What a time to be alive

To think one day we’ll look back at our “smart phones” we have today and think them to be laughably simple…

via nipungargwrites

via nipungargwrites

Scientists from the University of Queensland in Australia have discovered that mantis shrimphave an incredibly useful ability – the marine creatures are able to see a variety of cancers inside our bodies. And they’ve now replicated that ability in a camera that could eventually be put into a smartphone.

Mantis shrimp can see cancer, and the activity of our neurons, because they have unique eyes, known as compound eyes. This type of eye is superbly tuned to detect polarised light – a type of light that reflects differently off different types of tissue, including cancerous or healthy tissue.

“Humans can’t see this, but a mantis shrimp could walk up to it and hit it,” said Justin Marshall from the Queensland Brain Institute at the University of Queensland in a press release.

“We see colour with hues and shades, and objects that contrast – a red apple in a green tree for example – but our research is revealing a number of animals that use polarised light to detect and discriminate between objects.”

His team have now worked with international collaborators to create a camera that can replicate this ability – eventually they hope they could lead to smartphone cameras that would allow people to scan their body for cancers at home.

“The camera that we’ve developed in close collaboration with US and UK scientists shoots video and could provide immediate feedback on detecting cancer and monitoring the activity of exposed nerve cells,” said Marshall.

They did this by revealing that the compound eye of the mantis shrimp contains groups of photocells called ommatidia. Each of these ommatidium has thin micro-villi that can filter polarised light, as well as light-sensitive receptors.

To mimic this in the camera, the scientists used aluminium nanowires to replicate the polarisation-filtering microvilli, and placed these on top of photodiodes, which convert light into electrical current.

“It converts the invisible messages into colours that our visual system is comfortable with,” said Marshall.

To be honest, I have a failure of imagination when it comes to the sorts of things that may one day end up in our pockets…  …or even part of us as implants.   If we look at tech when we were born (and now), project that to when our children or grandchildren are our age.   See?  No idea either.


– sciencealert.com.au

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