MULTITESTER OF SUBSTANCES IN THE FIELD IS A BREEZE FOR THIS DEVICE

In war and disaster, ignorance is dangerous & deadly, so it’s important that soldiers and front liners & those in the trenches get the information they need as quickly as possible. Dr. Peter White, a scientist with Britain’s Ministry of Defence, has invented a handheld device that makes collecting samples and carrying out tests in the field much simpler and faster than previously possible. Developed at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), the Integrated Multiplex Assay and Sampling System (IMASS) can collect samples of and detect eight different substances simultaneously.
Testimonial Monkey

Originally designed to sample and detect hazardous and explosive materials, IMASS is a very simple device. Essentially, it’s a plastic cylinder containing eight assay strips. These strips can test powder, liquids or surfaces directly by removing the cap and touching IMASS to the area. The assay strips then react to the sample in the same way as a home pregnancy kit, providing a positive or negative result. Exactly what the strips detect depends on the needs of the user, and IMASS can be custom outfitted for specific substances with strips that are chemistry or immunoassay-based. It can also be used for enzymatic detection.

Having it easy to use is particularly important, since IMASS is intended for field use. “Devices that are currently fielded do not integrate sampling with detection and are not easy to use if you are wearing gloves,” said Dr. White. “This invention combines a mature, established detection technology into an integrated handheld device that could be used by a generalist front line operator wearing protective clothing.”
Phi Sciences

The original users of IMASS are front line troops and counter-terrorism personnel, but that will soon expand to include British forensic and security forces. With this in mind, the Home Office has provided funding to Dstl to study how IMASS can be used in anti-terrorism operations.

In addition, overseas markets have shown interest in the device. Dstl through its technology transfer company Ploughshare Innovations Ltd has licensed the patented technology to BBI Detection Ltd. BBI has further developed IMASS for detecting food allergens and illegal drugs, and sees more applications in hospitals or in bio-threat situations where responders must work in cumbersome protective clothing.

Sources: Ministry of Defence, BBI International
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Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

We all know about these commonly used inventions, but they had a dark side.

1…..Ecstasy


Anton Köllisch developed 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine as a by-product of research for a drug combating abnormal bleeding. It was largely ignored for around 70 years until it became popular in  dance clubs of the early 80s. It was only when the Rave party culture of the late 80s adopted Ecstasy as its drug of choice that MDMA became one of the top four illegal drugs in use killing an estimated 50 people a year in the UK alone. Its inventor died in World War I.

2…Concentration camps

Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts set up “safe refugee camps” to provide refuge for civilian families who had been forced to abandon their homes for one  reason or another related to the Boer War. However, when Lord Kitchener succeeded Roberts as commander-in-chief in South Africa in 1900, the British Army introduced new tactics in an attempt to break the guerrilla campaign and the influx of civilians grew dramatically as a result. Kitchener initiated plans to- “flush out guerrillas in a series of systematic drives, organized like a sporting shoot, with success defined in a weekly ‘bag’ of killed, captured and wounded, and to sweep the country bare of everything that could give sustenance to the guerrillas, including women and children.” Of the 28,000 Boer men captured as prisoners of war, 25,630 were sent overseas. The vast majority of Boers remaining in the local camps were women and children. Over 26,000 women and children were to perish in these concentration camps.

3…ROCKETS


Despite a lifelong passion for astronomy and a dream that rockets could be used to explore space, Wernher von Braun’s talents were used to produce the Nazi V2 rocket which killed 7,250 military personnel and civilians and an estimated 20,000 slave laborers during construction. Later in the US he developed a series of ICBM rockets capable of transporting multiple nuclear warheads around the globe before redeeming his reputation with the Saturn V rocket that put men on the moon

4…NUCLEAR FUSION

Sir Marcus Laurence Elwin Oliphant was the first to discover that heavy hydrogen nuclei could be made to react with each other . This fusion reaction is the basis of a hydrogen bomb. Ten years later, American scientist Edward Teller would press to use Oliphant’s discovery in order to build the hydrogen bomb. However, Oliphant did not foresee this – “We had no idea whatever that this fusion reaction would one day be applied to make hydrogen bombs. Our curiosity was just curiosity about the structure of the nucleus of the atom”.

