1 February 2018

Research Picks Weekly – 1 February 2018

Sea defences go Dutch
Without its flood defences, much of The Netherlands would be reclaimed by the North Sea. Researchers there are asking whether increasing the managerial flexibility of a dyke reinforcement strategy could improve the lifecycle and cost-effectiveness. In the face of climate change and the potential for rising sea levels as polar ice caps melt it is imperative that low-lying nations address the issue well in advance of disaster in order that disaster might be averted. The team has examined two flexible strategies and applied them to models of eight case studies, two sea level rise scenarios, and four discount rates. The results suggest that current engineering practices could be improved if variable design lifetime is also addressed when decisions are being made about reinforcements. It is likely that the same modelling might have applications in addressing the critical sea defence needs of other low-lying countries at serious risk of flooding as sea levels rise.
“Cost-effectiveness analysis of reinforcement strategies for (multifunctional) flood defences”, Fatemeh Anvarifar, Matthijs Kok, Wil Thissen, Chris Zevenbergen, Defne Osmanoglou, and Behrouz Raftari Tangabi (2018) Int J Crit Infrastruct; DOI: 10.1504/IJCIS.2017.089240

Rapid chemical testing
A quick way to classify different chemicals by their cytotoxicity has been developed by researchers in China. The method could be used to screen libraries of novel compounds for their potential as anticancer agents or other pharmaceuticals. The team’s pattern recognition algorithm can determine the Mechanism of Action (MoA) of different chemicals on living cells and so establish dose-response curves for them. “The proposed method enables relatively high throughput screening for chemical recognition at the cellular level,” the team reports.
“Pattern recognition of chemical compounds using multiple dose-response curves”, Jiao Chen, Tianhong Pan, Shan Chen, Xiaobo Zou, and Kaili Xu (2018) Int J Data Mining Bioinformatics; DOI: 10.1504/IJDMB.2017.089283

Plastic soil improver
The terrible and growing impact of plastic waste on the world’s oceans and the environment, in general, has surfaced in recent years. Now, a team in India is investigating the effects of adding one of the most commonly used plastics, the polymer, polythene (known more formally as polyethylene or polyethene), to sandy soils with a view to recycling the waste material from shredded shopping bags as a useful soil additive. Different sizes of shredded polythene have been tested at different ratios in two types of sandy soil and shear tests carried out on the mixtures. Their analyses positively reflect soil improvement due to the inclusion of polythene plastic waste in terms of geotechnical properties such as soil retention during times of drought or flooding.
“A comparative study on the effect of polyethylene plastic waste on sandy soils” Rupanjan Chakraborty,  Rakesh Barman,  Sarbajit Bhattacharyya, and  Kuntal Das (2018) Int J Environ Sus Dev DOI10.1504/IJESD.2018.089276

Testing for heart disease? There might be an app for that
Cardiovascular disease is one of the biggest killers. Now, researchers in South Korea have taken a new approach to diagnosis. They point out that CV disease is usually first diagnosed in a hospital and in the late stage of life. However, modern mobile devices have the potential to analyse newly gleaned data from a person and correlate this with statistical database information regarding gender type, age, height, weight, body mass index, high blood glucose, heart rates, end-systolic and end-diastolic pressure, history of cardiac infarction and angina pectoris. Training a suitable algorithm could then flag those people who are at most risk of CV disease so that they might have a direct physical diagnosis and be offered treatment accordingly.
“A study of mobile CDSS for cardiovascular disease diagnosis”, Ulzii-Orshikh Dorj, Young-Keun Lee, Sang-Seok Yun, Jae-Young Choi, and Malrey Lee (2018) Int. J. Sensor Networks; DOI: 10.1504/IJSNET.2018.10009979

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