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High-Speed Laser Scanner Maps a Surface in Three Dimensions

Surface flaws can be scanned automatically and displayed in real time. Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California A scanning optoelectronic instrument generates the digital equivalent of a three-dimensional (X,Y,Z) map of a surface that spans an area with resolution on the order of 0.005 in. (≈0.125mm). Originally intended for characterizing surface flaws (e.g., pits) on space-shuttle thermal-insulation tiles, the instrument could just as well be used for similar purposes in other settings in which there are requirements to inspect the surfaces of many objects. While many commercial instruments can perform this surface-inspection function, the present instrument offers a unique combination of capabilities not available in commercial instruments.

Posted in: Tech Briefs, ptb catchall, Photonics, Briefs, TSP

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MALDI and Biotech Push Nitrogen Laser Development

The nitrogen laser is experiencing new growth due to low cost and the MALDI technique. Stanford Research Systems, Sunnyvale, California The Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption and Ionization (MALDI) technique in 1987 led to a renewed interest for the nitrogen laser. MALDI allows large and fragile biomolecules to be desorbed and ionized intact, or with much less fragmentation. The technique increased the upper mass limit for mass spectrometric analyses of biomolecules to over 300,000 Da, and has enabled the analysis of large biomolecules by mass spectrometry to become easier and more sensitive.

Posted in: Tech Briefs, ptb catchall, Photonics, Briefs

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Electro-Optical Imaging Fourier-Transform Spectrometer

Size, weight, and vibration are reduced by eliminating moving parts. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California An electro-optical (E-O) imaging Fourier-transform spectrometer (IFTS), now under development, is a prototype of improved imaging spectrometers to be used for hyperspectral imaging, especially in the infrared spectral region. Unlike both imaging and non-imaging traditional Fourier-transform spectrometers, the E-O IFTS does not contain any moving parts. Elimination of the moving parts and the associated actuator mechanisms and supporting structures would increase reliability while enabling reductions in size and mass, relative to traditional Fourier-transform spectrometers that offer equivalent capabilities. Elimination of moving parts would also eliminate the vibrations caused by the motions of those parts.

Posted in: Tech Briefs, ptb catchall, Photonics, Briefs

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Architecture Adaptive Computing Environment

Architecture Adaptive Computing Environment (aCe) is a software system that includes a language, compiler, and run-time library for parallel computing. aCe was developed to enable programmers to write programs, more easily than was previously possible, for a variety of parallel computing architectures. Heretofore, it has been perceived to be difficult to write parallel programs for parallel computers and more difficult to port the programs to different parallel computing architectures. In contrast, aCe is supportable on all high-performance computing architectures. Currently, it is supported on LINUX clusters. aCe uses parallel programming constructs that facilitate writing of parallel programs. Such constructs were used in single-instruction/multiple-data (SIMD) programming languages of the 1980s, including Parallel Pascal, Parallel Forth, C*, *LISP, and MasPar MPL. In aCe, these constructs are extended and implemented for both SIMD and multiple-instruction/multiple-data (MIMD) architectures. Two new constructs incorporated in aCe are those of (1) scalar and virtual variables and (2) pre-computed paths. The scalar-and-virtual-variables construct increases flexibility in optimizing memory utilization in various architectures. The pre-computed paths construct enables the compiler to pre-compute part of a communication operation once, rather than computing it every time the communication operation is performed.

Posted in: Medical, Briefs

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Stationary Apparatus Would Apply Forces of Walking to Feet

The forces would be tailored to prevent loss of bone density.A proposed apparatus would apply controlled cyclic forces to both feet for the purpose of preventing the loss of bone density in a human subject whose bones are not subjected daily to the mechanical loads of normal activity in normal Earth gravitation. The apparatus was conceived for use by astronauts on long missions in outer space; it could also be used by bedridden patients on Earth, including patients too weak to generate the necessary forces by their own efforts.

Posted in: Medical, Briefs, TSP

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Instrument Would Detect and Collect Biological Aerosols

Samples would be quickly collected on substrates that would be analyzed automatically.A proposed compact, portable instrument would sample micron-sized airborne particles, would discriminate between biological ones (e.g., bacteria) and nonbiological ones (e.g., dust particles), and would collect the detected biological particles for further analysis. The instrument is intended to satisfy a growing need for means of rapid, inexpensive collection of bioaerosols in a variety of indoor and outdoor settings. Purposes that could be served by such collection include detecting airborne pathogens inside buildings and their ventilation systems, measuring concentrations of airborne biological contaminants around municipal waste-processing facilities, monitoring airborne effluents from suspected biowarfare facilities, and warning of the presence of airborne biowarfare agents.

Posted in: Medical, Briefs

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Generating Control Commands From Gestures Sensed by EMG

Electrical signals from muscles involved in gestures are recognized.An effort is under way to develop noninvasive neuro-electric interfaces through which human operators could control systems as diverse as simple mechanical devices, computers, aircraft, and even spacecraft. The basic idea is to use electrodes on the surface of the skin to acquire electromyographic (EMG) signals associated with gestures, digitize and process the EMG signals to recognize the gestures, and generate digital commands to perform the actions signified by the gestures.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Medical, Briefs, TSP

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