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The Petri Dish Goes Digital

Researchers at Caltech have created a new prototype digital petri dish that can send information about what's growing on it to a laptop for further analysis, reports Technology Review's Katharine Gammon. Dubbed the "ePetri," the team created its prototype using Lego blocks and an image sensor from a cell phone. "A sample is placed on top of a small image-sensor chip, which uses an Android phone's LED screen as a light source," Gammon says. "The whole device is placed in an incubator, and the image-sensor chip connects to a laptop outside through a wire." The image sensor then takes pictures of what's growing in the dish in real time, and the laptop puts all the images together. The researchers explain that rather than leaving the cells in an incubator and checking up on them from time to time, scientists can use the ePetri to keep a constant eye on what's growing in the dish. "With ePetri, it's like getting continuous tweets from the cells rather than an occasional postcard," Caltech biologist Michael Elowitz tells Gammon. The researchers, who recently published their paper in PNAS, are working on a self-contained system with its own incubator, which Gammon says could eventually be used in the clinic.

The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.