TECH
04/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

White Blood Cells Devour Bacteria In Amazing 1950s Science Clip (VIDEO)

A less than 30-second movie from the 1950s shows a white blood cell (neutrophil) pursuing the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria on blood film.

The 16-mm moving image was captured by late David Rogers, who at the time was a professor at Vanderbilt University and went on to co-chair the National Commission on AIDS.

Harvard medicine professor Thomas Stossel further explained the image in 1999:

Blood platelets adherent to the underlying glass are also visible. Notable is the characteristic asymmetric shape of the crawling neutrophil with an organelle-excluding leading lamella and a narrowing at the opposite end culminating in a "tail" that the cell appears to drag along. Contraction waves are visible along the surface of the moving cell as it moves forward in a gliding fashion. As the neutrophil relentlessly pursues the microbe it ignores the red cells and platelets.

In the video, the bacteria appear as small black flecks, while the red blood cells are the larger, darker, circular masses. The neutrophil is the transparent globule seen moving around the frame.

Although the clip dates back over fifty years, Rogers' incredible video of the immune system in action is a science-nerd classic. Check it out below!

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