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The mask matters: How masks affect airflow, protection effectiveness
Even though it has been widely known that wearing a face mask will help mitigate the community spread of COVID-19, less is known regarding the specific effectiveness of masks in reducing the viral load in the respiratory tracts of those wearing them. In Physics of Fluids, researchers examined the effect of wearing a three-layer surgical mask on inspiratory airflows and the effects on the inhalation and deposition of ambient particles in the upper respiratory airways. (2020-12-15)

'Chaotic' way to create insectlike gaits for robots
Researchers are embracing chaos and nonlinear physics to create insectlike gaits for tiny robots -- complete with a locomotion controller to provide a brain-machine interface. Biology and physics are permeated by universal phenomena fundamentally grounded in nonlinear physics, and it inspired the researchers' work. In the journal Chaos, the group describes using a system of three nonlinear differential equations as a building block for central pattern generators to control the gait of a robotic insect. (2020-12-15)

Device mimics life's first steps in outer space
A device developed by scientists at the CY Cergy Paris University and Paris Observatory promises insight into how the building blocks of life form in outer space. In Review of Scientific Instruments, the scientists detail how VENUS -- an acronym of the French phrase ''Vers de Nouvelles Syntheses,'' which means ''toward new syntheses'' -- mimics how molecules come together in the freezing darkness of interstellar space. (2020-12-15)

How childhood brain function and memory skills shape each other
In early childhood, memory skills predict the strength of future brain connections, and conversely, the strength of early brain connections predict future memory acuity. New research published in JNeurosci highlights the complex, bidirectional relationship between brain function and ability during development. (2020-12-14)

Sounds, smells could sway our self-image
A lemony scent and light sounds could change the way you feel about yourself. Previously, researchers have shown that visual and tactile stimulation can change a person's perception of their own body weight. Research being presented by Giada Brianza at the 179th ASA Meeting, has found our hearing and sense of smell can also change how we feel about our self-image, which could help improve healthy behaviors. (2020-12-11)

A day at the beach helps model how sound moves through coastal areas
At a North Carolina beach, researchers have been poking and prodding the sand to study how moisture levels affect sounds as they move across the environment. Over short distances, even moderately wet sand reflects sound more like water does than as a solid surface does. Faith Cobb and her team are looking into if the same is true for long-range sound propagation. Their findings will be presented as a part of the 179th ASA Meeting. (2020-12-10)

Lung ultrasounds could help determine COVID-19 outcome
Researchers have developed a method using ultrasound imaging to score a patient's lung health, which may help predict if a patient with COVID-19 will worsen. Using 14 points in the lungs, they looked for abnormalities and assigned each spot a score out of 3 based on its severity. Adding up all the points, the researchers found the total lung ultrasound score was higher for those who had a worsening outcome of COVID-19. (2020-12-10)

How loud is too loud? Identifying noise levels that deter older restaurant patrons
As restaurants get noisier, the increasing noise levels could deter older patrons, especially those with mild to severe hearing loss. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will discuss their work on investigating acceptable noise levels that won't cause restaurant visitors to stay away from certain establishments. Identifying acceptable noise levels helps establish truly ''age-friendly'' communities. The session will take place as part of the 179th ASA Meeting. (2020-12-10)

Hearing tones, elements through atomic music
With each atom assigned a tonal signature based on its spectral signature, music can be a powerful tool for helping students understand atomic structure. Jill Linz is working toward synthesizing unique tones for each element to create an acoustic version of the periodic table. She will discuss her progress and the potential applications of the project at the 179th ASA Meeting, Dec. 7-10. (2020-12-10)

How much does the way you speak reveal about you?
Listeners can extract a lot of information about a person from their acoustic speech signal. During the 179th ASA Meeting, Dec. 7-10, Tessa Bent, Emerson Wolff, and Jennifer Lentz will describe their study in which listeners were told to categorize 144 unique audio clips of monolingual English talkers into Midland, New York City, and Southern U.S. dialect regions, and Asian American, Black/African American, or white speakers. (2020-12-10)

