23 November 2017

Research Picks Bonus – November 2017

BitCoin to end poverty and corruption
Could “blockchain” technology and the so-called BitCoin currency lift a country like Moldova, which was part of the Soviet Union, and reduce state-wide corruption? Researchers there and in France have carried out a case study of how a new electronic economic might emerge in parallel with “tourism 2.0” and how coupled with e-governance such a state might be lifted out of poverty. The team reports that these new technologies constitute a significant step in the right direction, in order to break away from twenty-five years of disappointing socio-economic development performance.
Pilkington, M., Crudu, R. and Grant, L.G. (2017) ‘Blockchain and bitcoin as a way to lift a country out of poverty – tourism 2.0 and e-governance in the Republic of Moldova’, Int. J. Internet Technology and Secured Transactions, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp.115–143.

Silent flight
Owls are renowned avian hunters. One of their evolutionary adaptations, especially for hunting at night is that their flight is near silent. Scientists previously demonstrated that the barbs on the leading edge of primary flight feathers in species such as the barn owl (Tyto alba) act to break up airflow and essentially prevent the wing from making whooshing noises as air rolls across it while the bird glides and descends on prey. Now, researchers in China have taken a close look at the primary feathers of another owl, the long-eared owl (Asio otus) and found that the morphological and mechanical characteristics of the barbules and the way they branch on the long-eared owl primary feather represents a scaling law. The branching diameters throughout the hierarchy of branches (rachis, barb, barbicel) and their mechanical properties are congruent. Such insights could help in the development of biomimetic systems for human aviation, aerospace, marine, and other fields where noise and turbulence are to be minimized.
Gao, J., Chu, J., Guan, L., and Zhang, R., (2017) ‘Mechanical properties and size scaling of long-eared owl primary feather‘ Int. J. Mater Struct Integrity, Vol.11, No.1/2/3, pp.32-50.

Food waste
A study from researchers in Kuwait reveals that at least 10% of perishable goods, such as fruit and vegetables, are discarded by supermarkets, not because of spoilage, but because of customer attitude to less than perfect produce. The team has also looked at the elemental content of such waste and assessed its value as compost and the optimal temperature and process for retrieving valuable material from spoiled food. Importantly, much of the mass of any such food waste is water (85%) and is overall of greater density than general municipal waste and so represents a significant waste management problem for supermarkets and the refuse and recycling companies that service them.
Hamoda, M.F., (2017) ‘Management of discarded organic produce from supermarkets and hypermarkets’, Int. J. Environ. Waste Manage., Vol.20, No.3, pp.264 – 282

Driverless cars? There’s an app for that!
Researchers in India are working on the concept of an interface for a robotic car controlled by the Android operating system. They have developed a miniature model of a Bluetooth controlled device which uses Android as the software interface and an Arduino Atmega328 microcontroller hardware component. The team explains that the setup offers autonomous control of a car. The notion of a so-called “backseat driver” taking control of your car just came a step closer.
Singh, S., Kedia, P., and Nagarajan, S.K. (2017 ‘Android controlled autonomous robot car‘, Int. J. Enterprise Network Management, Vol. 8, No. 3, pp.235-246.

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