Scientists develop bomb-detecting Cyborg grasshoppers as the group of scientists led by Barani Raman at the University of Washington in St. Louis has achieved a milestone: redesigning the olfactory system of the American Grasshopper "American Schistocera" to invent biological bomb detectors.
The olfactory receptor neurons in insect antennae are responsible for detecting local chemical odors in the air. These neurons send electrical signals to a section of the insect's brain called the antenna lobe, and it is estimated that each Grasshopper antenna has about 50,000 of these neurons.
For their experiment, the perpetrators blew vapors of various explosive materials over Grasshopper antennas, including trinitrotoluene vapor (TNT) and its precursor 2,4-dinitrotoluene (DNT). The scientists used non-explosive controls such as benzaldehyde and hot air, the first of which is the main ingredient of bitter almond oil.
Scientists develop bomb-detecting Cyborg grasshoppers
By implanting electrodes into grasshoppers ' antenna lobes, the team discovered clusters of neurons that were activated when exposed to explosive materials. Subsequent analysis of electrical signals allowed them to distinguish explosive vapors from non-explosive vapors, and also succeeded in differentiating them from each other.
To monitor electrical activity in real time, grasshoppers were equipped with lightweight sensor backpacks capable of recording and transmitting information wirelessly to a computer. Their brains were able to detect explosives up to seven hours after the operation, after which time the insects fatigued and died.
Funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research, researchers believe Grasshoppers could see future applications in cases of great national security interest. A set of seven grasshoppers showed an average accuracy of 80% in detection.
End of Scientists develop bomb-detecting Cyborg grasshoppers
Temperature controls do not work as a safety measure against the pandemic and can even become dangerous
Thermometers in public spaces to check the temperature of people and exclude those with fever have become commonplace in Spain as the country struggles to safely return to normal in the midst of the pandemic.
At airports, in museums and in many shops, temperature control has been implemented as a security measure that is unfortunately useless. Some large companies, such as El Corte Ingles, even use thermal imaging cameras to control the temperature.
"This is going to disappoint a lot of people," Anthony Fauci —Fernando Simon's counterpart and the top man in charge of the fight against the pandemic in the United States— told Dr. Jason Blaylock, chief of Medicine at the prestigious Walter Reed Medical Center, during a virtual conversation last week.
The expert asserts that the use of thermometers to measure the temperature of people inside public spaces is not useful to detect cases accurately or to stop the spread of the disease.
The measure is as unnecessary and arbitrary as taking off your shoes before boarding a flight. Both the World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and control (ECDC) have warned of the futility of this measure.
"Temperature detection alone, at exit or entrance, is not an effective way to stop international spread, as infected people may be in incubation period, may not show symptoms at the onset of the disease or may disguise fever by using antipyretics," recalls the WHO.
Thermometer tests to identify COVID - 19 are not only inaccurate and ineffective (as a person may not have symptoms) but are leading people to a false sense of security during the pandemic. A person's temperature, even when taken accurately, is not always an indication of an early coronavirus infection and will often not tell you that someone is sick when they are in their most contagious stage.
Therefore, during the most critical hours for quarantining people with coronavirus, thermometers may not be used to identify them.
This is essential now that the security measures to be implemented in schools with the return to the classrooms to ensure the safety of students are discussed. Not only can temperature control let people escape without symptoms, but if they are identified, it may be too late.
"If your goal is to filter people into a lobby or entry point, it's a farce," Inder Singh, CEO of smart thermometer company Kinsa tells Business Insider.
"By the time you take someone's temperature in the lobby, or at the entrance to the school, it's too late," he insists. "They have already spread the disease. They were already on public transport. They were already standing in a lobby with others."
In addition, the use of thermometers creates a false sense of security that encourages mobility and relaxation of other measures, favouring spread.
Thermometers would work best as a home-made tool to stop coronavirus so that people take their temperature before leaving home. They should be used in conjunction with masks, contact tracing, social distancing measures and quarantine of sick and exposed persons.
None of these public health measures will be 100% effective in eradicating the virus alone, but if some of them are combined, they will work well enough to stop infections, as has happened in countries like Japan.
Rather than the use of thermometers, the World Health Organization continues to advocate for hand hygiene and social distancing as the main measures to contain the spread of the pandemic, which now totals more than 778,000 deaths worldwide.