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Science Through Filmmaking

October 19, 2017

A film project reveals the secret behind sperm locomotion.

Transcript

WysInstitute-TheBeginningStill

Still image from The Beginning, a “tale” of sperm. (image courtesy Wyss Institute)

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Cartoon science.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Modern animation software, like that used in Hollywood, uses computer models to create life-like imagery and motion. Wyss Institute founder and bioengineer Don Ingber and biophysicist Charles Reilly were using the software to make an entertaining film about sperm on a mission to fertilize an egg. Ingber says they kept building the sperm’s tail with different configurations of protein molecules until the animated sperm swam convincingly.

DON INGBER (Wyss Institute):

So you triangulate in on a new view of reality. And then in the end you can visualize it so anyone can appreciate the beauty and wonder of how life works.

HIRSHON:

In the journal ACS Nano, they report that the tail design that worked for the film, turns out to be the most likely explanation of how real sperm swim — helping to solve a longstanding mystery. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon

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