Tuesday, October 6, 2009
w w w. T h e D a i l y A z t e c . c o m
Vol. 95, Issue 22
Tw i t t e r : T h e D a i l y A z t e c
San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1913
I N S I D E T O D AY STATE OF MIND
Scientist’s lasers lead the way
LETTERS Students react to recent columns in this week’s letters to the editor. page 3
TRAVEL & ADVENTURE
GO FOR THE GOLD Check out where the country’s best athletes train when preparing for the big games. page 4
STREAK SNAPPED The Aztecs lost a game for the first time since Sept. 6 this past weekend. page 6 Glenn Connelly / Photo Editor
TODAY @ SDSU
SDSU professor William Tong has developed lasers for biochemical research the past 24 years. The technology has recently been used for bomb and chemical detection.
Laser technology for biochemical research being put to new use
7 p.m., Nasatir Hall room 100 Dr. Babak Rahimi, professor of Iranian and Islamic studies at UCSD, will discuss his first-hand experience of the summer’s events in Iran. For more of today’s headlines, visit:
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S A R A H K O VA S H S E N I O R S TA F F W R I T E R
In a San Diego State chemistry lab devoid of the typical test tubes and beakers, Dr. William G. Tong is contributing to biomedical and national security breakthroughs with his lasers. Tong, a chemistry and biochemistry professor at SDSU, has been developing laser technology for the last 24 years. And within the last few, he has been able to create smaller, more efficient and more compact lasers. “Just in the last few years, lasers are shrinking, getting better and for the first time, combining it with our techniques,” Tong said. The main use for Tong’s lasers is biomedical research. The lasers can detect the smallest trace of a
chemical, which makes them useful for detecting diseases, pollution, greenhouse gasses and biochemical agents. “The idea is, we use multiple laser beams … and we cross those beams and our signal is generated when the two beams meet,” Tong said. “And that means that we can point that pair of laser beams anywhere and we have both two-dimensional spatial resolution and threedimensional spatial resolution.” Tong’s methods and laser technology can detect particles in partsper-trillion and parts-per-quadrillion by measuring the isotopes. After discovering his laser technology was being used in biomedical research, Tong was approached by security and defense officials to use his lasers to help identify bombs and explosives. His lasers are compact enough to take into the field and efficient enough to obtain samples without being next to the source — though Tong can’t say from how far away they can be used for security reasons.
Tong’s lasers have potential use in other fields as well. The same technology can be used for authentication of paintings and archaeological applications. However, Tong’s main focus remains as biomedical research. “You know, our main thing is still detecting diseases at early stages and doing it at such low sensitivity levels, good sensitivity levels and little or no false positives.” With the portability of the lasers and the development of what is called a “lab-on-a-chip,” which contains both an electronic circuit board and channels for analyzing chemicals, it is possible to gain access to places that aren’t as easy to access and could help with diseases such as the Human Papilloma Virus. Although Tong is the developer of SDSU’s laser technology, he does consider it a collaborative effort. Tong works with undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. students, as well as visiting professors.
One Ph.D. student, Marcel Hetu, is contributing to Tong’s biomedical research. “I’ve been doing a lot of protein analysis and particularly trying to find biomarkers for diseases and trying to monitor those,” Hetu said. “I want to be sure that I’m doing stuff that’s really going to create a new age in diagnostics. And eventually I’d like to use that knowledge to be able to do that same type of work at a company where we can take this from a lab setting into more of a clinical setting.” In the future, Tong hopes to continue making his lasers smaller, faster and easier to use, so that hopefully they can have a greater variety of uses. “It’s exciting to be developing and designing new things that can do exciting things that were previously not possible,” Tong said. “And especially because these new systems that we’re inventing or designing could help in a lot of important areas.”
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STATE OF MIND.............................................................3 TRAVEL & ADVENTURE...............................................4 SPORTS............................................................................6 CLASSIFIEDS....................................................................7 THE BACK PAGE...........................................................8
AS BRIEF Next Town Hall meeting set The second of five town hall meetings will take place from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 20. on the Free Speech Steps. This meeting will focus on specific changes to advocate for in terms of budget cuts to the California State University system. “What I’m expecting is to open up a forum to host a discussion about what it is students can do or to advocate for, for higher educa-
tion in the coming year,” Associated Students President Tyler Boden said. “There is no clear direction that we should take and there are many options that we have, and I’d like us in this forum to … get closer to being able to specify what it is that we want to advocate for.” A.S. will also be setting up forums for students to communicate their thoughts and opinions about the budget cuts via Facebook, Twitter and an A.S. blog.
Homecoming is coming San Diego State’s Homecoming football game will be Oct. 17, when SDSU will face BYU at Qualcomm Stadium. There will be events the entire week before the game, starting Monday. Some events include a dance competition, a film screening, pep rally and circus night. For a full list of events, visit the A.S. Web site at http://as.sdsu.edu/index.html.
Tailgate parties planned In an effort to increase the amount of home game attendees, A.S. is hosting tailgate parties before every home game this season. The festivities start at 1 p.m. and include various catered food, disc jockeys and assorted vendors. The next home game will be at 3 p.m. on Oct. 17 at Qualcomm Stadium.
—Compiled by Senior Staff Writer Sarah Kovash