Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Pen


We have developed a pen and writing tablet for use by subjects during fMRI scanning. The pen consists of two jacketed, multi-mode optical fibers routed to the tip of a hollowed-out ball-point pen. The pen has been further modified by addition of a plastic plate to maintain a perpendicular pen-tablet orientation. The tablet is simply a non-metallic frame holding a paper print of continuously varying color gradients. The optical fibers are routed out of the MRI bore to a light-tight box in an adjacent control room. Within the box, light from a high intensity LED is coupled into one of the fibers, while the other fiber abuts a color sensor. Light from the LED exits the pen tip, illuminating a small spot on the tablet, and the resulting reflected light is routed to the color sensor. Given a lookup table of position for each color on the tablet, the coordinates of the pen on the tablet may be displayed and digitized in real-time. While simple and inexpensive, the system achieves sufficient resolution to grade writing tasks testing dysgraphic and dyslexic phenomena.

Concepts: Light, Refraction, Optical fiber, Writing, Dyslexia, Learning disability, Pen, Dysgraphia


In 7 free recall experiments, the benefit of creating drawings of to-be-remembered information relative to writing, was examined as a mnemonic strategy. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants were presented with a list of words and asked to either draw or write out each. Drawn words were better recalled than written. Experiments 3-5 showed that the memory boost provided by drawing could not be explained by elaborative encoding (deep level of processing (LoP)), visual imagery, or picture superiority, respectively. In Experiment 6, we explored potential limitations of the drawing effect, by reducing encoding time, and increasing list length. Drawing, relative to writing, still benefited memory despite these constraints. In Experiment 7, the drawing effect was significant even when encoding trial types were compared in pure-lists between-participants, inconsistent with a distinctiveness account. Together these experiments indicate that drawing enhances memory relative to writing, across settings, instructions, and alternate encoding strategies, both within- and between-participants, and that a deep LoP, visual imagery, or picture superiority, alone or collectively, are not sufficient to explain the observed effect. We propose that drawing improves memory by encouraging a seamless integration of semantic, visual, and motor aspects of a memory trace.

Concepts: Memory, Hypothesis, Writing, Theory, Drawing, Pen, Technical drawing, Pencil


The writing in carbonized Herculaneum scrolls, covered and preserved by the pyroclastic events of the Vesuvius in 79 AD, was recently revealed using X-ray phase-contrast tomography, without the need of unrolling the sensitive scrolls. Unfortunately, some of the text is difficult to read due to the interference of the papyrus fibers crossing the written text vertically and horizontally. Recently, lead was found as an elemental constituent in the writing, rendering the text more clearly readable when monitoring the lead X-ray fluorescence signal. Here, several hypotheses are postulated for the origin and state of lead in the papyrus writing. Multi-scale X-ray fluorescence micro-imaging, Monte Carlo quantification and X-ray absorption microspectroscopy experiments are used to provide additional information on the ink composition, in an attempt to determine the origin of the lead in the Herculaneum scrolls and validate the postulated hypotheses.

Concepts: Monte Carlo, Writing, Paper, Pen, Composition studies, Mount Vesuvius, Herculaneum, 79


When a patient presents with tremor, it can be useful to perform a few simple pen and paper tests. In this article, we explain how to maximise the value of handwriting and of drawing Archimedes spirals and straight lines as clinical assessments. These tasks take a matter of seconds to complete but provide a wealth of information that supplements the standard physical examination. They aid the diagnosis of a tremor disorder and can contribute to its longitudinal monitoring. Watching the patient’s upper limb while they write and draw may reveal abnormalities such as bradykinesia, dystonic posturing and distractibility. The finished script and drawings can then be evaluated for frequency, amplitude, direction and symmetry of oscillatory pen movements and for overall scale of penmanship. Essential, dystonic, functional and parkinsonian tremor each has a characteristic pattern of abnormality on these pen and paper tests.

Concepts: Parkinson's disease, Deep brain stimulation, Writing, Physical examination, Upper limb, Drawing, Pen, Calligraphy


In motion pictures and anecdotal reports, ballpoint pens have been used for life-saving cricothyroidotomies. The objective of this study was to examine the widespread belief that ballpoint pens can perforate the skin and cricothyroid ligament and could be used as substitute tracheostomy sets in an emergency setting.

Concepts: Pen, Pens


Reading the content of hidden texts from ancient manuscripts has become an increasingly important endeavor thanks to the variety of non-destructive analytical tools and image processing routines available for this task. In this study, portable macro X-Ray Fluorescence (MA-XRF-tube), Visible Hyperspectral Imaging (HSI) together with Synchrotron based macro X-Ray Fluorescence (MA-XRF-SR) are combined with signal processing methods to reveal the biography of a degraded manuscript recycled as binding material for a 16th century printed edition of Hesiod’s Works and Days. The analytical techniques allow visualizing the hidden text, revealing passages from the Institutes Justinian, a 6th century A.D codification of the Roman Law, with further marginal comments on medieval Canon Law. In addition, the identification of the materials (e.g. pigments, inks) part of the original manuscript together with their sequence of use are revealed: i) the preparation of the parchment using a Ca-based preparation layer, ii) drawing of ruled guide lines, using a Pb-based pen or ink, iii) writing of the main text using a rich Fe-gall ink with modulating color pigments (Hg-, Cu- and Pb- based) and iv) addition of two types of comments to the main text, one of the ink used for the comments being a Fe-gall ink rich in Cu.

