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Monitoring water through a snake's eyes
Date:5/26/2009

ains Prof. Katzir. "But we can clearly distinguish between liquids using an infrared spectrometer which can distinguish between 'colors' in the invisible infrared spectrum."

Such an instrument can be used to detect hazardous chemicals, pollutants and threats in the water, "seeing" water in the same way as a snake does. The special fiber sensors make it possible to monitor the quality of water in a remote location, such as a lake, a river, or a pipeline, and detect trace amounts of contaminants in real time, adds Prof. Katzir. Water management executives in Florida's Everglades and officials in Germany are among those who have expressed an interest in using the technology.

Skyscrapers in New York City a Likely Point of Attack

"Toxic materials are readily available as pesticides or herbicides in the agriculture industry, and can be harmful if consumed even in concentrations as low as few parts per million," says Prof. Katzir.

Cities like New York are especially susceptible to a chemoterrorist threat. With many skyscrapers holding water reserves on the top of the building, a terrorist only needs to introduce poison into a tank to wreak havoc. "A terrorist wouldn't have to kill tens of thousands of people. Only 50 deaths ― as horrible as that would be ― would cause nationwide panic."

Currently, water authorities in America test water reservoirs usually once every day or two, with no system in place to detect chemical threats instantaneously. "This new system can cut millions of dollars from the cost of testing water manually." The fiber sensors developed by Prof. Katzir are made of insoluble, non-toxic, and biocompatible materials. "You can eat them and nothing will happen to you," he notes.

Prof. Katzir's determination to fight terrorism through science has a personal side as well. His father, world-renowned scientist Prof. Aharon Katzir, was assassinated by the Japanese Red Army in a terror attack in 1
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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