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Breath Detector To Help Find Earthquake Survivors

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the the-nose-knows dept.

Science 62

bazzalunatic writes "With all the recent earthquakes, this 'human-sniffing' device couldn't be more timely. Developed in the UK, the new machine detects the breath and sweat of survivors trapped in rubble. It's better than sniffer dogs, and could reduce the risk to them. From the article: 'The sensor technology was shown to accurately detect human-generated carbon dioxide and ammonia in air that wafted through gaps in the rubble during testing, something that previously only dogs could do, as other technologies focus more heavily on seeing or hearing a survivor.'"

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CO2 can be serious. (1, Troll)

Dr.Bob,DC (2076168) | more than 2 years ago | (#37443550)


It's a very neat machine that will definately save lives.

After being trapped in rubble for too long, there would be serious concerns about the amount of CO2 the person has inhaled as well as the length of their immobility. Too much CO2 in the system has been suggested as a cause of subluxation as has a sedentary lifestyle.

The link to CO2 was made several years ago by a Doctor who noticed several of his more frequent visitors came in with "Big Gulps". Many drank diet drinks yet still had vertebreal subluxations, that eliminates the HFCS from the equation (not that you should take that garbage in).

The sole link seemed to be the huge amounts of carbonation in the drinks which gets right into the system and causes nerve damage/blockage/subluxation. The Doctor actually submitted his findings to the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research [journalofs...search.com] .

After pulling people from the rubble and making sure they have no broken bones or internal damage, I'd hope that they would be rushed to a Chiropractor who would assess and treat the damage caused by excessive CO2 inhalation and immobility.

Take care,
Bob

Re:CO2 can be serious. (0)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#37443608)

I was going to point out the irony of referencing Dr. Who as science as it's not exactly the most credible thing in the world, but then I realized that you are a chiropractor, so Dr. Who IS more credible than you :P

Re:CO2 can be serious. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37443630)

You, sir, are utterly hilarious. My only worry is that there may be some simpletons who don't realize that you're joking ... oh well, Darwin and all that ...

Re:CO2 can be serious. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37443636)

I love you Dr. Bob Nutcase.

Re:CO2 can be serious. (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37443674)

Subluxation, you keep using that word, I don not think it means what you think it means.
2

Re:CO2 can be serious. (2)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37444020)

You've managed to touch briefly on actually interesting, real science. Humans automatically compensate for increased CO2 by adjusting their breathing and their metabolic levels. Curiously, humans can only detect the presence of carbon dioxide in the blood but not the absence of oxygen. This has lead to deaths in high nitrogen environments or other environments where there's very little oxygen, since people have no warning sign that they aren't getting enough oxygen. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrogen_asphyxiation [wikipedia.org] . Death due to lack of oxygen is pleasant compared to suffocation because the body does not go into the normal panic that occurs from too much carbon dioxide. So things just shut down.

Re:CO2 can be serious. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37444412)

Incidentally, this makes inert gas inhalation a preferred suicide method among those without access to the harder anaesthetics: usually it involves helium, since you can get small tanks of that cheaply at party supply places, unlike nitrogen which is a welding/scientific/industrial thing(not controlled in any way; but fewer retail places, and many that might give you a funny look if you act like you don't know what you are doing there...)

Bag over head, open the tap to achieve continuous mild overpressure, and breath normally. You'll still be expelling carbon dioxide just fine, and breathing without hindrance, so no panic; but your oxygen saturation will plummet and it is lights out...

Re:CO2 can be serious. (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#37445562)

Thanks for brightening my day, fungus dude.

Re:CO2 can be serious. (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 2 years ago | (#37509474)

Must be popular amongst the chemically illiterate then. I'd have gone to the camping gear store and brought a can of propane-butane mix.

Same asphyxiation effect, but with a mild degree of anaesthesia as well.

Re:CO2 can be serious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37444036)

Wait, so do artificial sweeteners not cause subluxations?

