In Pictures: Wireless Network Spectres Captured on Film

A PhD student from the UK’s Newcastle University has developed a method to capture wireless networks on film, and the result is a series of remarkable images showing the networks as swirls of coloured light.

The images, which include networks surrounding objects as well as in a typical home and on the university campus, show how the networks are affected by the structures around them.

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Luis Hernan, who is studying for a PhD in Architecture and Interaction Design, used a specially designed Kirlian device and long-exposure photography to capture the images of the networks, which he calls spectres.

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“The fact we are becoming increasingly reliant on something that we can’t see intrigues me. I wanted to find a way to show the wireless which is around us and also to show how it changes,” explained Hernan.

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” It is an impossibly fragile and volatile infrastructure that holds our digital technologies together, and shapes the way in which we interact with the digital world,” he added.

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“Something as seemingly inconsequential as walking around the house will interfere with and reshape their propagation and strength field. Close the wrong door, and the bedroom becomes a dead spot for wireless.”

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Kirlian devices are typically used to capture coronal discharges from electricity sources, where fluid around a conductor becomes electrically energised and ionises. The result is a field of electrical energy around the object that can appear as a blueish glow.

Hernan has also created an android app so that users can see the networks for themselves.


Images courtesy of Luis Hernan and Newcastle University.


ESA Commissions Blood Testing Device to Further Long-Term Space Flight

The European Space Agency (ESA) has commissioned the development of an advanced medical device to test astronauts’ blood and provide immediate results during manned space missions.

The device is one of a host of technologies in development that are designed to reduce reliance on Earth’s resources during missions, something that Sam Scimemi, the director of the International Space Station, has said is vital if the dream of a manned mission to Mars is to be realised.

Maintaining the health of astronauts is a particularly important part of this, as on long-term missions it will not be possible for sick astronauts to be returned to Earth in time to receive treatment.

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The device, which is being developed by Ireland-based medical device company Radisens Diagnostics under a contract worth €1m ($1.3m), will be used on a variety of manned missions as well as on the International Space Station.

ESA’s technical officer, Francois Gaubert, said: “Performing rapid analysis of astronauts’ blood samples and monitoring their physiological parameters onboard the ISS without having to download the samples from the ISS to the ground laboratories is a feature with utmost interest.”

Radisens has said that the technology will need to test for a “myriad” of health conditions and provide laboratory-grade results without any risk of biological contamination.

It will be based on an existing blood testing device that the company has in development, but will test for a far wider range of diseases and markers than is currently covered by the technology.

The company also believes that the device has potential to be used on Earth in traditional medical environments.

A blood testing device that could provide results without samples being sent to a remote laboratory would provide major cost-savings for medical providers, allowing health budgets to be spent on other areas where additional funding is sorely needed.

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Although the ESA is not as large as NASA, it is increasingly becoming a major player in the industry and has been sending astronauts into space since the 1980s.

In 2009 the agency announced the appointment of six new astronauts following a major recruitment campaign that saw applications from nearly 10,000 Europeans.

Among the selected astronauts was the ESA’s current poster boy, German-boy Alexander Gerst, pictured above.

Gerst will be embarking on an inter-agency mission to the ISS with NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman and Soyuz Commander Maxim Suraev of the Russian Federal Space Agency on 29th May.

The mission, dubbed Expedition 40/41, will see the astronauts launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and spend 5 ½ months aboard the space station.


Featured image courtesy of ESA–S. Corvaja.

Body images courtesy NASA via ESA.