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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Three minute Anthrax screen



Living sensors: At the heart of a new system for detecting airborne bioterror agents is a CD-size disc with 16 chambers at its perimeter. Particles from the air are collected in the chambers, where they’re exposed to immune cells with antibodies specific to particular agents. If the target agents are present, the cells emit blue light. The light in this image is a simulation; light emitted by cells in the chambers is too faint to be picked up by conventional photography, but it is picked up by light meters in the device.
Credit: MIT Lincoln Laboratory

A sensor system that can rapidly detect six potential airborne bioterror agents, including anthrax, is now on the market. The detector relies on living immune-system cells genetically engineered to emit light when exposed to a particular contaminant. From sampling the air to getting a readout from the cells, the detection process takes only three minutes. The company selling the sensor, Innovative Biosensors, of Rockville, MD, is marketing it for use in airports and other buildings, including laboratories where research on dangerous pathogens is performed.

Time is of the essence when detecting bioterror agents. Bacteria like anthrax are infective within two to three minutes of exposure, so the faster a building can be evacuated and the agent contained, the better. "We're harnessing the fastest pathogen identification system there is," says James Harper, a researcher at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, where the technology was developed by Todd Rider beginning in the late 1990s. "In the body, B cells bind to pathogens and respond in a second," says Harper.

The mouse B cells at the heart of the Lincoln Lab detection system can be engineered to detect any agent for which an antibody exists. But the six agents that Innovative Biosensors is initially targeting are the smallpox virus, the toxins botulinum and ricin, anthrax, and two other bacteria. The B cells are loaded into pockets in a disc the size of a CD. These discs in turn are loaded into a one-cubic-foot detector containing fans, an imaging system, and a computer processor.

When the detector is turned on, fans suck air into it. Particles in the air are collected in 16 chambers at the perimeter of the disc. Then the disc is spun at high speed to release the cells from their pockets and transport them to the collected particles. If the agent the cells are designed to detect is present, they emit blue light. The detector uses software to analyze light levels from the disc's chambers to determine whether a bioterror agent is present. The raw data about light peaks and reaction kinetics is complex, says Lincoln Lab researcher Joseph Lacirignola, but algorithms process it to arrive at a yes or no answer.

The system can run 16 tests simultaneously, one in each chamber of the disc. Harper says that when at least two chambers are devoted to each pathogen, there are no false positives. The Lincoln Lab system can detect anthrax and other agents at concentrations as low as 10 individual particles per 30 liters of air. Each disc can be used only once.

The Innovative Biosensors detector can automatically load a fresh disc after taking a reading, but it need not run continually. It comes packaged with another, less accurate detection device, also developed at Lincoln Lab. This device uses ultraviolet light and triggers the cell-based system if it detects a potential biomolecule.

EW.com:George Lucas on 'Star Wars,' Indiana Jones


From the Jedi master himself, scoop on ''Clone Wars,'' the live-action TV series, and the saga's never-ending future. Plus: some Indy dish

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Cool Stuff: The Alamo Drafthouse - Best Movie Theater EVER


"We've been to The Coolidge Corner Theatre in Boston, the Castro in San Francisco, The Arclight in Los Angeles, and even the new Mark Cuban owned Landmark. The Alamo Drafthouse theater is by far the best movie theater we’ve ever been to. It’s the type of movie theater that makes us wish we lived in Texas, and here’s why…"

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1:1 Scale Remote-Controlled Hummer H3


Hummer has converted the new right-hand drive H3 into the ultimate gadget for grown ups: a life sized remote controlled car that definitely won't be available in your local toyshop.

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Boycotting Korean Goods May Stop 1000's of Dogs Being Eaten


It is estimated that around 2 to 3 million dogs are killed and eaten in Korea each year. All well and good, you might think. Unfortunately not. Those laws are nominal only and are almost never enforced.

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Wire Your Living Room Over Wi-Fi with a Bridge

When your Wi-Fi access point is in the home office but your TiVo, Xbox, and media center are screaming for network love under your TV in the living room, you want a wireless bridge (also called an Ethernet converter.) A wireless bridge catches your home network's Wi-Fi signal and provides ports where you can plug in wired devices near it.

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Green for a Day: Chicago does St. Patrick's

Honda Releasing Two New Hybrids Next Year

Written by Hank Green
Monday, 17 March 2008

Honda CRZHonda is finally learning from its mistakes and they'll be building a couple of dedicated hybrids for the U.S. market in 2009.

Honda started out a bit before their time with the Insight, a dedicated hybrid that, unfortunately, no one wanted because it was slow and only had two seats. Then they decided, instead, to just make hybrid versions of their Accord and Civic. Unfortunately, poeple wanted a hybrid that everyone could recognize as a hybrid, and only the Prius was delivering a "yes that is definitely a hybrid, I don't have to look at the placard on the back" experience.

So Honda is busting out two dedicated hybrids that will, finally, challenge the Prius as the only widely-selling dedicated hybrid model out there. One of the cars will definitely be based on the concept CR-Z (pictured), a sporty little two-seater that will likely be very fast and efficient. Frankly, this is the one I'm going to want.

The other will be unveiled this year at the Paris auto show. I assume it will be small, likely quite similar to the Fit. But it will certainly be roomier and more practical than the CR-Z. Unfortunately for me, the cars will be released first in Europe and then later (2010) in the United States and possibly other markets.

