Space is serene, because no air means no sound. But inside the average spacecraft, with its whirring fans, humming computers and buzzing instruments, is about as raucous as a party filled with laughing, talking people.
“Imagine trying to get a clear stethoscope signal in an environment like that, where the ambient noise contaminates the faint heart signal. That is the problem we set out to solve,” said Elyse Edwards, a senior from Issaquah, Wash., who teamed up on the project with fellow seniors Noah Dennis of New York City, and Shin Shin Cheng of Sibu, Sarawak, Malaysia.
The students worked under the guidance of James West, a Johns Hopkins research professor in electrical and computer engineering and co-inventor of the electret microphone technology developed for telephones and used today in almost 90 percent of the more than 2 billion microphones produced each year.
Together, they developed a stethoscope that uses both electronic and mechanical strategies to help the device’s internal microphone pick up sounds that are clear and discernable – even in the noisy spacecraft and even when the device is not placed perfectly correctly on the astronaut’s body.
“Considering that during long space missions, there is a pretty good chance an actual doctor won’t be on board, we thought it was important that the stethoscope did its job well, even when an amateur was the one using it,” Dennis said.
The project was developed during a two-semester mechanical engineering senior design course offered by the university’s Whiting School of Engineering. Teams of three or four undergraduates are each given a small budget to design and build a prototype requested by a sponsoring business or organization. This year’s results were unveiled recently at a showcase conducted shortly before the students were scheduled to graduate.
The device also includes many other performance-enhancing improvements, including low power consumption, rechargeable batteries, mechanical exclusion of ambient noise and a suction cup, so that it sticks firmly onto the patient’s chest, Cheng says.
Though developed for NASA’s use in outer space, this improved stethoscope could also be put to use here on Earth in combat situations, where ambient noise is abundant, and in developing countries where medical care conditions are a bit more primitive.
West also plans to use the device to record infants’ heart and lung sounds in developing countries as part of a project that will attempt to develop a stethoscope that knows how to identify the typical wheezing and crackling breath sounds associated with common diseases. This would allow on-site medics to help make preliminary automated diagnoses.
Phil Sneiderman | Newswise
Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State
What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?
02.12.2016 | University of Toronto
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy