Drone choppers used to try to smuggle contraband into jails

…Four people have been arrested after a remote-controlled helicopter was allegedly used to fly tobacco into Calhoun state prison, Georgia…

Prison guards at the Calhoun state jail spotted a drone hovering over the prison yard and alerted police who began a search of the local area.

Inside a nearby car they found a six-rotor remote-controlled helicopter, between 1lb and 2lb of tobacco and several mobile phones.

Four people were arrested and could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of attempting to smuggle contraband into the prison.

“It is a surprise. I’ve never seen a helicopter,” Sheriff Josh Hilton told reporters.

It follows a similar attempt at the weekend in a prison in Canada.

A drone was spotted flying over the Gatineau jail in Quebec on Sunday. Guards there failed to find either the device, its payload or those flying it.

Remote-controlled flying devices are becoming the tool of choice for those determined to smuggle in contraband, Stephane Lemaire, president of Quebec’s correctional officers’ union, told the Ottawa Sun.

“Usually the drones are carrying small packages of drugs or other illicit substances,” he said…”Now that drones are relatively cheap to buy, they’ve become the best way to smuggle drugs inside,” he added.

Makes sense to me. Once again, our military demonstrated new and useful technology to civilian society. Why expect the criminal portion of our nations to avoid technological progress.

Black silicon shreds bacteria

Spiky surface, destructive to bacteria

Originally discovered by accident in the 1980s, black silicon is silicon with a surface that has been modified to feature nanoscale spike structures which give the material very low reflectivity. Researchers have now found that these spikes can also destroy a wide range of bacteria, potentially paving the way for a new generation of antibacterial surfaces…

Surface structures similar to black silicon can be found in nature. Earlier this year, researchers at the Swinburne Institute of Technology in Australia led by Professor Elena Ivanova and Professor Russell Crawford found that the wings of the cicada Psaltoda claripennis could shred certain types of rod-shaped bacteria.

This prompted them to seek out other insects with similar spike-like surface architectures. They found that the wings of the Diplacodes bipunctata or Wandering Percher dragonfly were even more deadly, killing both rod-shaped and spherical bacteria.

“This structure generates a mechanical bacteria killing effect which is unrelated to the chemical composition of the surface,” says Professor Russell Crawford, who is Dean of the Faculty of Life and Social Sciences at Swinburne.

The team then set out to mimic the surface structure of the Wandering Percher dragonfly wing in an effort to create a surface with similar bacteria-killing properties. They then compared the bacteria-killing capacity of their black silicon creation to the dragonfly wing.

“Both surfaces were found to be highly effective against a range of bacteria, as well as endospores,” says Professor Crawford. “They exhibited estimated average bacteria killing rates of up to 450,000 cells per minute of exposure, for every square centimeter of available surface.”

Among the variety of bacteria the surfaces were able to kill were the deadly strains of the Staphylococcus aureus or golden staph bacterium.

“This represents an exciting prospect for the development of a new generation of antibacterial nanomaterials that could be applied to the surfaces of medical implants, making them far safer,” he adds.

Some of the results flowing from nanomaterials research is incredible in the range of unpredictable findings. Especially in a case like this one where the effect is directly caused by physical structure alone. Wow.

Pic of the Day

stairway to Apple heaven
Click to enlargeREUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Shoppers are pictured inside an Apple store on 5th Ave during Black Friday Sales in New York November 29, 2013. Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving Day holiday, has traditionally been the busiest shopping day in the United States.

Yes, the store was closed on Thanksgiving Day.