The Sound of One Cell Growing

Researchers think they can build a nanomicrophone based on tiny hairs -- rather than a membrane -- that could hear such a thing

The search for a new method of detecting life on distant planets may have led to the invention of the smallest and most sensitive microphone ever devised. Indeed, the tiny sensor may permit researchers to listen to the sound of a swimming bacterium or hear the gurgling of fluids inside living cells. "There's a whole world buzzing down there," observes Flavio Noca, who heads the research effort at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. "Movement is one of the signatures for life."

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