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Tricorders coming up

It feels like another Star Trek moment in science--portable machines that can analyze the chemical make-up of objects within seconds. This Science News article describes how chemists adapted mass spectrometry and lasers to be able to detect counterfeit prescription drugs while still in their packages.

In the last century, powerful tools were developed to analyze the chemical composition of substances, but elaborate and careful preparation were needed, and the experiments had to be done in a vacuum. Though accurate, the analyses were expensive, time consuming and cumbersome. In the last decade, with an onslaught of fake prescription drugs around the world with sometimes lethal consequences, researchers stepped up and refined these tools to be able to quickly figure out whether a shipment of drugs is the real McCoy (pun intended) or fakes--without having to take the drugs out of their containers!

The article is well-written and fascinating. Bravo to all the brilliant researchers!

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