SciTech Briefs

Scientists ‘feel’ organs on screen

Radiologists and doctors can now use computerized image analysis to determine the size and construct three-dimensional models of organs such as the liver.

Through this interactive method, doctors will be able to mark the areas of interest in the image and let the computer do the rest of the work, which includes measurement of volumes of organs or calculation of change in shape and migration of an organ. For example, the computer can calculate the rate at which a tumor will spread in the case of cancer.

The user can feel the virtual organs with the help of a pen-like 3D mouse, which replaces the regular mouse and keyboard in this interactive version.
The technology has been a vital factor in breast cancer detection.

Source: (

GPS detects temperature change

A new technique called GPS radio occultation has been discovered for detecting temperature fluctuations. It acts like a thermometer and helps monitor climate change.

GPS satellites send signals to satellites in low-Earth orbits. These signals are refracted at certain angles as they pass through the atmosphere. The angle of refraction depends on temperature and the amount of water vapor present in the atmosphere.

The system is very sensitive to atmospheric variations. It is predicted that this method can also be used to detect strong man-made signals as well as temperature changes.

Source: (

Biotech crops on the rise

In spite of the potential risks of genetically engineered crops being widely realized and accepted, farmers in 12 developing countries planted biotech crops in 2007, outnumbering the industrialized countries that grow the same crops.

Genetically engineered crops require reduced pesticide spraying and generate greater yield. This helps farmers, as engineered crops reduces the cost of production and increases profits.

A report from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications states that America continues to dominate the world of biotech agriculture, with 142 million acres being covered by engineered crops.

Argentina, with an area of 47.2 million acres of biotech crops like corn, soy, and cotton, led developing countries.

Source: The New York Times

Researchers put lens in rodent brain

Japanese researchers implanted a camera inside a mouse’s brain to study memory formation and behavior. The special semi-conductor camera was .1 inch wide (3 by 2.3 by 2.4 millimeters) and was implanted inside the hippocampus region of the brain.

A blue light on the screen indicates memory being recorded by the brain as the camera captures the light. Researchers intend to use the camera while the mouse walks.

It is expected that the camera will be able to track brain activities that trigger symptoms such as tremors. The study will help in giving insights into ways to treat diseases like Parkinson’s in humans.

Source: Reuters