May 25, 2019

    New fingertip test could help rapid identification of drug users
    You could have cocaine on your fingertips even if you have never used it- short science articles

    Researchers have found that drugs like cocaine and heroin are so common in the environment that it is present on the fingertips of 13% of the population even if they have never used the drug. However, this doesn't mean that true drug users will get any respite since these researchers have developed a cut-off level to confidently distinguish them from people who have drugs on their skin as secondary contaminants. Thus, fingerprint testing is a quick way to identify drug users and is certainly the future.

    Read the full story: University of Surrey
    Scientific publication: Clinical Chemistry

    We could learn from plants to separate oil and water
    How plants can teach us about clearing up oil spills

    Scientists have taken a cue from leaf structure to fabricate materials which can separate oil and water which could help in easier oil spill cleanups. They have successfully mimicked the biological phenomenon called the 'Salvinia effect', observed in floating plant in South America called Salvinia molesta. The plant's surface is hydrophobic which helps it to maintain a layer of air around itself. Scientists have created a 3D printed version made of carbon nanotubes which could make it both hydrophobic and also oil-absorbing which when combined can separate water from oil.

    Read the full story: University of Southern California
    Scientific publication: Advanced Materials

    Technology could help early detection of Alzheimer's
    Early signs of Alzheimer's can be spotted more efficiently by AI

    Identifying the earliest signs of Alzheimer's before any obvious symptoms would be extremely useful for patients for testing new drugs or allowing family members to plan for care. Researchers at MIT have developed an AI-powered device which could pick up these subtle signs. Initially designed as a fall detector, researchers started using this long-term device to identify movements like pacing and wandering which can be signs of Alzheimer's. Using wireless radio signals the device can identify the smallest possible motions which then is processed by machine learning algorithms to predict the disease with 84% accuracy.

    Read the full story: MIT technology Review

    The resolution of MRI images is around 0.5 mm, but now a new approach brings the resolution to micrometers (one millionth of a meter)
    The resolution of MRI increased to micrometer scale - short medical technology science news

    Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a tool used on a daily basis in medicine and research. However, the resolution of the images obtained is not very high and because of this, structures in the body smaller than half a millimeter cannot be distinguished. Now, a team of scientists introduced a new method that increases the resolution of MRI images, allowing structures as small of a few micrometers to be visualized. The technique uses nitrogen-vacancy diamond magnetometry and will allow for better diagnosis based on MRI imaging.

    Read the full story: Caltech
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications

    Protein structure can now be maintained outside the cell
    Researchers create a protein mat that can neutralise toxic chemicals

    By using a special heteropolymer, scientists have succeeded to preserve protein function outside the cells in which they normally occur. Proteins do not fold properly once they are out of their natural environment, but when combined with the heteropolymer, many features of protein function are maintained. The combined use of the heteropolymers and proteins in a single mat-like structure made it possible to create a surfactant that binds and degrades an insecticide. This approach can be further advanced to neutralise other toxic chemicals as well in the future.

    Read the full story: UC Berkely
    Scientific publication: Science

    The secret Vatican Archives contain millions of old documents never transcribed before
    Artificial Intelligence will be used to uncover the secrets of the Vatican archives - technology short science news

    The Vatican archives spread around 85 kilometers (53 miles) of shelving and they are so big that their content is not entirely known. To help with transcribing the documents, scientists developed an artificial intelligence system capable of automatically transcribing old texts. Currently, the system is being tested on more than 18,000 pages of correspondence from the 13th century, never transcribed before. So far, the results have been positive. The system was able to transcribe correctly 65% of the content. The researchers are now working on improving the accuracy of the system.

    Read the full story: MIT Technology Review
    Scientific publication: arXiv

    A smile can tell more than you think
    A smile can tell whether you are a MALE or FEMALE.

    The dynamics of smiles are so different in males and females that it could enable artificial intelligence to identify a persons' gender solely by studying the smile. Researchers from the University of Bradford identified 49 landmarks on the face mainly around the eye, mouth and nose to teach artificial intelligence technology to distinguish the gender. The question then arises if plastic surgery could alter this recognition. However, researchers insist that since the data points measure underlying muscle movement of the face during the smile, it shouldn't affect the results even after plastic surgery.

    Read the full story: Science News Line
    Scientific publication: The Visual Computer

    The plastic breaks down contaminants through active oxidation. Credit: University of Bristol
    Plastic waste used for the good: polystyrene used to remove carcinogenic dyes - short science news

    Plastic takes usually the blame for pollution, but it can also be beneficial when used correctly. A new study showed that polystyrene, a type of plastic, can be processed in a new innovative way and converted into a new type of material with useful properties. The new material can efficiently remove synthetic dyes, used in the clothing industry, known to be carcinogenic. This discovery may help to turn big quantities of polluting plastics into useful materials with applications in water purification.

    Read the full story: University of Bristol
    Scientific publication: ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces

    Preserving the brain and it memories for reincarnation in the future
    Let's upload your mind for future reincarnation - but you have to die for it.

