Current Assumptions News and Events

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Despite sea-level rise risks, migration to some threatened coastal areas may increase
Princeton University shows that migration to the coast could actually accelerate in some places like Bangladesh despite sea-level change, contradicting current assumptions. (2021-02-15)

SARS-CoV-2 transmission from people without COVID-19 symptoms
Under a range of assumptions of presymptomatic transmission and transmission from individuals with infection who never develop symptoms, the model presented here estimated that more than half of transmission comes from asymptomatic individuals. (2021-01-07)

Model used to evaluate lockdowns was flawed
In a recent study, researchers from Imperial College London developed a model to assess the effect of different measures used to curb the spread of the coronavirus. However, the model had fundamental shortcomings and cannot be used to draw the published conclusions, claim Swedish researchers from Lund University, and other institutions, in the journal Nature. (2020-12-26)

Misinformation or artifact: a new way to think about machine learning
Machine learning has delivered amazing results, but there also have been failures, ranging from the harmless to potentially deadly. New work from University of Houston philosopher Cameron Buckner suggests that common assumptions about the cause behind these supposed malfunctions may be mistaken, information that is crucial for evaluating the reliability of these networks. (2020-11-23)

Social distancing may have saved more than 59,000 u.s. Lives if implemented two weeks earlier
Implementing social distancing, business closures, and other non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) in the U.S. two weeks sooner, during the earliest stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, may have (2020-11-06)

COVID-19 containment shaped by strength, duration of natural, vaccine-induced immunity
New research suggests that the impact of natural and vaccine-induced immunity will be key factors in shaping the future trajectory of the global coronavirus pandemic, known as COVID-19. In particular, a vaccine capable of eliciting a strong immune response could substantially reduce the future burden of infection, according to a study recently published in the journal Science. (2020-10-26)

Knowing the model you can trust - the key to better decision-making
As much of Europe is engulfed by a second wave of Covid-19, and track and trace struggles to meet demand, modelling support tools are being increasingly used by policymakers to make key decisions. Most notably, models have been used to predict the Covid-19 R0 rate - the average rate of secondary infections from a single infection, which has formed the basis for many lockdown decisions across the UK. (2020-10-23)

210Pb dating of marine sedimentary cores
Fourteen laboratories participated in this interlaboratory comparison exercise (ILC). The results indicated good analytical performance by the participating laboratories, but the results of the 210Pb dating did not reach the desired level of satisfaction. (2020-10-05)

Earthquake forecasting clues unearthed in strange precariously balanced rocks
Naturally formed balancing boulders could be used to help scientists to forecast large earthquakes more precisely. (2020-10-01)

Integrated terrestrial-freshwater planning doubles tropical freshwater conservation
Freshwater species are sometimes considered an afterthought in conservation planning, which typically prioritizes terrestrial ecosystems and their inhabitants. (2020-10-01)

COVID-19 policy makers could learn more about accountability from industries like aviation
Organisations could improve the transparency and accountability of COVID-19 policy making processes by learning from safety-critical industries like aviation, a new paper shows. (2020-09-14)

Predicting the slow death of lithium-ion batteries
A new model offers a way to predict the condition of a battery's internal systems in real-time with far more accuracy than existing tools. In electric cars, the technology could improve driving range estimates and prolong battery life. (2020-09-14)

More small-scale dark matter gravitational lenses than expected in galaxy clusters
The gravitational pull of cold dark matter in galaxy clusters can distort or bend the light coming from distant background galaxies, in a phenomenon called gravitational lensing. (2020-09-10)

Experiment contradicts assumptions about sleep loss and criminal interrogations
An experimental study suggests that sleep restriction may hinder information disclosure during criminal interviews, contradicting widespread assumptions about the effectiveness of sleep deprivation as an interrogation tool. (2020-08-28)

Modeling contact tracing strategies for COVID-19
The potential for contract tracing to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the context of reduced physical distancing under different assumptions for case detection, tracing and quarantine efficacy is examined in this mathematical modeling study. (2020-08-21)

COVID-19 may have a longer incubation period, suggests probability analysis of Wuhan cases
By applying the renewal theory in probability to reduce recall bias in initial case reports, scientists have come up with a new estimate for the incubation period of COVID-19. Their mean estimate of 7.76 days. (2020-08-07)

Credible assumptions replace missing data in COVID analysis
How contagious is COVID-19, and how severe is the virus for those who've caught it? (2020-08-06)

Study finds clothing-based racist stereotypes persist against Black men
Hardworking or lazy; trustworthy or dangerous: People often make assumptions about someone's character and personality based solely on how they're dressed. A recent study from Oregon State University finds that while more formal clothing may deflect certain racially biased assumptions, many people still hold negative stereotypes about Black men based on what they're wearing. (2020-07-22)

Spider monkey groups as collective computers
New research shows that spider monkeys use collective computation to figure out the best way to find food. (2020-07-21)

HIV alone not a risk factor for cavities in children
Recent studies indicate HIV infection heightens the risk of dental cavities - but a Rutgers researcher has found evidence that the risk of cavities comes not from HIV itself but from a weakened immune system, which could be caused by other diseases. (2020-07-15)

Tennis: Losers move their heads more often than winners
Those sudden tantrums displayed on court by former US tennis player John McEnroe are legendary - but so too are those of Nick Kyrgios, Alexander Zverev, Serena Williams and Co. And their tennis rackets certainly bear witness to that! Emotions and nonverbal movement behaviour are closely linked processes. Up till now however, there has been insufficient knowledge about the spontaneous nonverbal expressions in response to the experience of positive and negative emotions, i.e. when winning or losing a sports competition. (2020-06-29)