5…SARIN GAS

Dr. Gerhard Schrader was a German chemist specializing in the discovery of new insecticides, hoping to make progress in the fight against world hunger. However, Dr. Schrader is best known for his accidental discovery of nerve agents such as sarin and tabun, and for this he is sometimes called the “father of the nerve agents”.

6…LEADED PETROL


Thomas Midgley discovered the CFC Freon as a safe refrigerant to replace the highly toxic refrigerants such as ammonia in common use. This resulted in extensive damage to the Ozone Layer. His other famous idea was to add tetraethyl lead to gasoline to prevent “knocking” thus causing worldwide health issues and deaths from lead poisoning. He is considered to be the man that – “had more impact on the atmosphere than any other single organism in Earth’s history.”

7…TNT

Joseph Wilbrand was a German chemist who discovered trinitrotoluene in 1863 to be used as a yellow dye. It wasn’t until after 1902 that the devastating power of TNT as it is better known was fully realized and it was utilized as an explosive in time for extensive use by both sides in World War I, World War II. It is still in military & industrial use today.

8…GATLING GUNAdd an Image


Richard Jordan Gatling invented the Gatling gun after he noticed the majority of dead from the American Civil War died from infection & illness, rather than gunshots. In 1877, he wrote: “It occurred to me that if I could invent a machine – a gun – which could by its rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred, that it would, to a large extent supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease would be greatly diminished.” The Gatling gun was used most successfully to expand European colonial empires by ruthlessly mowing down native tribesmen armed with basic primitive weapons.

9…AGENT ORANGE

Arthur Galston developed a chemical that was meant to speed the growth of soybeans and allow them to be grown in areas with a short season. Unfortunately in high concentrations it would defoliate them and it was made into a herbicide even though Galston had grave concerns about its effects on humans. It was supplied to the US government in orange striped barrels and 77 million litres of Agent Orange were sprayed on Vietnam causing 400000 deaths and disabilities with another 500000 birth defects. Service personnel to some extent were also affected

10…ZYKLON B

Fritz Haber was a Nobel Prize winning Jewish scientist who created cheap nitrogen fertilizer and also made chemical weapons for the German side in World War I. It was his creation of an insecticide mainly used as a fumigant in grain stores that was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.2 million people. His Zyklon B became the nazis preferred method of execution in gas chambers during the Holocaust.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

DARPA asks the public to design

a new combat support vehicle

By Darren Quick

The XC2V must be designed around the tubular chassis found in the Local Motors Rally Fight...

The XC2V must be designed around the tubular chassis found in the Local Motors Rally Fighter

In an effort to streamline the design and build process for manufacturing military vehicles, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is enlisting the “power of the crowd”. Through the Experimental Crowd-derived Combat-support Vehicle (XC2V) Design Challenge, which asks entrants to conceptualize a vehicle body design for combat reconnaissance and combat delivery & evacuation, the agency is looking to pick the brains of not only armed service members and engineers, but also members of the public and others that usually have no way to contribute to military design.

The challenge is being conducted with Local Motors, a Phoenix-based company that lets a community of car designers and engineers collaborate on designing cars, which can then be bought and built in regional micro-factories. Local Motors’ first “open source” production vehicle is the Rally Fighter, which was developed in 2008 using a crowd-sourced process. The XC2V design submissions must be based on the lightweight, tubular steel chassis and the General Motors LS3 V8 powertrain found in that vehicle.

Budding designers must also devise a vehicle that meets two mission sets – combat delivery and evacuation and combat reconnaissance. To meet the requirements of combat delivery and evacuation missions, the judges will be looking for flexible vehicle body designs that allow supplies, people and equipment to be transported around a potentially hostile battlefield in the quickest and most efficient way possible.

