SIGNIFICANT EVENTS - FUTURE FLIGHT PROGRAM
03/23/01

Fundamental Physics Investigator Chairs Workshop on Biological Threat Reduction

Rob Duncan of the University of New Mexico (UNM), the Principle Investigator for the flight experiment Critical Dynamics in Microgravity (DYNAMX), reports on an exceptionally successful workshop entitled "Unified Science and Technology for Biological Threat Reduction". Duncan was the Workshop Chair, and Brigadier General (select) Annette Sobel was the Program Chair. The workshop was co-sponsored by UNM's Center for Advanced Studies, and by Sandia's Center for National Security and Threat Assessment. Please visit the web site at http://www.gillinghamstudios.com/duncan/index.html for much more information.

The workshop on this very important national concern had one big advantage over prior workshops, namely it was truly multi-disciplinary, and non-programmatic. The emphasis was entirely on new innovations through cross-disciplinary discussion and scientific exploration.

Duncan also provided two papers that were made possible by the DYNAMX team's work in fundamental physics within NASA: One was on the development of superconducting electronics that is at least one hundred thousand times more stable than conventional electronics. Stable electronics of this sort will be critical to new, ultra-sensitive and highly-specific sensors for applications in new biological sensors. Duncan's second paper was on the intrinsic limitation of point sensors. The DYNAMX team used helium gas release and a mass spectrometer helium detector to show how even mild room air turbulence reduces the efficacy of point sensors. Alex Babkin of the DYNAMX team presented a paper on the performance of the miniature valve that was developed for DYNAMX. Babkin showed how this valve could be of use to certain biological applications where ultra-high reliability is essential.



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