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Now that external CD-ROM drives for personal computers are so insanely cheap, why not find a use for them outside the PC? In the latest edition of maximizing the value from that CD-ROM player, some researchers in Spain have demonstrated the ability to make a standard CD-ROM player into a highly accurate medical imaging scanner.

By adding two light sensors to an existing CD-ROM drive, the research team was able to create a new device that could detect very small amounts of pesticides located within samples that were placed on top of an ordinary compact disc (after having been inserted into the modified CD-ROM player, that is).

Since the interaction of several components are often measured in the medical field using proteins and antibodies, the equipment to accurately track these movements has so far been limited to specialized and expensive equipment that uses light to take measurements. Since a CD-ROM is basically a light emitter (laser) anyway, it seems natural to modify one to look at measuring different items using light wavelengths, yes?

So, if you're an aspiring home biologist with $50 to kill and some patience, how about turning your spare bedroom into a miniature medical lab with a CD-ROM player? Don't forget the BL-4 suit, okay?


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