Using Technology to Study Cellular and Molecular Biology
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National Institutes of Health
National Center for Research Resources

Using Technology to Study Cellular and Molecular Biology

Main    Getting Started    Teacher's Guide    Student Activities    About NIH and NCRR

Glossary    Map    Contact

Glossary stack of books


Unit of measurement defined as 1 x 10–10 meter and represented by the symbol Å; a sheet of paper is about 1,000,000 Å thick.

bacteriophage: Viruses that infect bacteria.

bioinformatics: The study of the inherent structure of biological information and biological systems. It brings together biological data from genome research with the theory and tools of mathematics and computer science.

infectious agent: A living organism that enters and multiplies in a host (that is, produces an infection); the infection can be without symptoms, or it can produce disease.

laser: A device that produces a narrow, powerful beam of light.

magnetic field: A region in space created by moving electrons (that is, an electric current); this produces a force that causes other electrons to move, thus creating another electric current.

micrograph: A graphic reproduction of the image of an object formed by a microscope.

nanometer: Unit of measurement defined as 1 x 10–9 meter and represented by the abbreviation nm.

pathogen: An agent, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi, that produces disease.

pathology: The study of disease or any condition that affects the length or quality of life.

probe: An exploratory device, especially one designed to investigate and obtain information about an unknown region or object.

radiofrequency radiation: Electromagnetic waves with a wavelength of 1 millimeter to 30 meters.

rational drug design: See target-based drug design.

resolution: A measure of the ability of a system to form separate and distinct images of two objects of a given angular separation.

scale: A series of ascending and descending steps to assess the relative or absolute size of some property of an object. Scales can be linear or logarithmic.

spectroscopy: The study of the distribution of a characteristic of a system or phenomenon, especially the distribution of energy emitted by a system or the distribution of atomic or subatomic particles in a system.

striated muscle: Muscle tissue, such as skeletal muscle, that is made up of long fibers and is characterized by alternating light and dark bands.

synchrotron: A name given to X-rays or light produced by electrons circulating at nearly the speed of light. These can be used to investigate atomic and molecular structure.

target-based drug design: Also called rational drug design, an approach based on the development of molecules (potential drugs) to interact specifically with a biological structure involved in disease. The biological structure may be a pathogen, a product of the pathogen (such as a protein), or a molecule (such as a protein or other disease-causing molecule) of a host cell that interacts with a pathogen or a pathogen product.

technology: A body of knowledge used to create tools, develop skills, and extract or collect materials; the application of science (the combination of the scientific method and material) to meet an objective or solve a problem.

wavelength: The distance between one peak of a wave of light, heat, or other energy and the next corresponding peak.

X-ray: Electromagnetic energy having a wavelength in the approximate range from 0.01 to 10 nanometers.

X-ray diffraction: The scattering of X-rays by crystal atoms that produces a pattern that yields information about the structure of the crystal. The wavelengths of X-rays are comparable in size to the distances between atoms in most crystals. X-ray diffraction is the basis of X-ray crystallography.