Posting in Science
An 18-year-old from New Jersey has developed a low-cost, portable method for the public to test water potability.
As a storm raged in Short Hills, N.J., in 2007, Alison Bick listened to a radio broadcast warning residents that potentially-contaminated water was being piped into homes. Now 18, Bick was "the science go-to person" in her group of friends, so she wasn't surprised when a pal called with a question: Can we determine if the water in our house is safe to drink? There wasn't a method for citizens to test their home's water quality, Bick said. But she told her friend, "That's a really interesting question."
Her interest piqued, Bick decided to research the topic. Now the 2011 U.S. winner of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize, Bick has since developed a low-cost, portable method for the public to test water potability. The water is put into a device and the user snaps a cell phone picture of it. "I created a way to test water quality using your cell phone," Bick said in an interview. "The user would take a picture of water and the cell phone analyzes it." From there, it determines whether E. Coli or coliform bacteria are present in the water.
The device can be used worldwide, Bick said, from developing countries to the United States. At home, the device could test water quality in the event of a natural disaster. In developing countries, citizens with cell phones -- but no water testing labs -- could test their own drinking water before consumption.
As the U.S. recipient of the water prize, Bick received $3,000 and a trip to Stockholm where she'll face off against national winners from more than 30 countries in the international competition during World Water Week in August. Bick, who graduated from high school in June, said her award is a long-awaited honor. "I entered this competition every year in high school," she said. "This is the first time I was selected."
In the fall, Bick is off to Princeton University, where she'll study chemical engineering. She plans to continue working in the water field and hopes to advance her project. The next steps for the device? Test it in the real-world, perhaps in a developing country. And find a way to test for other bacteria, so that the device can determine with 100 percent certainty that water is potable and safe.
Photo: Mohamed Dahab, chair of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize Review Committee, and Alison Bick
Jul 27, 2011
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What about cryptosporidium? Cysts? Arsenic? Chlorobenzene? Lead? These are things that can't be killed with simple methods and most municipalities do not have ozone systems to purify water to it's fullest. Finding one contaminant is commendable, but I fear it will lead to more harm than good as people rely on this one test to determine potable water when all the contaminants I list above are far more dangerous and far more likely to be in the water you're going to be drinking!
http://thealternativepress.com/articles/alison-bick-millburn-high-school-graduate-national--2 "Her research concluded that a combination of microfluidics, cell-phones, and Colilert-18???a chemical that becomes yellow in the presence of coliform bacteria and a water sample in a single channel???is a novel way of determining several water qualities."
Since we all know that the resolution of an iPhone camera is insufficient to register bacterial cells, we have to conclude that quite a lot of detail was left out of the article about how additional components of the test besides the iPhone, new device and water are used . I'm assuming a chemical indicator is used and the iPhone acts a photometer, but with the typically dumbed down article by Smart Planet contributors and editors - how would we ever know what is involved. This is not only a disservice to SP readers, but to the inventor as well. Please write like you and the reader have a brain. I wouldn't accept this article as a 7th grade science report.
Good method to detect the quality of water. Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India E-mail: email@example.com
But tell me please how can you "take a picture" on the cellular level with a cell phone with limited pixels? I assume the container or scaffold that the water is poured into provides the real solution to the problem.
Just more proof that the iPhone is in reality quickly becoming the tri-corder of Star Trek fame! Yep, there's an app for that!
You are apparently in the 6th grade still as you can't read. The article says "cell phones", not iPhone. Read the link, as well. Get your facts straight, learn to read or go away with your retarded comments. Yes, I actually said the "R" word!
It's much too early for the iPhone to become a generic word like "Kleenex"! The article said "cell phones", why limit your scope?