After one of his college roommates succumbed to the disease during a trip to Africa, Szabolcs Márka became concerned about the impact of malaria on the peoples of that continent. Now a physicist at Columbia University, Márka has been using his expertise to develop a means of combating that plight. He's using lasers to restrict the movements of disease-carrying mosquitoes:
“People concentrate more on studying mosquitoes’ olfactory or chemical sensors, but light or heat seemed like an interesting area,” he says. “Overloading, damaging or confusing this sensory system can prevent mosquitoes from reaching their prey.”
On a recent day in his lab in Pupin Hall, Márka placed mosquitoes in a test chamber through which he and his team shot an infrared light ray. The mosquitoes, unaware of the barrier, flew toward it but stopped and turned back upon reaching it.
Márka hopes that his research will someday lead to the development of an effective laser-based mosquito barrier that can be used in regions of the world heavily afflicted by malaria.
Link (warning: self-starting video) -via Ace of Spades HQ | Image: Columbia University