The World Cultural Council is soliciting nominations for two awards, one for science and one for the arts. Before giving a few details about the call for awards nominations, here’s a few about the organization, from the World Cultural Council’s About Us webpage,
The World Cultural Council is a non-profit international organization, founded in Mexico, whose objectives are to promote culture, values and goodwill throughout the world. One of the means by which it strives to do so is by granting the Albert Einstein World Award of Science, the José Vasconcelos World Award of Education and the Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts to outstanding personalities whose work has had a significantly positive impact on the cultural legacy of mankind. The members of the Council include several Nobel laureates.
It was in 1982, on the inspiration of 124 distinguished scholars, university presidents and organization executives from the world over, that the WCC was founded and, in 1984, the first Award Ceremony took place.
The World Cultural Council is composed of a directing body headed by an Honorary President, Vice-president, Executive Director, Secretary General and an Interdisciplinary Committee made up of outstanding scientific, artistic and educational personalities.
The Interdisciplinary Committee evaluates annually the candidates nominated to participate in the “Albert Einstein“, the “José Vasconcelos” and the “Leonardo da Vinci” Awards
The World Cultural Council (WCC) is now accepting nominations for the “Albert Einstein” World Award of Science and the “Leonardo da Vinci” World Awards of Arts.
Nominations must be submitted by 26 January, 2024. NOMINATE NOW: To nominate online or for further details of the awards visit the WCC website Nominations page.
Ideal candidates for the “Albert Einstein” World Award of Science are scientists whose achievements can serve as an inspiration for future generations. This award is granted each year. Consideration will be given to individuals or institutions in one of the Life Sciences, such as Neuroscience, Earth Science, Biology, Biochemistry, Medicine or Chemistry; or in one of the Natural Sciences such as Physics, Mathematics or Astronomy.
A candidate for the “Leonardo da Vinci” World Awards of Arts should be a renowned artist, sculptor, painter, writer, poet, cinematographer, photographer, architect, musician or other performing, creative or visionary artist, whose work constitutes a significant contribution to the artistic legacy of the world. The prize is awarded every second year.
Apart from evaluating the nominee´s breakthrough achievements, the jury will also assess the service which each has made to mankind and his/her qualities as a role model who inspires future generations to contribute to a better world.
The World Cultural Council is an international organization that promotes cultural, educational, and scientific exchanges among individuals, universities and institutions. Its mission is to foster peace, social justice, and sustainable development through the advancement of culture, science, and education.
The WCC accomplishes its mission primarily through the recognition of outstanding individuals and their achievements in the fields of science, education, and culture. Every year the WCC awards the Albert Einstein World Award of Science. In addition, in even years it presents the Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts and in odd years it grants the José Vasconcelos World Award of Education. The annual WCC award ceremony is hosted each autumn by a different institute across the globe providing a platform for cultural exchange and dialogue.
Candidates for the awards may be selected and proposed only through the following authorities in any country:
* The President or the Prime Minister of a country * Ministers of Science and Technology or Culture and Education * Directors of institutes and organizations * University leaders: Rector, President, Provost or Dean * Members of the World Cultural Council
You can find out more about the World Cultural Council here and McGill University has produced a welcome video for the 39th WCC Award Ceremony talking place October 22-23, 2024,
*November 30, 2023 12:16 pm PT: Headline shortened from “Call for Nominations for [the] 2024 [for the] “Albert Einstein” World Award of Science and [the] “Leonardo da Vinci” World Award of Arts”, i.e., words in square brackets removed.
This November 28, 2023 article by Philip Drost for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) The Current radio programme highl8ights two youthful inventors, Note: Links have been removed,
Anush Mutyala [emphasis mine] may only be in Grade 12, but he already has hopes that his innovations and inventions will rival that of Elon Musk.
“I always tell my friends something that would be funny is if I’m competing head-to-head with Elon Musk in the race to getting people [neural] implants,” Mutyala told Matt Galloway on The Current.
Mutyala, a student at Chinguacousy Secondary School in Brampton, Ont., created a brain imaging system that he says opens the future for permanent wireless neural implants.
For his work, he received an award from Youth Science Canada at the National Fair in 2023, which highlights young people pushing innovation.
Mutyala wanted to create a way for neural implants to last longer. Implants can help people hear better, or move parts of the body they otherwise couldn’t, but neural implants in particular face issues with regard to power consumption, and traditionally must be replaced by surgery after their batteries die. That can be every five years.
