"Ultrastable combined atomic force and total internal fluorescence microscope." Surely, this had to be a mistake, but no, the article actually uses the term "total internal fluorescence". Now, certainly, I have been accused of being a pedantic word nerd at times, but this construction really irks me. For those of you still scratching your head, the correct term is "total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy", or even just "total internal reflection microscopy." But, the the term "total internal" refers to the reflected excitation light, not the fluorescence emission. "Total internal reflection" (TIR) is actually a quite common phenomenon in physics and has applications far beyond fluorescence microscopy (for instance, fiber optics are based on TIR.) "Total internal fluorescence" on the other hand seems like it would be useless: the fluorescence is totally internal, and never gets out, so what's the signal?
Just to make sure I wasn't smoking crack, though, I checked around the intergoogles a bit. On Pubmed, for instance:
"total internal reflection fluorescence": 629 hits
"total internal fluorescence": 11 hits
But, this hit in particular startled me. It lists in the references:
E. Sund and D. Axelrod, “Actin dynamics at the living cell submembrane imaged by total internal fluorescence photobleaching,” Biophys. J. 79, 1655–1669 (2000).If no less a luminary that Dan Axelrod, the GODFATHER of TIRFM, could use the term "total internal fluorescence", then clearly I was way off base. Fortunately for me, clicking through the link reveals that in fact the authors had misquoted the title of the paper! The actual title, as you might imagine, is "Actin dynamics at the living cell submembrane imaged by total internal reflection fluorescence photobleaching."
In other news, I have heard tell around the water cooler that certain Block lab associated people have been selected for various Biophysical Society awards at the 2010 meeting, but since the BPS website doesn't have any info on it, I'll keep a lid on it until a formal announcement is made.