Meanwhile, in terms of combat reconnaissance, the vehicle must also be light and fast with the capability to mount sighting systems on the exterior and space inside to stow items such as camouflage and ammunition so it is easily accessible.

To help make the mission requirements easier to understand for those without a military background, DARPA has provided four different fictitious scenarios that illustrate how the vehicle might be used in different missions. DARPA and Local Motors will also provide feedback to competitors as submissions are received

Local Motors is accepting design submissions until March 3, 2010, which can be as simple as a sketch on a piece of paper or as detailed as a 3D CAD file. However, the submission must include a profile view, front/rear/Combo view and top (half or full) view.

Once the submissions are assessed, those that meet the competition requirements will be put to a vote on March 3 to 10, with anybody able to cast their vote on the designs, meaning that not only the designs, but the winner that is being crowd-derived.

Third place will be awarded US$1,000, second place $1,500, while first place will take home $7,500 and will get to see their vision become a reality as soon as June when a fully functional concept vehicle based on the winning design is due to be ready.

Entrants must be over 18 with full competition details and entry guidelines available at Local Motors’ website.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

SILKWORM INTERESTING FACT

More than 5,000 years ago, the Chinese discovered how
to make silk from silkworm cocoons. For about 3,000 years,
the Chinese kept this discoverya secret.
Because poor people could not afford real silk,
they tried to make other cloth look silky.
Women would beat on cotton with sticks to
soften the fibres.
Then they rubbed it against a big stone to make it shiny.
The shiny cotton was called "chintz."
Because chintz was a cheaper copy of silk, calling something
"chintzy" means it is cheap and not of good quality.

Silkworm Information

Phylum, Arthropoda; Class, Insecta; Order, Lepidoptera
Identifying Features Appearance (Morphology)

  • Larvae are worm-like with a short anal horn.
  • Three distinct body parts: head, thorax, abdomen
  • Adult has four wings covered with scales

Adult Males and Females
Adult moths have creamy white wings with brownish patterns across the front wings. The body is very hairy and the wingspan is about 50 mm. Adult females are larger and less active than males. Male moths actively crawl around looking for females. They will copulate for several hours.

Immatures (different stages)
Lepidoptera are holometabolous, therefore they have three distinct morphological stages; larva, pupa and adult. After hatching from the egg, larvae go through four molts as they grow. During each molt, the old skin is cast off and a new, larger one is produced. The silk worm larval life is divided into five instars, separated by four molts. Three pair of short, jointed legs with a single claw at the tip are located on the three body segments immediately behind the head. Five pair of fleshy protuberances (prolegs) ending in a series of hooks called crockets are located posteriorly and ventrally on the abdomen and aid the larva’s clinging a climbing abilities on plants.

Natural History

Food
Silkworms natural food plant is the mulberry tree (Morus sp.).

An artificial diet has been developed to facilitate cultivation of silkworms.

If you do not have a mulberry tree available,

you must purchase the artificial diet.

Habitat
Today, the silkworm moth lives only in captivity.

Silkworms have been domesticated so that they

an no longer survive independently in nature, particularly

since they have lost the ability to fly. All wild populations are extinct,

although presumably old relatives exist in Asia.

Interesting Behaviors
Silkworms have been used by researchers to study pheromones or sexual attractant substances. The pheromones are released by female moths and the males detect the chemicals with olfactory hairs on their antennae. This allows the male to find the female for mating. The male antennae are made of many small hairs to increase the chances of picking up small amounts of the pheromones over long distances.

Collecting Live Insects

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Where to find
Silkworm eggs and artificial diet can be purchased from Carolina Biological Supply Company and Ward’s Biology. Check with other teachers and your district to see if there is a resource person in your community with eggs.

