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Real-life ‘Tricorder’ invented

While not being exactly pocket-friendly, the new portable chemical analyzer does take mass spectrometry into the field:

“Unlike conventional mass spectrometers, which are cumbersome laboratory instruments that weigh more than 300 pounds, the new handheld device weighs less than 20 pounds and can be used in the field.”

Not exactly svelte, is it?

“Purdue University researchers have created a handheld sensing system its creators liken to Star Trek’s ‘tricorder’ used to analyze the chemical components of alien worlds. But the system could have down-to-earth applications, such as testing foods for dangerous bacterial contaminants including salmonella, which was recently found in a popular brand of peanut butter.”

Looking more like one of the traps from Ghostbusters movie, it’s designer weren’t really gunning for style over substance, were they?

But that’s to marginalize the solid science this device is capable of performing:

“The researchers at Purdue look for compounds that indicate the possible presence of a particular substance, such as cocaine or explosives residues. If these indicators are found, the equipment performs a more in-depth analysis to determine the exact chemical structure.

The research team has used the device to analyze clothes, foods and tablets, and to identify cocaine on $50 bills in less than 1 second.”

I’ll have to amend my gloriously popular Star Trek technology article from many moons ago with this as a recent addition to the already impressive line-up of modern-day technology equivalents of those found in the Star Trek universe

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.