Tech Discussion: Paper Spray!

So I’ve been working in medical laboratories for a few years, and the logistics of the handling and storing biological samples is always pretty intensive. Companies often have to keep blood at certain temperatures, process them within certain timeframes, and devise a workflow that separates blood components and ensures that all the necessary tests can be done off of the provided volumes. To sum it up: tons of freezers, refrigerators, centrifuges and electricity bills! So when this equimpment from ThermoFisher popped up on my LinkedIn feed, I was pretty excited to research it!

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So Bacteria can Boogie?

After seeing this hilarious video on Metafilter, I had to look more into these magnetotactic bacteria. I’d never heard of these, and from the video, they look like the bacteria are able to be steered using a magnetic field. Here’s what I’m finding so far. (more…)

Rehashing the ol’ Engineering Math

This is the K.A. Stroud book on engineering mathematics that I'm studying to catch up!

This is the K.A. Stroud book on engineering mathematics that I’m studying to catch up!

So here’s what I’ve been working through recently, as I prepare to return to school for the last couple years of my degree. I picked up the Engineering Mathematics book by K. A. Stroud at Barnes and Noble about a month ago, and it’s incredibly comprehensive. I feel like I am going back through those classes, and I’m enjoying it.

There’s something soothing about rehashing everything you learned in those early math classes. It’s not quite like unexpectedly running into an old friend, but it’s close. While most of the info has been somewhat forgotten, it’s still there, waiting for you to blow the dust off its cover. Now I realize that for me, the math is only a couple years in storage, and for others it may be decades. But at least it’s nice to have a book on the shelf to rehash things like how to find the slope of a tangent at any point (you know, besides breaking out the ruler and graph paper). So far, this book seems fill that role.

I’ll be writing an update when I finally finish my review. Also worth mentioning, I am using the 6th edition, but I linked to the 7th instead, because if you feel so motivated as to buy it, the new edition is strangely cheaper!

To Drone or Not To Drone?

With the advent of the many quadcopters and kits, it’s pretty clear that remote-controlled and/or autonomous small aircraft are beginning to break into the mainstream. While hobby aircraft have long been around, it looks like they’re now moving into the commercial sector, as even Amazon is playing with the idea of delivering products via drones. Their team makes some exciting claims, including the ablility covering 86% of 5-lb deliveries via drones that can go as quickly as 50 mph (PDF warning).

Unfortunately for the industry, it looks like the use of these drones will be stifled by some fairly restrictive regulation. While we haven’t seen (to my knowledge) any real malicious acts committed by the operators of the aircraft, there is quite a bit of fear from different governments surrounding the operation of these drones. Recently there was a case of drones entering a no-fly zone near a French nuclear reactor. Obviously it is correct to monitor the area around such sensitive sites, but in this case, it looks like they were simply recording footage of a remote-controlled boat.

There are also issues with the FAA surrounding the commercial use of drones. Even though a ruling by a federal judge struck down a $10,000 fine levied on the videographer for a medical school commercial, the FAA continues to restrict the usage of drones, recently updating their rules to include drones in a prohibition of flight over stadiums and arenas.  The FAA did recently post a “myth-busting article” on their website, which mentions that hobbyists are expected to operate within the model aircraft guidelines.

Personally, I’ve admired the people who have managed to monetize their interests in drones, including these videographers and also some others who use them as aids in the hunt of feral hogs. I’d like to spend time looking into my own business opportunities, but with such an uncertain future regarding the regulation, it looks like it’s best to restrict ideas to the hobbyist realm, for now.

November’s IEEE Spectrum is Sweaty

That’s right, this month’s IEEE Spectrum has lots of sweaty people, and details about how we can use sweat to measure the physical state of the human body. It also brings out a really interesting piece of tech I’d never heard of, called Iontophoresis. This process uses an electrically charged pad on the skin, runs a low current through it, and causes the skin to sweat, which will draw the medication down into the dermis. Here’s a PDF of an excellent article by the Physical Therapy Journal that details the methods and challenges of using this particular technology. So they used these sweat-inducing patches to keep that lovely sweat a’flowing. From that, they went on to measure the electrolytes and other chemicals found in the sweat.

There’s also a great article on turning car bodies “see-through” to be able to see blind spots. Even though it takes quite a while for auto manufacturers to get new tech integrated into their vehicles, maybe someday we’ll get them. At least before the cars drive themselves, right?