AN AUTOMATIC SYSTEM FOR MATCHING DENTAL RECORDS
By matching bicuspid to bicuspid and filling to filling, forensic investigators use dental records to give a John or Jane Doe a real name. Researchers from West Virginia University, Michigan State University and the University of Miami are combining advanced image-processing techniques with elements of logic to accelerate and improve the accuracy of identity matches.
The researchers are working on an Automated Dental Identification System (ADIS) that will compare a database of dental x-rays with x-rays of an unidentified victim. Currently, the FBI's National Crime Information Center uses a text-based database with manually coded descriptions of an individual's teeth and jaw.
Supported by a National Science Foundation Digital Government award, the team is led by West Virginia University computer science professor Hany Ammar and includes professors Robert Howell at West Virginia, Anil Jain at Michigan State and Mohamed Abdel-Mottaleb at Miami, as well as FBI collaborators in the Criminal Justice Information Services division.
By using x-ray images directly, the system keeps the fine-grained details that are lost when humans do the coding and can spot underlying image structures that are difficult to assess by eye. Still, image-based searching presents new challenges. Most significantly, an x-ray image is affected by the position of the camera with respect to the head, unlike fingerprints inked directly onto a sheet of paper.
"There are ways to standardize the angle at which an x-ray is taken, but they are complicated and not all dentists' offices would be able to apply them," said team member Robert Howell, a professor of oral pathology at West Virginia. Central to ADIS is evaluation of the computer science techniques available for aligning images taken at different angles.
In addition, ADIS must apply a certain amount of expert logic. For example, ADIS has to understand, to some degree, which types of restorations--fillings, crowns and the like--could logically have happened since an earlier x-ray and which would be impossible. For example, a missing tooth cannot reappear in a later x-ray, but a broken tooth in an early x-ray could have been repaired or crowned.
From a large database of dental x-rays, ADIS will produce a short list of a few possible matches with a minimum of human intervention. The results will either contain the matching case or correctly return no matches when no match exists, with an error tolerance comparable to that of FBI's fingerprint matching system. Human investigators will still make the final comparisons against the short match list.
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ENGINEERS UNITE TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT, DRAFT PRINCIPLES THAT ENCOURAGE SUSTAINABILITY
ARLINGTON, Va.-- Taking a proactive stance to address environmental concerns, leading engineers from business, academia, and government have united to draft principles to guide their trade.
Nine tenets of Green Engineering (below) were developed during a May 18-22, 2003, multidisciplinary conference entitled "Green Engineering: Defining the Principles" held in Sandestin, Florida.
Attendees from such diverse entities as the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, NSF, Siemans, and the Zero Waste Alliance defined green engineering as, "the design, commercialization, and use of processes and products, which are feasible and economical while minimizing generation of pollution at the source and risk to human health and the environment."
The workshop was funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and organized by Dr. Martin Abraham, a professor of chemical engineering at The University of Toledo.
Draft principles were compiled by Nhan Nguyen, chief of the Chemical Engineering Branch of the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Pollution Prevention & Toxics. Nguyen based his draft on the findings of more than a dozen academic, government, industry, and other organizations that promote environmental stewardship, with templates including the United Nations' Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and the CERES (Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies) Principles.
Attendees modified the draft and established final principles that emphasized safety and environmental impact while still considering cost and performance issues. A summary report is available at the conference website: http://www.enviro.utoledo.edu/Green/index.htm.
Building upon their progress, attendees tentatively scheduled a second Green Engineering conference for 2005. The engineering umbrella organization Engineering Conferences International sponsored the May conference, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Society of Automotive Engineers served as technical co-sponsors. The Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the American Chemical Society's Green Chemistry Institute provided additional funds to support the conference.
The Green Engineering Principles with preamble and closing statement follow:
Green Engineering transforms existing engineering disciplines and practices to those that promote sustainability. Green Engineering incorporates development and implementation of technologically and economically viable products, processes, and systems that promote human welfare while protecting human health and elevating the protection of the biosphere as a criterion in engineering solutions. To fully implement green engineering solutions, engineers use the following principles:
1. Engineer processes and products holistically, use systems analysis, and integrate environmental impact assessment tools.
2. Conserve and improve natural ecosystems while protecting human health and well-being.
3. Use life-cycle thinking in all engineering activities.
4. Ensure that all material and energy inputs and outputs are as inherently safe and benign as possible.
5. Minimize depletion of natural resources.
6. Strive to prevent waste.
7. Develop and apply engineering solutions, while being cognizant of local geography, aspirations, and cultures.
8. Create engineering solutions beyond current or dominant technologies; improve, innovate and invent (technologies) to achieve sustainability.
9. Actively engage communities and stakeholders in development of engineering solutions.
There is a duty to inform society of the practice of green engineering.
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NSF GRANTS HELP POPULAR SCIENCE'S "BRILLIANT 10" DEFINE THE CUTTING EDGE OF SCIENCE The September 2003 issue of Popular Science features the magazine's second annual PopSci Brilliant 10 list--10 scientists who are working in hybrid disciplines, defining new fields and whose work is "watched and admired (and certainly envied) by colleagues." The National Science Foundation (NSF) has supported seven of this year's Brilliant 10 in their pioneering efforts.
NSF funds 10,000 new awards each year based on reviews of their scientific merit and broader impact on society. NSF awards have supported 123 Nobel laureates and have led to such developments as Doppler radar, the Internet, Web browsers and the Google search engine, American Sign Language, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ink jet printers and tissue engineering.
The NSF CAREER program, which has supported three of the Brilliant 10, recognizes research and education excellence by those teacher-scholars who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the future; NSF makes approximately 400 CAREER awards each year.
The other three members of the Brilliant 10 are medical researchers Victor Velculescu of Johns Hopkins University (human genomics) and Betty Pace of the University of Texas, Dallas (molecular medicine), and Sae Woo Nam, a staff scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (quantum cryptography).
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