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A coronavirus vaccine is on the horizon, thanks to a key discovery by these researchers

A coronavirus vaccine is on the horizon, thanks to a key discovery by these researchers

When the latest coronavirus emerged, Jason McLellan and his team were ready to take action.<br> <br><br><br><br><br> McLellan, an associate professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Texas, has been studying respiratory diseases for years. In 2017, McLellan's postdoctoral researcher Nianshuang Wang identified genetic mutations necessary to stabilize a key component of diseases like MERS, also a coronavirus.<br>So when Chinese researchers shared the genetic sequence of the new coronavirus on Jan. 10, UT researchers were able to quickly map the virus and inject it with previously-discovered mutations, allowing the researchers to freeze a key protein in a way that would become essential for creating a vaccine.<br>"Now every pretty much everybody's using them," McLellan said. "I think four of the five leading coronavirus vaccines all contain the stabilizing proteins my lab designed."<br>Several major companies, bankrolled by billions of dollars from the federal government, are in a race to complete clinical trials for their version of a coronavirus vaccine. It can normally take years for a vaccine to pass through clinical tests before it becomes available to the public, but the process has been expedited over the past several months for coronavirus vaccine candidates from companies including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax and Moderna.<br>The vaccine candidates are either in or close to the final stages of clinical trials before final authorization by federal drug authorities, and all four are using the UT team's discovery in their vaccine formulas.<br>"It's really exciting," McLellan said. "It's like everything I hoped for when I wanted to start doing research."<br>The success of the UT team's discovery hinges on the ability to map and identify what McLellan called the "Achilles' heel" of the coronavirus—the protein spike. This protein is the part of the virus that fuses onto healthy cells and transmits the infection. Researchers used mutations from earlier research to freeze the protein in its pre-fusion form. By putting a pre-fusion version of the protein into a vaccine, a person's immune system is trained to identify the virus before it latches onto cells, and create antibodies to fight it off.<br><br><br><br><br><br><br>"Antibodies need to recognize elements that are on the outside of the virus because they can't get inside of the virus," McLellan said. "So the spike is this massive entity on the outside of the virus, and it needs the spike in order to attach and fuse to cells, and if you stop either of those, you stop viral entry."<br>The researchers designed the necessary mutations within about a day of receiving the coronavirus genome. The McLellan lab completed the atomic-level structure, and graduate student Daniel Wrapp harvested and purified the spike protein.<br>Researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who are working on the Moderna vaccine, published the results of their Phase 1 trials with mice on Wednesday. The paper reported that the use of McLellan's stabilized spike protein elicited a positive immune response and prevented coronavirus infections in the lungs and noses of mice.<br>Moderna began its crucial Phase 3 testing late last month and plans to include 30,000 subjects from 89 centers around the U.S. It could be several months before the results of the study are clear.<br>A spokesman for the university said researchers so far have not received any payment for the use of their research in vaccine candidates. However, UT and the scientists may eventually see monies from licensing and royalties. The details are still being worked out between the university, the National Institute of Health and the drug companies, the spokesman said.<br>Meanwhile, the federal government is investing in mass production capabilities, with the hopes that one of the vaccine candidates will be viable by the end of the year. Last month, President Donald Trump announced a $265 million deal to secure manufacturing resources at a plant in College Station for the Novavax vaccine candidate. If Novavax makes it through clinical trials, the majority of its doses will be produced in Texas.<br> <br><br><b>Author:Lara Korte</b><br><b>Source:https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-08-coronavirus-vaccine-horizon-key-discovery.html</b>

Raunak Kumari

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'It's about love and solidarity': Mutual aid unites NYC neighbors facing COVID

'It's about love and solidarity': Mutual aid unites NYC neighbors facing COVID

Nancy Perez, a 45-year-old resident of the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, contracted COVID-19 in March. She stayed quarantined in her room for a month to isolate from her two sons and grandson.<br> <br><br><br><br><br> A few days before she got the virus, she'd met a volunteer with Bed-Stuy Strong—one of the many mutual aid groups around the country that have rallied to provide help in the face of the pandemic. Bed-Stuy Strong assembled an army of volunteers to help vulnerable neighbors with food deliveries and basic supplies. While Perez was in isolation, volunteers regularly delivered cooked food for her sons, ages 17 and 20, and her 4-year-old grandson.<br>"If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have survived my quarantine and any other stuff that's been going on," said Perez, who receives disability benefits and scavenges the city for items she can sell to help cover the family's and others' expenses.<br>Perez, who since recovering has been helping deliver food with other volunteers, found herself getting to know neighbors she never would have met before and staying in constant communication with other volunteers.<br>"I say it so happily that my tears are coming out right now. Because it's so refreshing," she said. "There is no age, there is no color, there is no race within Bed-Stuy Strong."<br>People are hurting financially and medically from the coronavirus pandemic. Millions of Americans are unemployed and 1 in 4 are food insecure. The struggle is widespread, overwhelming public welfare programs in some cases. Many people are looking to their next-door neighbors for help.<br>New York City has seen an influx of mutual aid groups—a website called Mutual Aid Hub reports 59 operating in the city now. Though the concept is not new, such efforts have gained energy and attention during the pandemic. Mutual aid involves ordinary people volunteering their time and resources to help one another, rather than relying solely on the government or large institutions for relief.<br>Alyssa Dizon, a 26-year-old product manager at an urban technology company, volunteers with Bed-Stuy Strong, helping to manage the online system that coordinates grocery deliveries. She moved to the area from New Orleans less than a year ago and found herself meeting more neighbors in the past couple of months while helping with the mutual aid than in the nine months before that.<br><br><br><br><br><br><br>"So, I am a gentrifier and I'm new to New York," Dizon said. "I feel more connected to this neighborhood now than I have before, and I have heard that sentiment even from people who've lived here much longer."<br>Willie Tolliver, an associate professor of social work at Hunter College, part of the City University of New York, said mutual aid is deeply rooted in African American and immigrant communities. In his research, he's traced mutual aid among African Americans in New York City to as early as the late 1700s. He noted the mutual aid ideology embodied by the Black Panther Party, which coordinated free breakfast programs and errands for the elderly.<br>Tolliver said these organizations had to exist because the communities "could not depend upon their government to look out for them the way the government did for everyone else."<br>In rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, mutual aid efforts may bring neighbors from different backgrounds closer together. Tolliver said he's not confident that such bonds will be long-lasting, but people are at their best in moments of disaster.<br>"Hope lives in the possibility of a collective finding itself in moments like this," he said.<br>Bed-Stuy Strong uses donations from the community and beyond to purchase groceries and essential supplies for neighbors. Those in need can text or call the group with a delivery request, which gets assigned to a volunteer through Bed-Stuy Strong's online network. The volunteer then picks up the groceries and delivers them to the recipient's door. Anyone can become a volunteer—though the use of computer messaging excludes those without access to technology.<br>Long-standing community organizations also have established mutual aid delivery services. Imani Henry, 50, is the executive director of Equality for Flatbush, a community group known locally as E4F that is dedicated to addressing two pressing neighborhood issues: gentrification and police violence.<br>Henry, a diversity trainer in his day job, started E4F in 2013, as affordable housing in Brooklyn shrank while higher-income residents streamed in, displacing people who had lived there for years.<br>"We're grassroots," Henry said. "All of our organizing is led by the people directly impacted. We strategize together; that's how we already were."<br>At the start of the pandemic, E4F joined with the Brooklyn Anti-Gentrification Network to set up a system to help residents with groceries and other material needs, and to connect people with services such as child care and other food assistance programs. Volunteers use donated money to buy needed items, and deliver two large bags each month for people who sign up.<br>Henry said that, as a child of Caribbean immigrants, he grew up in a family that looked out for and supported other people in their community. During the current crisis, he has been amazed by the solidarity of neighbors and the energy of volunteers.<br>"We're not doing relief work," Henry said. "We do not treat people in that way. It's about love and solidarity. It's about, do you love this person?"<br>E4F has also been active in the "Black Lives Matter" protests spurred by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Henry said volunteers have effectively split into two groups: One helps lead protests, and the other abstains so members can safely continue delivering aid packages.<br>Patricia Hall, a resident of another Brooklyn neighborhood, Crown Heights, was watching television one night when she saw a news report about E4F's delivery program. Hall, who is in her 50s and out of work, called Henry and soon was organizing deliveries for herself and many of her fellow tenants.<br>Mutual aid work is going on even within her tenant community, Hall said.<br>"If they give lots of coffee, I don't drink coffee, but what do I do?" Hall said. "I would give it to my neighbor. So this building here is a community building. Everybody shares in this building. Everybody shares and helps one another."<br>Dizon, the Bed-Stuy Strong volunteer, said it's inevitable you will develop a bond with someone when you take their grocery list and step into their shoes to help them with basic needs. It's intimate.<br>"If you've never experienced food insecurity before, I think there's a lot of power in being this close to it and to empathize and hear the struggle of a stranger who is very close to you," Dizon said.<br>Perez wants this work to continue so people can make a change.<br>"We can make a wave at the end, if we have enough ripples," she said.<br> <br><br><b>Author:Elizabeth Lawrence</b><br><b>Source:https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-08-solidarity-mutual-aid-nyc-neighbors.html</b>

