Get thee back, roofies

A chemistry professor is developing a date-rape-drug detector. Hallelujah.

Published August 11, 2006 7:00PM (EDT)

Here is some frigging fantastic news we missed from earlier in the week, via Nerve's Scanner: Researchers are at work on a date-rape-drug detector. Andrea Holmes, who's an assistant professor of chemistry at Doane College in Crete, is working on a system that will let partygoers test their drinks for the presence of drugs like Rohypnol.

Of course, a testing mechanism isn't much good if it's cumbersome, so Holmes hopes to develop "a small strip or stick that would turn a certain color if dipped into a drink that had been spiked with roofies," according to the Associated Press. Fighting would-be rapists with the power of science! Sydney Bristow would be proud.

Holmes wasn't the first one to have the idea; British scientists developed the slightly more complicated "Drink Detective" system back in 2004. Holmes' motivation is making a detector that's even more portable and easy to use. "So many women on college campuses are being affected by this," she told the AP. Plus, "many women do get raped and cannot prove it afterwards. What we want to do is determine the presence of the drug before it ever enters the body."

And though this development will be a boon for college-age women, its target audience doesn't end there. Men will also be able to protect themselves against date-rape drugs, and it could even help wary travelers guard against kidnappings.

Scanner cheers, "Get that woman a grant!" And actually, Holmes has applied for a $20,000 National Science Foundation grant that would allow her to broaden her research to include GHB, methamphetamine and other drugs. Fingers crossed that she gets it. Meanwhile, if I find a way for interested parties to sent Holmes 20 bucks, I'll spread the word.

By Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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