Research Picks Bonus – August 2017

Lock up your health

Electronic health records can contain information about hospital visits, test results, surgical history, eating and drinking habits, sexuality, allergies, medications, psychological profiles, and other personal information that is useful to your physician and healthcare workers but might also be exploited by cybercriminals. Keeping the keys to your health records safe is just as important when it comes to your privacy as it is for securing your home. Now, researchers from Germany and Nigeria have worked together to develop a bio-cryptographic system that can ensure patient privacy by using a very personal key – a biometric that is used to lock up the data.

Omotosho, A., Emuoyibofarhe, J. and Meinel, C. (2017) ‘Ensuring patients’ privacy in a cryptographic-based-electronic health records using bio-cryptography‘, Int. J. Electronic Healthcare, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp.227-254.

Pollinating problems

An algorithm that solves non-linear equations by mimicking the way in which flowers are pollinated has been developed by researchers in Egypt and Yemen. The algorithm provides a way to quickly address complex scientific and engineering problems involving such equations, which usually do not succumb to anything but the brute force calculating power of supercomputers, such as fluid flow, macromolecular simulations, fracturing of structural materials and even weather and climate forecasting. The technique avoids the common pitfall of other algorithms whereby the answer to a question gets trapped in the local energy minimum of the possible solutions.

Rushdy, E., Adel-Baset, M. and Hezam, I.M. (2017) ‘Solving systems of nonlinear equations via conjugate direction flower pollination algorithm‘, Int. J. Computing Science and Mathematics, Vol. 8, No. 3, pp.201-209.

Nutty chocolate

A lactose free and entirely vegetarian chocolate product is being formulated by scientists in Brazil using macadamia nuts. The product not only offers a new option for chocolate lovers but exploits the fact that São Mateus, located in the State of Espirito Santo is the second largest producer of macadamia nuts. However, surprisingly initial tests of the market niche for such a product were not positive but point to a need to sell to specialty stores rather than the general public. Given that there is a large number of lactose intolerant people in the population of Brazil, the team suggests there is a niche market that might be opened to macadamia chocolate nevertheless.

Bonelá Fontoura, W., de Lorena Diniz Chaves, G. and da Silva Arrieche, L. (2017) ‘Assessing product concept of a chocolate formulated with vegetal extracts‘, Int. J. Business Innovation and Research, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp.1-17.

Ant transportation

It might be possible to make safer the transportation of dangerous goods by following the methods used by ants to build their colonies. A model of an ant colony forms the basis of a logistics method for deciding which routes are to be used by transporters of such goods, according to research from China. The researchers involved explain that transport networks for dangerous goods are complicated and that there are many uncertainties involved in their use that must be considered in a risk assessment. Their optimized model of a dangerous goods transport network was established with an ant colony algorithm that can be coupled with geographic information to construct a visual optimization platform to reduce risks and make the transportation of such goods safer and more efficient.

He, R., Ma, C., Jia, X., Xiao, Q. and Qi, L. (2017) ‘Optimisation of dangerous goods transport based on the improved ant colony algorithm‘, Int. J. Computing Science and Mathematics, Vol. 8, No. 3, pp.210-217.

Research Picks Extra – August 2017

Birth rights

In many places, people conceived with artificial reproductive technology have a right to know their origins in terms of genetic and biological parents. In instances where someone other than a person who will take care of the child has been involved either as a surrogate mother for the gestation or in providing genetic material, then there are issues not only of biology, genetics but biography to consider too. Ludovica Poli of the Department of Law, at the University of Turin, Italy, explores the legal foundations of the right to genetic and biographic origins under international law and envisages possible principles to be applied in balancing it with other competing interests.

Poli, L. (2017) ‘Artificial reproductive technologies and the right to the truth about genetic and biographic origins’, Int. J. Technology Policy and Law, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp.56–67.