But Mutyala thinks his system, Enerspike, can change that. The algorithm he designed lowers the energy consumption needed for implants to process and translate brain signals into making a limb move.
“You would essentially never need to replace wireless implants again for the purpose of battery replacement,” said Mutyala.
Mutyala was inspired by Stephen Hawking, who famously spoke with the use of a speech synthesizer.
“What if we used technology like this and we were able to restore his complete communication ability? He would have been able to communicate at a much faster rate and he would have had a much greater impact on society,” said Mutyala.
… Mutyala isn’t the only innovator. Vinny Gu [emphasis mine], a Grade 11 student at Markville Secondary School in Markham, Ont., also received an award for creating DermaScan, an online application that can look at a photo and predict whether the person photographed has skin cancer or not.
“There has [sic] been some attempts at this problem in the past. However, they usually result in very low accuracy. However, I incorporated a technology to help my model better detect the minor small details in the image in order for it to get a better prediction,” said Gu.
He says it doesn’t replace visiting a dermatologist — but it can give people an option to do pre-screenings with ease, which can help them decide if they need to go see a dermatologist. He says his model is 90-per-cent accurate.
He is currently testing Dermascan, and he hopes to one day make it available for free to anyone who needs it.
You can find out about Anoush Mutyala and his work on his LinkedIn profile (in a addition to being a high school student, since October 2023, he’s also a neuromorphics researcher at York University). If my link to his profile fails, search Mutyala’s name online and access his public page at the LinkedIn website. There’s something else, Mutyala has an eponymous website.
My online searches for more about Vinny (or Vincent) Gu were not successful.
More brainlike (neuromorphic) computing but this time, it’s all about the senses. From a September 15, 2023 news item on ScienceDaily, Note: A link has been removed,
The feel of a cat’s fur can reveal some information, but seeing the feline provides critical details: is it a housecat or a lion? While the sound of fire crackling may be ambiguous, its scent confirms the burning wood. Our senses synergize to give a comprehensive understanding, particularly when individual signals are subtle. The collective sum of biological inputs can be greater than their individual contributions. Robots tend to follow more straightforward addition, but researchers have now harnessed the biological concept for application in artificial intelligence (AI) to develop the first artificial, multisensory integrated neuron.
Led by Saptarshi Das, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics at Penn State, the team published their work today (Sept. 15 ) in Nature Communications.
“Robots make decisions based on the environment they are in, but their sensors do not generally talk to each other,” said Das, who also has joint appointments in electrical engineering and in materials science and engineering. “A collective decision can be made through a sensor processing unit, but is that the most efficient or effective method? In the human brain, one sense can influence another and allow the person to better judge a situation.”
For instance, a car might have one sensor scanning for obstacles, while another senses darkness to modulate the intensity of the headlights. Individually, these sensors relay information to a central unit which then instructs the car to brake or adjust the headlights. According to Das, this process consumes more energy. Allowing sensors to communicate directly with each other can be more efficient in terms of energy and speed — particularly when the inputs from both are faint.
“Biology enables small organisms to thrive in environments with limited resources, minimizing energy consumption in the process,” said Das, who is also affiliated with the Materials Research Institute. “The requirements for different sensors are based on the context — in a dark forest, you’d rely more on listening than seeing, but we don’t make decisions based on just one sense. We have a complete sense of our surroundings, and our decision making is based on the integration of what we’re seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, etcetera. The senses evolved together in biology, but separately in AI. In this work, we’re looking to combine sensors and mimic how our brains actually work.”
The team focused on integrating a tactile sensor and a visual sensor so that the output of one sensor modifies the other, with the help of visual memory. According to Muhtasim Ul Karim Sadaf, a third-year doctoral student in engineering science and mechanics, even a short-lived flash of light can significantly enhance the chance of successful movement through a dark room.
“This is because visual memory can subsequently influence and aid the tactile responses for navigation,” Sadaf said. “This would not be possible if our visual and tactile cortex were to respond to their respective unimodal cues alone. We have a photo memory effect, where light shines and we can remember. We incorporated that ability into a device through a transistor that provides the same response.”
The researchers fabricated the multisensory neuron by connecting a tactile sensor to a phototransistor based on a monolayer of molybdenum disulfide, a compound that exhibits unique electrical and optical characteristics useful for detecting light and supporting transistors. The sensor generates electrical spikes in a manner reminiscent of neurons processing information, allowing it to integrate both visual and tactile cues.
