Hillel’s Tech Corner: DermaDetect uses phones to detect skin conditions

There have been several events in my life pertaining to technology that amazed me. When I got my first iPod, I couldn’t figure out how to “take out the CD” and change my music. “What do you mean I don’t have to because all my music is already here?”Then, when I got my first smartphone, it amazed me that all of a sudden I was constantly connected, no matter where I was. And finally, when I got my first digital camera, I couldn’t understand where the film went. These things might sound funny to us now, but it wasn’t that long ago that they all seemed like science fiction.In fact, I remember clearly when I first heard about a camera on a mobile phone. I believe my words were, “That’s ridiculous. Why would anyone need that?”Well, I was wrong, very wrong. Mobile photography has come an extremely long way, and
Read More

The ultimate conditions to get the most out of high-nickel batteries — ScienceDaily

It is common knowledge in battery manufacturing that many cathode materials are moisture sensitive. However, as the popularity of high nickel-based battery components increases, researchers from WMG, University of Warwick have found that the drier the conditions that these cathodes are stored and processed in, then significant improvement in performance of the battery is gained.

High-Ni (Nickel) batteries are becoming increasingly popular worldwide, with more automotive companies investigating the use of high-Ni batteries for electric vehicles. However, high-Ni cathode materials are prone to reactivity and instability is exposed to humidity, therefore how they are stored in order to offer the best performance is crucial.

In the paper, ‘The effects of Ambient Storage Conditions on the Structural and Electrochemical Properties of NMC-811 Cathodes for Li-ion batteries,’ published in the journal Electrochimica Acta,, researchers from WMG, University of Warwick propose the best way to store high-nickel cathodes in order to mitigate

Read More

Facebook content moderators want safer pandemic work conditions and hazard pay

with Tonya Riley

More than 200 content moderators are calling on Mark Zuckerberg and other top Facebook leaders to provide safer worker conditions during the pandemic.

The moderators, who contract with Facebook through firms including Accenture, said in an open letter that they have been forced back into the office to do their jobs. They demanded the company allow all moderators who are high risk for coronavirus or live with someone who is high risk be allowed to work from home indefinitely.

They also called on the company to maximize options for remote work for all content moderators, and to offer a hazard pay of 1.5 times their usual wage in instances where they’re needed to work in person. Facebook has previously said some content moderation cannot be performed remotely due to security concerns.

The moderators’ demands build on long-running criticism that tech giants do not provide enough psychological

Read More

Tungsten develops layers under fusion reactor extreme heat conditions

Tungsten develops layers under fusion reactor extreme heat conditions
A cross section of the damaged tungsten showing melted, partially melted, and non-damaged layers. Credit: Leigh Winfrey

In tokamaks, magnetic confinement devices being explored for use as nuclear fusion reactors, anomalous events can cause a transfer of energy with 10 million times the intensity of the solar radiation on Earth’s surface. These events can cause damage to structural components, potentially threatening the longevity of a tokamak.


Penn State researchers recently published a paper on simulating these conditions in the laboratory, without use of a tokamak, to investigate the effects of such an extreme heat load on tungsten. They published their findings in npj Materials Degradation on Oct. 2.

“To make fusion power really work instead of just working theoretically, we need to understand how some materials will survive better than others,” said Leigh Winfrey, associate professor in the Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering. “This research gives

Read More

Antibiotic exposure in children under age 2 associated with chronic conditions — ScienceDaily

Children under age 2 who take antibiotics are at greater risk for childhood-onset asthma, respiratory allergies, eczema, celiac disease, obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to a paper written jointly by Mayo Clinic and Rutgers researchers.

In a study published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the researchers looked at 14,572 children born in Olmsted County, Minn., between 2003 and 2011, 70 percent of whom received at least one antibiotic prescription during their first two years, primarily for respiratory or ear infections.

The findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the composition of the microbiome — the trillions of beneficial microorganisms that live in and on our bodies — plays a critical role in the early development of immunity, metabolism and behavior.

“The evolution of drug-resistant bacteria exemplifies one unintended consequence of antibiotic overuse,” said co-author Martin Blaser, director of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine at

Read More

Fossil cranium suggests environmental conditions drove rapid changes — ScienceDaily

Males of the extinct human species Paranthropus robustus were thought to be substantially larger than females — much like the size differences seen in modern-day primates such as gorillas, orangutans and baboons. But a new fossil discovery in South Africa instead suggests that P. robustus evolved rapidly during a turbulent period of local climate change about 2 million years ago, resulting in anatomical changes that previously were attributed to sex.

