December 2004 Issue

NATIONAL NEWS

CANADA NEEDS MORE CANADIANS, AND EVEN MORE BIG IDEAS
by Anna Smith

Canadian inventors are responsible for some of the most important discoveries ever made – discoveries that have changed the lives of people all over the world.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

YOUNG GAME INVENTORS CONTEST
by Anna Smith

In keeping with its commitment to help children learn and interact while having fun, University Games is sponsoring its annual National Young Game Inventors Contest (NYGIC) for 2004. In this one-of-a-kind contest, kids invent their own board game and have the chance to have it produced! Created by University Games in 1993, the NYGIC encourages imagination, critical thinking, deductive reasoning, creativity, and education through the process of board game invention.

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NEW MEDICAL IMAGING TECHNIQUE
by Anna Smith

Researchers at Rensselaer are working to develop a new medical imaging technique designed to determine the relative stiffness of soft tissue for the diagnosis of injury and disease.

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ORANGE COUNTY WATER DISTRICT ONE-OF-A-KIND INVENTION
by Anna Smith

While the rest of the world continues to use old technology to clean percolation lakes, Orange County Water District (OCWD) is now using four full-scale versions of its patented Basin Cleaning Vehicle (BCV) hood technology. OCWD’s cleaning method is unique in that a BCV hood—similar to a swimming pool cleaner—cleans the lake while it is full of water. Traditional methods involve emptying the lake, drying it out, and scraping the bottom with heavy equipment to remove one-quarter to one-inch thick clogging layer. The four new barge-like BCV’s cost $4 million and are projected to help increase the amount of water available for Orange County residents.

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NEW MEDICAL IMAGING TECHNIQUE
by Anna Smith

Researchers at Rensselaer are working to develop a new medical imaging technique designed to determine the relative stiffness of soft tissue for the diagnosis of injury and disease.

“Relative stiffness imaging could be an important diagnostic tool for such things as finding a tumor in soft tissue or detecting tissue damage from a heart attack,” said Joyce McLaughlin, director of the Center for Inverse Problems and the Ford Foundation Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Rensselaer. “Our goal is to create images depicting tissue stiffness by computing the variations of shear wave speed in biological tissue.”

McLaughlin said her research is inspired by the centuries-old medical examination in which a doctor presses on the surface of the body to detect abnormal, or stiff, tissue underneath.

After analyzing data gathered from an ultrasound-based system developed by Mathias Fink of Laboratoire Ondes et Acoustique, ESPCI, Universite Paris VII that measures the amplitude of shear waves as they pass through biological tissue, McLaughlin, along with Rensselaer research scientists Dan Renzi and Jeong-Rock Yoon, recognized that the changes of the shape and position of the wave fronts as they pass through tissue would allow them to create an image that could be used as a diagnostic tool.

Shear wave speed can more than double in abnormal, or stiff, tissue, and the high contrast helps make a high-quality image, according to McLaughlin. The researchers first developed an algorithm to identify the location of the very front of the wave as it passes through the tissue. Using only this data, the team computes the shear wave speed at each section of tissue and produces an image of stiffness variations.

“We call what we have developed the Arrival Time Algorithm, and the initial images we have created using this computation are very promising,” said McLaughlin.

McLaughlin was recently honored by both the Association for Women in Mathematics and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics when they selected her to present at the AWM-SIAM Sonia Kovalevsky Lecture at the SIAM Annual Meeting. The lecture is intended to highlight significant contributions of women to applied computational mathematics, according to the AWM-SIAM selection committee.

 

INTERNATIONAL NEWS
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INTERNATIONAL PATENT FILINGS EXCEED 110,000 FOR 2004
by Anna Smith

The number of international patent applications filed in 2003 using the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), exceeded 110,000 for the third consecutive year, with users from the United States of America topping the list. Applicants from Japan clinched the second place over Germany, for the first time in over a decade. The PCT is the cornerstone of the international patent system and offers a rapid, flexible and cost-effective route to obtain patent protection in the 123 countries that have signed up to the system.

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CELL PHONE EDGES ALARM CLOCK AS MOST HATED INVENTION, YET ONE WE CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT
by Anna Smith

Nearly one in three (30%) adults say the cell phone is the invention they most hate but cannot live without, according to the eighth annual Lemelson-MIT Invention Index study. The cell phone narrowly beat the alarm clock (25%) and television (23%) for the distinction in the survey, which gauges Americans’ attitudes toward invention. Shaving razors, microwaves, coffee pots, computers and vacuum cleaners were also cited as essential, yet despised, inventions.

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ALION INVENTION PROVIDING GREATER SAFETY TO MILITARY PERSONNEL WINS ARMY AWARD
by Anna Smith

Alion Science and Technology was recognized for contributions to developing one of the “Army’s Greatest Inventions” of the past year. The award was presented to Alion's customer, the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), National Automotive Center, where a team of engineers helped develop a new weapons mount that can vastly increase the safety of troops traveling in “Humvees”. The weapons mount is now being used by the US military in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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