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Medicine Science

This Chip Can Tell If You've Been Poisoned 36

sciencehabit writes "When you are dealing with a deadly poison that can be found in food and is a potential terrorist weapon, you want the best detection tools you can get. Now, researchers in France have demonstrated an improved method to detect the most deadly variant of the botulinum neurotoxin, which causes botulism. Their test — essentially, a lab on a tiny chip (abstract) — provides results faster than the standard method and accurately detects even low concentrations of the toxin."
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This Chip Can Tell If You've Been Poisoned

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  • Tell me, when was the last time terrorists did food poisoning?
    • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Sunday April 27, 2014 @03:38AM (#46851727)

      Weirdly, some hippie, sex-loving, heterodox Hindu preacher's followers tried it in 1984 [wikipedia.org], infecting 751 people in Oregon with salmonella. But it didn't kill anyone.

      Their hope had been that everyone would stay home sick from the local elections, so they'd be able to vote in their preferred candidate.

      • They don't classify as terrorists if you ask me. Not every lunatic murderer is a terrorist.
        • by plover ( 150551 )

          If people who download music can be classified as file-sharing terrorists, then a calling every instance of murder 'terrorism' doesn't sound like much of a stretch.

          Hearing the word 'terrorism' coming from a news figure or politician is now a strong indicator that you are listening to a dangerous, scheming, untrustworthy authority figure who is trying to manipulate you through fear. It should make you want to vote the scumbag out; or at least turn off the TV they're bullshitting you through.

          • I told my dad I felt the biggest act of terrorism was the bombing of Hiroshima and he started arguing with me about it. Finally he asked,"Well, what's your definition of terrorist?" I told him my definition was when someone physically or mentally harmed civilians to fight a war, that was terrorism. He got a thousand yard stare for a second, and then simply walked away.

      • by WoOS ( 28173 )

        Their hope had been that everyone would stay home sick from the local elections, so they'd be able to vote in their preferred candidate.

        Sounds to me like a different form of gerrymandering [wikipedia.org] of a group not privy to change the voting districts. Not terrorism as it does not aim at creating terror, so does not count as example. Not legal either, obviously, in contrast to the actual gerrymandering.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      When was the last time you ate at a fast food chain?

  • by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @03:16AM (#46851691)

    Every Great House should have a poison snooper

    • Honestly, I don't know how it can tell the difference between snooping a fast-acting poison and a Happy Meal.

    • by plover ( 150551 )

      Great, so now they're automating the job of Royal Food Tasters. More unemployment. We should have Congress pass a law protecting their business model!

  • I don't know how cheap/expensive this would be... or if it would be possible, but maybe put this chip on canned goods or produce with some obvious "this stuff isn't fit for consumption" alert if the chip detects any toxins?

    • Re:Put on cans? (Score:4, Informative)

      by WoOS ( 28173 ) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @05:15AM (#46851857)

      From the article on botulism [wikipedia.org] it appears that commercially canned goods are safe (and even terrorist would have a problem to get the toxin into the can after sealing and cooking which destroys spores and toxin). And on home-made goods it might be a bit difficult to enforce attachment of a chip on every glass of canned fruits.

      The analyzed attack vectors seem to be (according to the German wikipedia entry on the toxin [wikipedia.org], the english one is too occupied with medical use) milk, water and air. All of them do not lend well to chip attachment.

      Actually the chip talked about is for analyzing a patient's blood sample (see TFA) to detect he has been poisoned, not for detecting it in food.

      • Not all botulism in canned food is the result of terrorism or maliciousness. Cans still get dented, and defective cans still make it through the manufacturing line. The chip would replace the "best before" date.
  • I suppose it should be possible to develop application for smartphones which would detect if you are poisoned by some of neurotoxins, based on accelerometer. When your position changes to horizontal and you start to spasm, you would hear the smartphone say "Dear Sir/Madam. Poison Exclamation Mark Poison Exclamation Mark Poison Exclamation Mark"
    or, in case of my phone:
    "Your beta version of voice synthetizer just expired, please download the new voice library from Google App store".

  • this is great, because people are dropping like flies from food terrorism, usually botulism, and nearly always the particular strain this detector can find. yeah, just like the recent article on all those nuke plant insiders ready to pounce to sabotage plants, fear mongering bullshit.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"