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May 1, 2020

Cytokine storms and T cell counts may offer clues on how to treat COVID-19

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

Cytokine storms may affect the severity of COVID-19 cases by lowering T cell counts, according to a new study published in Frontiers in Immunology. Researchers studying coronavirus cases in China found that sick patients had a significantly low number of T cells, a type of white blood cell that plays a crucial role in immune response, and that T cell counts were negatively correlated with case severity.

Interestingly, they also found a high concentration of cytokines, a protein that normally helps fight off infection. Too many cytokines can trigger an excessive inflammatory response known as a cytokine storm, which causes the proteins to attack . The study suggests that coronavirus does not attack T cells directly, but rather triggers the cytokine release, which then drives the depletion and exhaustion of T cells.

The findings offer clues on how to target treatment for COVID-19, which has become a worldwide pandemic and a widespread threat to human health in the past few months. “We should pay more attention to T cell counts and their function, rather than respiratory function of patients,” says author Dr. Yongwen Chen of Third Military Medical University in China, adding that “more urgent, may be required in patients with low T lymphocyte counts.”

May 1, 2020

Zero-day exploit hits Sophos Firewall XG

Posted by in category: cybercrime/malcode

Sophos rushed patches to users of its popular XG Firewall network system following reports the company received last week that hackers were actively exploiting an SQL injection vulnerability.

The assault involved the downloading and installation of a series of scripts designed to steal , passwords and other .

“At this time, there is no indication that the attack accessed anything on the local networks behind any impacted XG Firewall,” Team Sophos said. But they did not rule out the possibility of compromised data.

May 1, 2020

A highly performing and efficient e-skin for robotic applications

Posted by in categories: cyborgs, robotics/AI

Researchers at Technische Universität München in Germany have recently developed an electronic skin that could help to reproduce the human sense of touch in robots. This e-skin, presented in a paper published in MDPI’s Sensors journal, requires far less computational power than other existing e-skins and can thus be applied to larger portions of a robot’s body.

“Our main motivation for developing the e-skin stems from nature and is centered on the question of how we humans interact with our surrounding environment,” Florian Bergner, one of the researchers who carried out the study, told TechXplore. “While humans predominantly depend on vision, our sense of is important as soon as contacts are involved in interactions. We believe that giving robots a sense of touch can extend the range of interactions between robots and humans—making robots more collaborative, safe and effective.”

Continue reading “A highly performing and efficient e-skin for robotic applications” »

May 1, 2020

Engineers, medical team design 3D-printed ventilator that requires no electricity

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, biotech/medical, cyborgs, military

A research collaboration and ensuing friendship between a trauma surgeon in Oregon and a handful of engineers in Florida has resulted in a new ventilator design that requires no electricity and could be a game-changer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Albert Chi, who specializes in critical care and prosthetics, was keeping a close eye on COVID-19 during the early days. He immediately began working with his team at Oregon Health and Science University to develop a new, easy way to replicate ventilators that could be deployed anywhere. Specializing in trauma, Chi as a retired commander of the U.S. Navy Reserve and well versed in extreme conditions.

When Chi had a design, he called his friend and clinical-trial collaborator Albert Manero CEO and co-founder of Limbitless Solutions in Orlando, Florida.

May 1, 2020

Common Sense Comes to Computers

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

The problem of common-sense reasoning has plagued the field of artificial intelligence for over 50 years. Now a new approach, borrowing from two disparate lines of thinking, has made important progress.

May 1, 2020

A ‘sniff test’ signals consciousness after a brain injury, study shows

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

An unconscious person’s response to odors after a serious brain injury may be a simple yet powerful signal of how aware they are and how likely they are to survive and recover, a new study suggests, relying on responses to the scent of shampoo and the stench of rotting fish.

Patients who survive brain damage from trauma, stroke, or heart attack are plunged into forms of unconsciousness that vary from minimal consciousness to unresponsive wakefulness, sometimes called a vegetative state. Specialists trying to tell who is in which state have fared only a little better than a coin flip: About 4 in 10 people thought to be unconscious are actually aware.

That uncertainty makes decisions for families and clinicians supremely difficult, from weighing how to treat pain to whether to withdraw life support. Sophisticated imaging of unconscious patients’ brain activity can reveal hints of awareness that go beyond behavioral assessments, sometimes only to deepen the mystery of who will get better. Now Israeli scientists have turned to the sense of smell, evolutionarily speaking our most ancient sensory system, as a window into our brain. Their paper appears Wednesday in Nature.

May 1, 2020

Robot with pincers can detect and remove weeds without harming crops

Posted by in categories: food, robotics/AI

Artificial intelligence is getting down in the weeds. An AI-powered robot that can distinguish weeds from crops and remove them could eventually be used as an alternative to chemical insecticides.

Kevin Patel and Nihar Chaniyara at tech start-up AutoRoboCulture in Gandhinagar, India, have created a prototype device, called Nindamani, specifically for cauliflower crops.

May 1, 2020

How To Detect Signs Of Life From Planets Circling Dying Stars

Posted by in category: alien life

Cornell astronomers plot how to take spectra from extrasolar earths trapped in orbits around dying white dwarfs.

Apr 30, 2020

This Grad Student Used a Neural Network to Write His Papers

Posted by in categories: business, education, robotics/AI

I was confident enough to turn it in. However, I then was looking online and found out there’s a really easy way to find out if an essay was written by GPT-2. It’s to feed it to GPT-2 and if it’s able to predict the next words, then it was written by the AI. It’s easier to find out than normal plagiarism.

I knew that the business school had software that they were using to look out for plagiarism in all the essays that are turned in to their online platform, which is how I turned in my essays. So I was slightly worried that the company that sold them the anti-plagiarism software would have made an update.

I don’t think the professors even considered the possibility of GPT-2 writing the essays, but I was slightly worried that the company making the software added a module. But not that much.

Apr 30, 2020

The Rise of the Fifth Reich?

Posted by in categories: energy, finance, policy

Over at the always interesting Small Wars Journal, Tony Corn has a stimulating piece on the implications of the European crisis for world politics. He sees a clueless German policy establishment recklessly moving toward an unsustainable quest for power reminiscent in too many ways of problems Germany has had in its past.

Germany, warns Corn, is planning to use its financial domination of Europe to remake the EU into an extension of German power — more or less the way that Prussia used the Zollverein to bring northern Germany under its control and then dominated the Bismarckian Reich through a rigged constitutional system. Once that is in place, he writes, the Germans will continue their policy of deepening relations with Russia at the expense of NATO and transatlantic ties, and end Europe’s embargo on arms sales to China.

As an analyst, Corn sometimes goes to what we more placid types at VM consider overexcited conclusions about Eurasian power realignments. Safely ensconced among the storied oaks and elms, gazebos, pergolas, ha-has, follies and deer parks surrounding the stately Mead manor in glamorous Queens, we tend to take a wait-and-see attitude toward organizations like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization which Russia and China have sometimes posited as a kind of embryonic counter-NATO. Corn, in our perhaps excessively complacent view, can be too quick to take vague Eurasian fantasies and aspirations about diplomatic revolutions as accomplished facts; it is easier to dream about firm Russian and Chinese anti-US cooperation than for those two countries to make it work. But that said, there is no doubt that Corn’s industry, historical grounding and sensitive, even over-sensitive nerve endings give him the ability to produce original and striking ideas.