New sensor detects water contamination in real time

Currently, if you want to check water supplies for the presence of toxic bacteria, you have to take a water sample and then culture it in a lab over several days. In the meantime, it’s impossible to say if the water source is safe to use. A group of students from the Technical University of Denmark, however, have created a sensor that they say can detect bacteria in water instantly, on the spot.

sbt-aqua-bacteria-water-sensor-1Developed through spin-off company SBT Aqua, the sensor utilizes a technique known as impedance flow cytometry.

This involves running a liquid sample continuously through a microfluidic channel. Within that channel is a series of electrodes, to which a multi-voltage electrical signal is applied. As bacteria and other particles flow across those electrodes, they cause a change in impedance, which is detected by the sensor. Read more

Extracting Water from the Air

Without water, humans cannot live. Since time began, we have lived by the water and vast tracts of waterless land have been abandoned as too difficult to inhabit. A new machine which extracts water from air could change that …

001One evening 20 years ago, James J Reidy checked on his new dehumidifier and as he poured the contents down the drain, he reflected on how pure it looked. Two decades on, the idea which was spawned from that moment could influence where and how people live on Planet Earth. Reidy’s idea was simple – it is possible to extract drinking water from the air and there is a market for machines which can do it. Read more

How much should we drink?

thirstWe all know that water is essential for our everyday survival and the effects of dehydration and water loss are well documented. We are told to drink loads of water each day, but what is the right amount of water? Is there a formula or magic number to ensure we stay hydrated and is it best to get all the water into our bodies as quickly as possible, or regulate our water intake for the day? 

To answer the most important question, there is no correct or magic formula to follow to ensure you are properly hydrated each day. However, there are guidelines that you can follow to ensure that you get as close as possible to the perfect daily water intake. The most important aspects to take into consideration are your body weight, environmental conditions, diet and your level of fitness. If you take weight as the one of the main factors, then a person who weighs 65 kilograms and does an hour and a half of exercise will need less water than someone of 110kilograms doing only thirty minutes of exercise. Read more

Is Water an Antioxidant?

AntioxidantIn short, no.

But the following all contain water (clever that), so is it a conundrum? Water is found in most liquids, antioxidants are found in some of those liquids so whereas an antioxidant can be water, water can’t be an antioxidant. Excuse me, I have to sit down, my brain is hurting. (Clearly, not enough water). Okay. So, not a conundrum, it’s something else. Moving swiftly along!

What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are phytochemicals, chemicals found in plant foods. In our bodies, antioxidants protect healthy tissues from “oxidants,” also called free radicals. Over time, free radicals can damage cells and cause disease. Antioxidants are like microscopic police officers who seize these bad guys that plan to harm our cells. Read more

Cracking the problem of river growth

A general mathematical theory that predicts how cracks spread through materials like glass and ice can also predict the direction in which rivers will grow, according to a new MIT study.

151102163710_1_900x600In fracture mechanics, the theory of local symmetry predicts that, for example, a crack in a wall will grow in a direction in which the surrounding stress is symmetric around the crack’s tip.

Scientists at MIT have now applied this theory to the growth of river networks, finding that as a river fed by groundwater cuts through a landscape, it will flow in a direction that maintains symmetric pressure from groundwater around the river’s head. Read more