Since 1954, troopers have used breathalyzers to determine whether drivers have imbibed–and just how much. Jun Ye, a physicist at the University of Colorado, has transported the concept into an entirely new realm: medical diagnostics. The device he’s designed detects thousands of different biological molecules in a single exhalation, creating a snapshot of the breath’s contents that could signal the presence of illnesses, from cancer to cystic fibrosis. This split-second diagnosis is powered by a laser called an “optical frequency comb,” which emits a wide spectrum of lightwaves that interacts with airborne compounds. “You have this rainbow of light coming out in a regularly spaced comb pattern,” Ye says. “When breath molecules fly through the rainbow, they set off resonant frequencies that make the comb look like it has missing teeth.” If the resulting pattern shows the presence of carbon monoxide, hydrogen peroxide and nitric oxide, for example, the exhaler may be suffering from asthma. “You don’t have to wait days for test results,” Ye says. “Within a minute, you know what’s going on.”
Pills may treat symptoms of the illness they’re designed to fight, but when they’re absorbed into the bloodstream indiscriminately they can also trigger debilitating side effects. Chemotherapy agents, for instance, cause nausea and hair loss, while antibiotics can trigger fatigue and shortness of breath. To help patients avoid side-effect doldrums, researchers at Philips’s pharmaceutical division are developing the medical equivalent of a targeted missile-delivery system. Philips scientists place particles of drugs inside microscopic bubbles of fluorocarbon gas and then inject them into a patient’s bloodstream. After the bubbles have reached the area flagged for treatment, a technician administers a high-energy ultrasound pulse. “When you hit a certain ultrasound resonance, the bubbles break, and that disperses the particles,” says Christopher Hall, lead researcher on the project. Hall hopes doctors will someday be able to use bubble-encased drugs to treat prostate, breast and brain cancers, eliminating the grueling physical toll usually associated with such therapies. “Microbubbles let you give a dose in a more rational way,” he says. “You can deliver a high concentration of the right drug to the spot where you want it.”
Pasadena-based firm GDS Architects’ new building in Incheon, South Korea, is guaranteed not to be an eyesore. Last August the South Korean government granted approval for Tower Infinity, a 1476-foot-tall invisible skyscraper. The Infinity will be built near the Incheon International Airport, but Tower Infinity will be located outside of aviation corridors and will have standard aviation-warning lights. While cities such as Dubai and Shanghai are competing for the status of building the biggest skyscrapers, the Infinity seeks to be the most novel. “Instead of symbolizing prominence as another of the world’s tallest towers, our solution aims to provide the world’s first invisible tower to showcase South Korean innovation,” says GDS’s principal designer, Charles Wee. Here’s how it works. A series of 18 optical HD cameras are placed at three levels along the tower’s height. The six cameras at each level take live feeds of the surrounding views, and then the images are digitally processed, scaled, rotated, and merged to form one panoramic view. Rows of LED screens opposite each camera then project the view onto the glass facade, blending the tower seamlessly into the skyline.
Cub Cadet RZT-S Zero Mower ($4500)
The RZT-S Zero combines cutting-edge innovations: It’s a steering-wheel-controlled, zero-turn mower that is entirely electric-powered. A 48-volt battery pack powers four brushless motors—two for the rear wheels and two for the blades inside a 42-inch deck. The design enables 60 minutes of near-silent operation, which is ideal for early-morning mowing, when temperatures are cooler. A steering wheel, rather than traditional lap bars, operates all four wheels for ultra-responsive control. Once the mower is fully discharged, it plugs into a standard wall outlet for overnight recharging.
Poo-Pourri is Working When Nobody Knows When You Go
April 25, 2014
by Elisha Marshall
Spray before you go and no one else will ever know. Poo-Pourri is a blend of essential oils that prevents unwanted bathroom odors from showing up in the first place. Just spray a few squirts in the toilet-bowl and a protective layer of oils form. This personal care innovation is changing the daily routines of people worldwide. Poo-Pourri is nominated in the Consumer Goods, Personal Care category for the 2014 Edison Awards. Learn more about how Poo-Pourri works its magic.