Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
July 6, 2020

Science & Technology



Virtual reality fails to stimulate real responses

Many people might recall an experience where simply looking at an image of someone yawning triggers them to yawn. This is no magic; in fact, it is a popular phenomenon known as contagious yawning. Studies in the past have shown that approximately 50 percent of adults would yawn in response to other people’s yawning.



Blood vessels in petri dish help diabetes research

Scientists at the University of British Columbia have recently made a breakthrough in diabetes research. For the first time, researchers were able to grow human blood vessels as organoids in a petri dish, which will dramatically enhance research in cardiovascular disease in patients with diabetes.


Global warming causes shorter, colder winters

Chicago natives are no stranger to arctic weather, suffering through subzero temperatures at least once a year. But this winter, temperatures are plummeting to near negative 55 degrees Fahrenheit with wind chill, making Chicago colder than even the South Pole. And the reason may be surprising: global warming.


 
Famartin / CC BY-SA 4.0 
Blue Water Baltimore focuses on cleaning up the Harbor and streams.

Blue Water Baltimore’s Jenn Aiosa reflects on career

According to predictions from the Baltimore Office of Sustainability, Baltimore will encounter severe public health, infrastructural and economic issues as a result of global warming, from expanding rates of respiratory problems to extreme flooding. 


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BrainGate researchers have previously developed prosthetic limbs that react to neural signals.

Quadriplegics wirelessly control computer systems

Paralysis is a debilitating condition, but one that affects nearly two percent of the population in the U.S. — approximately 5.4 million people. Many paralyzed patients suffer from quadriplegia, a condition signified by partial or complete lack of motor function in all four limbs. Often the result of a traumatic injury, paralysis is caused by an inability of the spinal cord to pass signals from the brain to the peripheral nervous system.


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HopAI brings disciplines together to talk about the importance of AI.

HopAI launches with its first symposium at Hopkins

HopAI held its inaugural event on Thursday, Nov. 29. The organization, which seeks to connect and expose Hopkins students to artificial intelligence (AI), invited three speakers from different areas of study to describe their work with the diverse technologies.



Ionic wind can be used to power small planes

Propellers and turbines may soon be obsolete when it comes to powering airplanes: new research suggests that in the future, a sustainable new method of powering aircraft may replace current jet engines and propulsion techniques. 


COURTESY OF TAL LINZEN
Tal Linzen, an assistant professor in the Cognitive Science Department, studies cognitive processes involved in AI.

Lab Spotlight: Professor Tal Linzen

Yes, the machines might take over one day – but that’s (probably) still a long way away. In reality, human intelligence may be the key to developing artificial intelligence (AI). 


Bernoulli, Jurin and the math behind smallpox

In December of 1694, Mary II of England fell ill. Physicians who attended the stricken queen, half of the pair known as William and Mary, argued over a diagnosis, but before long it became clear that she had contracted a severe form of smallpox. She died three days after Christmas, and the news was carried across London by tolling bells.


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Researchers believe changes in climate led to the extinction of mammals.

Climate change caused ancient mammal extinction

While it has been a long-standing belief that pre-modern hominins, the ancestors of modern-day humans, contributed to the extinctions of large mammals in ancient Africa, researchers at the University of Utah have recently uncovered evidence that this may not be the case. Instead, these researchers believe that changes to atmospheric conditions, mainly the decrease of carbon dioxide as a result of increasing grassland, led to the extinction of these mammals.


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Insomnia is a process that can be triggered by exposure to artificial light.

Artificial light can disrupt innate circadian rhythm

According to the American Sleep Association, approximately 50 to 70 million American adults experience some form of sleep disorder. The term insomnia is used to describe the inability to fall, and stay, asleep. About 30 percent of American adults report issues with insomnia, of which 10 percent report having been diagnosed with chronic insomnia. These numbers are gradually on the rise.


Perspectives on mental health around the world

The University’s undergraduate population boasts students from 62 different countries, with 11 percent of the current freshman class being international students. With this cultural diversity comes a mix of perspectives, cultures and experiences, especially in regard to mental health. In response to increased globalization over the last century, many countries have seen stigma against and support networks for the mentally ill change. Regardless, most cultures still have perspectives about mental illness that greatly reflect their regions’ traditions.


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It’s not all in your head: the brain and gut connection

For as long as I can remember, my stomach has always hurt. Sometimes, I would feel like I was being stabbed with a dull knife, over and over. Other times, my body would break out in a cold sweat from waves of nausea. Even when I wasn’t in pain, my stomach would make noises, prompting people to ask what was wrong. I usually just said that I was hungry, even if I wasn’t. 


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Researchers developed a new mechanism to control storage circuits.

Terahertz opens the door to a novel technology for data storage

There’s a principle in the field of computer science known as Moore’s law. Put simply, this law states that the potential storage capacity on a circuit will grow exponentially every two years. In recent years, however, the promise of Moore’s law has been subjugated to the harsh realities of physics. Transistors are small enough now, at atomic sizes, that there may no longer be a future for conventional circuit design. This seemingly will not, however, put a damper on progress.


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Contrary to popular belief, genetics might not be the biggest indicator of longevity.

Longevity may not be an inherited trait in humans

Many human traits are heritable. Unlike what most people confuse it to be, heritability is not simply whether a trait is inherited but a measure of how much of the variation in a trait can be explained by genetic differences. Your hair color, for example, is highly heritable because it is directly influenced by your parent’s genes. On the other hand, traits like the number of limbs you have or your lifestyle has low heritability. 


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There are frequently gender stereotypes that surround holiday gifts.

Giving holiday gifts that uplift women and fight gendered stereotypes

For many people, the end of November marks the start of holiday shopping season. While searching for the perfect present can be fun, it can also be infuriating. Perhaps the most difficult gifts to find are those for young girls interested in STEM. In an age of iPhones and AI, one would expect to find toy options for girls extending beyond baby dolls and play carriages. Unfortunately, many toys aisles today look like they’re designed more for the Stepford Wives than for the intelligent, dynamic young girls of 2018.            


 
COURTESY OF SUA MYONG
Myong is the head of the Single Molecule Imaging Lab.

Lab Spotlight: Sua Myong

In Sua Myong’s lab, proteins dance. To hear Myong talk about single molecule detection, her research specialty, one might think that she was describing a ballet.


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