down by the neutrino fiasco. He must live near some gravity wells.

Re:0.000000312 kph is XXX in scale speed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38261782)

Yes - about 60 Microsoft Minutes in an hour. For a definition of Microsoft Minutes - see the following:

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Microsoft+Minute

Re:0.000000312 kph is XXX in scale speed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38264524)

You never know when you get a leap minute, one could come up any second now.

Re:0.000000312 kph is XXX in scale speed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38261648)

a mile is about 6000 feet

Try 5280 ft/mile. It's "about 6000" only if you round up to the nearest multiple of 6000.

Re:0.000000312 kph is XXX in scale speed? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263682)

A nautical mile is 6076 feet, which is pretty close.

Does that mean that if a sea dries up, the places that were on the coast get closer together?

Re:0.000000312 kph is XXX in scale speed? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267382)

I did all the math in my head. If you need a calculator to divide 6000 / 60 you got problems. Doing 5280/60 in my head is a waste of time. There is no point in calculating to 8 decimal places if you only have about one significant figure (or technically less, if you aren't even sure what order of magnitude is correct).

Would have been more accurate to spec as "divide thousands by tens and get hundreds"

Re:0.000000312 kph is XXX in scale speed? (1)

Taty'sEyes (2373326) | more than 2 years ago | (#38260730)

You must also consider the calendar. For example, is it black Friday?

Re:0.000000312 kph is XXX in scale speed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38260454)

Please don't ever write "kph" to mean "kilometers per hour". "kilometers per hour" is written "km/h". "kph" means kilo-pico-hour.

Re:0.000000312 kph is XXX in scale speed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38260896)

That's just stupid--the hour's not an SI unit. No one's confused.

Re:0.000000312 kph is XXX in scale speed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38261064)

And how do you represent an eating speed of 1 kilogram per hour?

Re:0.000000312 kph is XXX in scale speed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38262756)

Like this. [spatula-city.org]

Re:0.000000312 kph is XXX in scale speed? (2)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38260550)

If they're 0.000000312 kilometers per hour how fast is that "scale speed"? If they were the size of a car, how fast would they be traveling?

If a "Adult bone marrow stem cells" is ~ 25 microns = 25E-6m
http://www.biology-online.org/biology-forum/about154.html?hilit=Stromal [biology-online.org]

If an average car is 4.12m
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_average_length_of_a_car [answers.com]

Then 4.12/25E-6=x/(0.000000312km/h)

x=0.0514176km/h

Re:0.000000312 kph is XXX in scale speed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38267590)

0.000000312 kilometers per hour.

31.2 body lengths/ hr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269010)

assuming a cell size of 10 microns (which is medium largeish) for a 10 foot long car that'd be 0.05 mph.

wolframalpha for the win!

"Tongue in cheek" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38260504)

Now THAT'S funny. DNA samples taken from cells along the inside of your cheek?

Priceless humor. :D

How fast is that in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38260602)

... beard-seconds per hour [wikipedia.org] ?

Wait for it... (3, Funny)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38260932)

This story will definitely break slashdot's sperm joke record

Bone marrow stem cell vs Space Shuttle (1)

dicobalt (1536225) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262524)

It would take 365.88 years for the bone marrow stem cell to travel 1km. It would take 165,000 years for the Space Shuttle to travel to Alpha Centauri. Just thought that was interesting.

It's all relative. (1)

einyen (2035998) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263016)

0,000000312 km/hour is 2,733 m/year or like 50-100 times faster than tectonic plates drifting or moon receiding from earth which is on the order of centimeters/year.

Faster cells (1)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263172)

Some of my cells were travelling self-propelled at 5 km/h earlier today. In fact, all of the were.

Re:Faster cells (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263814)

If those cells were to be placed in an exoskeleton build by other cells, the opportunity to increase the travelling speed become realised.

Ob. Trek reference (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263352)

Four hundred Quatloos on the brown ones.

  - "The Gamesters of Triskelion"

They were not racing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38263460)

a line of bone marrow stem cells from Singapore beat out dozens of competitors

They were not racing, they were scrambling to queue because there was a bloody sale going on...

Post now has video (1)

ananyo (2519492) | more than 2 years ago | (#38264446)

The blog post now has a neat video [nature.com] Love the way some of the critters are moving backwards....

unusual units ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38265010)

Why not using angstrom per week???

Cell splits in video? (1)

JoeRobe (207552) | more than 2 years ago | (#38265500)

About 8 seconds into the video that they show, in the 4th lane from the bottom, am I seeing a cell split into two? It looks like it splits, then the daughters go in opposite directions more quickly than their parent cell moved...

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