I though that natural was good and artificial bad? how can concentrated fructose (a natural sugar from a natural source) be worse than an artificial sugar?

Re:CO2 can be serious. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37444146)

And THIS is why chiropractic is just bunkum science. They're perfectly willing to give HFCS a free pass, and yet completely ignore the obvious link between vertebreal subluxations and dihydrogen monoxide.

Re:CO2 can be serious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37453006)

A bit overdone. Needs to be more subtle - sometimes less is more.

6/10.

Timely? (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | more than 2 years ago | (#37443692)

Late seems more appropriate. Wouldn't timely suggest it was available for use during the actual earthquakes? ...or perhaps san fran is next?

sex with A fagorz (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37443794)

keep, and I won't and sold in the unless you can work of programming waS at the same2 Thing for the BSD had become

Perfect... (5, Funny)

TheMeth0D (182840) | more than 2 years ago | (#37444100)

...technology for skynet to use when hunting us in the future. Keep up the good work!

Re:Perfect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37444588)

If they put it in a http://terminator.wikia.com/wiki/Cameron package, fine by me...

Re:Perfect... (-1, Troll)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 2 years ago | (#37444996)

Why wait for the future? Maybe we could use these to help helicopters spot Afghan children collecting firewood so they can be dispatched more efficiently instead of tolerating their silly tricks like hiding behind rocks.

Re:Perfect... (1)

TheMeth0D (182840) | more than 2 years ago | (#37446196)

At the rate we're going we won't have gas money for our helicopters let alone money to equip them with the latest technology... and thats probably a good thing.

Skynet on the other hand has no funding issues... money is just numbers on a computer after all.

Re:Perfect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37451144)

I just finished Robopocalypse, and I do not want this technology to exist. Finding us by body heat is bad enough.

Re:Perfect... (1)

a_hanso (1891616) | more than 2 years ago | (#37454534)

Or for Precrime to to use when hunting runners in the future.

Ammonia? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37444118)

So when a building falls on you, you are supposed to urinate in your pants so they can find you with this ammonia sniffer thing? Or is there really enough ammonia in sweat for this to detect it?

Re:Ammonia? (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#37444282)

So when a building falls on you, you are supposed to urinate in your pants so they can find you with this ammonia sniffer thing? Or is there really enough ammonia in sweat for this to detect it?

Well, given the choice between pissing yourself or retaining your dignity and dying which would you choose?

Re:Ammonia? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37444698)

So when a building falls on you, you are supposed to urinate in your pants so they can find you with this ammonia sniffer thing?

Okay now, do you really think that people trapped in rubble under collapsed buildings just hold it? Or walk down to the bathroom and use the urinals?

Re:Ammonia? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37445126)

Don't know about the rest of you but if a building ends up falling on me i don't think pissing my pants is going to be a conscious decision I'm going to have to make, think that might just be automatic.

Military applications (0)

Igarden2 (916096) | more than 2 years ago | (#37444178)

Military applications coming in 3...2...1...

Re:Military applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37449712)

Been there, done that... [wikipedia.org] What took you civilian guys so long?

Re:Military applications (1)

qpqp (1969898) | more than 2 years ago | (#37450500)

Can we modify it, so it can smell weed or truffles?

Re:Military applications (1)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 2 years ago | (#37452396)

Can we modify it, so it can smell weed

Done already - ditto pollen tracking

or truffles?

Probably considered redundant and expensive now that reliable cultivation by innoculation is considered trivial (my kids sometimes work on a neighbouring truffle farm). They just work through the soil around the tree roots on a regular basis, yields are high and reliable.

It's a Tasmanian company that sells the innoculation - wild truffles aren't worth much now (and pigs are cheap).

I've been thinking about this a bit (1)

joshuac (53492) | more than 2 years ago | (#37444270)

and since practically everyone nowadays carry sophisticated personal radio beacons (aka "cell phones") that periodically transmit uniquely identifiable (on a per device basis) signals, I'm surprised no one has jumped on using this as a way of sensing where the people are.

