Researchers Explore Using Cell Phones to Anonymously Contact Track Covid-19

Researchers are developing a system where in personal cellphones could communicate with each other and let us know when we’ve been near someone who has contracted Covid-19.

In their paper, researchers discussed a system that would generate random, anonymous IDs for each phone. The system would automatically send out ultrasonic signals between microphones and speakers on cellphones within a certain radius. The information passed between phones would be used for contact tracing.

If a person tested positive for Covid-19, this person would update their anonymous IDs and this would included a timestamp of when the ID was generated in the past two weeks. This info would be updated in a central database that is managed by official medical organizations. The information on each individual would be pulled to trace contact between people and patients.

Others, including tech companies, had suggested using Bluetooth for such a system but Bluetooth actually travels too far and even through walls but isn’t “smart” so it would not be ideal for use in this scenario according to researchers.

The research as not yet been peer-reviewd but is available at arXiv pre-print server.

The Correlation Between Math Ability And Intentions to Quit Smoking Revealed

A new study at the OSU has found a strange correlation between math ability and cigarette smokers—

Analysts discovered that smokers who scored higher on a test of math ability were more likely to sate they intend to quit smoking. But why you might ask. The reason is they had a better memory for the risk associated math connected to smoking therefor they have a great intention to quit.

It was not the focus of the study, however, these findings help confirmed previous research that suggested that memory for high-emotion warning labels (like the graphic imagery of a cancerous lung) was lower right after the experiment than memory for the low-emotion warning labels (like those which employ cartoon graphics of gravestones).
Memory for the graphic labels declined less for those tested 6 weeks after than for those who saw the less-graphic imagery.

Regardless of the effects of imagery, those who scored higher in math ability tended to have better memory for the risks of smoking, including precise memory of the statistics. This was then inked to higher perception of risk and thus a higher intention to quit.

Researchers say their findings should be considered when health officials and policymakers decide how they present risk-oriented information to smokers.

New Study Suggests Political Candidates Shouldn’t Use Humor on Social Media

New research supported by the Ohio State University found that when political candidates try to be funny on social media it could backfire when it comes to gaining new supporters.

When it came to political candidates that voters were not familiar with, the study found that voters are more likely to view the use of humor by that unfamiliar candidate as inappropriate. The study also showed that voters saw that unfamiliar candidate who used humor as less credible and thereby less likely to get their vote.

The authors of the study warned that political candidates should be cautious about the use of humor on social media. Even though, generally speaking, the general populace is encouraged to be less formal on social media this does not apply to politicians from whom voters expect seriousness and competence, even on social media.

In this study, subjects reacted to social media posts from an invented candidate (so none of the subjects would have had any prior experience with them). It is possible the rules might be different for widely known politicians such as the President or the Speaker of the House.

The study was published in “Communication Research Reports.”

OSU Chemist et. al. Create New Coating to Protect Nanofibers

Chemists lead by an OSU professor of chemistry have come up with a coating that could help materials like medications stay more stable and this coating is much thinner than the width of human hair.

The coating secures strongly whatever is inside perhaps allowing many medications to hold together longer without the use of additives. Researchers compared it to a stack of quarters versus a plastic wrapped role of quarters from the bank. Both will eventually fall apart, but one remains stable much longer.

Researchers took their cue from nature but created the material in a lab. It is called polydopamine. They used this to cover peptide nano fibers (very small chains of amino acids). These are the building blocks of proteins. These peptide nanofibers are common building blocks for lots of common items, like medications.

Each peptide molecule is like one coin in the stack. The entire stack is a peptide nanofiber. The polydopamine coating makes sure the stack is protected against environments that would break the stack or nanofiber apart.

The chemists focused on very small materials, those on the “nanoscale”. One one-millionth of a millimeter equals one nanometer. This is about 75,000 times smaller than a width of a human hair.

This research was published in the European journal, Chemistry.

Scientists Discover Milky Way “halo” Much Hotter Than Previously Thought

The halo that surrounds the Milky Way is much hotter than scientists once thought. They think this may be a ubiquitous characteristic of galaxies after examining the data.
The collection of dust, gas and dark matter, looking a bit like a fog to the naked eye, that surrounds some galaxies, is know as a “halo.” And the Milky Way’s Halo is at least ten times hotter than once thought.

While previous research revealed that extreme temperatures (up to 18 million degrees Fahrenheit) could be found not just in certain parts of the halo, but that this may be the average temperature of the entire halo.

Researchers said that this piece of information could help scientists understand how the Milk Way galaxy and others like were created and how they grow.

The new data the analyzed came from an X-ray observatory telescope. This one one run by the European Space Agency. It is called the XMM-Newton. The telescope collects data in X-rays that normally would be blocked out by the Earth’s atmosphere.

The new data about the halo, which scientists consider the “link” between a galaxy and the wider universe, could help scientists understand how such a galaxy changes and interacts with the space around it over time.