Ah, How The E. Coli Glows Under UV Light

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On the medical side of light for a change – up in Houghton, Michigan, scientists at Michigan Technical University have developed a way to make the E. coli bacteria glow like little indigo lightbulbs under ultraviolet light.  Apparently the E. coli bacteria really likes the sugar mannose, and just can’t get enough.  Scientists at MTU added some manose molecules to a specially-engineered fluorescent polymer, and then mixed it into some water where E. coli was having a party.  The little cilia on the E. coli bacteria hooked onto the mannose like a used dryer sheet in the winter in Colorado (that’s a static electricity joke) and coated the bacteria with the fluorescing polymer.  BAM – glowing E. coli.

This technology is

Scientists at Michigan Technological University developed a method to make the E. coli bacteria glow under UV light. The researchers believe that the technique of attaching a mannose sugar molecule selectively to pathogens can lead to a clinical method of pinpointing bacterial and maybe even tumor clusters.

From the Michigan Tech press release:

The researchers’ trick takes advantage of E. coli’s affinity for the sugar mannose. Liu’s team attached mannose molecules to specially engineered fluorescent polymers and stirred them into a container of water swimming with E. coli. Microscopic hairs on the bacteria, called pili, hooked onto the mannose molecules like Velcro, effectively coating the bacteria with the polymers.Then the researchers shined white light onto E. coli colonies growing in the solution. The bugs lit up like blue fireflies. “They became very colorful and easy to see under a microscope,” said Liu.

The technique could be adapted to identify a wide array of pathogens by mixing and matching from a library of different sugars and polymers that fluoresce different colors under different frequencies of light. If blue means E. coli, fuchsia could one day mean influenza.

With funding from a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health, Liu is adapting the technique to combat breast cancer. Instead of mannose, he plans to link the fluorescent polymers to a peptide that homes in on cancer cells.

Once introduced to the vascular system, the polymers would travel through the body and stick to tumor cells. Then, illuminated by a type of infrared light that shines through human tissue, the polymers would glow, providing a beacon to pinpoint the location of the malignant cells.

If you’re so inclined, check out the abstract here.

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Thanks, MedGadget!

No More Cyberlight, No More Studio Beam

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I just read an article at iSquint about two more fatalities in the growth of technology:  the High End Systems Cyberlight and the High End Systems Studio Beam.  ETC stopped taking orders for the Express and Expression lines in the Fall of 2008 – I assume for promote the Congo, Eos, and Ion.  As technology advances, road warrior products like the Express console, Cyberlight and Studio Beam have to take a bow and have a seat.  High End will be continuing support on the fixtures indefinitely.

These products were essential to my proverbial “teeth cutting” into the industry.  Thanks for your service!

Thanks iSquint and High End!

Energy Star: EPA and DoE VS. US Senate

Right now, the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency are trying to convince the Senate that they can work out the details of the Energy Star program without legislative help.  The Senate has some members who want to go ahead an legislate the Energy Star program and decide what the standards are, regardless of what the two agencies decide. The Obama administration says that the Senate should take out some pending legislation that says the DoE and the EPA have to cooperate in a revised agreement for the Energy Star program. The EPA and the DoE have 45 days or so to get written dispute resolution to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Some people are not happy about this – about the legislation, that is:

Some witnesses at the hearings discussed problems they have encountered with Energy Star, a labeling program launched by EPA in 1992 to help consumers identify the most efficient products.

Kyle Pitsor of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association said there has been confusion in the lighting industry because of competing EPA and DOE programs that address solid state lighting technologies that can provide major energy savings.

Pitsor, the group’s vice president of government relations, said the first DOE specifications for solid-state lighting products were finalized in March of last year. But he said that last year EPA’s Energy Star program also began addressing light fixtures that use solid state lighting. “Companies are investing and making decisions on new LED lighting and … conflicting Energy Star programs will impede acceptance of this developing lighting technology,” he said, and recommended Energy Star programs for solid state lighting be under DOE only.

This is important.  If you’re affected by the potential outcomes either way by this, please post in the comments.

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Check out the original article at the NYT.

