Mind reading 🧠 Nanodiamonds 💎 Wine tariff 🍷!

Technology News


Could soldiers silently communicate using brain signals in the future?

New research funded by the U.S. Army Research Office successfully separated brain signals that influence action or behavior from signals that do not. Using an algorithm and complex mathematics, the team was able to identify which brain signals were directing motion, or behavior-relevant signals, and then remove those signals from the other brain signals – behavior-irrelevant ones. The service wants to get to the point where the machine can provide feedback to soldier’s brains to allow them to take corrective action before something takes place, a capability that could protect the health of a war fighter.

Electronic skin has a strong future stretching ahead

A material that mimics human skin in strength, stretchability and sensitivity could be used to collect biological data in real time. The team has created a durable e-skin using a hydrogel reinforced with silica nanoparticles and a 2D titanium carbide MXene as the sensing layer. Their prototype e-skin could sense objects from 20 centimeters away and when used as a pressure sensor, could distinguish handwriting written upon it. Such e-skins could monitor a range of biological information, such as changes in blood pressure, which can be detected from vibrations in the arteries to movements of large limbs and joints.

Science News


Quantum nanodiamonds may help detect disease earlier

The quantum sensing abilities of nanodiamonds can be used to improve the sensitivity of paper-based diagnostic tests. The new research found that low-cost nanodiamonds could be used to signal the presence of an HIV disease marker with a sensitivity many thousands of times greater than the gold nanoparticles widely used in these tests. This greater sensitivity allows lower viral loads to be detected, meaning the test could pick up lower levels of disease or detect the disease at an earlier stage, which is crucial for reducing transmission risk of infected individuals and for effective treatment of diseases such as HIV.

High achievement cultures may kill students’ interest in math – especially for girls

A new study suggests that high national math achievement combined with societal pressures may contribute to how well girls and boys like math. The results showed that girls were significantly less interested in math in countries like Japan, Hong Kong and Sweden. Surprisingly, the roles were reversed in countries like Oman, Malaysia, Palestine and Kazakhstan, where girls were far more engaged in the subject. One particularly striking result was that whichever way national interest levels trended, the effect was more pronounced among girls. This ‘female amplification’ may be due to girls’ stronger tendency to conform to peer influence.

Business News


China slaps up to 200% tariffs on Australian wine

Officials in China have argued that some Australian wine is being sold cheaper there than in its home market through the use of subsidies. The duties will range from 107% to 212%, intensifying trade tensions. China is the biggest destination for Australia’s wine exports, accounting for 39% in the first nine months of 2020. In recent months, Beijing has targeted Australian imports including coal, sugar, barley and lobsters amid political tensions. Treasury Wine Estates (TWE), one of the world’s biggest winemakers saw its share price slump more than 13%. China’s commerce ministry didn’t specify how long the measures would last for.

Black Friday 2020 online shopping surges 22% to record $9 billion, Adobe says

Spending online on Black Friday this year surged nearly 22% to hit a new record, as the Covid pandemic pushed more people to shop from the sofa and avoid crowded stores and malls. This makes Black Friday 2020 the second-largest online spending day in history in the United States. Adobe found consumers spent $6.3 million per minute online, or $27.50 per person, on average. Spending on smartphones surged 25.3% year over year to reach $3.6 billion, representing 40% of total e-commerce spending. Cyber Monday this year is slated to become the largest digital sales day ever, with spending reaching between $10.8 billion and $12.7 billion.

Miscellaneous News


Kaavan, the world’s loneliest elephant, is finally going free

For decades, the world’s loneliest elephant has entertained crowds from his small, barren patch of land in a Pakistani zoo. The handlers would poke him with nailed bull hooks to make him perform for the money which lined their pockets. For years, it seemed that no one cared about the elephant’s lonely fate. The world’s loneliest elephant will finally leave behind his desolate enclosure for a new life on the other side of the continent, thanks to the determination of a coalition of determined volunteers and, somewhat unexpectedly, the American pop icon Cher.

Severe fire danger for Australia as temperatures smash records

Parts of Australia sweltered through the hottest November night on record. Sydney surpassed 40 degrees Celsius while swathes of western New South Wales, South Australia and northern Victoria baked through even higher temperatures nearing 45 degrees. The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted a five or six-day heatwave for parts of northern New South Wales and southeast Queensland. The Rural Fire Service issued a total fire ban for most of eastern and northeastern NSW, saying there was a “very high to severe fire danger forecast” as hot, gusty winds exacerbate dry conditions.

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