Concepts: Ink, Pigment, Imaging, Image processing, Common law, Pen, Roman Empire, Roman law


The development of enzymatic-ink-based roller pens for direct drawing of biocatalytic sensors, in general, and for realizing renewable glucose sensor strips, in particular, is described. The resulting enzymatic-ink pen allows facile fabrication of high-quality inexpensive electrochemical biosensors of any design by the user on a wide variety of surfaces having complex textures with minimal user training. Unlike prefabricated sensors, this approach empowers the end user with the ability of “on-demand” and “on-site” designing and fabricating of biocatalytic sensors to suit their specific requirement. The resulting devices are thus referred to as “do-it-yourself” sensors. The bio-active pens produce highly reproducible biocatalytic traces with minimal edge roughness. The composition of the new enzymatic inks has been optimized for ensuring good biocatalytic activity, electrical conductivity, biocompati-bility, reproducible writing, and surface adherence. The resulting inks are characterized using spectroscopic, viscometric, electrochemical, thermal and microscopic techniques. Applicability to renewable blood glucose testing, epidermal glucose monitoring, and on-leaf phenol detection are demonstrated in connection to glucose oxidase and tyrosinase-based carbon inks. The “do-it-yourself” renewable glucose sensor strips offer a “fresh,” reproducible, low-cost biocatalytic sensor surface for each blood test. The ability to directly draw biocatalytic conducting traces even on unconventional surfaces opens up new avenues in various sensing applications in low-resource settings and holds great promise for diverse healthcare, environmental, and defense domains.

Concepts: Enzyme, Glucose, Blood sugar, Blood glucose monitoring, Differential geometry, Sensors, Biosensor, Pen


In this paper, we describe a writable particle-free ink for fast fabrication of highly conductive stretchable circuits. The composite ink mainly consists of soluble silver salt and adhesive rubber. Low toxic ketone was employed as the main solvent. Attributed to ultrahigh solubility of silver salt in short-chain ketone and salt-assisted dissolution of rubber, the ink can be prepared into particle-free transparent solution. As-prepared ink has a good chemical stability, and can be directly filled into ballpoint pen and written on different substrates to form well adhesive silver salt-based composite written trace as wanted. As a result of high silver salt loading, the trace can be converted into highly conductive silver nanoparticles-based composites after in-situ reduction. Due to the introduction of adhesive elastomeric rubber, as-formed conductive composite written trace can not only keep good adhesion to various substrates, and also show good conductivity under various deformations. The conductivity of written traces can be enhanced by repeated writing-reduction cycles. Different patterns can be fabricated by either direct handwriting or hand-copying. As proof-of-concept demonstrations, a typical handwriting heart-like circuit was fabricated to show its capability to work under different deformations, and a pressure-sensitive switch was also manufactured to present pressure-dependent change of resistance.

Concepts: Solubility, Writing, Electrical conductivity, Solvation, Adhesive, Pen, Fountain pen, Rollerball pen


Handwriting difficulties are often included in descriptions of Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). They are cited as the most common reason for referral to health professionals following parent and teacher concerns about slow and untidy writing. The aim of this study was to compare handwriting performance in English children with and without DCD across a range of writing tasks, to gain a better understanding of the nature of ‘slowness’ so commonly reported. Twenty-eight 8-14 year-old children with a diagnosis of DCD participated in the study, with 28 typically developing age and gender matched controls. Participants completed the four handwriting tasks from the Detailed Assessment of Speed of Handwriting (DASH) and wrote their own name; all on a digitising writing tablet. The number of words written, speed of pen movements and the time spent pausing during the tasks were calculated. The findings confirmed what many professionals report, that children with DCD produce less text than their peers. However, this was not due to slow movement execution, but rather a higher percentage of time spent pausing. Discussion centres on the understanding of the pausing phenomenon in children with DCD and areas for further research.

Concepts: Writing, Writing system, Dyslexia, Slow, Pen, Slow Movement, Wax tablet


Bulk hierarchical porous ceramics with unprecedented strength-to-weight ratio and tunable pore sizes across three different length scales are printed by direct ink writing. Such an extrusion-based process relies on the formulation of inks in the form of particle-stabilized emulsions and foams that are sufficiently stable to resist coalescence during printing.

Concepts: Liquid, Surfactant, Printing, Inkjet printer, Paper, Ink, Printing press, Pen