Silk Industry

History
The coveted secret of silkworm cultivation began 5000 years ago in China. Sericulture (the production of raw silk by raising silkworms) spread to Korea and later to Japan and southern Asia. During the eleventh century European traders stole several eggs and seeds of the mulberry tree and began rearing silkworms in Europe. Sericulture was introduced into the Southern United States in colonial times, but the climate was not compatible with cultivation.

Today
Today, silk is cultivated in Japan, China, Spain, France, and Italy, although artificial fibers have replaced the use of silk in much of the textile industry. The silk industry has a commercial value of $200-$500 million annually. One cocoon is made of a single thread about 914 meters long. About 3000 cocoons are needed to make a pound of silk.

To gather silk from cocoons, boil intact cocoons for five minutes in water turning them gently. Remove from the water and using a dissecting needle or similar tool, begin to pick up strands. When you find a single strand that comes off easily, wind the silk onto a pencil. Several of these strands are combined to make a thread.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 18th October 2009
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TATTOO YOUR CELL PHONE ONTO YOUR SKIN

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Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 8th Sept 2009

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Imaging System Identifies Concealed Weapons Using RF Chips

The UC San Diego RFIC chip could lead to less expensive imagers for detecting concealed weapons.

Electrical engineers from the University of California, San Diego are using W-Band silicon-germanium (SiGe) radio frequency integrated circuits (RFICs) for passive millimeter-wave imaging. The resulting imaging systems would identify concealed weapons, help helicopters land during dust storms, and enable high-frequency data communications.

The new millimeter-wave amplifier system works at the same frequency and follows the same principles as security imaging systems now in use in airports. The new circuit is unique in that it uses standard silicon semiconductor technology, while today’s security imaging systems often rely on expensive gallium arsenide or indium phosphide amplifiers.

The circuit includes an antenna that can be used to capture radiation in the millimeter-wave frequency emitted from the human body and from objects under a person’s clothing. This radiation passes through clothing largely or completely unaffected. Imagers operating at millimeter waves are particularly useful because they can resolve images down to a millimeter scale, fine enough detail to identify small objects and separate items on a person’s body. Using signal processing, these kinds of scanners can put together a temperature map of a person’s body that includes any objects underneath the clothing.

Click here for the full story.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 1st July 2009

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GENETICALLY ENGINEERED MONKEY

GLOWS IN THE DARK??

Oregon researchers have created the first genetically modified monkey. ANDi, a playful, coffee-colored rhesus monkey born on October 2nd 2000, has been engineered to carry a gene from another species. The work demonstrates that a foreign gene can be delivered and inserted into a primate chromosome. The researchers anticipate that gene insertions in the monkey will lead to primate models of human diseases—like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease and obesity—that will offer a more robust testing ground for new drugs, gene therapy and modified stem cells.

ANDi (DNA inserted spelled backward)

is the first transgenic monkey.

“Our ultimate goal is to produce human disease models. Primates show human pathology better than mice, which, in many cases, are the only systems we have for modeling human diseases,” says Anthony Chan, of the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center, in Beaverton. The report is published in this week’s issue of Science.

Chan’s goal was to show that a foreign gene can be inserted into a monkey’s chromosome and produce a functional protein. The GFP gene was chosen because the protein it produces emits a fluorescent green glow that can easily be seen through a microscope. Eventually scientists want to insert human disease genes and study disease progression in monkeys, says Chan.

Tissue samples taken from ANDi’s cheek, hair, umbilical cord and placenta confirm that the cells contain the GFP gene and corresponding mRNA; the molecule that bridges the gap between DNA and protein. However, when the tissue was examined under the microscope, no green protein could be seen.

“Maybe the quantity of protein is too small to be seen or maybe the mRNA is not being translated,” says Chan.

The team will continue to monitor ANDi for GFP;

Some transgenic animals do not produce any foreign protein until after the first year.


(LEFT)Virus particles carrying the GFP gene are injected into the unfertilized egg. The gene (white) is released from the virus and incorporated into the chromosome. (RIGHT)About 6 hours after introducing the virus scientists artificially fertilize the egg by injecting a sperm from a male rhesus. The fertilized egg then begins to grow and divide. Two to three days later when the egg has divided twice and become a four-celled embryo it is implanted into a surrogate mother.

