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Buzzing for Land Mines

Forget James Bond. Honeybees may be the next high-tech agent in the world of international security.

The Univ. of Montana at Missoula is working with Dept. of Energy labs to test the theory that if bees can be trained, they can be a means for locating land mines.

Bees must first learn to seek out land mines. As a way to associate explosives with food, feeders tainted with a marker chemical are placed in the bee colony. Through this process bees can be trained to begin to forage wherever they smell explosives.

Engineers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (509-372-6313) in Richland, Wash., plan to use modified radio-frequency tags and radar tracking devices to chart the bees' movements and test their ability to detect explosives.

Sandia National Laboratory chemists in Albuquerque, N.M. (505-845-9436), have developed a system of analysis tools to examine pollen, dust, air, and other samples found on the bodies of bees for trace amounts of explosives.

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Shrinking Tongues May Combat Sleep Disorders

The choking, gasping sounds of some chronic snorers could be symptoms of a potentially life-threatening condition: obstructive sleep apnea.

Sufferers of severe sleep apnea are more likely to experience uncontrollable daytime fatigue, high blood pressure, and heart disease. They are seven times more likely to have automobile accidents.

Stanford (Calif.) Univ. Medical Center (650-723-6911) researchers have introduced an outpatient procedure that could help solve sleep apnea. Radio-frequency energy is used to heat internal tissue in the base of the tongue to about 80 [degrees] C. The heat-induced lesion is reabsorbed by the body during the natural healing process, reducing the size of the tongue and its propensity to block the airway during sleep.

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Cleaning Wounds with Maggots Using maggots as a clinical treatment may sound repugnant, but their ability to clean wounds is generating medical interest.

The biosurgical research laboratory of Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, U.K. (+44 165-675-2820), supplies LarvE, the sterile larvae of the common greenbottle fly, for wound management.

Maggots or larvae produce powerful proteolytic enzymes that degrade and liquefy narcotic tissue. Enzymes ingest the tissue as a source of nutrient, leaving healthy tissue in its place. In human hosts, the enzymes appear to attack only dead tissue.

Sterile larvae can clean wounds and combat bad odor and pain. They can be used to treat many types of wounds, including leg ulcers, pressure sores, and burns.

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--Victoria K. Sicaras


Making Impossible Shapes

Researchers at the Univ. of Warwick, U.K. (+44 120-352-3784), have developed a way to create composite materials into shapes that have previously been impossible. Handling and assembly of materials with different properties to create lightweight composites brings drawbacks, such as problems in creating complex structures. But by adapting pultrusion techniques, with computer-control led robots and UV light rather than heat, researchers can create new forms. It enables new uses for materials reinforced with glass fiber in cars and construction. It could even pave the way for making composites in space.

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Honey, I Shrunk the Bottling Plant

Alab LLC in Pittsford, N.Y. (716-256-3325), has devised a watertreatment appliance that uses a miniaturized ozone generator and new ozone dissolving technology to purify and improve the taste-of water. The countertop device generates high concentrations of ozone by passing air through a corona discharge. The discharge is produced by applying a voltage between two electrodes that are separated by a dielectric sheet and an air gap.

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Title Annotation:research results
Publication:R & D
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 1999
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