    NECTOME, a startup on Y combinator is coming up with an audacious plan. Using high-tech embalming process, they want to preserve your brain in pristine form so that future scientists could use this and turn you into a computer simulation. However, the twist is that for the process to work the brain has to be fresh, meaning only terminally ill patients willing to voluntarily 'die' can use this service. Interestingly, so far 25 people have deposited $10,000 each and are willing to join the 'waiting list'.

    Read the full story: MIT technology Review

    Cockroaches culd teach new robots to walk. Credit: Pixabay
    Let's turn to cockroaches to teach new robots to walk

    While the sight of a cockroach is pretty disgusting, it is also jokingly said to survive an atomic blast too. Now, if we land on another planet, humans might not want to walk on this unexplored surface before getting an initial peek. That's where our apocalypse friendly pests come into the picture as researchers are trying to build robots that mimic the movements of the cockroaches. They have recorded the movement of cockroaches in slow-mo and then constructed a multi-legged robot which precisely uses the tactics of these roaches. So, cockroaches aren't always creepy, right?

    Read the full story: John Hopkins University
    Scientific publication: Bioinspiration & Biomimetics

    More than half of medicine in use today is based on chiral molecules
    New method for the production of chiral molecules might make medicine more affordable

    Scientists have discovered a cheaper way of producing chiral molecules that are found in half of the approved drugs worldwide. Chiral molecules are mirror images of each other, but usually only one them displays the desired effects. Separating the two has, until now, been a difficult and costly process, but organic catalysis using racemic propargylic alcohols seems to do the job efficiently and economically. It is expected that this method will reduce production costs of medicines and lead to better prices for patients.

    Read the full story: The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications

    Peopel are more likely to share false news due to its novelty.
    What travels faster than light - FAKE NEWS

    After studying over 126,000 false news stories which have spread on twitter over the past 11 years, researchers at MIT have concluded that fake news travels faster than truth. False news was likely to be retweeted 70% times more than true facts especially if it was political news. Surprisingly, they also discovered that fake news was more frequently re-tweeted by humans than by bots, putting the onus on us and not shrinking responsibility by blaming automated bots.

    Read the full story: Independent
    Scientific publication: Science Journal

    Will it be possible to make Twitter a happier place to be in?
    Twitter wants to use these four indicators to evaluate the health of conversation

    We all know that Twitter is a hostile place swamped with trollers and negativity prompting the company to evaluate the health of conversations on its platform. The company might use the four principles of healthy public conversation outlined by of MIT, namely: Shared attention- are we speaking about the same thing, Shared Reality- are we relying on the same facts, Variety- do we have differences in opinion and Receptivity- are we receptive about these difference. The problem here is that since major data comes from the USA, it might not apply to other cultures and there isn't a one-fit-all solution to this problem.

    Read the full story:

    2D materials have many technological applications for small, energy-efficient devices
    2D materials for nanotechnology?  Here’s more than 1000 of them! - short technology news

    The future of nanotechnology may rely on 2D materials, like graphene, that have a structure of only a few layers of atoms. They were first discovered 15 years ago and so far only a few dozen have been produced. In a new groundbreaking study, researchers identified more than 1000 new materials with a promising 2D structure. The materials were discovered after screening a database of more than 100,000 potential candidate materials. It will be interesting to see how these materials will be practically used in the future based on their magnetic, electronic and topological properties. 

    Read the full story: EPFL
    Scientific publication: Nature Nanotechnology

    Biased future health tech on the horizon
    Future high-tech medical treatments could well be biased towards elite white males.

    Personalized medicine is kind of a holy grail of medicine so that highly tailored made treatments could be devised for individuals. However, a new report by the Data Society Research Institute of New York has pointed out that not all ethnic and gender groups could benefit equally. Since most of the data come from electronic health records, there seems to be an inherent bias towards urban male elites since those individuals who are less health literate like minorities and women do not join such studies. Since these groups end up being excluded from medical research, the new tailored made treatment might not be directed towards them at all.

    Read the full story:

    Stone tools have evolved together with the early humans
    The first technology: how stone tools evolved - short archaeology science news

    Probably the first form of technology humans used is represented by stone tools. They first appeared around 2.6 million years ago and they evolved in time. A new archeological study looks at this evolution in a study that included over 19,000 pieces from 81 locations, spanning two million years. The complexity of stone tools is a measure of cognitive skills of the early humans. The study discovered that the edges of the tools got longer with time (more efficient) and also more diverse, a sign of technological progress.

    Read the full story: ArsTechnica
    Scientific publication: Nature

    The graphene molecular structure is a hexagonal arrangement of carbon atoms
    Graphene acts as an insulator and a superconductor

    By combining two sheets of graphene overlying at a precise angle of 1.1 degrees, scientists found that this carbon-based material is an insulator, but when applying voltage to the graphene sheets, it turns into a superconductor. This surprising finding makes it possible to study superconductance, which is still poorly understood, in more detail. Also, this discovery is important for the development of quantum devices, as it should become feasible to use graphene to make, for instance, a superconducting transistor that one can switch on or off, from superconducting to insulating.