  • Introducing ANDi: The first genetically modified monkey
    Oregon researchers have created the first genetically modified monkey. ANDi, a playful, coffee-colored rhesus monkey born on October 2nd 2000, …
    www.genomenewsnetwork.org/articles/01_01/ANDi.shtml

  • Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 29th May 2009
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Flesh eating robot on wheels


Chew Chew

Chew Chew the gastrobot (Pic: New Scientist)

At last, a robot that is powered by food – but watch out, this gastrobot’s ideal food is flesh!

According to this week’s New Scientist, a researcher at the University of South Florida has developed a 12-wheeled monster called Chew Chew, with a microbial fuel cell stomach that uses E. coli bacteria to break down food and convert chemical energy into electricity.

“Turning food into electricity isn’t unique,” says Wilkinson. “What I’ve done is make it small enough to fit into a robot”.

The microbes produce enzymes that break down carbohydrates, releasing electrons which are harnessed to charge a battery by a reduction and oxidation reaction.

Wilkinson says this is analogous to blood supply and respiration in a mammal – but delivering electrons instead of oxygen.

Gastrobot consists of three 1-metre long wheeled wagons complete with pumps for redox solution, battery bank, oesophagus, ultrasonic eyes, mouth, DC motor and E.coli powered stomach.

Unfortunately, the microbial fuel cell doesn’t produce enough power to actually move Chew Chew. Instead, the electricity is used to charge the batteries and only when these are fully charged does can the robot move. When the batteries are drained, the cycle must then be repeated.

According to New Scientist, early applications for gastrobots are likely to include mowing lawns – grazing on grass clippings for fuel.

The ideal fuel in terms of energy gain is meat, says inventor Stuart Wilkinson, but at the moment Chew Chew lives on sugar cubes.

Catching meat would require the robot to produce more energy and besides Wilkinson isn’t so sure it’s good to give gastrobots a taste for meat.

Conversion to eat carion flesh or decaying corpses is another option.

“Otherwise they’ll notice there’s an awful lot of humans running around and try to eat them,” he warns.

Tags: science-and-technology

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 13th May 2009

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Robots clear bombs the

wireless way


Robot

Dr Jun Jo controls his robots with his mobile phone (Image: Griffith University)

A robot controlled by wireless technology could be used to control bomb disposal and security reconnaissance vehicles, its Australian creator says.

Dr Jun Jo, a senior lecturer at Griffith University, created the prototype of a ‘bomb removal car’ with postgraduate students.

The robotic car is controlled by Bluetooth wireless networking technology, which potentially allows an operator to stay at a safe distance while sending the vehicle into a hazardous situation.

A video camera mounted onto the front of the robot streams images back to the operator.

The operator can then direct the robot to a particular location, identify a suspicious package and scoop it up with an in-built shovel.

“Through a camera I can see what the robot sees and with Bluetooth I can control it within 100 metres,” says Jo.

At 20 centimetres long, the robotic vehicle is about the size of a child’s model car.

“It looks like a toy at this stage, but I want to build a larger one,” he says.

Linking technology

Bluetooth networking is commonly used to link computers and mobiles to peripheral devices. But Jo says there are also many potential applications for Bluetooth and robotics, not just in dangerous situations.

“I am looking at applications in both the security industry and in entertainment,” says Jo, who also runs the university’s robotics and games research laboratory.

“Robotics and games share many qualities in their control methods and algorithms,” he says. “I feel in the near future there will be more
applications for robots in the games industry.”

Robotic football, for example, is a concept that enthusiasts already explore using teams of four-legged players: Sony Aibo robot dogs.

Meanwhile, mobile phone maker Sony Ericsson is exploring using Bluetooth applications for fun, such as a tiny toy car that can be controlled easily by mobile phone.

