Chemists Without Borders

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Wednesday, August 06, 2014

"Smart lens" technology

     I have a pretty strong corrective lens prescription.  I have astigmatism in my left eye which is not corrected very well by glasses, but toric contact lenses do a pretty good job since they are weighted and return to proper position with every blink.  With my prescription I am becoming more and more limited in what corrective lenses can do for me as I become more and more nearsighted.  As I get older, my eyes are starting to change less as the muscles in my eye begin to weaken, but I have often wondered, "What will I do if my eyes move beyond the realm of what can be corrected with current lens technology? "   
09229-notw7-contact
A prototype smart lens.
Credit: Novartis
     Enter Google X and their scifi problem solvers. They have designed “smart lens” technology that works to incorporate sensors, microchips, and other electronics into contact lenses.  Novartis is licensing this technology with a couple ideas in mind. One possible use is the treatment of the loss of the eye’s ability to focus on close objects (presbyopia).  Refractive surgery would likely need to be combined with the lens, but together they could possibly return the eye’s natural autofocus ability.     This seems like just the beginning of what a lens like this could do to correct vision. Who knows, maybe one day I will benefit from this early work with “smart lenses”. 
     Another really impressive idea is using the “smart lens” to measure glucose levels in the eye fluid of people with diabetes. People today must continuously draw their blood to measure glucose levels, but maybe one day their “smart lens” would wirelessly send their glucose level to their phone. No fingerpicks. Pretty neat idea if they can get it to work as reliably as a blood glucose meter. 
     Maybe Google X can develop a cheap sensor for Chemists Without Borders that would wirelessly send water contaminant data to an analyst halfway across the world…you never know…horseless wagons were futuristic long ago.

Monday, August 04, 2014

REMINDER - IdeaConnection Projects Q&A call: 9am PST August 7, 2014

IdeaConnection Projects Q&A call: 9am PST August 7, 2014


Chemists Without Borders - IdeaConnection Projects Conference Call Agenda
Dates: Aug 7th 2014 9am PST


Project Overview in Google Docs: CWB IdeaConnection Solutions  

Join a Team:
 
1) ACTIVE     8504 Cottage Industry Arsenic Removal (filter)  Sign Up for 8504
2) ACTIVE     8500 Arsenic Penny per Test  Sign Up for 8500
3) PENDING  8505 Water Treatment Tool Kit     Sign Up for 8505
4) PENDING  8502 eWaste (plan)  Sign Up for 8502
5) PENDING  8503 Water Testing Tool Kit  Sign Up for 8503 
Conference call AGENDA:

In this open conference call, Dr. Steve Chambreau, President of Chemists Without Borders, will give an update on the IdeaConnection solutions provided recently to Chemists Without Borders. This will detail the history of the IdeaConnection collaboration, including proposed challenges, the solution evaluation process, and the accepted solutions that we plan to move forward. We will discuss how to move these solutions forward and look for team members to help with this. Please see Newsletter #15 for more details. 

Date: Thursday, August 07, 2014
Start Time: 09:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time
End Time: 09:55 AM Pacific Daylight Time
Dial-in Number: 1-626-677-3000 (West Coast)
Access Code: 365675










If you are interested in learning more about the IdeaConnection solutions and how you can help Chemists Without Borders with listed challenges, please attend this conference call.

Louis J Ciabattoni

louciabattoni@chemistswithoutborders.org
Vice President of Membership and Administration
Mobile: +1-650-255-2760      Skype/@Yahoo/@Google: CiabattoniLJ
Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+. Twitter, Blog, More coming

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Business, Bees, and Nicotine


Since 1945, the use of pesticides has risen 3,300 percent, however crop loss due to pests has not decreased. Despite the fact that USA (on average) uses 2.2 billion pounds of pesticides annually, crop loss has increased by 20 percent. To make matters worse these statistics were taken a decade ago, and if you remember anything from your high school biology class, pests evolve and adapt swiftly to the new environment. Now, with tougher pests you need stronger chemicals, and the vicious cycle continues. Since there is a high demand for these pesticides, hundreds of thousands of chemicals are produced (yearly) and they have to be screened by the EPA. Theoretically, this is what EPA should do and would like to do. However, unfortunately their major back-logs and a continuous stream of chemicals are constantly being pushed by respective firms thus creating a loop hole where a couple of hundred chemicals make it to the market without ‘intensive’ screening -- among them are several neonicotinoids.
Photo: taken from the ACS 'molecule of the week.' Clothianidin-
One of the first neonicotinoids to make it to the market was Clothianidin. This  insecticide was jointly developed by Bayer and Takeda Chemical Industries to replace nicotine (as an insecticide). As a Side note, nicotine was thought of to be a good insecticide, however it degrades too quickly thereby not practical in large scale production. In general neonicotinoids have an affinity for nicotinic acetylcholine receptors which are in control of sodium channels responsible for cell signaling. These neural receptors bind with the neonicotinoid which results in paralysis and death in insects – no cell signaling, no movement. Since there were massive domino effects on bees and other organisms, several neonicotinoids have been issued a 2-year ban for further investigation.
Due to the wide-spread usage here in the USA, bee populations are are already feeling the heat.In a memorandum to federal agencies Obama ordered the EPA to assess the impact of all pesticides, on pollinator health with a deadline of 180 days. EPA has started the assessment, which now has a deadline. There are environmental advocacy groups pressuring EPA to ban neonicotinoids because of its impact on bees. Larissa Walker, head of the pollinator campaign at the Center for Food and Safety says, “The White House announcement is on the right track, but assessment and habitat building alone won’t save our pollinators.” What do you think will come about this?

-Quote taken from C&EN article “The White House and Bees.”

Blogger:
Michael (Mykola) Schur
Chemical Engineering student at Calvin College
@Mykola_Shchur