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Solution to century-old math problem could predict transmission of infectious diseases

phys.org
  • The math problem in question is the discrete diffusion equation in finite space.
  • Until now, defining the probability of encountering and transmitting a particle in a closed space required huge computer simulations (= lots of wasted time and energy).
  • The solution to the basic diffusion equation has been known for a long time, but nobody knew how to quickly solve it for, say, one particular day and place.
  • This will help scientists from many different fields, for example in predicting molecule diffusion in cells, the moves of bacteria in a petri dish, or animal movements.
  • It could even help predict how a virus moves between individuals in a crowd in a confined space.

Detailed 3-D model of SARS-COV-2 revealed

coronavirusexplained.ukri.org
  • Scientists are gathering crucial data about the viral components that make up infectious particles, but the information doesn’t give us a big picture of the virus.
  • In order to help everyone understand the virus, scientists created detailed 3D models of the virus particle.
  • It’s a wonderful collaboration of art and science - a freelance scientific illustrator, virus research scientists, and a team of visualisation / simulation experts.
  • Images and videos are available on the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) COVID-19 website (click the link above the first bullet, below the title).
  • The project is an attempt to collect all currently known information about COVID, and present it in a way that will help people understand it.

Blind people ‘read’ letters traced on their brains with electricity

nature.com
  • New study on people who became blind during their life (ie weren’t blind from birth), and have damaged eyes / optic nerves, but not the brain part that actually “sees”.
  • The study shows that when you stimulate the “seeing” part of their brains with precise patterns of electrical impulses, they kind of see the things you’re trying to show.
  • So far scientists have only “shown” (i.e. transmitted directly into their brains) the shapes of letters like “N” or “Z”.
  • This is very early stage, but it’s a promising sign that perhaps in the future blind people will be able to see without seeing.

Under Pressure: New Bioinspired Material Can ‘Shapeshift’ to External Forces

releases.jhu.edu
  • Scientists replicate common feature of human bones and colorful coral reefs—adjustable mineral deposits (essentially, they get harder to counteract force).
  • This feature has been applied to a new material, and successfully tested in a laboratory environment.
  • There have been other approaches to replicate this natural feature in materials, but this new approach is simple, low-cost, and doesn’t require extra energy.
  • It could potentially lead to a “new class of self-regenerating materials that can self-reinforce” when damaged, making way for new types of medical devices.
  • This study also adds a lot of new insights to what scientists know about dynamic materials and the process of remineralization.

Effectiveness of Surgical and Cotton Masks in Blocking SARS–CoV-2: A Controlled Comparison in 4 Patients

annals.org
  • New study, done by South Korean scientists, shows that “neither surgical nor cotton masks effectively filtered SARS–CoV-2 during coughs by infected patients.”.
  • Even though previous research shows these masks were effective for influenza, they are not an effective way to stop the spread of COVID.
  • Scientists don’t know yet how much of the virus is transmitted during coughing.
  • It’s worth noting, that the COVID contamination was actually bigger on the outside of the masks, than on the inside.

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