Rahul Kumar

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Scientists demonstrate how genetic variations cause eczema

Scientists demonstrate how genetic variations cause eczema

New research supported by the National Institutes of Health delineates how two relatively common variations in a gene called KIF3A are responsible for an impaired skin barrier that allows increased water loss from the skin, promoting the development of atopic dermatitis, commonly known as eczema. This finding could lead to genetic tests that empower parents and physicians to take steps to potentially protect vulnerable infants from developing atopic dermatitis and additional allergic diseases.<br> <br><br><br><br><br> Atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition that affects up to 20% of children in developed countries. This chronic disease is characterized by dry, thickened and intensely itchy skin, particularly in skin folds. People with eczema are more susceptible to bacterial, viral and fungal skin infections and frequently develop additional allergic diseases such as asthma.<br>KIF3A is a gene that codes for a protein involved in generating signals from the outside to the inside of a cell, part of a complex sensory apparatus. Previously, scientists had identified an association between two genetic variations in KIF3A and asthma in children who also had eczema. In the new study, the researchers found that these variations, or single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), changed parts of the KIF3A gene to a form that can regulate, through a process called methylation, the rate at which a gene is transcribed into the blueprint for protein production. The investigators confirmed that skin and nasal-lining cells from people with the KIF3A SNP variants had more methylation and contained fewer blueprints for the KIF3A protein than cells in which KIF3A lacked the SNPs. In addition, the researchers demonstrated that people with the SNP-created regulating sites had higher levels of water loss from the skin.<br>To determine whether lower levels of KIF3A caused atopic dermatitis, the scientists studied mice lacking the mouse version of KIF3A in skin cells. They found that these mice also had increased water loss from the skin due to a dysfunctional skin barrier and were more likely to develop features of atopic dermatitis. The investigators concluded that the presence of either or both of the two SNPs in human KIF3A leads to lower production of the KIF3A protein, promoting dysfunction of the barrier that normally keeps skin well hydrated, thereby increasing the likelihood that a person will develop atopic dermatitis.<br><br><br><br><br><br> This graphical abstract shows how two variations in the gene KIF3A can disrupt the skin barrier, allowing allergens to penetrate into deeper layers. Credit: Cincinnati Children's<br> <br><br><br>Now that investigators have established that these KIF3A SNPs increase the risk for atopic dermatitis, infants could potentially be screened for them. Therapies directed specifically at water loss from the skin, such as intensive topical moisturization regimens, could be evaluated for their ability to prevent atopic dermatitis in children with the SNPs. Preventing atopic dermatitis in early childhood could in turn prevent a cascade of additional allergic diseases later in life, such as asthma, food allergy and allergic rhinitis—a cascade known as the atopic march.<br>This research was co-funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, both part of NIH. The study was led by Gurjit K. Khurana Hershey, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pediatrics and director of the Division of Asthma Research at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, which is part of the NIAID-supported Asthma and Allergic Diseases Cooperative Research Centers.<br> <br><br><b>Author:NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases</b><br><b>Source:https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-08-scientists-genetic-variations-eczema.html</b>

Supriyo Pandit

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Masks on the street but not at work? Experts urge consistency