It’s the equivalent of seeing an “on” light on the stove and feeling heat coming off of a burner — seeing the light on doesn’t necessarily mean the burner is hot yet, but a hand only needs to feel a nanosecond of heat before the body reacts and pulls the hand away from the potential danger. The input of light and heat triggered signals that induced the hand’s response. In this case, the researchers measured the artificial neuron’s version of this by seeing signaling outputs resulted from visual and tactile input cues.
To simulate touch input, the tactile sensor used triboelectric effect, in which two layers slide against one another to produce electricity, meaning the touch stimuli was encoded into electrical impulses. To simulate visual input, the researchers shined a light into the monolayer molybdenum disulfide photo memtransistor — or a transistor that can remember visual input, like how a person can hold onto the general layout of a room after a quick flash illuminates it.
They found that the sensory response of the neuron — simulated as electrical output — increased when both visual and tactile signals were weak.
“Interestingly, this effect resonates remarkably well with its biological counterpart — a visual memory naturally enhances the sensitivity to tactile stimulus,” said co-first author Najam U Sakib, a third-year doctoral student in engineering science and mechanics. “When cues are weak, you need to combine them to better understand the information, and that’s what we saw in the results.”
Das explained that an artificial multisensory neuron system could enhance sensor technology’s efficiency, paving the way for more eco-friendly AI uses. As a result, robots, drones and self-driving vehicles could navigate their environment more effectively while using less energy.
“The super additive summation of weak visual and tactile cues is the key accomplishment of our research,” said co-author Andrew Pannone, a fourth-year doctoral student in engineering science and mechanics. “For this work, we only looked into two senses. We’re working to identify the proper scenario to incorporate more senses and see what benefits they may offer.”
Harikrishnan Ravichandran, a fourth-year doctoral student in engineering science and mechanics at Penn State, also co-authored this paper.
The Army Research Office and the National Science Foundation supported this work.
An October 5, 2023 news item on phys.org highlights research from the Canadian Light Source (CLS, also known as, the synchrotron located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), Note: A link has been removed,
Every motor we use needs a magnet. University of Manitoba researcher Rachel Nickel is studying how rust could make those magnets cheaper and easier to produce.
Her most recent paper, published in the journal Nano Letters, explores a unique type of iron oxide nanoparticle. This material has special magnetic and electric features that could make it useful. It even has potential as a permanent magnet, which we use in car and airplane motors.
What sets it apart from other magnets is that it’s made from two of the most common elements found on earth: iron and oxygen. Right now, we use magnets made out of some of the rarest elements on the planet.
“The ability to produce magnets without rare earth elements [emphasis mine] is incredibly exciting,” says Nickel. “Almost everything that we use that has a motor where we need to start a motion relies on a permanent magnet”.
Researchers only started to understand this unique type of rust, called epsilon iron oxide, in the last 20 years.
“Now, what’s special about epsilon iron oxide is it only exists in the nanoscale,” says Nickel. “It’s basically fancy dust. But it is fancy dust with such incredible potential.”
In order to use it in everyday technology, researchers like Nickel need to understand its structure. To study epsilon iron oxide’s structure in different sizes, Nickel and colleagues collected data at the Advanced Photon Source (APS) in Illinois, thanks to the facility’s partnership with the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan. As the particle sizes change, the magnetic and electric traits of epsilon iron oxide change; the researchers began to see unusual electronic behaviour in their samples at larger sizes.
Nickel hopes to continue research on these particles, pursuing some of the stranger magnetic and electric properties.
“The more we are able to investigate these systems and the more we have access to facilities to investigate these systems, the more we can learn about the world around us and develop it into new and transformative technologies,” she says.
This work was funded through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
For anyone not familiar with the rare earths situation, they’re not all that rare but they are difficult to mine in most regions of the world. China has some of the most accessible rare earth sites in the world. Consequently, they hold a dominant position in the market. Regardless of who has dominance, this is never a good situation and many countries and their researchers are looking at alternatives to rare earths.
