Science: Living Electron Pictures

Electron microscopes are much more powerful than microscopes using light, but conventional models have a great disadvantage: they cannot be used on living cells or organisms. Their pictures of bacteria, for instance, show dried-up husks that do not resemble living bacteria any more than ancient Egyptian mummies resemble living men. But last week a new-type electron microscope in Toulouse, France, was taking pictures of bacteria that are still alive and reasonably healthy.

An electron microscope works by shooting electrons through an object and bringing them to a magnified focus on the far side. The object shows as a shadowed picture because some...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!