Masks on the street but not at work? Experts urge consistency

Faced with an upsurge in coronavirus cases and alarm over images of summer crowds packing onto streets and beaches, some European governments have mandated masks even in open-air public places.<br> <br><br><br><br><br> But with many virus clusters sprouting behind closed doors in offices and other workplaces where face covering rules are less clear, experts have questioned if policies are focusing on the wrong target. <br>In recent days several European countries have toughened their advice on masks, with France and Belgium widening their regulations to include certain outdoor settings.<br>Brussels residents are now required to wear masks in all public spaces, and all spaces to which the public has access.<br>In France, dozens of towns and cities—including Paris—have made face coverings mandatory in markets and busy streets.<br>The country's Ministry of Health has said it was a "gesture of common sense" to wear one in crowded public places, while the head of France's science council, Jean-Francois Delfraissy, has said they should be "essential" on packed streets and at seaside resorts. <br>However with little evidence that there is a high risk of transmission in outdoor settings, some experts have questioned whether the measures are misplaced. <br>"Outside, there is such a mixing of air that you do not have a sufficient viral concentration to be infectious," said Martin Blachier, of the consulting company Public Health Expertise. <br>He called the measure a "psychological gamble" that could push people to gather indoors, where he said the risk of contamination is far higher.<br>Blachier said the focus should instead be on companies, where the current advice is "obsolete" because it is based on social distancing, without taking into account new research suggesting the virus can linger in the air for several hours. <br>'Inviting trouble'<br>The World Health Organization said in early July that it was reviewing emerging evidence of airborne transmission, after an international group of scientists concluded the virus could travel far beyond two metres (6.5 feet)—the measurement recommended in physical distancing guidelines. <br>Its announcement was part of a transformation in official assessments of the utility of masks in slowing the spread of the virus. <br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Initially authorities, including the WHO, were unconvinced of the effectiveness of face coverings and wary of encouraging the public to use them when health workers were chronically short of protection. <br>Early in the pandemic, it was considered unlikely that COVID-19 could be transmitted by microdroplets expelled by people when they speak and breathe. <br>But scientific opinion has since shifted and, along with increased understanding of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread, this has strengthened the argument for universal mask wearing. <br>Many countries now require people to wear face coverings in certain enclosed public places, like shops, trains and buses.<br>But offices are often given less stringent guidelines. <br>KK Cheng, who runs the Institute of Applied Health Research at Britain's University of Birmingham, said there was "no rational explanation" for why masks were compulsory in shops but not in most workplaces. <br>He raised particular concerns over environments like call centres, where there are "large numbers of people all speaking quite loudly together". <br>"If you have a large number of people working in an office like that then you are just inviting trouble," he added.<br>A study published this month by the United States Centers for Disease Control described a contagion cluster of 97 people, mostly workers at a call centre in the South Korean capital Seoul. <br>Of the 216 employees in the 11th floor office, 94 people tested positive—an attack rate of 43.5 percent—and most of those infected worked on the same side of the building, researchers said. <br>Encourage remote working<br>According to France's Ministry of Health, 49 percent of the virus clusters recorded are "in the workplace", including in hospitals. <br>Health expert Eric Caumes, head of the infectious diseases department at the Pitie Salpetriere hospital in Paris, said around 20 percent of these groups of infections were in companies. <br>He called for firms where possible to continue to allow staff to work at home after the school holidays. <br>"We will have to continue to work from home, to organise ourselves differently to avoid multiplying clusters in private companies," he told Franceinfo radio on Thursday.<br>France has mandated face coverings in enclosed public spaces since late July, but left guidance on offices more at the discretion of employers.<br>This was criticised in an open letter by a group of medical experts published in the newspaper Liberation on Friday, who compared the virus accumulating in the air of enclosed rooms to "cigarette smoke".<br>"And the more the virus accumulates in the air—either because of a long exposure time or because of a large number of excretors—the more we risk contamination," they said.<br>They called for the government to make masks compulsory in all confined spaces, offices and classrooms and to "unambiguously encourage" remote working. <br>KK Cheng acknowledged that the face coverings could be uncomfortable and very hard for some people to wear.<br>But he said it was a necessary measure to help slow the virus, which has infected more than 20 million people and killed more than 750,000 globally since emerging late last year. <br>"It's so serious that I think that the discomfort of wearing a mask is something worth bearing," he said. <br>"A lot less comfortable is lockdowns, people dying."<br> <br><b>Source:https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-08-masks-street-experts-urge.html</b>

Shivangi Bhatia

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Norway recommends face masks on some public transport

Norway recommends face masks on some public transport

Norway on Friday recommended that passengers on public transport in and around Oslo use masks during rush hour to curb the spread of COVID-19, after being one of the last holdouts on recommending face coverings.<br> <br><br><br><br><br> The recommendation, issued by the country's health agency, was limited to situations when travellers could not "maintain one metre's distance," and is not mandatory. <br>It was also limited to the Oslo area and the region of Indre Ostfold, south of the capital, and children were not recommended to use masks.<br>"The recommendation will be in place for 14 days, starting Monday," health minister Bent Hoie told a press conference on Friday.<br>Face masks would also be recommended for people travelling from the airport after returning from trips to countries that require self-isolation in Norway.<br>Mask use was also encouraged for those caring for a person with a suspected or confirmed infection or those working in settings where close face-to-face interactions could not be avoided.<br>The spread of the disease nearly came to a halt in Norway during the summer but in recent weeks there has been an uptick.<br>However, authorities pointed out Friday that there has also been an increase in testing and that the increase can be traced to identified local clusters.<br>"The development does not so far imply a national flare-up," Line Vold, director of communicable diseases and preparedness at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI), told reporters.<br>Norway, together with other Nordic countries, has been one of the last holdouts as most countries around the world have started either recommending or requiring face masks in public settings.<br>Despite the policy turnaround, officials stressed that face masks were less effective than distancing measures.<br>According to FHI, research suggested that mask use in the population only reduced the risk of infection by about 40 percent, compared to an 80 percent reduction when people kept one at least metre apart.<br>"Face masks should therefore not replace distancing measures," Vold said.<br>In recent weeks, both Denmark and Finland have also reversed course on the use of face masks in public. <br>Neighbouring Sweden, standing out for its softer approach to curbing the spread of COVID-19, is still not recommending masks, arguing their effectiveness is still unproven.<br>Sweden's state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell has however said the measure could be introduced in future.<br> <br><b>Source:https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-08-norway-masks.html</b>

Jyotinmay Ruj

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US, Canada, Mexico COVID-19 travel ban extended

US, Canada, Mexico COVID-19 travel ban extended

The US Department of Homeland Security said Friday that a COVID-19 ban on non-essential travel through border crossings with Canada and Mexico was being extended until September 21.<br> <br><br><br><br><br>The reciprocal travel ban aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus was first imposed in March and has been extended several times since then.<br>"We continue to work with our Canadian and Mexican partners to slow the spread of #COVID19," acting US Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said on Twitter.<br>"Accordingly, we have agreed to extend the limitation of non-essential travel at our shared land ports of entry through September 21," Wolf said.<br>The United States has experienced a recent surge in COVID-19 cases and with more than 5.2 million infections has more than any other country in the world.<br> <br><b>Source:https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-08-canada-mexico-covid-.html</b>

Shreya Acharya

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Changes in climate and land cover affecting European migratory bird populations

Changes in climate and land cover affecting European migratory bird populations

A new study led by the Department of Biosciences at Durham University, UK, is the first large-scale assessment of how recent changes in both climate and land cover have impacted populations of migrating birds.<br><br> <br> <br><br><br><br><br><br>Global declines in the numbers of individuals of many migratory species are thought to be caused by a combination of climate change and habitat loss on both their breeding and non-breeding grounds, as well as changes to areas they use to refuel whilst on migration. Understanding of which factors are key in causing recent declines, and in which areas changes are having most impact, remains poor.<br>Using data on the long-term population trends of 61 short- and 39 long-distance European breeding migratory birds, the researchers related changes in climate and land cover across their breeding and non-breeding grounds over a 36-year period to their population trends.<br>The study showed that populations of migratory birds were most affected by changes in climate on the European grounds where they stopped to breed but, in the areas that they migrate to after the breeding season, changes in land cover had the greater impact.<br>The combined effects of changes in climate and land cover account for approximately 40 percent of the variation in the population trends of migratory birds, which means that other factors, such as changes in habitat quality, probably also have a substantial impact on population changes.<br><br><br><br><br><br> Grasshopper warblers spend the summer breeding in Europe, but then migrate to sub-Saharan Africa for the winter. As their populations have declined hugely in recent decades they have been designated as a Red List Species in the UK. Credit: Stephen Willis<br> <br><br><br>Professor Stephen Willis, who led the study, said: "For years, people have suspected that climate and land cover changes are major drivers of population trends of migratory birds.<br>Here we show, for the first time that for long distance migrants moving between Europe and Africa, it is a combination of European climate change and African land cover change that are key to the population declines of many such species over recent decades.<br>"In the UK, we have seen major declines in many migratory bird species that come here to breed from their African wintering grounds. For example, the Turtle Dove has declined by 95% between 1992-2017, and the Nightingale has declined by 56% between 1995—2018."<br>Lead author, Dr. Christine Howard added: "The relatively minor role of recent climate changes on African non-breeding grounds for long distance migrants was surprising but probably reflects the less extreme climatic changes there compared to Europe.<br>"The fact that a lot of variation in population trends remain unexplained in our study suggests that other factors, such as agricultural intensification, are probably also impacting populations, along with changes at migratory stopping points, including hunting."<br>The researchers say that to stop the declines of European migrant birds, an integrated approach must consider all processes affecting them across the different grounds they inhabit throughout the year.<br> <br> <br><br><b>Author:Durham University</b><br><b>Source:https://phys.org/news/2020-08-climate-affecting-european-migratory-bird.html</b>

