Disease sniffing 👃 Cold mutation 🥶 Organic growth 🥗!

Technology News

Toward a disease-sniffing device that rivals a dog’s nose

Researchers have come up with a system that can detect the chemical and microbial content of an air sample with even greater sensitivity than a dog’s nose. They coupled this to a machine-learning process that can identify the distinctive characteristics of the disease-bearing samples. The miniaturized detection system is 200 times more sensitive than a dog’s nose in being able to detect and identify tiny traces of different molecules. In testing, the artificial system was able to match the success rates of the dogs, with both methods scoring more than 70 percent. Such detectors could potentially pick up early signs of disease far sooner than typical screening regimes.

Zillow’s 3D Home app can now use AI to guess the size of your house

Zillow’s 3D Home app can now generate home floor plans based on scans a user uploads. Using a phone or a 360° camera and the Zillow 3D Home app, you can upload a series of photographs that the app can stitch into a 3D tour. Anyone viewing a listing on Zillow’s site or app with a 3D Home tour and floor plan available can click on a specific room in the floor plan to jump to that part of the tour. The AI can also predict the dimensions and square footage of rooms based on the photos you upload. Expanding 3D Home’s features makes sense for people looking to relocate during the pandemic without the ability to necessarily view a home safely.

Science News

A natural mutation causes some people to not feel the cold

New research shows people lacking the alpha-actinin-3 protein in their muscle fibers can tolerate the cold better compared to those who do not carry this gene variant. Lacking this protein causes “superior cold resilience” – a deficiency that affects almost one in five people. “Slow-twitch fibers generate heat effectively. People with an actinin-3 deficiency do not shiver during cold exposure. Instead, they save energy by increasing their muscle tone.” When muscles are activated, there is a release of calcium inside the slow-twitch muscle fibers. “This mechanism generates more heat in alpha-actinin-3 deficient people.”

Irregular Sleep Schedules Can Worsen Mood and Increase Risk of Depression

An irregular sleep schedule can increase a person’s risk of depression over the long term as much as getting fewer hours of sleep overall, or staying up late most nights, a new study suggests. Those whose devices showed they had variable sleep schedules were more likely to score higher on standardized depression symptom questionnaires, and to have lower daily mood ratings. Those who regularly stayed up late, or got the fewest hours of sleep, also scored higher on depression symptoms and lower on daily mood. “These findings highlight sleep consistency as an underappreciated factor to target in depression and wellness.”

Business News

Nestle outshines peers thanks to pet food, health products

Nestle is aiming to boost organic sales growth towards 4% this year, the food giant said after strong demand for pet food and health products in the Americas helped its growth outshine peers last year. Nestle has fared better than some rivals by shedding underperforming businesses and investing in growth areas such as plant-based food, coffee and health science. The company just offloaded its mainstream water brands in North America to private equity firms for $4.3 billion. Pet food has had a stellar year and offered great opportunities to grow organically and through occasional bolt-on acquisitions.

Airbus reports loss of €1bn after Covid, and could shed 15,000 jobs

Airbus plummeted to a loss of more than €1bn last year and will continue to withhold shareholder payouts after deliveries of its aircraft fell by a third. The European aerospace giant warned aircraft would remain under pressure in the year ahead amid a “volatile environment” created by the coronavirus pandemic. Airbus delivered 566 commercial aircraft in 2020, down sharply from 863 the year before, and expects to deliver the same number in 2021. “The situation could improve as vaccines are more widely distributed, but Airbus executives note most of their customer base will be burning cash most of this year.”

Miscellaneous News

An army of parasitic wasps has been deployed to battle moths inside a British stately home

An army of tiny, parasitic wasps will be unleashed inside the English stately home where Anne Boleyn was born, in order to hunt out and eradicate moths that threaten the mansion’s furniture and artifacts. The wasps – Trichogramma evanescens – will search out moth eggs and lay their own eggs inside them, so a new wasp hatches instead of a moth larva. Once their mission is complete, the wasps will eventually die and disappear into house dust, say property managers, who believe the pest control attempt is the first of its kind inside a heritage setting.

Japan’s ruling party invites more women to meetings, as long as they don’t talk

Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, now wants more women at its key meetings – provided they don’t do the talking. The party has proposed allowing five female lawmakers to join its board meetings as observers in a response to criticism that its board is dominated by men. Those female observers would not be able to speak during the meetings, but could submit opinions separately to the secretariat office. The proposal comes after sexist comments from former Tokyo Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori sparked a global outcry and renewed attention on gender disparity.

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