    Read the full story: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Scientific publication: Nature (insulator)
    Scientific publication: Nature (superconductivity)

    Listening to music extends exercise duration
    Listen to music during exercise - it improves your performance

    Researcher Waseem Shami, MD at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences has found that listening to music during a cardiac stress test might help extend the duration of exercise. This test is widely used to determine the effects of exercise on heart and the present study is the first of its kind to show that music helps motivate people to exercise longer which is extremely critical for overall heart health. Although the present study was conducted only on individuals undergoing stress testing, Dr Shami believes that these finding could be applied to the general population to help them motivate to exercise regularly.

    Read the full story:

    AI powered 'Floating Brain' in the ISS. Credit: Airbus
    A 'Floating Brain' for the International Space station astronauts

    In what seems to be directly from a Sci-Fi movie, astronauts from the International Space Station will get an AI-powered assistant named 'Crew Interactive Mobile Companion' (CIMON). Interestingly, CIMON will be a spherical body floating around the ISS microgravity environment and will have a screen to display readouts or present a friendly image all along with a voice designed by the IBM's AI technology. Developed in collaboration with Airbus, CIMON is the first AI-based mission on the ISS and once up there it will work with the astronauts to work on crystals, solve Rubik's cubes and perform medical experiments.

    Read the full story:

    A biased search result might lead to problems. Pic credit
    Search engines aren't as neutral as they claim to be

    Safiya Umoja Noble in her latest book, Algorithms of Oppression, recounts a horrifying experience in which her search of 'black girls' resulted in porn pages. Noble who is a USC communications professor has long argued that search engines aren't as neutral as they claim which might lead to biases against certain ethnic groups and genders. Since the public relies on search engines for the truth or credible news, throwing biased news towards them shapes thought and discussions towards unwanted directions. She argues that since machine learning algorithms already use biased data, the results as ought to be biased. The question now is: Is it too late to change all this?

    Read the full story:

    CO2 emitted by industry may be converted into useable energy in the future
    Converting CO2 to CO as a source for usable energy

    Single nickel atoms dispersed into graphene nanosheets appear to form a highly effective and cost-effective substrate for the electrocatalytic CO2 reduction reaction to CO. With this new finding, some technical obstacles have been overcome to use the greenhouse gas CO2 for usable energy. CO can be used in many ways, for instance to produce energy-rich hydrogen gas, or other useful chemicals such as hydrocarbons and alcohols.

    Read the full story: Brookhaven National Laboratory
    Scientific publication: Energy and Environmental Science

    Looking at cells with unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution
    Microscope developed with super spatial and temporal resolution

    Scientists from the EPFL in Lausanne have developed a new microscopy platform which allows the study of living cells in greater detail than ever before. The temporal resolution with which images can be taken makes it possible to capture the intracellular dynamics of even the finest structures within living cells. The unique combination of super spatial and super temporal resolution will increase our understanding of the biology of cells in health and disease.

    Read the full story: Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
    Scientific publication: Nature Photonics

    Most of the energy in buildings is lost through windows
    Clever coating for smart windows

    Researchers have developed a very thin self-regulating film made of vanadiumoxide that can be coated on windows to regulate indoors temperature. By passively changing the conductive properties of vanadiumoxide under influence of ambient temperature, the coating lets more heat in when it is cold, and blocks sunlight when it is cold. Coating of windows with this film is expected to spare significant amounts of energy for heating and cooling of buildings, resulting in major financial and environmental benefits.

    Read the full story: RMIT University
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports

    An exotic state of matter was created by physicists: an atom full of atoms! Credit: TU Wien
    Giant atom containing other atoms created as a new form of matter - short science news

    In a standard atom there is a certain space between the nucleus and the surrounding electrons. A team of physicist decided it would be a good idea to fill this space with… well, other atoms! They used strontium ions which, using a laser, were converted into a Rydberg atom, an atom with a huge distance between the nucleus and the orbiting electron. Thus, the electron will orbit not only around its own nucleus, but also around many other normal strontium atoms that easily fit in this space. This new exotic state of matter, called Rydberg polarons, can only be detected at very low temperatures.

    Read the full story:
    Scientific publication: Physical Review Letters

    Human eye
    Artificial eye with a metalens and an artificial muscle

    Researchers have advanced to a new generation of artificial eyes by combining a metalens with an artificial muscle. This new electronically controlled eye is thin and flat, and can focus in real time, just like the human eye. On top of this, the new metalens corrects for aberrations such as image shift and astigmatism to avoid image blurring. The new metalens may be used for zooming and autofocus in future cameras in e.g. cell phones or microscopes.

    Read the full story: Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    Scientific publication: Science Advances

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