Biology

How the virus is seen

People all over the world are now afraid of being infected with the corona virus. From December 2019 to July 2021, more than 200 million people worldwide have been infected with the corona virus. About 42 million people have died from the virus. This number is still growing. How many attempts have to be made to save people from the virus infection — people have to stop their daily normal movement, they have to stop socializing, they have to lock down towns and villages.

Many people still do not understand how the virus can actually be infected. This would not be a problem if the virus was seen with the naked eye. There are so many problems because we have to fight against the invisible enemy.

Human warfare against the virus is not new. The influenza virus killed about a million people in 1889-90. In 1918, the Spanish flu infected about 500 million people, of which about 50 million died. Another outbreak of influenza virus occurred in China in 1956-58. About 20 lakh people died at that time. In 1968, another type of flu virus emerged in Hong Kong. The virus killed more than a million people.

The HIV AIDS virus was first detected in 1976. In the following years, about three and a half million people have died of AIDS. Corona virus was first detected in 1965. Seven types of human corona viruses have been identified, including the current novel corona virus, which spreads in the human body. These include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or Mars-Corona Virus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS-Corona Virus, and the current SARS-Corona Virus-2 or SARS-CoV-2. The shape of these viruses is much like a crown. The Greek synonym for crown is corona. Don’t name them from there. Now the question is how these viruses are seen?

Scientists began researching the structure of the virus in the late nineteenth century. Microscopic instruments can detect relatively large viruses, such as the varicella zoster virus. But viruses that are smaller in size cannot be seen with a microscope. X-rays are used to look at them. After the discovery of X-rays by the physicist Rontgen in 1895, many new avenues opened up in physics as well as biology.

Using quantum mechanics and Bohr’s atomic theory, physicist Max von Lou discovered in 1912 that the wavelength of X-rays was comparable to the length of the atoms inside a crystal. That is, if X-rays are applied to a crystal, that X-ray is scattered. The X-ray diffraction method was started. Max von Lu won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1914 for this discovery.

The following year, Australian physicist Sir William Henry Bragg and his son Lawrence Bragg discovered a method of analyzing the structure of crystals using X-ray diffraction. The father and son won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1915 for this discovery. The formation of crystals can be analyzed by X-ray scattering in a way that has made it possible to analyze the structural analysis and shape of many things in biology. In 1934, Irish physicist John Burnell and his student Dorothy Hodgkin analyzed the structure of pepsin by applying X-ray diffraction in molecular biology.

In 1933, the German physicist Ernest Rushka and the electrical engineer Max Knoll invented the electron microscope. Magnification is done through light under a normal microscope. Electron microscopes use electrons instead of light particles photons. Electrons, like light, exhibit both particle and wave properties.

The wavelength of an electron is about a thousand times shorter than the wavelength of light. This means that as many small objects can be seen under a normal microscope, it is possible to see a thousand times smaller objects with the help of an electron microscope. Since the invention of the electron microscope, it has become much easier to diagnose the structure of microorganisms, bacteria, viruses, etc. In biology. With the advancement of technology, the electron microscope has also improved a lot.

Virus
Novel coronavirus under electron microscope

The electron microscope can be divided into two main types — scanning electron microscope and transmission electron microscope. Scanning electrons Electrons are applied to matter under a microscope. Secondary electrons are emitted in the interaction between electrons and matter. That secondary electron is detected in the connected detector.

Pixel-to-pixel data is collected by analyzing the energy of those electrons and from there the whole image of matter is obtained. On the other hand, the transmission electron transmits the electrons through the material under the microscope and reaches the detector. Pixel-to-pixel data is created from the information that changes its power during transmission to get the whole picture.

No matter how good the power of the transmission electron microscope is, there are still some problems. The problem is that the energy of the electrons is so high that when the electrons pass through the matter, some changes occur in the fine structure of the matter due to radiation. To prevent this change, scientists have discovered a new way to look at tiny objects with the help of a transmission electron microscope. It is called cryogenic transmission electron microscopy.

The sample to be photographed in this method is cooled to a very low temperature (cryogenic temperature). As a result, there is no loss of radiation when electrons pass through it. German biophysicists Jacques Dubochet and Joachim Frank and Scottish biophysicist Richard Henderson won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their discovery of this method. The size and shape of the current corona virus has also been observed with the help of cryogenic electron microscopy.

Viruses cannot be called complete organisms. They are not microorganisms or bacteria. The virus cannot survive on its own. They need a supportive body to survive. Viruses can be much smaller in size than bacteria. What is the size of the smallest microorganism?

To be an organism, you have to have life, and the primary components of that life are DNA, RNA, mRNA, ribosomes, and all the other biochemical elements. All these elements must be present in the body of this microorganism effectively. So how much space do you need to have all these? Examination showed that the size of the smallest bacteria was 0.2 micrometers. That is one part of fifty lakhs of one meter. This means that if 50 lakh bacteria are put together, it will be one meter long.

But 25,000 crore bacteria can live in one square meter of space. And a thousand times smaller than the size of the virus. That means there could be 2.5 trillion viruses in one square meter. It means how much invisible force we have to fight.

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