If used with caution, SARS-CoV-2 serological assays can guide reintroduction of workforce
With several high-quality serological assays for SARS-CoV-2 now available, the key challenge in using them to help people return to 'normal life,' write Florian Krammer and Viviana Simon in this Perspective, will be to apply them in a strategic manner -- one that considers their unique sensitivity and specificity levels, acknowledges the questions they don't yet answer, and more. (2020-05-15)

HKU-led study accurately tracks COVID-19 spread with big data
An international research team led by the University of Hong Kong (HKU) developed a new method to accurately track the spread of COVID-19 using population flow data, and establishing a new risk assessment model to identify high-risk locales of COVID-19 at an early stage, which serves as a valuable toolkit to public health experts and policy makers in implementing infectious disease control during new outbreaks. The study findings have been published in the journal Nature. (2020-04-29)

Bornean treeshrews can take the heat
To better understand if small tropical mammals also have increased vulnerability as their environments heat up, Danielle Levesque, University of Maine assistant professor of mammology and mammal health, and collaborators from the University Malaysia Sarawak studied Bornean treeshrews. (2020-04-15)

Reframing biosecurity governance as an experimental space, including as relates to handling COVID-19
Biological science and its applications are rapidly evolving, and to keep up with emerging security concerns, governance of biosecurity applications should evolve as well. (2020-04-09)

Rethinking biosecurity governance
In a Science Policy Forum, lead author Sam Weiss Evans joins more than a dozen biosecurity practitioners and analysts in calling for a new approach to biosecurity governance, grounded in experimentation. Developing an ability to rethink and test assumptions about biology, security, and society is vital to evolving biosecurity for the 21st Century. This means being systematic in governance design, periodically reassessing based on lived experience, and learning across biosecurity environments. (2020-04-09)

Bubbles go with the flow
Scientists at The University of Tokyo developed a new computer simulation model that includes microbubble nucleation to explain the flow slippage of fluids inside pipes. This work may help improve the flow rate of viscous fluids in commercial applications, as in the energy industry. (2020-03-27)

Learning empathy as a care giver takes more than experience
Research among nursing students shows that past experience living in poverty or volunteering in impoverished communities, does not sufficiently build empathy towards patients who experience poverty. (2020-03-09)

Adding smoking cessation to lung cancer screening can reduce mortality by 14%
Including smoking cessation with existing lung cancer screening efforts would reduce lung cancer mortality by 14% and increase life-years gained by 81% compared with screening alone, according to a study from Rafael Meza from the University of Michigan and colleagues and published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, a publication of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer. (2020-03-09)

Study: Corporate tax incentives do more harm than good to states
A study of tax incentives aimed at attracting and retaining businesses finds that the vast majority of these incentives ultimately leave states worse off than if they had done nothing. (2020-02-27)

A better way to detect underground water leaks
Stanford researchers propose a new way to locate water leaks within the tangle of aging pipes found beneath many cities. The improvement could save time, money and billions of gallons of water. (2020-02-27)

The do's and don'ts of monitoring many wildlife species at once
A new analysis of 92 studies from 27 countries conducted by ecologists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst suggests that many recent multi-species studies of wildlife communities often incorrectly use the analytical tools and methods available. Technology such as trail cameras and drones have 'revolutionized wildlife monitoring studies' in recent years, says organismic and evolutionary biology doctoral student Kadambari Devarajan, who led the study, 'but if not properly used in well-designed research, they will compromise the reliability of the results obtained.' (2020-02-25)

Reporting the facts on indigenous STIs
Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are being discouraged from seeking medical help due to public assumptions that sexually transmissible infections (STIs) are the result of sexual abuse. (2020-02-18)

UTSA examines reporters' portrayal of US border under Trump
The southern US border has been portrayed as a bogeyman not only by the Trump administration but also surprisingly by major US news media. This is the latest finding according to an analysis of news reporting conducted at The University of Texas at San Antonio. (2020-02-12)

Galaxy formation simulated without dark matter
For the first time, researchers from the universities of Bonn and Strasbourg have simulated the formation of galaxies in a universe without dark matter. To replicate this process on the computer, they have instead modified Newton's laws of gravity. The galaxies that were created in the computer calculations are similar to those we actually see today. According to the scientists, their assumptions could solve many mysteries of modern cosmology. (2020-02-07)

A proposal to change environmental risk assessment for pesticides
Despite regulatory frameworks designed to prevent environmental damage, pesticide use is still linked to declines in insects, birds and aquatic species, an outcome that raises questions about the efficacy of current regulatory procedures. (2020-01-23)

Advances in the characterization of high dynamic range or HDR images
A set of techniques used in image processing that allow better viewing between the lighter and darker areas of an image. A study by Raquel Gil Rodríguez, Javier Vázquez-Corral and Marcelo Bertalmío, researchers of the Image Processing for Enhanced Cinematography (IP4EC) research group. (2019-12-20)

Researchers reconstruct spoken words as processed in nonhuman primate brains
Using a brain-computer interface, a team of researchers has reconstructed English words from the brain activity of rhesus macaques that listened as the words were spoken. (2019-12-13)

Should scientists change the way they view (and study) same sex behavior in animals?
In a new article, researchers from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies argue these behaviors may actually have been part of the original, ancestral condition in animals and have persisted because they have few -- if any -- costs and perhaps some important benefits. (2019-11-18)

Nearly extreme black holes which attempt to regrow hair become bald again
Black holes 'have no hair': no attributes that can be used to tell them apart. Extreme black holes (spinning at maximally allowed rate) can have an additional property, permanent hair that is made of a massless scalar field. Nearly extreme black holes (like Gargantua, the black hole featured in the movie Interstellar) have hair that is a transient phenomenon: nearly extreme black holes that attempt to regrow hair will lose it and become bald again. (2019-11-15)

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