An international research team including anthropologists at Washington University in St. Louis reported their discovery from the fossil-rich Drimolen cave system northwest of Johannesburg in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution on Nov. 9.

“This is the type of phenomenon that can be hard to document in the fossil record, especially with respect to early human evolution,” said David Strait, professor of biological anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University.

The remarkably well-preserved fossil described in the paper was

Read More

At least Aaron Yetter surveyed “the whole gamut of ducks,” including good numbers of mallards, on the aerial surveys during a week where the drought conditions and the unusual, even record, warmth, showed its impact on waterfowl and waterfowlers.

Aaron Yetter’s latest blog off the weekly aerial waterfowl survey for the Illinois Natural History notes “the whole gamut of ducks,” but also the impact of the drought conditions and record warmth.

Click here for the listings of aerial surveys by the Illinois Natural History Survey. Keep up with research updates and aerial surveys at the Forbes Biological Station Facebook page.

Here is Yetter’s latest blog:

November 6th, 2020 – Aerial Waterfowl Inventory Blog

We got up early this week and flew the survey on November 3rd. Duck numbers were pretty good and totaled right at or slightly above the 10-yr average. This week we had over 361,000 ducks in the Illinois River Valley, and almost 368,000 along the central Mississippi River. Several times this week as I was figuring out the species composition I thought, it’s the whole gamut of ducks. Literally, there was a

Read More

Effort could aid study of addiction, eating disorders, other neuropsychiatric conditions that involve faulty decision-making — ScienceDaily

When you are faced with a choice — say, whether to have ice cream or chocolate cake for dessert — sets of brain cells just above your eyes fire as you weigh your options. Animal studies have shown that each option activates a distinct set of neurons in the brain. The more enticing the offer, the faster the corresponding neurons fire.

Now, a study in monkeys by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has shown that the activity of these neurons encodes the value of the options and determines the final decision. In the experiments, researchers let animals choose between different juice flavors. By changing the neurons’ activity, the researchers changed how appealing the monkeys found each option, leading the animals to make different choices. The study is published Nov. 2 in the journal Nature.

A detailed understanding of how options are valued and choices

Read More

Mars Wrigley warehouse workers are calling for safe working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic



a person wearing a costume: Inside the battle to get hazard pay at a Mars Wrigley's warehouse. Hollis Johnson/Business Insider


© Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
Inside the battle to get hazard pay at a Mars Wrigley’s warehouse. Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

  • Workers at an Illinois distribution center for candy maker Mars Wrigley have been demanding the company provide hazard pay and improve safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Mars Wrigley produces popular candies like Twix, Skittles, and M&M’s. Ahead of this Halloween, the National Confectioners Association reported a 25% increase in chocolate sales.
  • Michael Samuel, a former worker at the Mars warehouse in Illinois, told Business Insider supervisors reprimanded him for taking extra time to wipe down equipment. Samuel helped get 100 signatures in a petition for safer working conditions before being fired on October 1, he said.
  • Mars declined to comment on the claims regarding working conditions in its Joliet, Illinois, warehouse because it said the workers are employed by third-party firms XPO Logistics and DHL. 
  • “They are not employed by
Read More

Geologists simulate soil conditions to help grow plants on Mars — ScienceDaily

Humankind’s next giant step may be onto Mars. But before those missions can begin, scientists need to make scores of breakthrough advances, including learning how to grow crops on the red planet.

Practically speaking, astronauts cannot haul an endless supply of topsoil through space. So University of Georgia geologists are figuring out how best to use the materials already on the planet’s surface.

To do that, they developed artificial soil mixtures that mimic materials found on Mars. In a new study published in the journal Icarus, the researchers evaluated the artificial soils to determine just how fertile Martian soil could be.

“We want to simulate certain characteristics of materials you could easily get on Mars’ surface,” said Laura Fackrell, UGA geology doctoral candidate and lead author on the study. Simulating the mineral makeup or salt content of these Martian mixtures can tell us a lot about the potential fertility of

Read More