Malaria remains one of the great unsolved health problems of the developing world, with the disease stubbornly resisting all attempts at eradication. So why not focus on the vector instead: the blood-hungry mosquitoes that spread malaria around? And why not use an idea straight from the science fictional supervillain-hideout playbook: a photonic fence made of devices that detect mosquitoes by the frequency of their wing oscillations, and then blasts them with lasers? [via Hack A Day]
Why not indeed – Bill Gates obviously likes the angle, as he’s funding Intellectual Ventures Lab’s research efforts (though some of that will presumably be supporting the company’s other idea, namely a way of zapping the malaria parasite in situ within the human body, scrambling its DNA without harming its host). Observe the destruction of a much-hated pest in close-up high-def slo-mo video:
Shazam! (Compare and contrast with the (as yet) non-lethal anti-papparazzi defence screens found on the yachts of shady billionaires…)
Think what you like of his software empire, Ol’ Bill sure likes investing in potentially worldchanging ideas; he’s currently looking into throwing his weight behind a new design for small-scale nuclear reactors, suitable for use in cities or low-demand nations [via SlashDot]. But even that pales beside the blue-sky glory [also via SlashDot] of a fusion-fission hybrid that will safely burn up existing nuclear waste by bombarding it with neutrons…
Further developments in the field of microtechnology with the development by the University of Waterloo of a magnetically-levitating microbot with laser-controlled manipulators:
The micro-robot has pincers that can be opened by heating them with a laser. When the laser is turned off, the pincers cool and close.
“Since there is no wiring, and the robot freely floats in air, it can operate in an enclosed chamber while the whole setup is outside,” Khamesee said. “It can work in hazardous environments, toxic chambers, and it can be used to conduct bio-hazardous experiments. Also, since there is no mechanical linkage, it has a dust-free operation, suitable for clean room applications.”
This is starting to approach some of the microbot widgetry described in Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash.
[via Technovelgy][image and article from cnet]
Following on from the news of blinding-laser “friendly fire” incidents in Iraq is this article on the growing problem of green lasers being used against police helicopters in the UK:
An “attack” can come from any of the darkened streets over which the force’s state of the art helicopter India 99 flies at night.
“You can’t miss it. A sharp green beam of light shoots up from the ground, flashing around the helicopter, dazzling anyone on whom it scores a ‘direct hit’,” said Mr Briggs.
The police have had to learn to deal with the attacks — about half of those reported are aimed at their helicopters. In 2003 just three incidents were recorded. Last year there were 207. So far this year, the tally is 76.
The culprits are usually bored youths, who have got hold of a laser pointer and amuse themselves by playing its beam over passing aircraft.
One of those “we are living in the 21st century” moments – idlers attacking police helicopters with lasers…
[image and article from the BBC]
In what won’t be the last instances of laser-related “friendly fire” three US soldiers in Iraq have been hospitalised, and one has been blinded in one eye, by a green dazzling laser:
Since November 2008, a single unit in Iraq “has experienced 12 green-laser incidents involving 14 soldiers and varying degrees of injury. Three soldiers required medical evacuation out of Iraq and one soldier is now blind in one eye,” writes Sgt. Crystal Reidy
[from Wired][image from Wired]
Does Not Equal is a webcomic by Sarah Ennals – check out the archives.