Apr 11, 2017

Bacteria and lasers can detect landmines

AP

Buried landmines can now be detected using bacteria engineered to sense explosive vapors, according to a new study in Nature Biotechnology.

Why it matters: There were more than 6,000 landmine-related casualties recorded in 2015. One of the biggest challenges in clearing landmines is finding them. Bacteria — along with plants and animals — have been proposed for detecting undetonated devices before, but this is the first demonstration of how bacterial sensors might work in the field.

How it works: Explosive vapors seep out of buried landmines and build up in the soil above them. Researchers genetically engineered bacteria that emit a fluorescent signal when they come into contact with vapors from the devices. They scattered the bacteria across a test field and then detected those that glowed with a laser. They searched for 18 landmine targets and only failed to detect four of them.

What's next: The researchers envision outfitting drones with the laser scanners, which would require a more compact design. They also caution they need to address how the bacteria can be removed after use and how to scale the technique so they can scan larger land areas.

Go deeper

Trump signs $2 trillion relief bill as U.S. coronavirus case count tops 100,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Trump signed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package on Friday, as infections in the U.S. topped 100,000 and more cities experience spikes of the novel coronavirus.

The big picture: The U.S. has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, exceeding China and Italy, per data from Johns Hopkins. A second wave of American cities, including Boston, Detroit, New Orleans and Philadelphia, are reporting influxes of cases.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 8 hours ago - Health

Coronavirus updates: Italy records deadliest day with nearly 1,000 dead

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Italy on Friday reported 969 COVID-19 deaths over a 24-hour period, marking the deadliest single-day for the country since the global outbreak began, according to data from the Health Ministry.

The big picture: The U.S. now leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases, as the number of global cases nears 600,000. Governments around the world are trying to curb the medical and financial fallout of COVID-19, as infections surge across Europe and the U.S.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 8 hours ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 595,800 — Total deaths: 27,324 — Total recoveries: 131,006.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 103,942 — Total deaths: 1,689 — Total recoveries: 870.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump signed the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill to provide businesses and U.S. workers economic relief.
  4. State updates: Nearly 92% of cities do not have adequate medical supplies — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month.
  5. World updates: Italy reported 969 coronavirus deaths on Friday, the country's deadliest day.
  6. Business latest: President Trump authorized the use of the Defense Production Act to direct General Motors to build ventilators for those affected by COVID-19. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has been appointed to enforce the act.
  7. 🏰 1 Disney thing: Both Disney World and Disneyland theme parks in the U.S. are closed until further notice.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancing.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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