Archive for August, 2010

mobile diagnostics

August 17, 2010

Modern medicine depends heavily on the reliability, accessibility, completeness and fast transmission of information, both about the collected body of medical knowledge, and about every patient. Computerisation was an obvious first step towards achieving this; tapping into the mobile phone network is the obvious next one. A range of creative applications use the power of the phones both as mobile internet and communications devices, and as surprisingly sophisticated field diagnostic equipment.

Also, in a useful reminder that constant monitoring and a quick response time can make a critical difference, distributing free cellphones to volunteers in Rwanda has dramatically slashed maternal mortality rates in the district.

This is one of those things that pretty much everyone could and did predict, but it’s still nice to see it actually happening.


nanotech water purification

August 15, 2010

As long-time readers of the blog will know, clean water is one of the things I am particularly passionate about. I needn’t, therefore, explain just how exciting I find this amazing new invention from South Africa’s Stellenbosch University, a cheap, disposable teabag filled with nanofibres that can purify up to a litre of water and then be safely discarded (the researchers claim that the discarded bags dissolve in liquids and have no environmental impact).

Quoting Stellenbosch microbiology researcher Marelize Botes:

“What is new about this idea is the combination of inexpensive raw materials, namely activated carbon and antimicrobial nanofibres, in point-of-use water filter systems. The nanofibres will disintegrate in liquids after a few days and will have no environmental impact. The raw materials of the tea-bag filter are not toxic to humans.”

The comments mention comparable systems like the LifeStraw and the LifeSaver Bottle, but this seems more practical than the former and cheaper than the latter.