Ankit Tiwari

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Hard-hit countries step up virus measures as cases mount

Hard-hit countries step up virus measures as cases mount

Countries among the hardest hit by the coronavirus unveiled further control measures Friday to battle rising cases, hitting summer tourism and aspects of everyday life around the globe.<br> <br><br><br><br><br> The US Department of Homeland Security said it was extending a ban on non-essential travel through border crossings with Canada and Mexico throughout most of September "to slow the spread" of the disease.<br>Meanwhile Britain added France to its list of countries hit with a mandatory two-week quarantine for returning holidaymakers from Saturday, as Paris confronts a resurgent second wave of infections.<br>Confirmed cases in France reached levels not seen since May on Wednesday and Thursday, at over 2,500 new cases per day.<br>Neighbouring Spain said it would close all nightclubs and ban smoking in the street where people are unable to stay at a safe distance, after the country reported almost 3,000 cases in 24 hours on Thursday.<br>"Personally I think it's stupid, it's over the top," Madrid-based translator Julien Garcia told AFP about the smoking ban.<br>In Germany, the Robert Koch Institute for disease control added all of Spain except the Canary Islands to its list of regions where incoming travellers must show a negative test for COVID-19 or quarantine for 14 days.<br><br><br><br><br><br> Eurostar trains to London's St Pancras station from Paris were packed on Friday<br> <br><br><br>Austria urged its citizens to return from popular Mediterranean destination Croatia before similar rules come into effect on Monday, while Serbia introduced mandatory testing for travellers from four neighbouring countries.<br>And thousands of Albanians queued in their cars at the Greek border, hoping to squeeze across and return to work before tougher entry requirements designed to brake mounting infections come into effect.<br>Some people had been waiting for three days in the 20-kilometre (12 miles), 4,000-car jam, an Albanian police source said.<br>Around the world, the number of confirmed cases rose to almost 21 million according to an AFP tally from official sources, with nearly 755,000 people dead.<br>The United States has suffered the most deaths at 167,253, followed by Brazil with 105,463, Mexico 55,293, and India with 48,040.<br>Cross-Channel scramble<br>France and the Netherlands have now joined Spain and several other European nations on Britain's quarantine list, having at first been granted exemptions.<br><br><br><br><br><br> Countries with the highest coronavirus death tolls, and their respective death rates<br> <br><br><br>French student Antoine, 23, had to rush back to Bristol, where he is at university, cutting short his summer holidays. <br><br><br><br><br><br><br>"I'm a waiter in a small café near college, I can't afford to spend 14 days in the house," he said at London's St Pancras railway station after getting off a Eurostar train.<br>French holidaymakers in the UK will be faced with tough choices of their own, as Paris swiftly announced a "reciprocal measure", although it was unclear when that might be imposed.<br>The Netherlands also said it would advise against all but essential travel to Britain, but will not impose a quarantine of its own for incoming travellers.<br>With more than 41,000 deaths caused by COVID-19, Britain is the worst-hit country in Europe and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been criticised over his handling of the crisis.<br>Economic blows<br>A slew of data Friday revealed the scale of the economic impact of the virus and punishing lockdowns, with Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, the Netherlands, Finland and Denmark all booking hefty hits to GDP in April-June.<br><br><br><br><br><br> The Canary Islands are the only part of Spain not hit with a quarantine order by German authorities<br> <br><br><br>"Never before" has the Dutch economy suffered shrinkage of 8.5 percent in a single quarter, the CBS statistics office said, while Denmark and Hungary both reported their worst slumps since the early 1990s.<br>Central European heavyweight Poland entered its first recession since the end of the communist era.<br>The continent's stock markets groaned under strain on the travel and tourism sectors from the new quarantines and the US failure to agree a new round of economic support for citizens.<br>One bright spot was German vaccine maker CureVac, set to dip its toe into the US markets with an initial public offering raising more than $200 million.<br>The company is seen as one of the leading contenders in the race to develop to a COVID-19 vaccine and received permission in June to start human trials.<br>All eyes on vaccines<br>Vietnam said it was looking to buy a bulk order of Russia's "Sputnik" vaccine, although Western scientists have raised concerns about the speed of its development and suggested that researchers might be cutting corners.<br><br><br><br><br><br> CureVac's potential vaccine is undergoing testing in Germany<br> <br><br><br>And Washington said it would distribute any vaccine proven to be effective to all Americans for free.<br>Mexico said it and Argentina aim to have a vaccine available for Latin America—now the region with the worst virus toll and most cases—early next year under a production agreement with drug giant AstraZeneca.<br>Both Mexico and Peru have now surpassed half a million confirmed infections.<br>New Zealand is battling its own second wave of infections and extended a lockdown of its largest city Auckland by at least 12 days, giving health authorities more time to trace and contain a variant of the virus previously unseen in the country.<br>The Pacific island nation's initial response to the pandemic was hailed a success, but a run of 102 days with no reported community transmission ended on Tuesday.<br>The country has now detected a cluster of 30 virus cases, and genomic tests indicated the latest infections were not the same strain of coronavirus recorded earlier this year.<br> <br><br><b>Author:Afp Bureaus</b><br><b>Source:https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-08-hard-hit-countries-virus-cases-mount.html</b>

Tanisha Kumari

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Space bricks for lunar habitation

