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Ripe, Readable, Righteous

5:45 PM -- It was Hamlet who said "The readiness is all," and a University of Arizona professor hopes to parlay that dictum into a profitable business in the supermarket industry.

Mark Riley, an assistant professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering at UA, has developed a sticker that will change color as a piece of fruit or a vegetable ripens. Capable of detecting ethylene gas, which is released as fruits and vegetables ripen, the sticker -- called "RediRipe" -- will prevent consumers from buying rotten peaches and kumquats.

"Right now, picking fruit is more of an art than it is a science," Riley told the Associated Press.

I'm all in favor of buying ripe melons, but I'm wondering if this principle can be applied to other products. Can Riley invent a sticker that will show me if 10 out of the 12 tunes on the latest Madonna album suck? Can he find something to tell me if the latest big novel heads rapidly downhill after page 10? Or whether my new wireless LAN will be obsolete by the time it's installed? For that matter, can he develop an indicator light that will tell me if my cellular plan is full of hidden charges?

C'mon, Prof. Riley -- the world is counting on you.

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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