Enter the Mini-Anti-Earth

Scientists from the University of South Florida have come up with a way to reduce the effects of gravity – albeit on a very small scale. It’s a kind of mini-anti-earth, on demand.
Their technique uses microgravity to grow cancer research cells:

Tiny beads of gelatine – around 200 micrometres in size – are mixed together with collagen and fine particles of magnetite (the magnetic iron oxide used to coat recording tape). This mix is then sealed in a gas-permeable bag and dosed with the cells to be cultured. The bag sits on a platform and is sandwiched between two graphite plates, beneath a powerful permanent electromagnet. The magnet is used to exert an upwards force on the magnetite particles that exactly counters the downward force of gravity. The tissue cells, gelatin and collagen can then grow suspended in “zero-g.”

So here’s my vote for finding new applications in the world of landscape architecture: entire zero-g gardens grown in gas-permeable bags. Sent drifting across the Pacific.
Leading to the question: if a medieval theologian had proposed that the Garden of Eden was actually a zero-g garden floating across the Dead Sea in a gas-permeable bag… would he or she have been excommunicated?


One thought on “Enter the Mini-Anti-Earth”

  1. “permanent electromagnet” is a contradiction, as is “sealed in a gas-permeable bag”, to a degree. The cell culture still isn’t experiencing 0G, rather it is hanging from the magnetite. From reading the patent, the advantage of the system seems to be that the culture isn’t touching anything, and thus free to grow three dimensionally, not that it’s experiencing microgravity.

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