Researchers present NorthPole – a brain-inspired chip architecture that blends computation with memory to process data efficiently at low-energy costs. Since its inception, computing has been processor-centric, with memory separated from compute. However, shuttling large amounts of data between memory and compute comes at a high price in terms of both energy consumption and processing bandwidth and speed. This is particularly evident in the case of emerging and advanced real-time artificial intelligence (AI) applications like facial recognition, object detection, and behavior monitoring, which require fast access to vast amounts of data. As a result, most contemporary computer architectures are rapidly reaching physical and processing bottlenecks and risk becoming economically, technically, and environmentally unsustainable, given the growing energy costs involved. Inspired by the neural architecture of the organic brain, Dharmendra Modha and colleagues developed NorthPole – a neural inference architecture that intertwines compute with memory on a single chip. According to the authors, NorthPole “reimagines the interaction between compute and memory” by blending brain-inspired computing and semiconductor technology. It achieves higher performance, energy-efficiency, and area-efficiency compared to other comparable architectures, including those that use more advanced technology processes. And, because NorthPole is a digital system, it is not subject to the device noise and systemic biases and drifts that afflict analog systems. Modha et al. demonstrate NorthPole’s capabilities by testing it on the ResNet50 benchmark image classification network, where it achieved 25 times higher energy metric of frames per second (FPS) per watt, a 5 times higher space metric of FPS per transistor, and a 22 times lower time metric of latency relative to comparable technology. In a related Perspective, Subramanian Iyer and Vwani Roychowdhury discuss NorthPole’s advancements and limitations in greater detail.
By the way, the NorthPole chip is a result of IBM research as noted in Charles Q. Choi’s October 23, 2023 article for IEEE Spectrum magazine (IEEE is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), Note: Links have been removed,
A brain-inspired chip from IBM, dubbed NorthPole, is more than 20 times as fast as—and roughly 25 times as energy efficient as—any microchip currently on the market when it comes to artificial intelligence tasks. According to a study from IBM, applications for the new silicon chip may include autonomous vehicles and robotics.
Brain-inspired computer hardware aims to mimic a human brain’s exceptional ability to rapidly perform computations in an extraordinarily energy-efficient manner. These machines are often used to implement neural networks, which similarly imitate the way a brain learns and operates.
“The brain is vastly more energy-efficient than modern computers, in part because it stores memory with compute in every neuron,” says study lead author Dharmendra Modha, IBM’s chief scientist for brain-inspired computing.
“NorthPole merges the boundaries between brain-inspired computing and silicon-optimized computing, between compute and memory, between hardware and software,” Modha says.
The scientists note that IBM fabricated NorthPole with a 12-nm node process. The current state of the art for CPUs is 3 nm, and IBM has spent years researching 2-nm nodes. This suggests further gains with this brain-inspired strategy may prove readily available, the company says.
The NorthPole chip is preceded by another IBM brain-inspired chip, TrueNorth. (Use the term “TrueNorth” in the blog search engine, if you want to see more about that and other brain-inspired chips.)
Choi’s October 23, 2023 article features technical information but a surprising amount is accessible to an interested reader who’s not an engineer.
There’s a video, which seems to have been produced by IBM,
Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,
Neural inference at the frontier of energy, space, and time by Dharmendra S. Modha, Filipp Akopyan, Alexander Andreopoulos, Rathinakumar Appuswamy, John V. Arthur, Andrew S. Cassidy, Pallab Datta, Michael V. DeBole, Steven K. Esser, Carlos Ortega Otero, Jun Sawada, Brian Taba, Arnon Amir, Deepika Bablani, Peter J. Carlson, Myron D. Flickner, Rajamohan Gandhasri, Guillaume J. Garreau, Megumi Ito, Jennifer L. Klamo, Jeffrey A. Kusnitz, Nathaniel J. McClatchey, Jeffrey L. McKinstry, Yutaka Nakamura, Tapan K. Nayak, William P. Risk, Kai Schleupen, Ben Shaw, Jay Sivagnaname, Daniel F. Smith, Ignacio Terrizzano, and Takanori Ueda. Science 19 Oct 2023 Vol 382, Issue 6668 pp. 329-335 DOI: 10.1126/science.adh1174
Ms. Shetterly was at the University of Toronto (Hart House) as a mentor at Tundra Technical Solutions’ 2023 Launchpad event. The company is a ‘talent recruitment’ agency and this is part of their outreach/public relations programme. This undated video (runtime: 2 mins. 27 secs.) from a previous Hart House event gives you a pretty good idea of what this year’s Toronto event was like,
On the heels of [US] National STEM Day, a landmark event unfolds tonight to advance the role of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Tundra, a trailblazer championing diversity within the world’s most innovative industries, hosts its annual Launchpad Mentorship Event at the University of Toronto’s Hart House.
