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Archive for 'Research News'

How to write a hard-to-resist science headline: Quantum, Coffee

Friday, May 22nd, 2020

Trinity College Dublin produced a press release, on January 31, 2020, with this headline: Supercomputers help link quantum entanglement to cold coffee“.

The press release is meant to draw attention to a research paper by Marlon Brenes, Silvia Pappalardi [pictured here], John Goold, and Alessandro Silva.

The paper is titled “Multipartite Entanglement Structure in the Eigenstate Thermalization Hypothesis,” and published in the journal Physical Review Letters (2020; 124, 4).

The paper itself does not mention coffee.

UPDATE (May 22): Investigator Mason Porter writes: We’ve got the coffee (well, at least the caffeine) covered: “Spatial Applications of Topological Data Analysis: Cities, Snowflakes, Random Structures, and Spiders Spinning Under the Influence

A Neighborhood Association with Personality

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020

In some neighborhoods, people belong to a neighborhood association. One of the least-publicized is The Association of Perceived Neighborhood Safety and Inequality with Personality.

Finger-Food Hygiene Attachments [new patent]

Monday, May 18th, 2020

US-based inventor Peter Delgrosso points out that consuming finger foods can sometimes be a hygienically suboptimal process – with a (timely) reminder that, in the act of eating finger foods ;

“Germs, bacteria, and other harmful elements (e.g., microorganisms, viruses, chemicals, etc.) on our hands and fingers can then make their way into the body.”

“There is therefore a need to provide a way with which to consume finger foods as intended without the accompanying hygiene and cleanliness issues. Specifically, there is a need to allow consumers the ability to use their fingers when eating finger foods without having to wash their hands before eating because of concern for ingesting harmful elements, and also after eating because residual elements transferred from the finger foods to consumer’s fingers.”

See : ‘Finger Sheaths’ , United States Patent 10,645,983, May 12, 2020

Note: Readers may spot some similarities with another US patent, issued a couple of months ago, see:  Fingers-Only Glove [new patent]

Research research by Martin Gardiner

Searching in the Weeds for a Cannabis Treatment for Covid-19

Friday, May 15th, 2020

Almost every surprising discovery comes from something that seemed unlikely—the seeming-unlikeliness is why the discovery had to be discovered surprisingly. Here is one of many new attempts to discover something that would surprise and delight the world. This particular discovery, should it be discovered, would theoretically infuriate a few people.

In Search of Preventative Strategies: Novel Anti-Inflammatory High-CBD Cannabis Sativa Extracts Modulate ACE2 Expression in COVID-19 Gateway Tissues,” Bo Wang, Anna Kovalchuk, Dongping Li, Yaroslav Ilnytskyy, Igor Kovalchuk, and Olga Kovalchuk [pictured here], Preprints 2020, 2020040315. The authors, at the University of Lethbridge and the University of Calgary, Canada, explain:

Olga Kovalchuk

With the rapidly growing pandemic of COVID-19 caused by the new and challenging to treat zoonotic SARS-CoV2 coronavirus, there is an urgent need for new therapies and prevention strategies that can help curtail disease spread and reduce mortality….

Cannabis sativa, especially one high in the anti-inflammatory cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD), has been proposed to modulate gene expression and inflammation and harbour anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Working under the Health Canada research license, we have developed over 800 new Cannabis sativa lines and extracts and hypothesized that high-CBD C. sativa extracts may be used to modulate ACE2 expression in COVID-19 target tissues. Screening C. sativa extracts using artificial human 3D models of oral, airway, and intestinal tissues, we identified 13 high CBD C. sativa extracts that modulate ACE2 gene expression and ACE2 protein levels.

What is it like to be a (drunken) bat? [two studies]

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

Driving whilst under the influence of alcohol is widely regarded as dangerous. So, perhaps flying whilst intoxicated, if you’re, say, a fruit bat, might be unwise too? Two scientific research groups have experimentally tested the flying performance of fruit bats whilst tipsy (the bats, not the researchers). But the results are, if not contradictory, somewhat conflicting.

The first, a Canadian study published in Feb. 2010, found that bats which had been drinking didn’t appear to have significant problems flying and echolocating.

“We fed wild caught Artibeus jamaicensis, A. lituratus, A. phaeotis, Carollia sowelli, Glossophaga soricina, and Sturnira lilium (Chiroptera, Phyllostomidae) sugar water (44 g of table sugar in 500 ml of water) or sugar water with ethanol before challenging them to fly through an obstacle course while we simultaneously recorded their echolocation calls. We used bat saliva, a non-invasive proxy, to measure blood ethanol concentrations ranging from 0 to >0.3% immediately before flight trials. Flight performance and echolocation behaviour were not significantly affected by consumption of ethanol, but species differed in their blood alcohol concentrations after consuming it.”

See: Drinking and Flying: Does Alcohol Consumption Affect the Flight and Echolocation Performance of Phyllostomid Bats? PLOS ONE, February 1, 2010

But a second study, published later that same year, found that inebriated bats’ echolocation skills were considerably affected by alcohol.

“[…] we hypothesized that, if ingested, food containing >1% ethanol is toxic to these [fruit] bats, probably causing inebriation that will affect flight and echolocation skills. We tested this hypothesis by flying Egyptian fruit bats in an indoor corridor and found that after ingesting ethanol-rich food bats flew significantly slower than when fed ethanol-free food. Also, the ingestion of ethanol significantly affected several variables of the bats’ echolocation calls and behavior.”

See: Ethanol ingestion affects flight performance and echolocation in Egyptian fruit bats , Behavioural Processes, Volume 84, Issue 2, June 2010, Pages 555-558

Note: As far as can be ascertained, no subsequent studies have resolved answers to the question.

BONUS : What is it like to be a bat? by philosopher Thomas Nagel, The Philosophical Review, LXXXIII, 4 (October 1974): 435-50.

BONUS: Learn to count bats

Photo courtesy Trikansh sharma, . at Wikipedia.
Research research by Martin Gardiner

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