Stephanie vL Henkel

Stephanie vL Henkel

Stephanie vL Henkel

Stories by Stephanie vL Henkel

A Walk in the Woods, with Sensors

Far to the west of the Mississippi River are the Rocky Mountains, new, raw and breathtaking in their seemingly sudden rise. On the east side of that river lies the Appalachian Chain, older and more weathered down, and known to hikers for the trail that begins in Spring Mountain, Georgia, and ends at Mount Katahdin, Maine, nearly 2200 miles distant. Some 4 million hikers walk parts of the trail each year. Let's hand sensors to some of them.

A Touch of Genius

FingerTPS, a line of capacitive tactile pressure sensors mounted on stretchable fabric designed to be worn on a person's fingertips and palm, can measure the pressures exerted while the person uses a tool or performs some other action.

Is That Meat Okay to Eat?

There's yet another food spoilage detector that can detect high levels of bacterial activity in poultry and other meats destined for the table. SensorfreshQ sniffs out biogenic amines that can be picked up by a handheld device that passes an air sample over the item of interest.

Listening to Melanoma

University of Missouri-Columbia researchers have found a way to detect the spread of melanoma, a particularly aggressive form of skin cancer, by listening to the sound melanin makes in the blood cells. With as few as 10 cells/sample, oncologists could spot early signs of metastasis before the disease settles in other organs.

Establishing Burn Depths

Determining the extent of a burn injury is difficult from visual inspection. At stake is a surgical procedure should the underlying blood vessels not be receiving the amount of oxygen needed for the surrounding tissue to regenerate.

Putting a Spike in the Spokes

The charms of the SUV continue to elude me. Trying to peer around some monster bulk parked at the corner of School and Grove streets here in Peterborough when I want to turn right without getting T-boned is a sweaty proposition. It's worse after a winter storm, when snow banks along the curbs mean parallel parking halfway into the street. And, to boot, SUVs want to flip over. Scarier yet, though, is the number of small children getting run over by those behemoths-mostly in their own driveways. There's a movement under way to require automakers to include presence sensors as standard equipment that would put a stop to these injuries and deaths.

Two Cheers for NASA

Only two cheers today, but one’s pretty loud and the other’s well above audible. First, NASA will save the Hubble Space Telescope. Second, NASA has established a venture capital entity designed to direct government research contracts (and funds) toward small high-tech companies with ideas that look promising for the space program.

The Big Brown Marble

When I was in Anaheim, California, on business a couple of years ago, more than one native Golden Stater remarked: I know New Hampshire's beautiful, but I don't think I could take the humidity. This struck me as hilarious, because as someone who grew up in Memphis (as in Tennessee), I think of my adopted state as cold rather than humid. I also think that those living in parts of the West, including southern California, would kiss an excess of humidity on the nose right now. While they're waiting to do that, there's an article in our November issue they -- and everyone -- else should read. It's about a smart water management scheme.