Re:I've been thinking about this a bit (2)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#37444444)

Except that the cell phone doesn't give any indication that the person it's with is alive or not. That's why they're called "survivors".

Re:I've been thinking about this a bit (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 2 years ago | (#37444482)

Yeah, screw those 6 billion people who don't have cell phones!

Re:I've been thinking about this a bit (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 2 years ago | (#37445416)

Hm? World population is roughly 7 billion. I'm sure there's several billion mobile phone users out there. Wikipedia refers to "over 5 billion", but that might just be the number of active phones, number of users will be a bit lower.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_number_of_mobile_phones_in_use [wikipedia.org]

Re:I've been thinking about this a bit (3, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 2 years ago | (#37444766)

and since practically everyone nowadays carry sophisticated personal radio beacons (aka "cell phones")

There is the problem of battery life. Signal penetration through tons of rubble. Transponders out of service and so on.

Re:I've been thinking about this a bit (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37444798)

You mean like they did after 9/11 when they brought in portable cell towers and used them to triangulate on the cell phone signals?

Re:I've been thinking about this a bit (1)

joshuac (53492) | more than 2 years ago | (#37451636)

Yes, only in a form deployable by a first responder.

Re:I've been thinking about this a bit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37444814)

Cause cell phones work reall great after you smash them up a bit and then dump a couple tons of concrete and rebar on top of them?

Summary Misleading (4, Insightful)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37444356)

It's better than sniffer dogs

Highly misleading. It eliminates dangers to the dogs/handlers and simplifies logistics; the article doesn't even imply that the device is more effective than dogs. It also points out that dogs are more agile and will still be more useful in areas where the machine or its human operator can't easily go (which I imagine will be a lot of places, considering that they're *digging through rubble*).

There are dogs out there that can detect cancer, for Christ sake; don't be so quick to dismiss biology in favor of technology, especially considering that a merging of the two is probably our next great frontier.

P.S. If any suspicious or sardonic person out there wants to argue that cancer dogs are some stupid myth, read the studies cited in this wikipedia article: they may be small studies, but I'm not inclined to doubt a study of a diagnostic tool showing a specificity >90% until I see a directly contrary scientific result or a damn good argument about the design of the original study.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canine_cancer_detection

Re:Summary Misleading (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37445022)

You forgot something, and that something is snakebots.

Numerous labs are working on snake-shaped robots, some even have built them out of discrete modules that can detach and become smaller lengths. Now add in some sniffer modules, and suddenly you have robots that can go places dogs can't. Equip the modules with radio repeaters and now you can get a comm link even down into a collapsed building with a lot of metal in it. Come on, what year is it? Dogs, indeed. I'm allergic to dogs, so that's an extra reason for me to prefer robots :)

Re:Summary Misleading (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37448658)

Gah. I always forget about snakebots.

of things wafting (2)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37444736)

accurately detect human-generated carbon dioxide and ammonia in air that wafted through gaps in the rubble

I'd be willing to bet that there's a number of easier to smell things than CO2 "wafting" up out of rubble with a survivor that's been in there for days.

Lets drop the PC talk and get down to brass tacks. By day 3 any survivor is going to be quite ripe in a number of ways and their bad breath is going to be the last thing you notice.

Re:of things wafting (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37445342)

True; but if you are looking for survivors you want something that isn't also true of a slightly squished corpse that hasn't been exerting much sphincter control of late. Carbon dioxide isn't perfect(fires and microbial respiration also generate it); but there are reasons to choose it.

Re:of things wafting (0)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 2 years ago | (#37445386)

People probably smell like shit to dogs all the time.

Re:of things wafting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37453186)

People probably smell like shit to dogs all the time.

And that's why they became man's best friend. And you thought it was because of the scraps of food thrown to them?

