Space shuttle TLC

Saw this story on medicexchange today on a new device to spot cracks in Space Shuttle tiles, amongst other great uses. Reminded me of my suggestion to a colleague back in 1989 when working in Atlanta that the only fluid NASA could use to clean tiles safely was human saliva. That’s wht they kept a bucket at the end of the line for workmates to spit into.

“‘T-rays’ have been touted as the next breakthrough in sensing and imaging, but the need for bulky equipment has been an obstacle to reaching the field’s potential. Enter Brian Schulkin, winner of the first-ever $30,000 Lemelson-Rensselaer Student Prize. Schulkin has invented an ultralight, handheld terahertz spectrometer — an advance that could help catapult T-ray technology from the lab bench to the marketplace.

“Schulkin’s ‘Mini-Z’ is dramatically smaller and lighter than any previous terahertz device, and it already has proven its ability to detect cracks in space shuttle foam, image tumors in breast tissue, and spot counterfeit watermarks on paper currency. The system, which weighs less than five pounds and fits snugly in a briefcase, could open the door to a wide range of applications in homeland security, biomedical imaging, and nondestructive testing of industrial components.”