Research Picks Extra – March 2017

Social networking in The Caribbean

Much has been researched and written about the impact of smart phones and social networking in young people in the developed regions of North America, Europe and Asia, and in the developing world, but a new study from researchers at the University of Liverpool, UK, focuses on The Caribbean, an important historical and cultural region of more than 700 islands of 13 sovereign states and 17 dependencies and a population of almost 44 million people. The research literature is yet to reach a consensus on the psychosocial issues surrounding mobile and social networking among young adults. There has been scant regard for The Caribbean in this context so far, this new research could perhaps raise awareness and stimulate greater discussion and wider research.

Hunter, S.M. and Halkias, D. (2016) ‘The psychosocial impact of mobile social networking among young adults in Jamaica’, Int. J. Technology Enhanced Learning, Vol. 8, Nos. 3/4, pp.264–278.

 

Bollywood pirates

What factors influence whether movie fans will illicitly download copyright materials from the internet and specifically who are the Bollywood pirates? Researchers in India have questioned hundreds of consumers of between 16 and 60 years of age, male and female to investigate. 16-30 year olds were more likely to illegally downloading copyright movies, the team found. Both males and females were as likely as each other to be involved. However, they found that the most common repeat offenders are students who report their perception that movie “piracy” is a victimless crime. Movie piracy and other breaches of copyright law are not victimless crimes, of course, and yet the industries must be failing to fulfil the needs of a large proportion of their market, perhaps in terms of pricing and expediency of movie releases for piracy to be such a large problem.

Gupta, P.K. and Venkataramani, B. (2017) ‘Demographic factors contributing to online movie piracy of Hindi films produced in Mumbai’, Int. J. Process Management and Benchmarking, Vol. 7, No. 3, pp.354–370.

 

Targeted post-op clot-buster coatings

Thrombolytic drugs, colloquially known as clot-busters, are used in medicine to dissolve coagulated blood that forms in blood vessels and can, without such treatment, lead to serious health problems such as deep-vein thrombosis, myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, and stroke. Scientists in Czech Republic have developed novel site-specific thrombolytic and anticoagulant biomaterials that avoid the problems of severe bleeding seen as an important side-effect of current clot-busting drugs. The team’s development of biomaterial coatings are being tested as linings for vascular grafts that will preclude post-operative clot formation and hopefully save lives in those requiring such surgery who would normally require long-term clot-busting drugs.

Beran, M., Drahorad, J., Molik, P., Urban, M. and Krajicek, M. (2017) ‘Site-specific thrombolytic and anticoagulant biomaterials’, Int. J. Nanotechnol., Vol. 14, Nos. 1/2/3/4/5/6, pp.31–37.

 

Pumpless pumping

The miniaturisation of chemical equipment in the form of so-called “lab-on-a-chip” devices and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and their even smaller “nano” counterparts continues apace. Such devices are already being used as environmental sensors and analytical tools in medicine and biomedical research. Their potential is ironically huge as they are the chemical analogue of electronic integrated circuits that might be developed into mobile devices for use in the clinic, the home and industry. One of the significant obstacles yet to be overcome regards the power supply for such devices and the requisite pumps to move tiny droplets of liquids within. An intriguing discovery by researchers from France and New Zealand suggests that some of the necessary fluid flow might be driven by the very mixing of disparate liquids within specific channels, or capillaries, in a device rather than an external pressure being required. They have demonstrated the spontaneous motion of a slug of miscible liquids in a capillary tube and suggest that this “passive actuation mechanism could prove an attractive alternative in digital microfluidic systems for which bulky pumping systems would usually be required.

Sellier, M., Verdier, C. and Nock, V. (2017) ‘The spontaneous motion of a slug of miscible liquids in a capillary tube’, Int. J. Nanotechnol., Vol. 14, Nos. 1/2/3/4/5/6, pp.530–539.

Author: David Bradley

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