Re:of things wafting (1)

abies (607076) | more than 2 years ago | (#37445568)

I think that this is why 'ammonia' is mentioned. I can already see that Health&Safety instructions - "In case of being buried in the rubble, release as soon as possible".

Still, for the first n hours, to find unconcious people who are not following H&S rule, CO2 marker is probably more important.

Re:of things wafting (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 2 years ago | (#37447082)

...their bad breath is going to be the last thing you notice.

Actually 48 hours of starvation can cause ketosis [wikipedia.org] , which gives you fruity-smelling acetone breath and urine.

Which is cheaper? (1)

jomegat (706411) | more than 2 years ago | (#37445926)

I bet dogs are a lot cheaper than snifferbots.

Re:Which is cheaper? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#37447310)

Considering you can train a dog from birth to be a sniffer in under 6mo, I'd say it's going to be cheaper.

Re:Which is cheaper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37450486)

You think 6 months of specialist dog training is cheap? The dogs may not cost much, but I doubt the same can be said of their training.

Admittedly, I don't know how much it costs, but I'd imagine it'd be somewhere in the 1000s of dollars. It doesn't seem unreasonable that a sniffer bot could be made for less.

The article isn't helpful with regard to figures for either dog training or the sniffer bots, but it does mention "concerns about the expense of training dogs."

Re:Which is cheaper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37450772)

Hey, I found this great thing called the "Internet" where by use of a "search engine", you can find where people advertise [globalk9group.com] prices for [kovendogtraining.com] trained dogs [cck9.com] .

Re:Which is cheaper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37452694)

none of those links refers to the type of dogs discussed here. The SAR ones probably come the closest!

Think the china earthquakes or 9/11 scales of disasters (not little Jimmy lost in the woods).

USAR Cat2 being the technical term for those rescuers (and dogs alike).

Re:Which is cheaper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37452622)

These dogs are not cheap to train (and a heck of a lot more work than just 6 months). Fully trained dog and handlers are probably some of the most rare and highly trained animals in the world there are seriously not that many of them out there. It takes 8-10 weeks to select suitable puppies, 12-18 months minimum training (the dog can fail to meet the grade after all this as well) and an expected readiness lifespan of 5 or 6 years (again with constant training throughout). The dog is also single use, it will be put down for humane reasons immediately after the disaster rescue is concluded simply because of the hazards it will be exposed too.

Also note because of the dangerous conditions the trainers need to be highly qualified as well and are very specialised.

I used to belong to one of these rescue teams and we've trained right alongside some of the Swiss dog teams an their handlers. Trust me if this does what it says it is a very very good thing and doesn't have to be cheap to be more cost effective.

DWI (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#37445974)

In Texas they would pull you out then give you a ticket for Dying While Intoxicated.

More like... (1)

rush2049 (980385) | more than 2 years ago | (#37446166)

More like breath detector to help skynet find living humans to eradicate....

With all the recent earthquakes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37446546)

...this 'human-sniffing' device couldn't be more un-timely!

Great..... (1)

LoRdTAW (99712) | more than 2 years ago | (#37447234)

They invented a bigger mosquito. Just what the world needs.

Customs Use ? (2)

mossy the mole (1325127) | more than 2 years ago | (#37448108)

Sounds like an improved version of the detectors used to find illegal immigrants hidden in trucks. If it works It'll probably see much more use by customs that the rescue people.

Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37448340)

We can begin recovering from the Virginia earthquake that devastated us all. Never forget 8/23/2011!

bad breath (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37448560)

come on, our breath can't be that bad... then again.....

I suspect the dogs are still better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37449332)

...though they may not be as cheap.

Simply solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37451468)

Two words: radioactive mosquitos.

Great device.. (1)

raymorphic (2461142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37453518)

Kudos to the team who produced this

Good. (1)

h5inz (1284916) | more than 2 years ago | (#37453988)

Its a nice technology for a good purpose, though still couldn't resist...- now try reading it with "earthquake" replaced by "human extermination effort" !
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