Space bricks for lunar habitation

In what could be a significant step forward in space exploration, a team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has developed a sustainable process for making brick-like structures on the moon. It exploits lunar soil, and uses bacteria and guar beans to consolidate the soil into possible load-bearing structures. These 'space bricks' could eventually be used to assemble structures for habitation on the moon's surface, the researchers suggest.<br><br> <br> <br><br><br><br><br><br>"It is really exciting because it brings two different fields—biology and mechanical engineering—together," says Aloke Kumar, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, IISc, one of the authors of two studies recently published in Ceramics International and PLOS One. <br>Space exploration has grown exponentially in the last century. With Earth's resources dwindling rapidly, scientists have only intensified their efforts to inhabit the moon and possibly other planets. <br>The cost of sending one pound of material to outer space is about $10,000. The process developed by the IISc and ISRO team uses urea—which can be sourced from human urine—and lunar soil as raw materials for construction on the moon's surface. This decreases the overall expenditure considerably. The process also has a lower carbon footprint because it uses guar gum instead of cement for support. This could also be exploited to make sustainable bricks on Earth. <br>Some micro-organisms can produce minerals through metabolic pathways. One such bacterium, called Sporosarcina pasteurii, produces calcium carbonate crystals through a metabolic pathway called the ureolytic cycle: it uses urea and calcium to form these crystals as byproducts of the pathway. "Living organisms have been involved in such mineral precipitation since the dawn of the Cambrian period, and modern science has now found a use for them," says Kumar <br>To exploit this ability, Kumar and colleagues at IISc teamed up with ISRO scientists Arjun Dey and I Venugopal. They first mixed the bacteria with a simulant of lunar soil. Then, they added the required urea and calcium sources along with gum extracted from locally-sourced guar beans. The guar gum was added to increase the strength of the material by serving as a scaffold for carbonate precipitation. The final product obtained after a few days of incubation was found to possess significant strength and machinability. <br>"Our material could be fabricated into any freeform shape using a simple lathe. This is advantageous because this completely circumvents the need for specialized molds—a common problem when trying to make a variety of shapes by casting. This capability could also be exploited to make intricate interlocking structures for construction on the moon, without the need for additional fastening mechanisms," explains Koushik Viswanathan, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, IISc, another author. <br>The PLOS One study, conceived by Rashmi Dikshit, a DBT-BioCARe Fellow at IISc, also investigated the use of other locally available soil bacteria in the place of S. pasteurii. After testing different soil samples in Bangalore, the researchers found an ideal candidate with similar properties: Bacillus velezensis. Just a vial of S. pasteurii can cost Rs. 50,000; B. velezensis, on the other hand, is about ten times less expensive, the researchers say. <br>The authors believe that this is the first significant step towards constructing buildings in space. "We have quite a distance to go before we look at extra-terrestrial habitats. Our next step is to make larger bricks with a more automated and parallel production process," says Kumar. "Simultaneously, we would also like to further enhance the strength of these bricks and test them under varied loading conditions like impacts and possibly moonquakes."<br> <br> <br><br><b>Author:Indian Institute of Science</b><br><b>Source:https://phys.org/news/2020-08-space-bricks-lunar-habitation.html</b>

Ayush Kashyap

isMN7nMBrfMs8BydpCLz

Simulations show lander exhaust could cloud studies of lunar ices

Simulations show lander exhaust could cloud studies of lunar ices

A new study led by scientists at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, shows that exhaust from a mid-sized lunar lander can quickly spread around the Moon and potentially contaminate scientifically vital ices at the lunar poles.<br><br> <br> <br><br><br><br><br><br>Computer simulations of water vapor emitted by a 2,650-pound (1,200-kilogram) lander—about a quarter of the dry mass of the Apollo Lunar Module—touching down near the Moon's south pole showed exhaust takes only a few hours to disperse around the entire Moon. From 30% to 40% of the vapor persisted in the lunar atmosphere and surface two months later, and roughly 20% would ultimately freeze out near the poles a few months after that.<br>Those results, published online Aug. 11 in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, show that researchers' interest in studying the native ices in the Moon's poleward craters—ices that may date back several billion years—will need to be carefully considered during increased efforts to return humans to the Moon.<br>Dealing with spacecraft exhaust on the Moon isn't a new problem. Researchers appreciated this issue during NASA's Apollo missions in the '60s and '70s, when they developed early models to predict the spread of exhaust throughout the lunar atmosphere and contamination of the surface.<br>"Exhaust during the Apollo mission didn't complicate measurements in the same ways that it might now," said Parvathy Prem, a researcher at APL and the lead author on the study.<br><br><br><br><br><br> Simulation showing how water vapor from a lander’s exhaust spreads throughout the Moon’s atmosphere (shades of blue and red, with warmer tones being denser) and across its surface (shades of purple, with lighter tones being denser) in 24 hours. The exhaust from a landing site near the Moon’s south pole takes only a few hours to spread to the other pole. Credit: Johns Hopkins APL<br> <br><br><br>During the Apollo era, most of the interest was in collecting lunar samples. While that's still true today, the more recent discovery of ices preserved in permanently shadowed craters near the lunar poles has shifted scientific interest to understanding the origin and dispersion of water and other volatile molecules on the Moon's surface and in its thin atmosphere.<br>"These are some of the only places where we can find traces of the origin of water in the inner solar system," Prem said. Reading that record requires measuring the composition of those ices as well as their various isotopes to deduce where they likely came from and how they may have gotten there. Frozen-out exhaust gases from robotic or human exploration that collect on those ices could confound those measurements, even if the lander touches down hundreds of miles away.<br><br><br><br><br><br><br>"The interesting thing about Parvathy's work is that it shows very well that the effect, while small and temporary, is global," said Dana Hurley, a planetary scientist at APL and coauthor on the study.<br>Space organizations can expect volatile gases to significantly coat the lunar surface at well over 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the landing site.<br>The residue exhaust does eventually fade away, but Hurley points out that current plans for human lunar exploration mean it will happen more frequently and with much heavier landers.<br><br><br><br><br><br> Image showing the distribution of surface ices (depicted as blue dots) at the Moon’s south pole (left) and north pole (right), detected by NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument. The grayscale in this image depicts temperature, with darker being colder, showing the ices are concentrated in the darkest and coldest locations, the crater shadows. Credit: NASA<br> <br><br><br>"The results of this study drive the critical need to conduct the research we want to do about the lunar atmosphere and volatile deposits while they are relatively pristine," Hurley said.<br>Prem cautions that the model isn't foolproof. Among its most salient limitations are that it assumes the degree to which water interacts and "sticks" to the lunar surface, which is still uncertain but of great interest for understanding how easily water is transported around the Moon. The model also tracks only water vapor, which comprises about a third of the composition of most landers' exhaust. Other exhaust molecules, such as hydrogen, ammonia and carbon monoxide, may behave differently and perhaps persist even longer.<br>Follow-up work should include measuring the amount of exhaust that's around the Moon during and after future landings, Prem said, which would help narrow in on an answer to how much these exhaust gases "stick" to the surface. "But I would also suggest that modeling and monitoring the fate of exhaust gases should be a routine part of lunar mission development and planning."<br>Conversations about mitigating exhaust gases have only just started, Prem explained.<br>In January, NASA finalized 16 science and technology demonstration payloads that it had selected to be delivered to the Moon through the Artemis program, including the Surface Exosphere Alterations by Landers (SEAL), an instrument that will investigate the chemical response of the lunar surface during a landing as well as any contaminants that may have been injected.<br>"Whether we intend to or not, we're going to do this experiment of bringing exhaust gases with us," Prem said. It's now a matter of deciding how we deal with them.<br> <br> <br><br><b>Author:Johns Hopkins University</b><br><b>Source:https://phys.org/news/2020-08-simulations-lander-exhaust-cloud-lunar.html</b>

Md Imran

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How people and ecosystems fit together on the Great Barrier Reef

