Zapping Mosquitoes and Malaria
You can kill mosquitoes in many different ways, but Dr. Jordin Kare and his team came up with a new way: laser beams. The weapon of mosquito destruction detects the audio frequency created by the beating of the insect's wings, and then fries the bug on the spot. It can kill millions of mosquitoes in minutes.
Aside from making summer days much more enjoyable, the laser is expected to serve as a potent weapon in the war against malaria. The life-threatening disease is transmitted by female mosquitoes, and kills an African child every 30 seconds, according to the World Health Organization. Globally, one million people die of malaria every year.
Dr. Kare proposes mounting the lasers on top of poles around the circumference of villages, creating a barrier against the bloodsucking disease carriers. The bugs certainly won't be missed, since there is nothing that feeds exclusively on mosquitoes. The beam won't affect other insects, according to Dr. Kare. And we can thank private industry for this advance: the research was commissioned by Intellectual Ventures, a company founded by former Microsoft executive Nathan Myhrvold, and funded by Bill Gates.
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The Photos are Out There
One doesn't normally think of archivists and museum curators as revolutionaries, but Mike Rhode is turning himself into an exception. Head archivist at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, D.C., he is involved in a project to digitize the museum's collection of military medical images. So far, 500,000 unique images have been scanned, with another 225,000 slated to be done this year.
That's not the controversial part, however. Rhode and his team have been making some of the photos available to the general public through Flickr without the permission of the Army. Working after hours, the team has made 800 carefully chosen images available so far, and hopes to get tens of thousands more up. The images date from the Civil War all the way through Vietnam.
Rhode's attitude has been You pay taxes. These are your pictures. You should be able to see them. Until recently, opening such an archive to the general public has been impossible, for fear of damage to the physical items from too much handling. Thanks to cheap scanning, storage and bandwidth, such images can be made much more widely available, and excuses to keep them locked up no longer sound convincing. The Army is not pleased with Rhode's efforts, but he plans to continue. "We have pictures from all types of military conflicts and all different types of medicine and issues in medicine...and want to bring it to everyone else in the world," Rhode explained.
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Maker Faire Goes Overseas
They've been held in California and Texas, and this week, the first Maker Faire outside the US happened in Newcastle in the United Kingdom. It occurred near the end of the city's 10-day ScienceFest. Maker Faire's ambiance is definitely in line with ScienceFest's celebration of creativity and innovation. The idea behind Maker Faire is to bring hardware tinkerers, crafters, and artists together to show off and trade tips.
Robots often play a big role at stateside Maker Faires, and the one in the UK was no exception. A visitor to the event could watch a fire-breathing remote-controlled horse and see a variety of programmable home robots. Other participants showed off devices that they'd been able to build much more cheaply than major corporations like the attendees that showed off their multi-touch displays, which cost only a few hundred pounds as opposed to the thousands Microsoft charges for its Surface computer.
Many factors seem to be contributing to the restarted make-it-yourself movement. Make, the company that sponsors Maker Faire, runs a web site where users can learn how to make various projects, and share them. The Internet itself has allowed those with a common interest in making things to make contact with each other. Many companies now make lots of standard parts, which help hardware hackers get the bits they need without having to scavenge for them; they could use kits instead. Robotics in particular has been getting a boost from this, as well as from robotic control software that is much easier for non-programmers to use.
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