This event welcomes hundreds of high school female students across the GTA [Greater Toronto Area?] to inspire and empower them to consider careers in STEM.
The night opens with a fascinating keynote speech by Margot Lee Shetterly, acclaimed author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Hidden Figures. Margot will share her insights into the critical contributions of African-American women mathematicians at NASA, setting a powerful tone for the evening. The spotlight also shines brightly on Arushi Nath, a 14-year-old Canadian prodigy and Tundra Launchpad Mentee of the Year whose contributions to astronomy have propelled her onto the world stage.
The Launchpad Event panel discussion features an impressive lineup of leaders, with Anne Steptoe, VP of Infrastructure at Wealthsimple; Linda Siksna, SVP of Technology Ops and Platforms at Canadian Tire; Natasha Nelson, VP of Ecostruxure at Schneider Electric; and Allison Atkins, National Leader for Cloud Endpoint at Microsoft. Moderated by Marisa Sterling, Assistant Dean and Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Professionalism at the University of Toronto, the panel tackles the challenges and opportunities within STEM fields, emphasizing the need for diversity and inclusion.
In a seamless transition from Shetterly’s keynote to the voices of present-day STEM leaders, the event spotlights the potential of young women in these fields. Arushi Nath [emphasis mine], the 9th-grade Canadian astronomy sensation, embodied this potential. Fresh from her success at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists, Arushi’s presence will be a vibrant reminder of what the next generation can achieve with support from initiatives like Tundra’s Launchpad Event.
Tundra’s commitment to nurturing and developing STEM leaders of tomorrow is evident through its substantial investments in youth. Every year, Tundra connects thousands of students who identify as female and non-binary with mentors, awarding scholarships and prize packs to help students excel in their future.
Tundra’s dedication to diversity and empowerment in STEM remains unwavering since the Launchpad’s inception in 2019. The event is a testament to the bright future that awaits when we invest in the mentorship and recognition of young talent.
Female-identifying or non-binary students in grades 10-12 can apply for Tundra’s next Launchpad Scholarship here [deadline: December 3, 2023].
You can find out more about the Tundra Technical Solutions STEM initiatives here. (I’m not sure why they’ve listed Vancouver as a location for the event on the STEM initiatives page since there is no mention of it in the news release or elsewhere on the page.)
Arushi Nath was last mentioned here in a November 17, 2023 posting where her wins at the 2023 Canada Wide Science awards and the 34th European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) and her appearance at the 2023 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Awards were highlighted.
Almost 150 students from across Toronto and the region attended the event. In addition, around 20 mentors from several organizations gathered to interact with the students. Many staff members from Tundra were also present to support the event.
Keynote Speech: Science and Space is for All
The evening started with a keynote speech from Margot Lee Shetterly, the author of Hidden Figures book. Hidden Figures [movie] explores the biographies of three African-American women who worked as computers to solve problems for engineers and others at NASA.
In her speech, she talked about her journey writing the book and what drew her to the topic. The fact that one of the three women was her neighbour was a big inspiring force. She shared the background of these brilliant women mathematicians, their personal stories, anecdotes and the crucial roles they played during the Space Race.
Several questions were posed to her, including how she felt about having her book transformed into a movie before the book was even complete and how students could merge their other passions with science.
Prizes and Awards: Winning 2023 Mentee of the Year Award
At the end of the raffle, I was surprised to hear my name called on the stage. I was honoured to receive the 2023 Mentee of the Year Award. I thanked the organizers for this gesture and for organizing such a wonderful evening of fun, learning and networking.
More about Hidden Figures on FrogHeart
First mentioned here in a September 2, 2016 posting titled, “Movies and science, science, science (Part 1 of 2),” it focused heavily on Margot Lee Shetterly‘s 2016 nonfiction book, “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race.”
The movie focused primarily on three women but the book cast a wider net. It’s fascinating social history.
They were computers
These days we think of computers as pieces of technology but for a significant chunk of time, computers were people with skills in mathematics. Over time, computers were increasingly women because they worked harder and they worked for less money than men.
Canada has emerged as a world leader in many science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, and many new jobs and career opportunities that have emerged in recent years are STEM-related. As more and more businesses and organizations look to innovate, modernize and grow, the demand for people who can fill STEM-related jobs will only increase. Canada needs a workforce that can continue to meet the challenges of the future.
