Spectral Challenge ideas
This wiki page is collecting questions and statements of interest that have been expressed on the mailing lists or in person at barnraisings. Each of these could inspire a Spectral Challenge entry, so click "edit" to add yours below!
- I'm a gardener. Can i do my own soil testing? Usually i send away to a lab for a mineral profile, and to make sure there's nothing harmful in my soil before i plant food crops in it.
- I live near a refinery. How can i know what is being released in a smokestack plume?
- I'm an urbanite. When I look out over my city, i can see what i call "the smog layer". I can see that it changes on a daily, even hourly basis. Can i tell how much (and of what kind of) particles are in the atmosphere?
- I'm a surfer / fisherman / beach goer. Is this gunky stuff in the soil / on the beach just mud or is it a petrochemical spill?
- I'm a health nut. Can i test my tap water for additives?
- I love space and I have a telescope. If i add a spectrometer to the end of it, can I identify what stars are made of?
- I'm a journalist. Can i collect my own data for an expose on an overpriced consumer product like liquid soap?
- I'm into 3d printing. I would like to take plastics from the waste stream and melt them into material I can print with, but often there are unsafe additives for fire resistance or electrical insulation enhancement. How can I test if bromine or chlorine are present before i melt the plastic and breathe that stuff?
- I'm into DIYBio. My holy grail is "a low cost small sample uv spectrophotometer for the quantification of dna, like http://www.nanodrop.com/". Is this possible?
- I'm worried about dioxins in eggs - Amir Bernat posted that: "Last night it was announced in the news in Israel that eggs from several farms were found to contain Dioxins, compounds which are considered highly toxic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dioxins_and_dioxin-like_compounds). I tried to search a bit and found a wealth of mass spectroscopy research done, but no lock with optical spectroscopy, let alone in the visual. I would like to see if our spectrometer can be used to search for Dioxsins, but I don't have any with me (unless it's in my omelette!). I would be happy if anyone could help with this, there may be a chance for some important work as well as get media coverage." Jill Schwarz responded with this review of vis/nir dioxin spectrometry: http://iopscience.iop.org/0036-021X/69/12/R03 (link to mailing list discussion)
- Monitor hydrofracking contamination Detect and measure concentration of Cl, Ba, Sr, Mg, Br in a stream or well water sample. Priority is Cl, Ba, Br > Mg, Sr.
Cl, Mg: minimum detection limit of 1 mg/mL. Ideal threshold of detection would be 0.01 mg/mL, NYS certified lab threshold of detection. Ba, Sr, Br: minimum detection limit of 0.1 mg/mL, ideal threshold of 0.01 mg/mL. The test should be effective in water based solution in the presence of some salts (especially Cl, up to 10,000 mg/L, but also Ca, Mg, Br), petrochemical contaminants (diesel, ethylene glycol), and microinvertebrates (concentration in a healthy pond, stream, or tide water sample). Contact Jessica firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
- I live next to water and I want to know the water quality before going for a swim. We can use spectroscopy to determine how much phytoplankon, e.g. algae and potentially toxic cyanobacteria, is abundant. Check out this research note.
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