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It has been said that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” We are visual creatures, and we seek to capture and describe the world around us. Some of the earliest evidence for this comes from very old cave paintings found around the world, like this painting of a horse found in the caves in Lascaux, France.

With the development of reliable microscopes, such as those developed by the dutch draper Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, we were able to see what was previously invisible, probing the unseen and learning in great detail how organisms worked.

Over time, the field of cytometry (the analysis of biological processes at the whole-cell level) has expanded in many different directions. Flow cytometry can be thought of as a microscope with very poor resolution. The power of flow cytometry lies in its ability to analyze thousands of cells through many dimensions, providing an amazingly detailed understanding of the cell. However, due to the resolution, it is not possible to tell where these signals are located.

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Quality control is the hallmark of improving reproducibility. QC programs are designed to help determine when the process in question goes off the expected path. Depending on the deviation from the established acceptance criteria will dictate the level of intervention that needs to occur. This can be as easy as cleaning the instrument and rerunning the QC, or as extreme as removing the data from the final analysis. Since there is documentation as to the deviations, this provides the rationale for excluding data.

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