Recently the company also unveiled a remote-controlled digital camera on wheels called ROB-1. The camera can be steered from a mobile and sends a video stream back to handset, so the owner can decide what pictures to shoot.

Problems with video

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There are limitations to the quality of video people can expect from Bluetooth, says Jo.

“One of the drawbacks of Bluetooth is that it is a medium transmission speed. It’s not bad for five frames per second, which would allow you to work out where an object is.”

Jo’s prototype is based on Bluetooth for now, but could be adapted to other current or future networking standards.

“At the moment Bluetooth is one of the most advanced mobile networking technologies, but others will come in time and they could be easily added to such a system,” he says.

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The robotic car could be expanded to work with Australia’s 3G or GPRS mobile data networks, which he says could make control possible from distant locations.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 13th May 2009

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Flying robots may be the new

terrorists


Flying robot

Flying robots, like this fictional robotic dragonfly, could bypass radar to deliver explosives or bioweapons, experts say (Image: iStockphoto)

It may sound like science fiction, but flying robots could make suicide bombers and hijackers redundant, experts say.

The technology for remote-controlled light aircraft is now highly advanced, widely available, and experts say virtually unstoppable.

Models with a wingspan of 5 metres, capable of carrying up to 50 kilograms, remain undetectable by radar.

And thanks to satellite positioning systems, they can now be programmed to hit targets some distance away within a few metres of their target.

Security services the world over have been considering the problem for several years, but no one has yet come up with a solution.

“We are observing an increasing threat from such things as remote-controlled aircraft used as small flying bombs against soft targets,” the head of the Canadian secret services, Michel Gauthier, said at a conference in Calgary recently.

According to Gauthier, “ultra-light aircraft, powered hang gliders or powered paragliders have also been purchased by terrorist groups to circumvent ground-based countermeasures”.

Defence on alert

jet-fighter

On 1 May the US website Defensetech published an article by military technology specialist David Hambling, entitled “Terrorists’ unmanned air force”.

“While billions have been spent on ballistic missile defense, little attention has been given to the more imminent threat posed by unmanned air vehicles in the hands of terrorists or rogue states,” writes Hambling.

Armed militant groups have already tried to use unmanned aircraft, according to a number of studies by institutions including the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California, and the Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies in Moscow.

In August 2002, for example, the Colombian military reported finding nine small remote-controlled planes at a base it had taken from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

On 11 April 2005 the Lebanese Shiite militia group, Hezbollah, flew a pilotless drone over Israeli territory, on what it called a surveillance mission.

The Israeli military confirmed this and responded by flying warplanes over southern Lebanon.

Easy to buy or make

Remote-control planes are not hard to get hold of, according to Jean-Christian Delessert, who runs a specialist model aeroplane shop near Geneva.

“Putting together a large-scale model is not difficult. All you need is a few materials and a decent electronics technician,” he says.

In his view, “if terrorists get hold of that, it will be impossible to do anything about it. We did some tests with a friend who works at a military radar base: they never detected us … If the radar picks anything up, it thinks it is a flock of birds and automatically wipes it.”

Japanese company Yamaha, meanwhile, has produced a 95 kilogram robot helicopter that is 3.6 metres long and has a 256 cc engine.

It flies close to the ground at about 20 kilometres per hour and is already on the market.

Bruce Simpson, an engineer from New Zealand, managed to produce an even more dangerous contraption in his own garage: a mini-cruise missile.

He made it out of readily available materials at a cost of less than US$5000 (about A$6500).

According to Simpson’s website, the New Zealand authorities forced him to shut down the project, though only once he had already finished making the missile, under pressure from the US.

Take them seriously

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Dr Eugene Miasnikov, of the Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies in Moscow, says these kinds of threats must be taken more seriously.

“To many people UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] may seem too exotic, demanding substantial efforts and cost compared with the methods terrorists frequently use,” he says.

“But science and technology is developing so fast that we often fail to recognise how much the world has changed.”

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 13th May 2009

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