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Nanosurf

A New Scale Can Measure the Weight of a Single Cell

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Nanosurf

Researchers in Europe have invented a new hypersensitive scale that can be used to measure fluctuations in living cells in real-time, Digital Trends reports. The Cytomass Monitor can measure the weight of a single cell weighing only two or three nanograms. (A nanogram is one billionth of a gram.)

Developed by researchers at ETH Zurich, the University of Basel, and University College London, the Cytomass Monitor works by monitoring the changing resonant frequency of a cantilever.

A pulsing blue laser pointed at the microscopic cantilever causes it to oscillate. When the cantilever—made sticky by collagen or a binding protein called fibronectin—picks up an individual cell, researchers can determine its weight by the way that the resonant frequency changes, which is read by an infrared laser. The device is made to be placed directly on the plate of a microscope, so the user can also see and film the cells moving.

In a new study published in the journal Nature, the researchers use the super-sensitive scale to show that a mammalian cell's mass subtly fluctuates throughout the cell cycle. On a second-to-second basis, a living cell's weight fluctuates by between 1 and 4 percent of its total weight, they found.

A Swiss technology company called Nanosurf is now working to make the Cytomass Monitor commercially available so that it can be used in a range of biological and pharmacological research. You can see the concept illustrated in the video below.

This is not, however, the most sensitive scale ever built. In 2012, researchers created a scale capable of measuring the mass of a single proton. 

[h/t Digital Trends]

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Getting Calls From Your Own Phone Number? Don't Answer!
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iStock

There’s a new phone scam that could affect you, according to Washington’s KIRO 7 News. In addition to keeping your eyes open for calls that come from area codes like 473 or involve people claiming to be Equifax representatives, you now have to watch out for your own phone number.

Scammers are manipulating your phone’s caller ID to make it look like you’re getting a call from your own phone number, then posing as someone from a wireless carrier like AT&T or Verizon. They tell whoever answers the phone that their account has been flagged for security reasons, then ask for the last four digits of that person’s Social Security number. The FCC has been aware of these scams for at least two years, but they seem to be ramping up once again.

In general, you shouldn’t give out any part of your Social Security number over the phone on an incoming call. If you’re suspicious, you can always call your carrier back using the official customer service phone number on their website or on your bill. But it’s best not to pick up at all. If you receive a call from your own number, don’t answer or press any buttons. Instead, file a complaint with the FCC.

[h/t KIRO 7 News]

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Samsung’s Star Wars Vacuums Offer Everything You Want in a Droid
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Samsung

Hate housecleaning but love Star Wars? Samsung’s got the solution. In anticipation of December’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the newest film in the Star Wars saga, Samsung has transformed a limited number of its VR7000 POWERbot robot vacuum cleaners into two familiar faces from George Lucas’s legendary space opera: a Stormtrooper and Darth Vader (which comes with Wi-Fi connectivity and a remote control).

In order to create a unique device that would truly thrill Star Wars aficionados, Samsung consulted with fans of the film throughout each stage of the process. The result is a pair of custom-crafted robo-vacuums that fill your home with the sounds of a galaxy far, far away as they clean (when you turn Darth Vader on, for example, you'll hear his iconic breathing).

“We are very pleased to be part of the excitement leading up to the release of The Last Jedi and to be launching our limited edition POWERbot in partnership with Star Wars fans,” B.S. Suh, Samsung’s executive vice president, said in a press statement. “From its industry-leading suction power, slim design, and smart features, to the wonderful character-themed voice feedback and sound effects, we are confident the Star Wars limited edition of the VR7000 will be a big hit.”

Be warned that this kind of power suction doesn’t come cheap: while the Stormtrooper POWERbot will set you back $696, the Darth Vader vacuum retails for $798. Who knew the Dark Side was so sparkling clean?


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