Robe’s ROBIN 3 Plasma Fixture UPDATE

So, a few days ago I interviewed Tony McGettican of Luxim for the JimOnLight.com Podcast (which is almost ready, by the way), and I asked him about the LIFI lamp and if he could tell me about any partnerships or joint ventures with moving light companies.  Tony politefully declined to comment because the news of the ROBIN 3 Plasma Spot hadn’t come out yet.

However, another source has shared that the ROBIN 3 Plasma Spot actually debuted privately at LDI 2008 and PLASA 2008 – to apparently really positive reviews.  Damn, I gotta find out how to get invited to stuff like that!

Luxim LIFI-ENT-31-02 Lamp

What I have been told is that the lamp being used in the ROBIN 3 Plasma Spot is the Luxim LIFI-ENT-31-02 lamp, which is geared and designed towards entertainment lighting.  Some specs on the LIFI-ENT-31-02:

  • 17,800 lumens
  • Forward emitting intensity pattern
  • Useful lifetime more than 6X longer than HID lamps
  • High CRI of 94
  • Rugged and impact resistant
  • Small form-factor
  • Digitally controlled for fastdimming
  • Operates in all orientations

Here’s a link to the LIFI-ENT-31-02 spec PDF.  Check it out.

This is a major innovation to entertainment lighting – I will report as much as I can discover, and I am really interested in seeing how this goes!  If you’ve used a ROBIN 3 Plasma Spot, please drop a comment below!

Holy Crap, The GeoBulb is Here, and It’s Only $120

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Only $120.  Oh, recession humor!

Welcome the GeoBulb, an LED incandescent replacement fixture from C. Crane, a California LED producer.  Here’s the scoop – GeoBulb is about $120, has a 30,000 hour lifespan (which is nearly 10 years), uses 8w, and is supposed to replace a 60w incandescent. It’s got 40% less heat than a CFL and 89% less heat than an incandescent – with no Mercury and instant illumination when you turtn it on.  Sounds pretty damned good! GeoBulb comes in soft, cool, and warm.

Rumor has it that the GeoBulb is unavailable until the top of July 2009.  Let’s see what happens in July.

The actual price is $199.95 for one, but $113.95 for six or more.  Go see C. Crane’s page on the GeoBulb.

Warren Muller’s Found Junk and Light

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Okay, maybe junk is a little excessive, maybe not.  This is a bit of a departure from what I’ve been seeing lately – a collection of “found objects” that are mixed with some light, creating these sculptures of mass stare-ability.

Stare-ability?  Wow, I guess I’m also making up words today.

A description from Warren Muller’s website:

With an enviable dexterity, Luminary Warren Muller creates fantastic lighting sculptures from found, recycled, and salvaged objects. His novel approach to these cast-aside items results in work at home in environments both modern and traditional. Recent pieces are mostly by commission and often incorporates existing chandeliers and/or the collective tchochtkes of his clients.

Check out these pieces.  Maybe you’ll get a tickle in your collective tchochtkes out of this stuff.  Warren’s company is called Bahdeebahdu, which translates into “you give me, I’ll give you.”  Well, that vehicle chandelier?  You give Warren about $200,000 for that.  It is interesting work, though!

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Thanks, Cool Hunting!

Now With 25% More Blue OLED Output

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While I was digging around over at the DoE website, I discovered that there’s been a small breakthrough on OLED output.  OLED technology has been lacking a real solid blue in research so far, and the folks at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have gotten a 25% increase in blue light output from a blue OLED.

From the PNNL press release:

Lighting consumes one-fifth of the electricity generated in the United States. Solid-state lighting offers tremendous potential to improve the situation – once major research challenges are overcome.

The most promising technology is the organic light-emitting diode, or OLED. These multi-layered devices produce light by running an electrical current through a specially engineered host material into which light-producing phosphorescent molecules are embedded or “doped.” The white light envisioned for large-scale applications, such as rooms and buildings, consists of red, green and blue light.

“The weakest link in OLED research is the absence of an efficient, long-lasting blue light to accompany the red and green,” said Pacific Northwest National Laboratory scientist Asanga Padmaperuma. Development of better host materials to manage the flow of electricity through the device could help solve that problem.

Padmaperuma and his collegues have designed, synthesized and tested new materials that improve the power efficiency of blue OLEDs by at least 25 percent.