Additionally, young Canadians today need to think carefully and critically about science misinformation. Misinformation is not new, but the intensity and speed in which it has been spreading is both increasing and concerning, especially within the science realm. Science literacy encourages people to question, evaluate, and understand information. By equipping youth with science literacy skills, they will be better positioned to navigate online information and make better decisions based on understanding the difference between personal opinions and evidence-based conclusions.
The Government of Canada and its federal partners have put forward several new opportunities that are aimed at increasing science literacy and the participation of Canadians in STEM, including under-represented groups like women and Indigenous communities.
CanCode (Innovation, Science and Economic Develoment Canada)
CanCode is an Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) funding program that provides financial support for organizations to equip Canadian youth, including traditionally underrepresented groups, with the skills they need to be prepared for further studies. This includes advanced digital skills, like coding and STEM courses, leading to jobs of the future. For more information on the program and future Calls for Proposals, visit the CanCode webpage.
Citizen Science Portal (ISED)
The Citizen Science Portal provides information and access to science projects and science experiments happening in various communities for Canadians to participate in. Some may only be available at certain times of year or in certain areas, but with a little exploration, there are exciting ways to take part in science.
Objective: Moon – including Junior Astronauts (Canadian Space Agency)
The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) aims to engage young Canadians, to get them excited about STEM and future careers in the field of space through a suite of resources for youth and educators. The CSA also helps them understand how they can play a role in Canada’s mission to the Moon. As part of Canada’s participation in Lunar Gateway, the Objective: Moon portfolio of activities, including the Junior Astronauts campaign that ended in July 2021, makes learning science fun and engaging for youth in grades K – 12.
Actua is a Canadian charitable organization preparing youth, ages 6-26, to be the next generation of leaders and innovators. It engages youth in inclusive, hands-on STEM experiences that build critical employability skills and confidence. Through a national outreach team and a vast member network of universities and colleges, Actua reaches youth in every province and territory in Canada through summer camps, classroom workshops, clubs, teacher training, and community outreach activities.
Mitacs is a national not-for-profit organization that designs and delivers internships and training programs in Canada. Working with universities, companies and federal and provincial governments, Mitacs builds and maintains partnerships that support industrial and social innovation in Canada. More information on Mitacs’ programs can be found here.
Science fairs, STEM competitions and awards
The Government of Canada supports the discoveries and the ingenuity of tomorrow’s scientists, engineers and inventors.
It’s a skin disorder that makes life miserable for around 800 million teenagers and adults worldwide, but Australian scientists may have found an effective treatment for acne, delivered via tiny nanoparticles.
In a study led by the University of South Australia (UniSA), a new antibacterial compound known as Narasin was encased in tiny, soft nanoparticles 1000 times smaller than a single strand of human hair and applied in a gel form to targeted acne sites.
The drug – more commonly used in the livestock industry – proved successful against drug-resistant acne bacteria and delivered via nanocarriers achieved a 100-fold increase in absorption than simply taken with water.
The findings have been published in the journal Nanoscale.
Lead author UniSA PhD student Fatima Abid says this is the first time that nano-micelle formulations of Narasin have been developed and trialled.
“Acne severely impacts approximately 9.4% of the world’s population, mainly adolescents, and causes distress, embarrassment, anxiety, low self-confidence and social isolation among sufferers,” Abid says.
“Although there are many oral medications prescribed for acne, they have a range of detrimental side effects, and many are poorly water soluble, which is why most patients and clinicians prefer topical treatments.”
Abid’s supervisor, pharmaceutical scientist Professor Sanjay Garg, says a combination of increasing antibiotic resistance and the ineffectiveness of many topical drugs to penetrate hair follicles in acne sites means there is a pressing need to develop new antibacterial therapies that are effective and safe.
Narasin is commonly used for bacterial infections in livestock but has never been previously investigated as a viable treatment for acne.
Abid, Prof Garg and researchers from UniSA, the University of Adelaide, and Aix-Marseille Université in France also investigated how well Narasin encased in nanoparticles penetrated various layers of skin, using pig’s ear skin as a model.
“The micelle formulation was effective in delivering Narasin to acne targets sites, as opposed to the compound solution which failed to permeate through skin layers,” Prof Garg says.
Though a cornerstone of thermodynamics, entropy remains one of the most vexing concepts to teach budding physicists in the classroom. As a result, many people oversimplify the concept as the amount of disorder in the universe, neglecting its underlying quantitative nature.
