Friday, November 20, 2009

Scientists create Star Trek-style phaser that can both stun and revive creatures

Scientists have created a Star Trek style phaser that can be used to both stun and revive creatures.

However so far the weapon, which uses a special form of light, has only been used on tiny worms, not menacing Klingons.

star trek

Phasers set to stun: Scientists have developed a Star Trek-like weapon that can both paralyse and revive worms

Canadian researchers fed pinhead-sized worms with a solution containing the molecule dithienylethene.

This changed the molecular structure and colour of the worms when they were exposed to different light wavelengths.

When the scientists shone an ultraviolet light on the transparent creatures they turned blue and couldn't move. A beam of normal light then revived most of the worms although a few did not survive the process.

It is reminiscent of the fictional phaser used in the TV series Star Trek that could stun or kill adversaries using a beam of light.

Lead author Neil Branda from Simon Fraser University in Canada said the technology was like that used in transitional glasses that darken in sunlight but revert to clear in normal light.

At present doctors use light-sensitive materials and photo-reactions in medicine to treat certain forms of cancer and the study authors hope their research can contribute.

Dr Branda said: 'We aren't trying to pretend that it's important that we can turn on and off paralysis in worms. But it opens new opportunities for the use of light in medicine.'

The study has been published in the latest edition of Journal of the American Chemical Society.