The Loh Down On Science

Beam Me Up

A cell phone to take the pain out of mammograms.

Beam up my. . . breast, Scotty?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

And on new technology that would give even Captain Kirk goose pimples.

Today, three-quarters of the world's population has no access to X-ray machines and mammograms. That's because medical imagery devices are expensive and bulky, and require technical knowledge to maintain.

Engineers at UC Berkeley wanted to make the machines more readily available.

Their solution: Remove the brain--

Or at least the expensive, complex software that transforms raw data--say, X-ray readings--into a precise image.

Substitute instead a CELL phone that TALKS to expensive, complicated software far away.

To try this idea out, the engineers built a simple scanning device and connected it to a cell phone with a USB cable. They also constructed a fake breast made of two types of gel, simulating normal and abnormal cell tissue. When the gizmo was turned on--shazam! Within moments, there was a breast image, in all its detailed cellular glory.

This explains the LOST Star Trek episode where Bones was pretending to "scan" and she karate-chopped him-- Remember that? No? Eh, Director's Cut.


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