Researchers have released a new cardiac patch made from rubbery bioelectronics that can be placed directly on the heart to collect a wide range of information. The patch is able to collect electrophysiological activity, temperature, heartbeat, and other indicators of cardiac health.The patch also harvests energy from the heart’s beating, meaning it can perform without the need for an external power source. “Constructing bioelectronics out of materials with moduli matching those of the biological tissues suggests a promising route towards next-generational bioelectronics and biosensors.”
Researchers have developed a machine learning model that generates answers to the Raven Progressive Matrix (RPM). RPM is a type of intelligence test that requires exam takers to complete the location in a grid of abstract images. The coauthors claim that their algorithm is not only able to generate a plausible set of answers competitive with state-of-the-art methods, but that it could also be used to build an automatic tutoring system that adjusts to the proficiencies of individual students. In an experiment involving a dataset of matrix problems called RAVEN-FAIR, the researchers report that their model attained 60.8% accuracy overall.
A novel method to sample earwax could be a cheap and effective way to measure the hormone cortisol. The new device can be used without clinical supervision and may also have the potential to measure glucose or COVID-19 antibodies that accumulate in earwax. The researchers found that earwax samples yielded more cortisol than hair samples. The novel technique was the least influenced by confounding factors such as stressful events or alcohol consumption contributing to cortisol fluctuations over the previous month. The findings could point to new ways of monitoring depression and stress-linked conditions.
Researchers describe an association between people’s subjective socioeconomic status – how they perceive their own income, education, and occupation standing in comparison with others – and happiness. “In people’s minds, social mobility is not simply the ability to ascend one’s own socioeconomic ladder, but also to ascend the ladder of the broader, collective society.” The researchers found that the effect of social comparison was stronger in countries, such as Singapore, with high population density. This finding makes sense since there often is greater competition for resources in places where population density is high.
Thai Airways has launched a special flight that will cruise over 99 holy sites, allowing passengers to chant Buddhist mantras from the sky, in its latest attempt to boost its revenue. The company has launched a number of novel initiatives to raise cash in recent months. It has put bags made from life vests and slide rafts on sale, and opened an airline-themed cafe selling in-flight meals in Bangkok and a food stall selling dough fritters. It has also opened its Airbus and Boeing flight simulators to the public. The new flight will not land at any destinations, but will fly over temples in 31 provinces before returning to Bangkok.
Marks & Spencer sank to the first loss in its 94 years as a publicly-listed company as the coronavirus crisis hit trading. In the six months to 26 September, the retailer made a loss of £87.6m, compared with profits of £158.8m in the same period last year. Sales for the six-month period across the group slid by 15.8% to £4.09bn. Clothing sales in particular were dented by lockdowns and the desire for more casual clothes. Clothing sales in its city centre stores were down by 53% in the third quarter. “You’ve got to change to survive. While Marks was saying it, they weren’t necessarily doing it, but it has now changed the way they work even at a simple level.”
Denmark will cull its mink population of up to 17 million after a mutation of the coronavirus found in the animals spread to humans. Health authorities found virus strains in humans and in mink which showed decreased sensitivity against antibodies, potentially lowering the efficacy of future vaccines. Outbreaks at mink farms have persisted in the Nordic country, the world’s largest producer of mink furs, despite repeated efforts to cull infected animals since June. There are between 15 million and 17 million mink in Denmark, authorities said.
More than 100 whales stranded on a Sri Lankan beach have been guided to the sea in an overnight rescue operation. The rescue was conducted by the navy, with help from environmental protection officers, police and local residents. Local villagers defied a coronavirus curfew to help push the small whales back into deeper water so they could swim out into the ocean. “Some of the whales were very tired fighting to stay afloat the whole night and didn’t have enough strength to go to deep sea. That is why a few died.” It’s thought to be the largest stranding in Sri Lanka.