April Research Picks

A nice cuppa for antibiotics

The presence of pharmaceuticals and drug metabolites in waste water is of growing concern. Now, researchers in India hope a homegrown solution could solve the problem. Sunil Bajpai of the Government Model Science College and Arti Jain of the Shri Ram Institute of Science and Technology in Jabalpur have demonstrated how used tea leaves can absorb the widely used human and veterinary antibiotic norfloxacin from water. This compound cannot be removed by conventional water treatment and so its presence in drinking water may produce adverse effects. The team has tested the process and optimized the process conditions by adjusting temperature to 27 Celsius and acidity of the solution (using sorbate) between pH 6.5 and 7.3 at which point 74 milligrams of the antibiotic can be extracted from water by one gram of tea leaves.

Bajpai, S.K. and Jain, A. (2014) ‘Dynamic uptake of drug Norfloxacin from aqueous solution using spent tea leaves as a sorbent’, Int. J. Environment and Waste Management, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp.376–395.

Google oil

Predicting the price of oil is an important economic process affecting international markets, trade and industry. Now, Dean Fantazzini of the Moscow School of Economics and Nikita Fomichev of the Higher School of Economics, in Moscow, have turned to Google Search to data-mine macroeconomic data and to build an accurate model that can forecast the change in price. They have tested their approach on historical pricing and demonstrated that their approach works better than standard economic models in the short term. Moreover, when they use a statistical, multivariate, analysis on the Google search data only they can out-perform medium- and long-term forecasts up to two years ahead.

Fantazzini, D. and Fomichev, N. (2014) ‘Forecasting the real price of oil using online search data’, Int. J. Computational Economics and Econometrics, Vol. 4, Nos. 1/2, pp.4–31.

Catching a phisher

Phishing is a form of online fraud in which a user is duped into revealing private information to a third party that is then exploited in the extraction of funds from the person’s bank account, identity theft or the installation of malware on their computer. Now Brad Wardman of ecommerce company PayPal based in San Jose, California, together with Jason Britt and Gary Warner of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA, are developing new tackle to thwart phishing attacks. Their approach involved the analysis of almost 50000 phishing web sites that might scam visitors and extracting a syntactical fingerprint from those sites that could then be used to identify new sites with similar malicious characteristics. Moreover, their analysis points the way to identifying not only the sites themselves but the people behind clusters of such websites.

Wardman, B., Britt, J. and Warner, G. (2014) ‘New tackle to catch a phisher’, Int. J. Electronic Security and Digital Forensics, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp.62–80.

Advertising philosophy

Tibor Machan of Chapman University in Silverado, California, is a Hungarian-American philosopher he has turned his attention to the concept of advertising in order to define exactly what it is so that it might be evaluated as an activity. He points out that in order to judge any activity or institution we must have a clear view of its nature or purpose. After all, the same philosophy applies when judging people as parents, teachers, when judging a travel company, healthcare system, university. In essence the concept of advertising boils down to the idea of positively promoting a product or service that people or organizations themselves may wish to obtain or use. However, advertising is a much deeper concept in that it acts as its own economy wherein other products – free magazines and internet sites – that are not themselves being advertised but carry advertising for other products and services can be might be procured for no cost because of the advertisements.

Machan, T. (2014) ‘Advertising defended’, Int. J. Economics and Business Research, Vol. 7, No. 3, pp.376–382.

Author: David Bradley

Award-winning, freelance science writer based in Cambridge, England.