1-HOUR PROCESSING: Anthrax - every time there's one of those 'unknown white powder' scares it takes hours to send samples to a lab, run tests and receive a confirmation. Cornell and University of Albany researchers have created a 1-hour portable lab to do the job from a sample containing as few as 40 microscopic spores. The machine automatically takes cells from the sample, analyses DNA and detects anthrax spores. The device could also provide broad analysis of a suspect's DNA. The lab relies on a microfluidic chip to do the work.
Life gets more like CSI every day. The Cornell Chronicle Online has
INVISIBLE INK REVISITED: The surface tension of a fluid is important in determining what size holes it can flow into. Researchers have put that information to good use and created a chip with letters created from Watermark Ink. The chip is glass that contains coral-like structures and treated with certain chemicals. Letters are revealed only when specific liquids are applied. That could have many uses.
More at Discover Magazine. Here's the video.
ANCIENT 3D: Next time students of the University of California head off to an archaeology dig they may have a new item in their toolboxes — a Microsoft Kinect. But it's not for playing games. Instead they'll use it to make high-quality, low-cost 3D scans of dig sites.
Back in the US researchers will be able to interact with the model in the 360-degree, 16-panel immersive virtual reality environment called StarCAVE. A special tracking device allows accurate handheld scans.
Because the Kinect streams data at 40 megabytes per second, the biggest problem has been to reduce the amount of data collected. It'll be good when the StarCAVE can go along on the digs too. University of California has more.
RATS: McAfee recently took over a Command & Control server. It had been used by an unknown party to break into more than 70 organisations and companies around the world, including the United Nations, The International Olympic Committee and others. Logs reveal data was secretly harvested from those organisations over more than 5 years.
Some of the organisations infiltrated, such as the Olympic Committees, have information that is of no particular commercial value. Operation Shady RAT shows that this was a huge-scale intrusion, likely perpetrated by a well-resourced group such as a nation. Did no-one tell the perpetrators those medal tables go up on the web for everyone to see? Check out McAfee for further details.
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HOT AND COLD: Researchers at The University of Nottingham, Ningbo China, have developed a novel non-deformed energy storage phase change material that can retain and release heat according to specific temperature requirements for a building. It should allow building owners to seriously reduce costs for heating and cooling. The material can be 'fixed' to a particular temperature. Above that level it absorbs excess heat. It can be manufactured in various shapes and sizes, or as a spray on microscopic film. How about using it for clothing? University of Nottingham has more.
Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz