Super-bright X-rays to help explain insect biodiversity

Why does the world have so many insects?

Scientists are seeking the answer using an x-ray beam brighter than the sun

LOCATION: Harwell, England

(SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR ANJALI GOSWAMI, NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM, SAYING: "In this project we'll be using Diamond's new robot arm system to conduct high-throughput scanning of insects and we're going to be using this incredible new data set to tackle one of the most interesting questions in biology, why are there so many insects? And with this incredible new data we'll be able to being new insights into the origins of diversity and, really, the drivers of insect evolution."

The technology boosts the detail of high-resolution 3D specimens scans

and automates the scanning process to collect the vast amount of data needed

It can currently scan around 300 insect specimens a day

but is expected to soon increase to around a 1000 a day

(SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR CHRISTOPH RAU, BEAMLINE SCIENTIST, DIAMOND LIGHT SOURCE, SAYING:"The challenge of the experiment is that they want to study biodiversity and biodiversity means that you have a large, large number of samples you want to study. At the moment you can study a couple of hundreds of samples but we want, of course, since it's in the thousands and the hundreds of thousands of specimens we want to look at, we want to increase our capability and to study a large number of samples."