How does eye position affect 'cocktail party' listening?
Several acoustic studies have shown that the position of your eyes determines where your visual spatial attention is directed, which automatically influences your auditory spatial attention. Researchers are currently exploring its impact on speech intelligibility. During the 179th ASA Meeting, Virginia Best will describe her work to determine whether there is a measurable effect of eye position within cocktail party listening situations. (2020-12-09)

Noninvasive way to explore traumatic brain injuries
A noninvasive method to measure the stiffness parameters along fibrous pathways within the brain is helping researchers explore traumatic brain injuries. The stiffness of these tissues can reveal clues about changes and pathologies within the brain's gray and white matter. During the 179th ASA Meeting, Anthony J. Romano will describe the method known as waveguide elastography. Waveguide elastography merges magnetic resonance elastography and diffusion tensor imaging with a combination of isotropic and anisotropic inversion algorithms. (2020-12-09)

Accent perception depends on backgrounds of speaker, listener
Visual cues can change listeners' perception of others' accents, and people's past exposure to varied speech can also impact their perception of accents. Ethan Kutlu will discuss his team's work testing the impact that visual input and linguistic diversity has on listeners' perceived accentedness judgments in two different locations: Gainesville, Florida, and Montreal, Canada. The session will take place Dec. 9 as part of the 179th ASA Meeting. (2020-12-09)

Face shields no match for sneeze vortex rings
Do face shields provide enough protection to the wearers against COVID-19 if they don't also wear a mask? No. But researchers in Japan are working to create face shields safe enough to be worn alone. In Physics of Fluids, Fujio Akagi and colleagues describe their work to gain a better understanding of what happens to the airflow around a face shield when someone nearby sneezes. (2020-12-08)

Batteries mimic mammal bones for stability
Sodium-ion batteries offer several advantages over lithium-ion batteries; however, it is difficult to develop sodium cathodes, materials through which electrons can enter a battery. Many candidate materials are unstable or cannot withstand high voltages. To find a solution, researchers turned to nature. They created a porous system of NVP structures, surrounded by a dense shell of reduced graphene oxide. They describe the mammal bone-inspired sodium cathode in the journal Applied Physics Reviews. (2020-12-08)

Tiny nanospindles enhance use of ultrasound to fight cancer
Ultrasound can be used to treat cancer when used in combination with molecules that sensitize the system to sound waves. These sonosensitizers generate toxic reactive oxygen species that attack and kill tumor cells. In Applied Physics Review, scientists report a new type of sonosensitizer based on a vanadium-doped titanium dioxide that enhances the amount of damage ultrasound inflicts on tumors. Studies in mice showed tumor growth was markedly suppressed when compared to a control group. (2020-12-08)

Adapting magnetometers for noisy, physically demanding environments
Researchers routinely measure magnetic fields to better understand a vast array of natural phenomena. Many of these measurements are performed in shielded environments, but the research community has achieved these sensitive measurements in extreme environments as well as outside of highly controlled environments. In AVS Quantum Science, researchers discuss ways in which various predominantly optically pumped magnetometer technologies have been adapted for use in a wide range of noisy and physically demanding environments. (2020-12-08)

Delivering sound to people where they want it for VR, AR
What if a commercial audio speaker could function like an autozoom projector does for light, and you could deliver the sound people want where they want it? Chinmay Rajguru, from the University of Sussex, will discuss his research team's work creating a sound projector that can deliver spatial sound at a distance by forming a beam of audible sound at the 179th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Dec. 7-10, 2020. (2020-12-08)

Smarter traffic signs ahead?
Researchers in Poland have created smart road signs that use built-in Doppler radar, video, and acoustic radar and weather stations to monitor road traffic and conditions to warn drivers in real-time of hazards and prevent collisions on highways. During the 179th ASA Meeting, Dec. 7-10, Andrzej Czyzewski will describe his applied research project to develop autonomous road signs with built-in acoustic radar devices. (2020-12-07)

