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Magnetic Levitation Detects Proteins, Could Diagnose Disease

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the thinking-outside-the-lab dept.

Biotech 26

LilaG writes "Not just a way to transport trains at high speed, magnetic levitation could find use in diagnosing disease. Researchers at Harvard have shown that they can detect proteins in blood using MagLev. The researchers, led by George Whitesides, use levitation to detect a change in the density of porous gel beads that occurs when a protein binds to ligands inside the beads. The lower the bead levitates, the more protein it holds. The method (abstract of paywalled article) could work for detecting disease proteins in people's blood samples in the developing world: The magnets cost only about $5 each, and the device requires no electricity or batteries. Because the beads are visible to the naked eye, researchers can make measurements with a simple ruler with a millimeter scale."

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fr!st (0)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262051)

filing patent now for version that uses standard measurement on the ruler instead of metric.

Re:fr!st (3, Funny)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262081)

2.0 version will allow you to share the measurement on facebook

Re:fr!st (4, Insightful)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262619)

Metric IS the standard, asshole!

Re:fr!st (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262829)

filing patent now for version that uses standard measurement on the ruler instead of metric.

Yeah, because gallons per furlong is a useful measurement.

What you call 'standard' measurement, the rest of us see as mostly a random collection of measures based on fairly arbitrary things. Hogsheads, firkins, furlongs, leagues, cubits, gills, rods, and other random old school things really make no sense to most of us. The dick-length of the 3rd Earl of Canterbury is kind of a stupid measure (ok, it's not a real one, but it's not that far off the mark).

Granted, I grew up during the transition to metric ... so my height and weight is feet and pounds, but pretty much everything is metric.

Re:fr!st (1)

tom17 (659054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39263097)

Granted, I grew up during the transition to metric ... so my height and weight is feet and pounds, but pretty much everything is metric.

Are you a 70s baby early 80s child?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsW0FuDMiH4 [youtube.com]

Re:fr!st (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#39263125)

filing patent now for version that uses standard measurement on the ruler instead of metric.

Yeah, because gallons per furlong is a useful measurement.

What you call 'standard' measurement, the rest of us see as mostly a random collection of measures based on fairly arbitrary things. Hogsheads, firkins, furlongs, leagues, cubits, gills, rods, and other random old school things really make no sense to most of us. The dick-length of the 3rd Earl of Canterbury is kind of a stupid measure (ok, it's not a real one, but it's not that far off the mark).

Granted, I grew up during the transition to metric ... so my height and weight is feet and pounds, but pretty much everything is metric.

The old rubber ruler trick.

Re:fr!st (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39263629)

Damn your Furlongs, I want that in Football Fields?

Re:fr!st (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#39263955)

Damn your Furlongs, I want that in Football Fields?

Well, according to this [onlineunitconversion.com] , 1 football field is 0.4545445 furlongs, or 1 furlong is 2.2000044 football fields.

Happy? :-P

Re:fr!st (1)

Exiton (1244590) | more than 2 years ago | (#39267043)

Damn your Furlongs, I want that in Football Fields?

Well, according to this [onlineunitconversion.com] , 1 football field is 0.4545445 furlongs, or 1 furlong is 2.2000044 football fields.

Happy? :-P

How am i supposed to remember such an arbitrary number, you shoud use standard units like the rest of the world.
1 furlong [international] = 2 football field [Canada]
:)

Re:fr!st (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39264019)

The dick-length of the 3rd Earl of Canterbury is kind of a stupid measure (ok, it's not a real one, but it's not that far off the mark).

I've used imperial measures all my life but I had no idea that the 3rd Earl of Canterbury had a false dick.

Re:fr!st (1)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 2 years ago | (#39264219)

I want it measured in beardseconds.

Re:fr!st (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265329)

uhhhh.... whoosh? can i get an xkcd for this guy?

http://xkcd.com/526/ [xkcd.com]

amen!