The YAL-1 Might Get Scrapped

I have written and referred to the 747 with the big real genius laser strapped to the nose a bunch of times.  I just read an article over at Wired’s Danger Room about the YAL-1 project – some call it the “Flying Lightsaber” – and things ain’t going too well financially.  The project is $4 billion over budget, it’s dangerous as hell to the crew, and the project is about 8 years behind.  I guess that means things don’t look too good for this project.  Did I mention that in-flight operating costs are $92,000 an hour?

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The laser that flies onboard – the COIL laser mentioned in previous posts (chemical oxygen iodine laser) contains some nasty, nasty stuff to power the laser reaction.  Check this out:

One of the bigger problems is the chemicals needed to start the laser chain-reaction aren’t exactly the most stable and healthiest things to have around: 1,000 pounds of chlorine, 1,000 pounds of ammonia, 12,000 pounds of hydrogen peroxide, 220 gallons of sulphuric acid.

They’re so toxic, in fact, that the Air Force documents recommend that “all personnel must be [in the] forward [part of the plane] “during taxi, takeoff, and landing.” Going to the Airborne Laser’s aft “in flight is only allowed during a declared emergency, and then only for the absolute minimum duration, in Level A hazmat suit.”

Well, that’s gonna get a run for its money from solid state laser technology at some point.  We know that solid state weaponized lasing just hit 105.5kW, but the chemical laser technology is up around the megawatt class.  Let’s see how quickly the JHPSSL can multiply that laser power factor.

From what I have read, the technology is very powerful, but quite dangerous and becoming a pain in the rear of the people funding it.  It’s got a limited range and a handful of firings of the laser – not exactly a full-time protector, per se.

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Senator Carl Levin (Senate Armed Services Committee chair) and Rep. Ellen Tauscher (Obama pick for undersecretary of state arms control) aren’t real happy with the progress of this program, and they keep slamming it.  From an article at The Danger Room:

Count as unimpressed Rep. Ellen Tauscher, the influential Congresswoman and Obama administration pick for under secretary of state for arms control. She spoke yesterday at a conference co-sponsored by the Missile Defense Agency. “If you were there and you are a supporter of the Airborne Laser program, you didn’t have a good morning,” InsideDefense.com quips.

Noting that the program is eight years behind schedule and $4 billion over cost, Tauscher said ABL [Airborne Laser] is the definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over despite failing each time.

“We can no longer continue to do everything and explore every potential technology,” Tauscher added. “Missile defense cannot be like some second marriages — the triumph of hope over experience.”

Levin and Tauscher were also quoted in DoDBuzz while talking to a group of missile defense advocates:

The two politicians are Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Ellen Tauscher, chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee. They told roughly 1,000 missile defense advocates in separate speeches that more and better testing must be done and hard choices are coming that will probably mean substantial cuts to the MDA budget. But there were also distinct signs of a hopeful nature, from the new head of MDA, Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, and from one of its most persistent and respected critics, Philip Coyle, former head of Operational Test and Evaluation.

Tauscher’s line was simpler and less compromising than Levin’s. “We need to make some tough defense budget decisions,” she said, pointing to the Airborne Laser program, which is four years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. “Let me be clear. Those days are over.”

Well, goodbye big chemical laser flying machine of death.  Maybe solid state lasers will advance quickly.  I wonder how that cure for cancer’s going?

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Thanks, DangerRoom, DoDBuzz, and CNet!


Toyo Ito and Takram Design Engineering’s “Furin” Wind Chimes

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I just discovered this beautiful project – it’s no longer installed, as it was on display July 28, 2008 through August 22, 2008.  Toyo Ito and Associates Architects and Takram Design Engineering created this interactive exhibit with 280 glass chimes.  Here’s some info on the project:

On a grid of equilateral triangles, we hung a total of 280 glass wind chimes from the ceiling at varying heights to represent the undulation of a wave. When you walk underneath the wind chime, not only does it ring, but its LED also alights like a firefly. The wind chimes nearer to the ceiling ring in higher tones, and those hung lower in lower tones together offering 10 degrees of tonal expression. And it feels as though you are walking inside a large interactive instrument. Additionally, the wind chimes are networked together, so that the sound and light spreads to adjacent wind chimes like ripples in the water. This network system was based on the idea of behavior we observe among certain animals in nature that form groups.

No matter what I say about this, nothing is going to top the videos.  Check them out.

Thanks, DesignBoom!