The engine of a typical passenger vehicle is made up of hundreds of mechanical parts. These parts require lubrication to prevent them from overheating and to keep them working efficiently. Ken Hope and his team at Chevron Phillips Chemical, headquartered in Texas, have analysed the extent to which different types of lubricant oils reduce friction. They then used this data to estimate how an optimised oil mixture can achieve an overall improvement in engine efficiency.
Medical professionals require years of training before they can describe ultrasound images of developing foetuses. Dr Mohammad Alsharid and colleagues from the Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Nuffield Department of Women’s and Reproductive Health at the University of Oxford suggest that this task could one day be carried out by machine learning algorithms. In their latest study, the team showed how neural networks, trained by the expert knowledge of real sonographers, could convert subtle features within the images into accurate, readable captions.
Beneath our feet lies one of the most biodiverse habitats imaginable – the soil. These highly active underground microbial communities are vital to ecosystem health; they cycle nutrients, form soil structure, and decompose organic matter, among many other functions. The type of microbes that colonise soil is determined by the local plant community and climatic variables, both of which are rapidly changing due to human activity. In a recent study, Dr Carl Rosier of the University of Delaware has explored how urban development disturbs the environmental cycles that influence the types of microbes found in various soil habitats.
Peer review is a key component in the determination of funding allocation, especially within the science and technology sectors. However, the literature evaluating this process is sparse, often focusing on outcomes rather than the methodology. Dr Tiffani Conner and her colleagues from Oak Ridge Associated Universities in the USA have researched which specific skills are most desirable in a reviewer and how these can be enhanced, whilst also evaluating the impact of review format.
The Hershey Company, one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the world, produces and distributes millions of sweet treats every year. In 2019, an article on the Washington Post accused the company of failing to uproot child labour from its cocoa supply chain. Dr Bertrand Guillotin, an Associate Professor at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, recently published a case study that closely explores these child labour allegations against the Hershey Company.
Although nuclear power is a clean alternative to fossil fuel combustion, this industry often causes uranium pollution in the local environment. The generation of metatorbernite, a solid material containing uranium, is one promising way to remove dissolved uranium atoms from industrial wastewater. However, before this remediation technology can be widely applied, we need a deeper understanding of the properties of metatorbernite, such as its long-term stability, to ensure that uranium will not be re-released from its structure. Dr Caroline Kirk, Ms Fi MacIver-Jones and their colleagues at the University of Edinburgh have been working to establish the structure and stability of this material, so that it can be applied for uranium remediation in the near future.