Scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem say they can spot land mines using genetically engineered bacteria and a laser-based scanner. PHOTO: HEBREW UNIVERSITY
Wall Street Journal: The Bacteria That Can Help Find Land Mines
Israeli scientists say that a harmless, genetically engineered version of E. coli can detect invisible vapors that explosives emit over time
In 2015, land mines killed or injured 3,233 people in 61 countries, according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines—and 78% of those casualties were civilians. Buried explosives can remain armed and lethal long after wars end.
One key problem is detecting the mines, which can be slow, hazardous work. Current methods, which rely on metal detectors, X-rays and other legacy technologies, often require placing people or animals dangerously close to buried explosives.
Now scientists at Israel’s Hebrew University, reviving an American technology, have demonstrated a way of detecting land mines using genetically engineered bacteria and a laser-based scanner. The technique works, they say, without sending people, animals or even robots into harm’s way—and could eventually be extended to detect a host of different contaminants in a range of settings by tailoring bacteria as needed.
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WNU Editor: It is a work in progress .... and also a positive sign that better detection methods are being worked on