Aircraft emissions

Air pollution in and around airports is a critical issue. But, determining the effects on the local environment and the people live and work there is a complex problem in which meteorology plays a confounding role in any attempt to model the situation with a view to reducing detrimental effects on the environment. Oleksandr Zaporozhets and Kateryna Synylo of the Institute of Environmental Safety, at the National Aviation University, in Kyiv, Ukraine, have reviewed the way in which aircraft emissions and pollutions are analysed and suggest that the most apposite models take into account fuel flow rates, operational periods of engines, the age of the engines and their maintenance as well as ambient temperatures.

Zaporozhets, O. and Synylo, K. (2017) ‘Operational conditions influence on aircraft engine emission and pollution inside the airport’, Int. J. Sustainable Aviation, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp.1–17.

Tourist crime

Rob Mawby of the Rural Security Research Group, at Harper Adams University, in Newport, UK, suggests that it has long been recognised that tourism generates crime. There is considerable evidence, he says, that many tourist resorts suffer higher than average crime rates and that tourists are disproportionately victimised. Moreover, some touristsare themselves the criminals, especially when it comes to public disorder problems. Tourism is thus a double-edged sword for any town or city: it brings money and other benefits but it boosts crime. However, research data is not available to give policymakers are clear perspective of the pros and cons and he offers a way to remedy this problem. “Only by collecting data in a more rigorous and systematic way can appropriate policies be developed and successfully applied, with the aim of reducing crime and disorder in tourist destinations and crime against tourists. This, in turn, will benefit visitors, local residents and the tourist industry,” he concludes.

Mawby, R.I. (2017) ‘Crime and tourism: what the available statistics do or do not tell us’, Int. J. Tourism Policy, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp.81–92.

Childhood sound perception

A novel musical toy described by scientists in Italy could be used to study sound perception and auditory preferences in young children. The mechanical-electronic device generates sounds depending on how a child plays with the toy and at the same time measures and assesses through sensors and software, exactly how they are responding to those sounds. The device might help musicologists investigate childhood perception of music, but equally could be used in language development studies.

Taffoni, F., Di Perna, L., Formica, D., Focaroli, V., Keller, F. and Di Stefano, N. (2017) ‘A sensor-based approach to study sound perception in children’, Int. J. Computer Applications in Technology, Vol. 55, No. 3, pp.173–182.

Copyleft, right, left, right…

Copyright is contentious…to say the least. It is at the centre of much debate in academia, in society, and certainly between corporate entities and consumers. Companies’ share price and profits often hinge on the protection of their intellectual property and copyrighted materials whether movies, TV shows, music, photographs, articles and much more. In the age of the Internet, of course, there are few barriers to individuals and organizations breaking copyright law, and in some countries copyright laws are permissive.

From fair use to creative commons to copyright theft and digital downloads, opinions diverge widely. Some see the notion that “sharing is caring” as vital to creativity and even democracy and copyright as nothing but an evil whereas others see all breaches of copyright law as morally, legally and commercially wrong.

Writing in the International Journal of Technology Policy and Law, Julian Hauser of the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, UK, puts forward a moral argument for limiting copyright protection. He argues that today’s expansive copyright laws not only hurt consumers and stifle creativity, but do little to protect content creators and authors.

Hauser puts forward a pared-down version of copyright that he defends as consisting of the right to attribution, the right to have one’s non-endorsement of modifications or uses of one’s work explicitly noted, and the right to a fair share of the profit resulting from the commercial uses of one’s work.

“The significance of copyright can hardly be understated as it shapes one of the defining aspects of our humanity: our culture,” Hauser asserts. “Given these stakes, I have no doubt that copyright will remain a domain of heated debates for many years to come. We need more than that however – we need honest efforts at mutual understanding and constructive criticism.”

Copyright has its roots in laws written three hundred years ago. Maybe it is time for a reboot.

Hauser, J. (2017) ‘Sharing is caring vs. stealing is wrong: a moral argument for limiting copyright protection‘, Int. J. Technology Policy and Law, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp.68-85.