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.

Author: David Bradley

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