How people and ecosystems fit together on the Great Barrier Reef

A world-first study examining the scales of management of the Great Barrier Reef has the potential to help sustain other ecosystems across the world.<br><br> <br> <br><br><br><br><br><br>Massive marine ecosystems like the Great Barrier Reef aren't just a vibrant home to fish, corals and other creatures, they are also an important source of people's food, livelihoods and recreation.<br>The new study suggests the way people are managed when undertaking various activities within the marine park—like fishing, boating, and scientific research—could serve as an exemplary model for sustainably managing other ecosystems that humans use.<br>"There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the Great Barrier Reef is managed at appropriate scales within its boundaries," said lead author Professor Graeme Cumming, incoming Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.<br>The reef served as a case study for mapping and measuring different scale matches between people and ecosystems. Prof Cumming explains the concept of scale matches using a backyard garden as an example of an ecosystem.<br>"For a house with a garden, you already have permission to manage that garden—to mow the lawn and trim the trees inside your fences. To look after all the parts of it. That's a scale match," Prof Cumming said.<br>He says being able to manage only a flower bed within the garden is a small-scale match. "If you only have permission to manage the flower bed in your garden, you can manage the flowers, but your lawn and trees become unkempt. The weeds and pests affecting the flowers may come from an adjacent part of the garden, which you'd then have no control over," he said.<br>The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) manages the entire marine park. Some permits, such as permission to access areas by boat as part of a commercial operation, may cover most of the park.<br>GBRMPA also manages smaller scale permits within the marine park boundaries—small-scale matches that work best for activities like commercial tourism, lobster fisheries or the installation of certain structures like jetties or moorings.<br>The study found the permits issued for human activities generally occurred at larger scales than the particular individual marine features of interest, such as reefs or islands.<br>"The finding that people are managed at a broader scale than ecological variation suggests a general principle for permitting and management," Prof Cumming said. "In essence, people like to have choices about where they go and how they respond to change. This means that they prefer to operate at a broader spatial scale than the ecological features they are interested in, rather than the same scale."<br>The findings suggest this approach to managing people at broader rather than finer scales may be more effective. For small protected areas, increasing the size of the permissible area may even be critical.<br>However, GBRMPA can't manage the ecosystem's biggest impact, which lies outside park boundaries: climate change.<br>"Broad scale problems, like climate change, can only be managed with broad scale solutions, like global action," Prof Cumming said. "This is a scale mismatch because these impacts come from well outside the marine park boundaries."<br>GBRMPA also don't have control over what happens on the land directly adjacent to the reef. Not being able to stop pollutants and pesticides in storm water reaching the reef is another scale mismatch.<br>Prof Cumming says comparing the results of this study to similar data from other marine parks, including those that are recognized as dysfunctional, will help determine if the management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is unusual or typical.<br>"This study does not offer a direct solution for management," Prof Cumming said. "But it provides a new approach that extends our toolbox for diagnosing social-ecological scale mismatches and responding to them."<br> <br> <br><br><b>Author:ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies</b><br><b>Source:https://phys.org/news/2020-08-people-ecosystems-great-barrier-reef.html</b>

Deepak Acharya

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Monolayer transition metal dichalcogenide lens for high resolution imaging

Monolayer transition metal dichalcogenide lens for high resolution imaging

An ultrathin optical lens made from a monolayer of two-dimensional transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs) could pave the way for next-generation imaging devices. An international team of researchers, led by Prof. Baohua Jia from Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, used femtosecond laser writing to pattern nanoparticles on TMDC crystals. The lens has a sub-wavelength resolution and a three-dimensional focusing efficiency of 31%, laying the foundations for optical devices for use in nano-optics and on-chip photonic applications.<br><br> <br> <br><br><br><br><br><br>Lenses are one of the most commonly used optical components in daily life, including eyeglasses, microscopic objectives, magnifying glass, and camera lenses. Conventional lenses are based on the principle of light refraction, using different materials, spherical surfaces and spatial positions to achieve the control of light. The fabrication of conventional lenses including the processes of material selection, cutting, rough grinding, fine grinding, polishing, and testing. In order to minimize the aberrations including the chromatic aberration, spherical aberration and astigmatisms, it is necessary to stack multiple layers of lenses to form compound lenses, leading to the complexity and cumbersomeness of current camera equipment.<br>Therefore, tremendous effort has been devoted to the development of ultrathin flat lenses. Unlike conventional lenses, flat lenses use nanostructures to modulate light. By controlling the optical properties and the spatial position of each nano-element, advanced functions, such as achromatic and aberration-free focusing, high spatial resolution and special focal intensity distributions can be achieved. However, when the material thickness is reduced to the subwavelength scale, the insufficient phase or amplitude modulation based on the intrinsic refractive index and absorption of the materials results in poor lens performance.<br>In a new paper published in Light Science & Applications, a team of scientists, led by Prof. Baohua Jia at Centre for Translational Atomaterials, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia, Prof. Qiaoliang Bao formerly at Monash University, Prof. Chengwei Qiu at National University of Singapore and co-workers have developed an innovative method to fabricate high performance lenses in monolayer two dimensional transitional metal dichalcogenide (TMDC) material by using a femtosecond laser to pattern nanoparticles. The lens has a sub-wavelength resolution and a focusing efficiency of 31%, laying the foundation for ultimately thin optical devices for use in nano-optics and on-chip photonic applications.<br><br><br><br><br><br><br>Although lenses made from multilayer TMDCs have been demonstrated before, when their thickness is reduced to the sub-nanometer scale, their insufficient phase or amplitude modulation results in focusing efficiencies of less than 1%. The international team discovered that it is possible to generate nanoparticles by using a femtosecond laser beam to interact with the monolayer TMDC material, which is significantly different from the process produced by a continuous wave laser. When the laser pulse is so short that the entire material remains cold after the laser process, the nanoparticles can firmly attach to the substrate. The nanoparticles show very strong scattering to modulate the amplitude of light. Therefore, the lens made from the nanoparticles can provide subwavelength resolution and high efficiency, which allows the team to demonstrate diffraction-limited imaging by using the lenses.<br><br><br><br><br><br> a, Schematic illustrating diffraction-limited imaging using a monolayer TMDC lens. b, Optical microscopy image of a large-scale monolayer TMDC lens (300 μm in diameter, f1 = 300 μm). c, Optical microscopy image of the object letter "F". d, 2nd-order image of the object "F". e, 1st-order image of "F". f, Optical microscopy image of the USAF standard board. g, h, 2nd- and 1st-order images of the USAF standard board. The scale bar in d, e, g, and h, is 10 μm. Credit: Han Lin, Zai-Quan Xu, Guiyuan Cao, Yupeng Zhang, Jiadong Zhou, Ziyu Wang, Zhichen Wan, Zheng Liu, Kian Ping Loh, Cheng-Wei Qiu, Qiaoliang Bao, Baohua Jia<br> <br><br><br>A monolayer is the thinnest form of a material, which is the ultimate physical thickness limit. By using the monolayer for the lens fabrication, the process demonstrated in this study consumed the least material meeting the theoretical limitation. More importantly, the femtosecond laser fabrication technique is a one-step simple process, without the requirements of high vacuum or special environment, thus it provides the simplest way to fabricate an ultrathin flat lens. As a result, the lens can be easily integrated into any photonic or microfluidic devices for broad applications.<br>"We have used the thinnest material in the world to fabricate a flat lens, and prove that the good performance of the ultrathin lens can lead to high resolution imaging. It shows enormous potential in different applications, such as eyeglasses, microscopy lenses, telescopes and camera lenses. It is foreseeable that by using this technique, the weight and size of camera lenses can be significantly reduced in the near future," said Dr. Han Lin, the first author from the Centre for Translational Atomaterials, Swinburne University of Technology.<br>"We are excited to see this unique outcome from femtosecond laser processing 2-D materials. It opens up new possibilities for fabricating photonic devices using a scalable method," added by Prof. Baohua Jia, Director of Centre for Translational Atomaterials.<br>"We can integrate the monolayer 2-D material lens onto desired devices by simply attaching the material then using a femtosecond laser to perform fabrication. The entire process is simple, and the method is flexible and low cost. Thus, we also see the great application potential of the method," commented by Prof. Qiaoliang Bao formerly at Monash University.<br>"We design our lens in such a way that the image can be found at different focal planes, with different magnifications. This mechanism can be readily used to develop an optical zoom lens for use in cellphone cameras. Currently, lenses with different focal lengths are used to achieve different zoom functions. However, our lenses can achieve different zoom rates simply with one design," concluded Prof. Chengwei Qiu from National University of Singapore forecasts.<br> <br> <br><br><b>Author:Chinese Academy of Sciences</b><br><b>Source:https://phys.org/news/2020-08-monolayer-transition-metal-dichalcogenide-lens.html</b>

