DARPA start-up builds iPhone sized X-Ray machine replacements

X-ray technology, which first appeared in the late 1800s, hasn’t changed that much, aside from shrinking the size of X-ray machines down to the size of large handheld drills that cost some $40,000. Now, a Los Angeles-area start-up is steaming ahead with a more affordable, ultraportable X-ray machine that utilizes a brand new technology built off focused static electricity.

Tribogenics, which spun out of DARPA-backed project at UCLA, announced today it has raised $2.5 million from Flywheel Ventures and other angels to build its portable X-ray machines, which should be available in the next year or two. The company said it’s hoping to disrupt the existing $12 billion X-ray machine industry, improving the way other existing industries such as mining, medical devices and security screening lean on the technology and enabling much broader use of X-rays by consumers.

The technology is built off a discovery made by UCLA researchers Carlos Camara, Juan Escobar, Jonathan Hird, and Seth Putterman who found they could create X-Rays bright enough to produce images from peeling adhesive tape. They were able to recreate this tribolelectrification by using an actuator that brings an epoxy surface in and out of contact with a silicone membrane. This ionizes the air and when captured in a vacuum, can create X-ray radiation. This approaches eliminates the need for high voltage, which has previously limited how portable and small other X-ray machines can get.

What Tribogenics has done is turn this whole process into a handheld product called Pocket XRF about the size of thick iPhone. It doesn’t create an image like medical X-ray machines. Instead, it’s designed to send a burst of X-rays into an object and stir up the atoms inside. Then it reads the various fingerprints of the materials inside and presents the results on a graph. That means a jeweler can tell what metals went into a ring or a safety inspector can see the lead content in a product. Miners can see if there are precious metals in a sample. And security screens can inspect objects quickly.

Reflect upon how a technology like this might be used, how many complex expensive procedures might be simplified and costs reduced. These really aren’t X-Ray machines as we understand them; but, machines that excite atoms in similar fashion and allow recording and analysis – without the dangers attendant upon using X-Rays.

Neutrino upper size limit diminished by 83%

Minos Experiment

Scientists have made their most accurate measurement yet of the mass of a mysterious neutrino particle. Neutrinos are sometimes known as “ghost particles” because they interact so weakly with other forms of matter.

Previous experiments had shown that neutrinos have a mass, but it was so tiny that it was very hard to measure.

Using data from the largest ever survey of galaxies, researchers put the mass of a neutrino at no greater than 0.28 electron volts. This is less than a billionth of the mass of a single hydrogen atom, the scientists say.

Their nickname is fitting: a neutrino is capable of passing through a light-year (about six trillion miles) of lead without hitting a single atom…

The neutrino particle comes in three “flavours”: muon, tau and electron. In a recent experiment, physicists caught a neutrino in the act of changing from one type to another…

Scientists used the largest ever 3D map of galaxies in the Universe, based on data gathered by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

They were able to determine a new upper limit for the neutrino particle by analysing the distribution of galaxies across the Universe…

I didn’t see any notice taken of angels by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Not even by on pinheads.

Why are British boobs getting bigger?

Ask Becks!

Odd things are happening in women’s bras. In recent years, the average British bra size has jumped from 34B to 36D, which means that while women’s backs have grown one size, breasts have jumped up two. Many department stores have increased the range of cup sizes on offer to meet the ballooning demand. In 2007 Marks & Spencer introduced the J cup. Earlier this year, Selfridges began stocking a K cup range, and its sales of D to G cups have risen by 50% year-on-year since 2005. Last week, Debenhams started stocking KK bras, which were previously only available in specialist stores.

In a country where one in three women is overweight, you’d think there was a simple, fat-related reason for this, but obesity alone doesn’t explain the jump in cup size, nor the biggest growth area in bra sales: smaller back size and bigger cup size. Judging by recent underwear figures, there are more slimmer women with larger boobs than ever before. Women are happy about this. Men are happy about this. But no one seems happy to explain why this is happening.

Do you know how to work out a bra size? As roughly 50% of the British population wear them, you’d have thought most of them would have an idea. But though a 2009 survey found that the average British woman owns 16 bras at any one time and buys four every year, fitting them is a surprisingly tricky activity. The traditional method reads like an A-level algebra problem. You take a tape measure and wrap it round your chest at the lowest point where a bra sits. You record this figure in inches. You add four to this measurement if the number is even, five if it’s odd – and the resultant number is your band size. Then you wrap the tape round again and measure the fullest part of the actual breasts. Next you subtract the band size from breast size to find your cup size. If the numbers are the same, you’re an A cup. If there’s an inch difference, you’re a B; two and you need a C cup and so on. Alternatively, and many bra experts say more accurately, you can weigh your breasts by dunking them into a full bowl of water and measuring the displaced liquid, with 1 litre of water equalling 1kg. It’s accurate but useless. You can do precisely nothing with this information, as no bra manufacturer measures boobs by the pound.

Unsurprisingly, as no one enjoys maths or physics homework, the modern way to find the correct fit is to go to a shop and get someone else to do it for you. Egged on by TV stylists, such as Gok Wan and Trinny and Susannah, who’ve long been rhapsodising over the merits of a well-fitted bra and the wonders they work on your shape and posture, more and more women are doing this. Previously they could go a lifetime buying new bras by guessing or simply choosing the size they’d always worn. They made do. But trained fitters can now be found in almost every lingerie department; instead of relying on water or tape they add an element of mystique to this already complicated process. Fitters are like boob whisperers, their pronouncements made on look and feel as well as measuring…

RTFA. Longish, interesting

Face it – everyone is interested in boobs one way or another, male or female, old or young. Even a few surprises.