Tech To Thwart Food Poisoning, Bioterror

By Stefanie Olsen

Scientists hope to use a new mathematical technique to detect red tides, or toxic algae in the ocean, before infected shellfish can make people green. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University are working with various government offices to develop a “spatiotemporal” data mining system for finding and tracking toxic algae blighting North American waters. Doing the manual work for researchers, the system can mine through thousands of satellite images from NASA and oceanographic data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to detect where red tide is affecting human and sea life. That same method could help track known murderers. Or it could be adapted to help detect acts of bioterrorism in the nation’s waterways, Cai said. Satellite imagery from NASA can make visible the chlorophyll concentration in bodies of water, and because bioterrorism can affect those levels, an attack would be apparent.

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