Shreya Kumari

J8Pu7XMBrfMs8BydySIx

Eliminate DevOps waste with Japanese management practices

Eliminate DevOps waste with Japanese management practices

Liran Haimovitch<br>Contributor<br><br><br><br><br>Share on Twitter<br> <br><br><br><br><br><p><p>Co-founder and CTO of Rookout, Liran is an award-winning cybersecurity practitioner and writer who advocates for modern software methodologies.<p><br><br>Across the board, industries need to embrace modern workflows to keep up with the speed of startups. And out of all the various methodologies, I find the “lean methodology” to be the most intriguing of them all. It’s a unique combination of pragmatism and a higher purpose.<br>Lean methodology descends directly from the Toyota Production Systems (TPS), which is based on a philosophy of eliminating waste to achieve efficiency in processes. It relies heavily on the mindset of “just-in-time,” making only “what is needed when needed, and in the amount needed.” In software development, this means only developing the features your clients need, and only when they need them.<br>To emphasize the point and stir some creative juices, let’s look at the Japanese concepts of muda, mura and muri, and how this applies to being lean when we are building and shipping software.<br>Muda, mura and muri<br>Muda is the “waste” we are working to remove that is directly hurting efficiency. Waste is any activity that doesn’t create value, in the form of the products and services we offer. As every engineer knows, spending half the day in meetings is a painful waste of time.<br>Mura is “unevenness,” referring to any variance in the process itself or the output generated. In software development, “mura” causes unpredictability that makes it impossible to embrace a “just-in-time” mindset. If the quality of a new upcoming feature is uncertain, then additional time and resources will have to be reserved for quality assurance and bug-fixing efforts. It’s better to know upfront what you are going to get, how long it will take and what the cost will be.<br>Muri is “overburden,” which happens when we demand the unreasonable from our team, tools and processes. If we want to deliver a specific feature just-in-time, then we must allocate the appropriate time and resources. Giving our engineering teams too many simultaneous tasks, or failing to give them the tools necessary to succeed, will only lead to disappointment in time, quantity, quality or cost.<br>Forms of waste<br>Diving deeper into muda — what I consider the cardinal sin of lean methodology — here are the forms of waste we should always be on the lookout for:<br><br>Overproduction – Producing more than is needed, or before it is required. Besides unneeded features, we often over-allocate computing resources, especially in non-cloud environments.<br><br><b>Author:Walter Thompson</b><br><b>Source:https://techcrunch.com/2020/08/14/eliminate-devops-waste-with-japanese-management-practices/</b>

Sourav Singh

ETTo7XMB8MTbICo7CNWT

LG Q92 5G Specifications, Design Leaked, tipped to come with Snapdragon 765G and Quad-cameras

LG Q92 5G Specifications, Design Leaked, tipped to come with Snapdragon 765G and Quad-cameras

LG is working on its upcoming LG Q92 smartphone. The details of the LG Q92 including the design and hardware have now leaked online.A tipster named Abhishek Yadav has leaked the details of the upcoming LG Q92 on his Twitter handle. As per the leaked specifications sheet, the phone will come in three colours, Ceramic White, Mirror Titanium, and Mirror Red. On the display side of things, the phone sports a 6.7-inch FHD+ punch-hole display, and as the phone sports a side-mounted Fingerprint sensor, the phone could have an LCD panel.Snapdragon 765G 5G SoC will power the smartphone with 6GB of Random Access Memory and 128GB of Read-only memory. <br> The device will sport a Quad-camera array with the primary camera being a 48-megapixel shooter, 8-megapixel Ultra-wide camera, 5-megapixel Depth, and a 2-megapixel Macro camera. At the front, there's a 32MP selfie shooter embedded in the punch-hole.The phone comes with a 4000mAh battery, weighs 193g, and is 8.49mm thick. The presence of stereo speakers and "AI sound" has been mentioned in the specs sheet. The dimensions of the phone are reported to be 166.54 x 77.3 x 8.49.The Smartphone was earlier spotted on Geekbench, flexing Snapdragon 765G processor and a hole-punch display. It was also spotted on Google Play Console and Bluetooth certification sites with 6GB of RAM. The LG Q92 has also passed the US Military standard test and comes with LG Pay.https://www.youtube.com/embed/TIpDalArsX4<br><br><b>Author:The Mobile Indian</b><br><b>Source:https://m.dailyhunt.in/news/india/english/the+mobile+indian-epaper-mblinden/lg+q92+5g+specifications+design+leaked+tipped+to+come+with+snapdragon+765g+and+quad+cameras-newsid-n206405102</b>

ANKITA KUMARI

HsPo7XMBrfMs8BydByL0

Google's Upcoming WearOS Update to Come With Performance and UI Improvements

Google's Upcoming WearOS Update to Come With Performance and UI Improvements

Even though Google is tackling anti-trust lawsuits filed by Fitbit, it hasn't entirely forgotten about WearOS. Google has announced a new update that will be hitting the shores of select smartwatches in the fall. The update will bring in much-needed improvements making the OS snappy, improving the overall look and feel of it.In a statement, Google said "In the next OTA update coming in the fall, we're bringing in a lot of performance improvements making the overall experience very smooth. <br> The app launch and device pairing times will also be significantly reduced. We've also improved the SystemUI for more intuitive and responsive controls for managing different watch modes and workouts."The company also added, "With improvements in the CPU core usage, users will see up to a 20% speed improvement in application start times."In addition to this, Google has also reworked on its Weather app and it now comes with an amazing UI. It also brings alerts and hourly breakdowns. WearOS is currently based on Android 9 and the latest version is WearOS 2.18. Google is also working on the core WearOS Android 11 update which will bring newer APIs to the platform.https://www.youtube.com/embed/TIpDalArsX4<br><br><b>Author:The Mobile Indian</b><br><b>Source:https://m.dailyhunt.in/news/india/english/the+mobile+indian-epaper-mblinden/google+s+upcoming+wearos+update+to+come+with+performance+and+ui+improvements-newsid-n206528164</b>