These two vehicles, in my opinion, are going to beat the Prius for efficiency. And they'll need to do it cheap if Honda wants to meet its goal of selling 500,000 hybrid vehicles by 2011.

Via Left Lane News

10 Most Ridiculous Mascots In This Year’s NCAA Tournament


"The following teams are sure shots to make it to the Sweet 16 because their opponents will spend more time laughing at their lame mascots then actually playing the game of basketball."

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Awesome Pics Of Ice & Snow-Scapes By 1 Of Great Photogs

Pics by Jame Balog, leading nature-science photog whose stuff is in mags, museums all over world. Some of the pics are genuinely beautiful. [Pics can be enlarged, & manipulated in multiple directions.]

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Snacks In Space: Inside Space Shuttle Endeavour's Kitchen

This Website Will Read Out Loud Any Text You Upload

ReadTheWords is a free, web based service that assists people with written material. We do this by using TTS Technology, or Text To Speech Technology. Users of our service can generate a clear sounding audio file from almost any written material. We generate a voice that reads the words out loud, that you request us to read.

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6 American Made 35 MPG Cars That Americans Can't Buy [pics]


Six of these fuel-efficient cars and SUVs score 35 miles per gallon (MPG) combined (not just highway). Every one of these is built here in North America and exported abroad. Americans can't buy them. Why not?

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Subaru Unleashes R1e Electric Car on New York



Subaru R1e

ABG recently reported on the fact that the new Subaru R1e has recently been spotted tooling around the streets in New York City as part of an official trial in the US, which is an extension of the 40 (soon to be 100) car trial currently taking placing in Japan.

In light of this new development, I thought it would be prudent to show off some of the most exciting features of theR1e, beginning with the fact that it is an all electric version of a production car made by major manufacturers to be affordable and useful to average citizens (though these needs might be a bit different depending on the market).

It’s exciting enough in and of itself to see a major initiative from a major manufacturer (yeah yeah, the Volt, sure), but this car is pretty sweet on its own.

More after the break!

The test is taking place in Kanagawa Prefecture, where Subaru plans to set up 150 of its “fast charge stations” to complement predicted sales of 5k+ EVs in the next five years. These fast charge stations are different from normal outlets and can deliver an 80% charge to the R1e in just 15 minutes! At home the 40 kW lithium-ion pack requires 8 hours for a full charge.

The R1e’s lithium pack is good for 50 miles at up to 65 MPH, with its most impressive feature being a 10 year or 124,000 mile lifetime expectancy. This issue has troubled hybrids and EVs in the past, so this kind of durability guarantee is certainly exciting to see in a production vehicle.

For those of you who don’t know, the Subaru R1 is a small car that is well known in Japan and perhaps perfectly suited for EV conversion. It might be a little smaller than the norm in the US market, but we’re seeing more and more talk about importing these kei-class cars to the US so by the time it happens it might not be as revolutionary as it seems.

I’ll be looking forward to more news, for sure.

Aw-Aw-AWESOME Scene As Astronauts Assemble Dextre the Robot!


NASA Astronauts Rick Linnehan and Mike Foreman participate in the mission's second scheduled session of extravehicular activity (EVA) on 15/16 March 2008. During the 7-hour, 8-minute spacewalk they assembled the stick-figure-shaped Dextre, also known as the Special Purpose Dextrous Manipulator (SPDM), a task that included attaching its two arms.

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7 Pampered Celebrities and their Ridiculous Demands


Everyone knows rock and roll is about thrills and excess—we just didn’t realize that spirit was supposed to extend to the greenroom buffet. The following are seven very pampered acts that made sure their laundry list of demands got tacked onto their contracts.

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World’s Largest 38,500-meal Solar Kitchen in India


India is well-known for delicious food, and the kitchen is considered to be a sacred place in any Indian home. And now India has something else to be proud of: the world’s largest solar kitchen.

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Regrowing Limbs: Can People Regenerate Body Parts?


Humans have long wondered how the salamander pulls off this feat. How does the regrowing part of the limb “know” how much limb is missing and needs to be replaced? Biologists are closing in on the answers to those questions. And if we can understand how the regeneration process works in nature, we hope to be able to trigger it in people.

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Always......Stand by your President

Big Dog


The Most Advanced Quadruped Robot on Earth
BigDog is the alpha male of the Boston Dynamics family of robots. It is a quadruped robot that walks, runs, and climbs on rough terrain and carries heavy loads. BigDog is powered by a gasoline engine that drives a hydraulic actuation system. BigDog's legs are articulated like an animal’s, and have compliant elements that absorb shock and recycle energy from one step to the next. BigDog is the size of a large dog or small mule, measuring 1 meter long, 0.7 meters tall and 75 kg weight.

BigDog has an on-board computer that controls locomotion, servos the legs and handles a wide variety of sensors. BigDog’s control system manages the dynamics of its behavior to keep it balanced, steer, navigate, and regulate energetics as conditions vary. Sensors for locomotion include joint position, joint force, ground contact, ground load, a laser gyroscope, and a stereo vision system. Other sensors focus on the internal state of BigDog, monitoring the hydraulic pressure, oil temperature, engine temperature, rpm, battery charge and others.

So far, BigDog has trotted at 3.3 mph, climbed a 35 degree slope and carried a 120 lb load.

BigDog is being developed by Boston Dynamics with help from Foster Miller, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Harvard University Concord Field Station.Development is funded by the DARPA Defense Sciences Office.


http://www.bostondynamics.com/content/sec.php?section=BigDog

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