Re:fr!st (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265379)

Not far at all. The cubit is the length of an ancient Egyptian man's forearm:

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

Re:fr!st (1)

fifedrum (611338) | more than 2 years ago | (#39265783)

understanding, of course, that metric is "mostly a random collection of measures based on fairly arbitrary things" just because these things are one ten millionth the distance from Peoria to Timbuktu (equator to north pole through Paris? whatever, exactly as arbitrary) doesn't make them any less arbitrary.

like 0 degrees to 100 degrees for water from freezing to boiling, at a certain temperature and pressure... they're no less arbitrary than the definition of degree ferenheit

The only thing going for it is the decimal nature of the system, but that's also no big deal because you can always use a decimal point in the US standard system too, or haven't you ever purchased 3.21 gallons of gas?

Re:fr!st (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39266847)

Holy crap, I hate response posts like this.

Yes, the metric system is also based off an arbitrary system to some extent, even picking ten for a base is nothing more than an extension of our finger-counting abilities. BUT, it's an arbitrary system with reason; everyone thinks of ice as really cold, and boiling as really hot. And most educated humans are comfortable about a mental scale between 0 and 100. So, picking 0 as freezing and 100 as boiling was an excellent place for a nascent measuring system to begin. There's a reason it was embraced so quickly and has stuck around, eventually becoming integrated into most of the world. And saying 3.21 gallons of gas is actually a graft of decimal measuring onto a system that grew out of endless fractions. You should thank the Metric system for making your gas pumping that easy.

"The only thing going for it is the decimal nature of the system, but that's also no big deal because you can always use a decimal point in the US standard system too, or haven't you ever purchased 3.21 gallons of gas?" The decimal point is EXACTLY what is going for it. That really is the difference, and it's a huge difference. Ignoring the extreme examples listed above, we measure small units by magnitudes of base 2 inches, on a scale of 12 inches per foot, with more than 5,000 feet per mile (neglecting the oft-used 'yard' of 3 feet, which is convenient to use alone but sucks worse than ever when mixed into other units). Sooo... 5.31 miles is an accurate expression, but makes everything go downhill when you actually try to use it. How many feet is that? How many inches? Does it end in a decimal inch, or in thirty-secondths?

Take for instance 5.31 kilometers. That's... in my head, as fast as I can type it, 5,310 meters, 5,310,000 centimeters, and 5,310,000,000 millimeters. If I wanted to I could go on forever (forever means maybe to pico-scale). Now do that with Imperial measures... or should we just say American? And, lest we forget, the only Congressional ratified system of weights and measures IS the Metric system. If Benjamin Franklin had gotten to Congress just a little sooner, and the manufacturing and construction in America didn't burgeon so quickly, we'd be Metric to this day, as we should be now.

Full disclosure: I grew up in Canada, moved to America before I turned ten, and had to relearn measurements in inches and feet. I had to relearn Celsius, kilograms, and meters for college. Yeah, I'm annoyed.

So, you win. It's an 'arbitrary' system based on common sense that had proven itself extremely practical. But still arbitrary!

Decimal points in US measurements??? WTF? (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 2 years ago | (#39267583)

that's also no big deal because you can always use a decimal point in the US standard system too

But... but... WHY??? I mean, what's so remarkable about 528 feet or 1.2 inches?

Tell me, quickly, how much is a millionth of a mile? No, don't use a computer, tell it from your gut feeling, how big is a millionth of a mile?

You know what? The quickest way to get a feeling for an order of magnitude like that is converting to metric. One mile is 1609 meters, therefore a millionth of that is 1.6 millimeter, which translates roughly to about 1/16".

Now do that calculation through the usual miles -> feet -> inches -> fraction of inch process. Let's see, a mile is 5260 feet, one millionth of that is 0.00526 feet, multiply by 12 to get inches...

