Tech Universe: Thursday 13 February

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

CHIPS WITH THAT?: The early bird may just look at the worm, leaving the catching side of things till later in the day. Researchers at the University of Oxford know this because they attached microchips to more than 2,000 songbirds to help them discover how the birds found their meals. They also fitted an array of feeding stations with microchip detectors and then moved some of the feeders every day. The problem the birds have is that over winter they must feed enough to survive, but not so much they slow down and become food for predators. The researchers found the birds scout out food locations in the morning, then feed later in the day before night falls. That means the birds can be nimble early in the day, escaping predators, and digest their meal in peace at night. So, an early bird that catches a worm may become the worm itself.

GUMMING UP THE WORKS: Lithium ion batteries store a lot of energy so are widely used in computers, handhelds and even planes. But the liquid or gel electrolyte can leak and create a fire or chemical burn hazard.

Now researchers at Washington State University have developed a gum-like lithium battery electrolyte which works just as well but adheres to the other battery components, reducing the risk of leakage. Many people will be glad to hear that.

LESS ZAP, MORE TRAP: Mammograms are an important screening tool for detecting breast cancer, but they aren't 100% accurate. German researchers have found a technique that counts photons allows a reduced dosage of harmful X-rays while improving the accuracy of detection.

SPONGE GUN: RevMedx have a new product that could save lives on the battlefield. Their pocket-sized syringe injects small specially coated sponges into wounds. Each sponge is coated with antimicrobial, blood-clotting substance and expands from its original 1 cm size to fill a wound's cavity and stop bleeding in 15 seconds. Compared to packing a wound with gauze it's much quicker and more efficient. Markers on the sponge can be detected by an X-ray machine to help make sure all sponges are removed once the patient reaches the hospital. That sounds like essential equipment for any first aid kit.

PILL POST: Some people have to take numerous prescriptions at specific times. Managing all the pills can be a difficult chore. The PillPack service in the US takes most of the work out of it. Send the prescriptions to the online pharmacy and they return labelled sealed packets of combinations of pills, dated and timestamped. All you have to do then is open a packet at the time it shows and take the contents. The service manages refills and ships out the packages every 2 weeks. That's good thinking.

Miraz Jordan,

- NZ Herald

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