Imitation mosquito ears help identify mosquito species and sex
Using an imitation ''ear'' modeled on the organs that mosquitos use to hear, researchers have identified a mosquito's species and sex using sound -- just like mosquitos do themselves. The researchers hope this bioinspired detector could someday be used in the field to save lives by aiding in more selective pesticide use and possibly preventing mosquitos from mating. A presentation of the new research will be given as part of the 179th ASA Meeting. (2020-12-07)

Outside Oz, GLINDA reports on tornado acoustics
During tornado formation, sound waves are produced at very low frequencies. And if your name is GLINDA, you do not need to be in Oz to hear them. Brandon White, at Oklahoma State University, is part of an engineering team that developed the Ground-based Local Infrasound Data Acquisition (GLINDA) system for the acoustic measurement of weather phenomena. He will discuss its design and capabilities at the 179th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America. (2020-12-07)

Scientists solve big limitation of stratospheric balloon payloads
Nearly all photons emitted after the Big Bang are now visible only at far-infrared wavelengths. Earth's atmosphere blocks most of this light, so scientists are turning to huge stratospheric balloons to explore it. However, it is quite difficult to cool a telescope the size of a living room to nearly absolute zero while flying it from a balloon. This is where the Balloon-Borne Cryogenic Telescope Testbed comes in. (2020-12-01)

Selecting best microalgae for biodiesel production
Microalgae are a promising source of energy to replace fossil fuels, as they have several advantages over conventional crops used for commercial biodiesel. Microalgae have a shorter lifecycle and they can be developed in environments unfit for agriculture. In the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, researchers developed a methodology to analyze different species to select the best microalgae for use as an energy source by taking into account biological, economic, and environmental aspects. (2020-12-01)

Clothing, tattoos could be used to monitor patient health
A shirt that monitors your blood pressure or a pair of socks that can keep track of your cholesterol levels might be just a few years away from becoming reality. In Applied Physics Reviews, researchers examine the use of microfibers and nanofibers as wearable monitors that could keep track of a patient's vital signs. The microfiber- and nanofiber-based technology addresses growing concerns in the medical community about monitoring chronic illnesses as the population ages. (2020-12-01)

Out of many COVID-19 tests, which one to choose?
Curbing the coronavirus pandemic relies heavily on how quickly a potentially exposed individual can be tested and quarantined. However, the current diagnostic techniques vary in reliability and relevance, so an understanding of which test is most appropriate for a given circumstance is necessary to avoid false reports. Researchers evaluated the available diagnostic techniques and determined key steps required for better testing moving forward. They present their findings in the journal APL Bioengineering. (2020-12-01)

COVID-19 virus survives on surfaces within thin film
To find out how the COVID-19 virus survives on surfaces, researchers are exploring the drying times of thin liquid films that persist after most respiratory droplets evaporate. While the drying time of typical respiratory droplets is on the order of seconds, the survival time of the COVID-19 virus was on the order of hours. In Physics of Fluids, the researchers describe how a nanometers-thick liquid film clings to the surface, allowing the virus to survive. (2020-11-24)

Face masks slow spread of COVID-19; types of masks, length of use matter
Using face masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19 has been widely recommended by health professionals. This has triggered studies of the materials, design, and other issues affecting the way face masks work. In Physics of Fluids, investigators looked at research on face masks and their use and summarized what we know about the way they filter or block the virus. They also summarize design issues that still need to be addressed. (2020-11-24)

Understanding the utility of plasmas for medical applications
Plasma medicine is an emerging field, as plasmas show promise for use in a wide range of therapies from wound healing to cancer treatment, and plasma jets are the main plasma sources typically used in plasma-surface applications. To better understand how plasma jets modify the surfaces of biological tissue, researchers conducted computer simulations of the interaction between an atmospheric pressure plasma jet with a surface that has properties similar to blood serum. (2020-11-24)