BTW, exactly how many meters in a kilometer? Not 980, not 1020, but exactly 1000. Now tell me, can you see something wrong in the preceding paragraph? Ask a thousand kids in the US how many feet in a mile, ask a thousand kids anywhere else how many meters in a kilometer, which is easier to remember?

Re:Decimal points in US measurements??? WTF? (1)

fifedrum (611338) | more than 2 years ago | (#39274389)

When was the last time someone said "that washer must be three millionths of a mile thick"?

Re:fr!st (1)

FunkDup (995643) | more than 2 years ago | (#39272531)

that's also no big deal because you can always use a decimal point in the US standard system too

"Understanding" indeed. Here's the difference:

1000cm = 1m
1000" = 83.333'

1 litre water = 1Kg
1 gal water = 8.35lb

Metric is consistent and easy to work with, imperial is the exact opposite.

Re:fr!st (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 2 years ago | (#39267397)

filing patent now for version that uses standard measurement on the ruler instead of metric.

Yeah, because gallons per furlong is a useful measurement.

What you call 'standard' measurement, the rest of us see as mostly a random collection of measures based on fairly arbitrary things. Hogsheads, firkins, furlongs, leagues, cubits, gills, rods, and other random old school things really make no sense to most of us. The dick-length of the 3rd Earl of Canterbury is kind of a stupid measure (ok, it's not a real one, but it's not that far off the mark).

Granted, I grew up during the transition to metric ... so my height and weight is feet and pounds, but pretty much everything is metric.

The meter is supposed to be 1/10,000,000 of the distance from the equator to the north pole but the measurement was later determined to be off. 1 Kg is almost the mass of 1 liter of water at STP so again the SI measurement is based on an error. The mol was determined by the number of atoms in 12g of carbon 12, that is completely arbitrary. Arguing that using 1/10,000,000 of the distance from the equator to the north pole is some how better then dick-length of the 3rd Earl of Canterbury is nonsense as they are both just as arbitrary. The thing Si units have going for it is the use of prefixes and deriving other units from the base units 1J=1Nm ...

Re:fr!st (1)

turtledawn (149719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39267823)

The mole is the number of atoms contained in the mass in grams of the average atomic mass of any substance. Hardly arbitrary.

Re:fr!st (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 2 years ago | (#39273887)

Except the gram is an arbitrary value, based on the weight of an arbitrary substance, at an arbitrary temperature, and an arbitrary pressure, that happens to be incorrect.

Re:fr!st (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39268161)

Yes, the basis of every measurement system is arbitrary. And as you say, by design the metric system tries to limit the number of arbitrary bases and keep as many ratios powers of 10. So, you've agreed with the comment you replied to which pointed out how many extra arbitrary things the system it replaces has. For example, he mentioned leagues and cubits. Which have this ratio: 1 league = 12,152.231 cubits. Personally, I refuse to remember basic things like feet per mile and stick to metric.

Extra details (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39263767)

The magnets cost only about $5 each, and the device requires no electricity or batteries.

After allowing for patent licensing, treatment is expected to be available for more than you can afford.

Marvel (1)

letchhausen (95030) | more than 2 years ago | (#39264463)

If only Magneto had used his powers for good instead of evil he could be a rich doctor right now....or even better, do it for free and screw the messed up private insurer mess that we have now.....

i would just like to point out (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#39275521)

this entire discussion has been offtopic, spinning off my patent joke. it looks like i whooshed the entire slashdot population. the joke was about patents, not measurement units. i never declared nor implied standard to be "standard" or in any way superior (or inferior for that matter) to metric. apart from this comment i'm making now, not a single person has commented anything outside of the joke's thread. if you want proof that you are all morons, my first joke was modded a Troll and my instant comment to myself was modded Funny.

at no point in any of your rambling, incoherent responses were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. everyone on this site is now dumber for having read them. i award you no points, and may god have mercy on your soul.

i had no idea there was a zealous metric religion out there. you should all catch the next comet out of here, seriously.
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