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The Safe Soil Tester is a briefcase-sized device, that can test soil samples for pollution...

In the same way that polluted water can be deceptively clear, polluted soil can just look like plain old dirt. Given the contaminants that can be left behind by gas plants, oil refineries and other industries, however, it's very important to check that the soil in an area isn't toxic, before building houses or growing crops there. Presently, soil samples have to be sent off to laboratories, where processing can take up to two weeks. British entrepreneur Ed Bell, however, has invented a briefcase-sized soil-testing unit that can be carried into the field, where it provides results within minutes.  Read More

One of the microfluidic paper test strips, fluorescing blue to indicate the presence of he...

Lab-on-a-chip devices work by directing small samples of liquid through tiny “microchannels” embedded in a small platform, and are used for analyzing liquids in medical and scientific settings. Earlier this week, we reported on a high school teacher who has invented a way of creating such devices using transparency film and a photocopier. Now, scientists from Indiana’s Purdue University have announced a new method of making them using paper. While previous approaches have involved laying down lines of wax or other hydrophobic (water-repelling) material on hydrophilic (water-absorbing) paper, this method uses store-bought hydrophobic paper, and creates the microchannels by burning away the waterproof coating with a laser.  Read More

The Integrascope's LED (left) shines light through a drop of blood (center), and the refra...

When bodily fluids such as blood are tested for infectious diseases and unhealthy protein levels, they’re typically mixed with antibodies or other biological reactants to produce a positive or negative reaction. Researchers from Arizona State University (ASU) have now come up with an alternative testing system that they claim is just as accurate, but much simpler, quicker and cheaper. It utilizes LED lights and simple microelectronic amplifiers, and actually uses the sample itself as a diagnostic tool. Because it integrates the sample into the process, inventors Antonia Garcia and John Schneider call their device the Integrascope.  Read More

MIT researchers have devised a way to measure blood glucose levels by shining near-infrare...

For most sufferers of type 1 diabetes pricking their fingers several times a day to draw blood for testing is an annoying (and often painful), but necessary part of life. It is essential to keep an eye on blood glucose levels because too much sugar can damage organs, while too little deprives the body of necessary fuel. To minimize that pain and inconvenience, researchers at MIT’s Spectroscopy Laboratory are working on a noninvasive way to measure blood glucose levels using light.  Read More

The Fraunhofer wheel hub motor on the 'Frecc0' demo vehicle (Image: Fraunhofer IFAM)

With the internal combustion engine dictating vehicle design for over a century the move towards electric vehicles offers manufacturers the chance to completely rethink vehicle design. However, it also presents manufacturers with a whole new set of problems to be overcome. To facilitate the transition to electric cars, researchers at Franhofer-Gesellschaft are constructing an electrically operated demonstration vehicle, the “Frecc0,” which will serve as a scientific integration platform for automobile manufacturers and suppliers to test new electric vehicle components.  Read More

Caffeindicator is a litmus-like system that lets you test whether or not your decaf coffee...

Nobody likes the jittery feelings that come with too much caffeine, or the insomnia that follows. While it takes a lot of caffeine to affect most people that way, those of us who are caffeine-sensitive can get the same feelings from even one cup of coffee. Other people have medical conditions that make caffeine a big no-no. In either case, these individuals usually order decaf when they’re at coffee shops or restaurants, but ... with all the hustle and bustle in those places, what if they get the coffee pots mixed up? Or what baristas can't be bothered brewing up a pot of decaf and just serve up regular coffee and say it’s decaf? It was no doubt that kind of thinking that led Verification Technology Systems to develop Caffeindicator, a litmus-like caffeine-testing system that anyone can use.  Read More

A new nondestructive 'sniff' test can measure the degradation of old books and documents (...

Establishing the condition of old books and precious historical documents traditionally involves removing samples of the paper from the valuable archival materials for testing in a laboratory. Naturally such destructive forms of testing are far from ideal. Now scientists have come up with a better option with the development of a nondestructive “sniff” test that can measure the degradation of old books and documents based on their smell.  Read More

The original MotionPower prototype undergoing testing at a Burger King drive-thru

Apparently, the ongoing testing of the MotionPower system for generating electricity from the movement of cars and light trucks - as reported here previously - is paying dividends. New Energy, the company developing the technology, reports it can produce a 25-fold increase in the system’s capacity to capture kinetic energy from moving vehicles, bringing the commercialization of the MotionPower system another step closer to reality.  Read More

Sanjeev Khanna, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the MU Coll...

Conventional blast-resistant glass is more than an inch thick and expensive, but researchers are developing and testing a new type of blast-resistant glass that is less than one-half of an inch thick, lighter and yet less vulnerable to small-scale explosions.  Read More

Gold particles are being used in a new breath-testing device to detect lung cancer in pati...

Gold nanoparticles are being used by researchers in Israel in a new type of breath test to detect lung cancer in patients. Breath particulate analysis isn’t new but the scientists say this is the first time a technique has been used without the need to pre-treat the exhaled breath, delivering a quicker and less expensive diagnosis. Early detection can result in faster treatment and hopefully save lives. Around 25 percent of all cancer-related deaths are lung cancer sufferers, with estimates put at around 1.3 million people dying from the disease each year.  Read More

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