Creating higher energy density lithium-ion batteries for renewable energy applications
Lithium-ion batteries that function as high-performance power sources for renewable applications, such as electric vehicles and consumer electronics, require electrodes that deliver high energy density without compromising cell lifetimes. In the Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology A, researchers investigate the origins of degradation in high energy density LIB cathode materials and develop strategies for mitigating those degradation mechanisms and improving LIB performance. (2020-11-24)

Psychosis symptoms linked to impaired information spread in the brain
Altered white matter limits the brain's conscious access to information, potentially contributing to delusions and other psychotic symptoms of mental health disorders, according to new research published in JNeurosci. (2020-11-23)

JACC: BTS study looks at COVID-19's impact on cardiovascular tissue, endothelial cells
In the paper, ''Cardiorenal tissues express SARS-CoV-2 entry genes and basigin (BSG/CD147) increases with age in endothelial cells,'' publishing in JACC: Basic to Translational Research, researchers used publicly available gene expression data to determine the relative expression of key SARS-CoV-2 host entry/ processing genes in human cardiorenal tissues, including aorta, coronary artery, heart (atria and left ventricle), whole blood and the kidney and for comparison the colon, spleen and lung. (2020-11-18)

Time to rethink predicting pandemic infection rates?
Doubling times and exponential growth go hand in hand, so it became clear to Joseph Lee McCauley, when watching the COVID-19 rates, that modeling based on past infections is impossible, because the rate changes unforeseeably from day to day due to social distancing and lockdown efforts. In AIP Advances, McCauley explains how he combined math with a statistical ensemble to understand how macroscopic exponential growth with different daily rates arise from person-to-person disease infection. (2020-11-17)

Quantifying quantumness: A mathematical project 'of immense beauty'
Large objects behave in accordance with the classical laws of mechanics formulated by Sir Isaac Newton and small ones are governed by quantum mechanics, where an object can behave as both a wave and a particle. The boundary between the classical and quantum realms has always been of great interest. Research reported in AVS Quantum Science, considers the question of what makes something 'more quantum' than another -- is there a way to characterize 'quantumness'? (2020-11-17)

Seeking the most effective polymers for personal protective equipment
Personal protective equipment, like face masks and gowns, is generally made of polymers. But not much attention is typically given to the selection of polymers used beyond their physical properties. To help with the identification of materials that will bind to a virus and speed its inactivation for use in PPE, researchers have developed a high-throughput approach for analyzing the interactions between materials and viruslike particles. They report their method in the journal Biointerphases. (2020-11-17)

In a pandemic, migration away from dense cities more effective than closing borders
During the COVID-19 pandemic, closing national borders and borders between states and regions has been prevalent. But does it help? In a paper in Chaos, researchers decided to put this hypothesis to the test and discover if confinement and travels bans are really effective ways to limit the spread of a pandemic disease. Specifically, they focused on the movement of people from larger cities to smaller ones and tested the results of this one-way migration. (2020-11-17)

Smartphone use offers tool to treat MS, other diseases
Monitoring how patients with multiple sclerosis or other degenerative diseases use their smartphones could provide valuable information to help get them better treatment. In the journal Chaos, researchers used an app to record the keystroke dynamics of a control group and those of subjects in various stages of MS treatment. In doing so, they observed changes in the way people with MS typed that were not seen in subjects who did not have the disease. (2020-11-17)

Learning a new language changes the brain's division of labor
Learning a language later in life changes how the two halves of the brain contribute. As skills improve, language comprehension changes hemisphere specialization, but production does not, according to new research published in JNeurosci. (2020-11-17)

NIST sensor experts invent supercool mini thermometer
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have invented a miniature thermometer with big potential applications such as monitoring the temperature of processor chips in superconductor-based quantum computers, which must stay cold to work properly. (2020-11-17)

Changes to the brain's reward system may drive overeating in mice
A combination of innate differences and diet-induced changes to the reward system may predispose some mice to overeat, according to research recently published in JNeurosci. (2020-11-16)

Trump administration delists gray wolves: Response from the experts
The BioScience Talks podcast (http://bioscienceaibs.libsyn.com) features discussions of topical issues related to the biological sciences. (2020-11-11)

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