In The Physics Teacher, co-published by AIP [American Institute of Physics] Publishing and the American Association of Physics Teachers, researcher T. Ryan Rogers designed a hand-held model to demonstrate the concept of entropy for students. Using everyday materials, Rogers’ approach allows students to confront the topic with new intuition — one that takes specific aim at the confusion between entropy and disorder.
“It’s a huge conceptual roadblock,” Rogers said. “The good news is that we’ve found that it’s something you can correct relatively easily early on. The bad news is that this misunderstanding gets taught so early on.”
While many classes opt for the imperfect, qualitative shorthand of calling entropy “disorder,” it’s defined mathematically as the number of ways energy can be distributed in a system. Such a definition merely requires students to understand how particles store energy, formally known as “degrees of freedom.”
To tackle the problem, Rogers developed a model in which small objects such as dice and buttons are poured into a box, replicating a simple thermodynamic system. Some particles in the densely filled box are packed in place, meaning they have fewer degrees of freedom, leading to an overall low-entropy system.
As students shake the box, they introduce energy into the system, which loosens up locked-in particles. This increases the overall number of ways energy can be distributed within the box.
“You essentially zoom in on entropy so students can say, ‘Aha! There is where I saw the entropy increase,’” Rogers said.
As students shake further, the particles settle into a configuration that more evenly portions out the energy among them. The catch: at this point of high entropy, the particles fall into an orderly alignment.
“Even though it looks more orientationally ordered, there’s actually higher entropy,” Rogers said.
All the students who participated in the lesson were able to reason to the correct definition of entropy after the experiment.
Next, Rogers plans to extend the reach of the model by starting a conversation about entropy with other educators and creating a broader activity guide for ways to use the kits for kindergarten through college. He hopes his work inspires others to clarify the distinction in their classrooms, even if by DIY means.
“Grapes and Cheez-It crackers are very effective, as well,” Rogers said.
Before getting to the latest about carbon dots, there’s something to be clarified (and it was news to me), a carbon dot is not a quantum dot. So says this 2020 paper, “Advances in carbon dots: from the perspective of traditional quantum dots” by Yanhong Liu, Hui Huang, Weijing Cao, Baodong Mao, Yang Liu, and Zhenhui Kang. Mater. Chem. Front., 2020,4, 1586-1613 First published March 17, 2020.
Quantum dots (QDs) have been the core concept of nanoscience and nanotechnology since their inception, and play a dominant role in the development of the nano-field. Carbon dots (CDots), defined by a feature size of <10 nm, have become a rising star in the crossover field of carbon materials and traditional QDs (TQDs). CDots possess many unique structural, physicochemical and photochemical properties that render them a promising platform for biology, devices, catalysis and other applications. …
This story is about carbon dots but you can find out more about quantum dots in my October 6, 2023 posting concerning the 2023 Nobel prizes; scroll down to the ‘Chemistry’ subhead.
Researchers at Concordia have developed a new system using tiny nanosensors called carbon dots to detect the presence of the widely used chemical glyphosate. Their research, titled “Ratiometric Sensing of Glyphosate in Water Using Dual Fluorescent Carbon Dots,” is published in Sensors.
Glyphosate is a pesticide found in more than 750 agricultural, forestry, urban and home products, including Monsanto’s popular weed-killer Roundup. It is also controversial: studies have linked its overuse to environmental pollution and cancer in humans. Its sale is banned or restricted in dozens of countries and jurisdictions, including Canada.
The researchers’ system relies on the carbon dots’ chemical interaction with glyphosate to detect its presence. Carbon dots are exceedingly small fluorescent particles, usually no more than 10 or 15 nanometres in size (a human hair is between 80,000 and 100,000 nanometres). But when they are added to water solutions, these nanomaterials emit blue and red fluorescence.
The researchers employed an analysis technique called a ratiometric self-referencing assay to determine glyphosate levels in a solution. The red fluorescence emitted by the carbon dots when exposed to varying concentrations of the chemical and different pH levels is compared with a control in which no glyphosate is present. In all the tests, the blue fluorescence remained unchanged, giving the researchers a common reference point across the different tests.
They observed that higher levels of glyphosate quenched the red fluorescence, which they accredited to the interaction of the pesticide with the carbon dots’ surface.
“Our system differs from others because we are measuring the area between two peaks—two fluorescent signatures—on the visible spectrum,” says Adryanne Clermont-Paquette, a PhD candidate in biology and the paper’s lead author. “This is the integrated area between the two curves. Ratiometric measurement allows us to ignore variables such as temperature, pH levels or other environmental factors. That allows us to just only look at the levels of glyphosate and carbon dots that are in the system.”
“By understanding the chemistry at the surface of these very small dots and by knowing their optical properties, we can use them to our advantage for many different applications,” says Rafik Naccache, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry and the paper’s supervising author.
Research assistants Diego-Andrés Mendoza and Amir Sadeghi, along with associate professor of biology Alisa Piekny, are co-authors.
Naccache says the technique is designed to detect minute amounts of the pesticide. The technique they developed is sensitive enough to be able to detect the presence of pesticide at levels as low as 0.03 parts per million.
“The challenge is always in the other direction, to see how low we can go in terms of sensitivity and selectivity,” he says.
There remains much work to be done before this technology can be used widely. But as Clermont-Paquette notes, this paper represents an important beginning.
“Understanding the interaction between glyphosate and carbon dots is a first step. If we are to move this along further, and develop it into a real-life application, we have to start with the fundamentals.”
The researchers are supported by funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
A grade nine student from Toronto, Ontario, Arushi Nath has had quite the year,
Nath describes one of her latest outings in a November 3 (?), 2023 posting on the HotPopRobot website (more about the website later), Note: Links have been removed,
On 1 November 2023, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) awarded this year’s top NSERC Awards at a ceremony held at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa. As a back-to-back winner of the top awards of the 2023 and 2022 Canada-Wide Science Fair, I got an invitation to join this ceremony. You can learn more about my research on developing algorithms for asteroid astrometry and photometry to measure the success of the NASA Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) Mission [emphasis mine] at www.MonitorMyPlanet.com
I could not attend the ceremony last year, but I was determined to attend it this year, and I am glad I did. It was an excellent opportunity to learn about the exceptional research carried out in Canada on issues ranging from astronomy to microbiology, ocean sciences, wastewater and machine learning and how it impacted us. I even got to meet and talk to several researchers, ask them questions, and understand what it takes to produce impactful research.
[description of awards and recipients]
Some Suggestions to Raise a STEM-ignited NexGen in Post-COVID-19 World
I think the research investments and funding should start earlier, to even include school students. We are the most connected generation ever and are aware of scientific research and developments happening in the world, be it in the area of astronomy or marine sciences, microbiology or machine learning. Our learning pathways have also changed. COVID-19 lockdowns spurred the use of Zoom, online courses and virtual conferences to learn about a new topic, connect with researchers, collaborate with them, undertake projects and then present them virtually – while attending school. STEM conversations and collaborations are starting earlier and need to be encouraged so that more students pursue STEM, undertake curiosity-driven projects, and maintain this curiosity and scientific temper no matter what career paths they choose.
It calls for greater investments in school science project scholarships, new and expanded science centres, research collaboration platforms, open-data sharing, allowing students access to conferences, creating community maker spaces, opening up high-speed computing facilities to students, more science festivals, fairs and competitions, and encouraging greater diversity in science.
Nearly 900 people gathered in Edmonton at the 2023 Canada-Wide Science Fair awards gala to celebrate the curiosity and ingenuity of Canadian students and announce the fair’s top winners. A total of 220 students shared more than 1.6 million in scholarships, awards, and prizes with the top awards in Discovery and Innovation going to Elizabeth Chen (Edmonton) for a project on alternative cancer treatments and Arushi Nath (Toronto), with a project on planetary defense [emphasis mine]. Arushi, who also won best project award at last year’s CWSF, becomes the first back-to-back best project award winner since 1989 – 1990.
The 34th European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) was held in Brussels, Belgium. It brought together 136 promising young scientists aged 14 to 20, from 36 countries across the EU and beyond for a five-day competition.
I was honored to represent Canada as Winner of 2023 Top Award at the 2023 Canada-Wide Science Fair.
My project “Developing Algorithms to Determine Asteroid’s Physical Properties and Success of Deflection Missions” won the second prize [at EUCYS]. I was the youngest contestant and the prize winner.
It was a wonderful experience to interact, form friendships and partners with bright young scientists across the world.
I found the descriptions of Nath’s work about ‘planetary defence’ and her paper is about algorithms for deflecting asteroids more accessible.
By the way, congratulations to Elizabeth Chen (Optimization of CAR-T Cell Therapy using RNA-Sequencing Analysis for Biomarker Identification) who won a top award at the 2023 EUCYS., as well as, an award from 2023 Canada-Wide Science Fair.