PAWAN KUMAR VERMA

GDTo7XMB8MTbICo7ZdVB

Survey finds more than half of all Americans back potential ban on TikTok

Survey finds more than half of all Americans back potential ban on TikTok

Most adult TikTok users in the U.S. don't seem to want President Trump to ban the app, according to new Harris Poll data shared with U.S. TODAY.<br> <br><br><br><br><br><br>The survey revealed 64% of active TikTok users oppose Trump's executive order to shut down the ByteDance-owned app within 45 days.<br>However, 57% of all Americans agree with the President's move to kick the music video app out of the U.S.<br>The poll was taken by adults over 18, so it doesn't capture sentiments held by teenagers that make up TikTok's primary user base.<br>The opinion data was conducted on August 8 and 9, just days after Trump threatened to block TikTok and WeChat from operating if they are not sold by their parent companies, which both have roots in China. TikTok responded to the executive order news by threatening legal action. WeChat's parent company said it's reviewing the executive order.<br>Microsoft has expressed interest in buying TikTok, which would allow it to continue to operate in the U.S. after September 15. A report suggests that Twitter might also be open to a merger with TikTok.<br>Even if a deal with an American company does take place, most people in the country (62%) think TikTok would still pose a security threat because of its ties to China, the Harris Poll found.<br>The Trump versus China tech war stems from fears that the country may use apps to spy on Americans. Trump claims the apps "capture vast swaths of information from its users" which could allow "the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans' personal and proprietary information."<br>Most Americans (67%) are concerned that China is inappropriately using personal data collected from TikTok, the poll found. And 59% of TikTok users share similar sentiments.<br> <br><br><b>Author:Dalvin Brown</b><br><b>Source:https://techxplore.com/news/2020-08-survey-americans-potential-tiktok.html</b>

Sourav kumar Haldar

FjTo7XMB8MTbICo7ZNWE

Navigation preferences across people with a diverse range of disabilities

Navigation preferences across people with a diverse range of disabilities

Researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and the University of California, Irvine (UCI) have collaborated to create a universal design schema for navigation technologies to better support people with disabilities in getting from place to place. Although studies about assistive technologies and navigation have become more popular in recent years, the researchers argue that current research has been too narrow in its view of people with disabilities. For this study, researchers worked with technology users with a broad and diverse range of disabilities to find similarities and differences in their navigation preferences. They then used those findings to create a schema that can inform the design of future technologies.<br> <br><br><br><br><br><br>The project was led by Maya Gupta, an alumna of UMBC's information systems program and current UCI graduate student in informatics; Ravi Kuber, associate professor of information systems at UMBC; and Stacy Branham, assistant professor of informatics at UCI. The research was accepted by the 2020 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2020). Although the conference was cancelled due to COVID-19, the research was published in online conference proceedings and made available as a virtual presentation on May 20. The research was funded by Toyota, as part of the University Mobility Challenge to improve navigation experiences.<br>The participants in this study had visual, mobility, cognitive, and hearing disabilities, as well as disabilities related to aging.<br>From the data, the researchers were able to identify main themes within the navigation techniques used by people in this study. They revealed key similarities in preferences across people with different types of disabilities, such as experiencing difficulty navigating in the presence of a large crowd. They also noted key differences in preferences, such as closeness of traffic. For example, people with visual impairments preferred to use the noise of nearby traffic as a means of keeping to a straight path, but it caused distraction and disorientation for others.<br>Based on the preferences of the study participants, the researchers were able to identify a schema for designers to use in order to think about the user experience for people with a range of abilities. This fits within a relevant trend in technology design: universal usability. Being able to create navigation technologies that are usable for as broad and diverse a population as possible helps to promote accessibility for all users. It also decreases stigma against people with differing abilities.<br>UMBC Ph.D. student Ali Abdolrahmani, who has assisted in conducting interviews with participants and analyzing the collected data, has a personal interest in expanding technology for people with disabilities, as he identifies as blind. "We greatly believe that understanding common needs of different groups will eventually lead to a more universal design for future technologies towards having more equal life experience in the society," he says. The findings of this research can be used to develop prototypes and systems that better support navigation based on an individual's preferences.<br> <br><br><b>Author:University of Maryland Baltimore County</b><br><b>Source:https://techxplore.com/news/2020-08-people-diverse-range-disabilities.html</b>

Saurav Kumar

FTTo7XMB8MTbICo7ZNV5

Dropbox adds more features including a password management tool for premium users

Dropbox adds more features including a password management tool for premium users

Dropbox launched a trio of new services, and one of them will remember your passwords so you don't have to.<br> <br><br><br><br><br><br>The cloud storage company rolled out a password manager on Wednesday along with automatic storage and a security tool in the age of remote work. The password managing service works similarly to LastPass. The other two are useful for those who don't want to lose valuable documents.<br>Dropbox Passwords will store and encrypt your online login information and the data can be synced across all your devices. That means when you're trying to sign in to an online platform, Dropbox can autofill your login credentials.<br>"Dropbox Passwords lets you seamlessly sign in to websites and apps by storing your passwords. The Passwords app remembers your usernames and passwords on all your devices—so you don't have to," according to the company.<br>Dropbox began beta testing the feature in June. Now, it's available to all Dropbox Pro and Plus users. Dropbox Plus accounts start at $9.99 per month when billed yearly. Dropbox Professional accounts with more digital storage start at $16.58 per month when billed yearly.<br>The password management system arrives along with Dropbox Vault and computer backup features. Vault adds an extra layer of security for sensitive files. The service lets you create a storage location within Dropbox that requires a numeric password for access.<br>"You can open your vault from anywhere you use Dropbox, but the files in it can't be opened or accessed by any third-party apps," the company says.<br>Meanwhile, the new computer backup feature will automatically save files from your PC or Mac. It's available to all users, however, Plus and Professional plans get premium access such as longer file recovery.<br>People are using Dropbox more during the pandemic as the software lets workers exchange documents amid the coronavirus-related work-from-home trend. The company recently reported 15 million paying customers in the second quarter. That's up from 13.6 million during the same period in 2019.<br> <br><br><b>Author:Dalvin Brown, Usa Today</b><br><b>Source:https://techxplore.com/news/2020-08-dropbox-features-password-tool-premium.html</b>

Sanjana Bhat

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Regions Personal Loans Review

Regions Personal Loans Review

Regions provides a range of banking services, from savings and investing accounts to credit cards, mortgages, and loans, including auto, student, and personal. It has locations across the South and Midwest and in Texas.Regions offers personal loans for home improvements, buying a car, paying for a vacation, or covering major expenses. You can use the loan however you wish. Read on to see if a Regions personal loan will work well for you.Investopedia is committed to providing our readers with unbiased product recommendations. We may receive compensation when you click on links to products, but this doesn’t affect how we rate, review, and rank them.Range of personal loan productsPrequalification availableSmall-dollar loans availableGood to excellent credit favoredAvailable in only 15 statesLow maximum capFor unsecured loans, you can borrow anywhere from $2,000 to $50,000 depending on how you apply. If you’re looking for a deposit secured loan, you can get one for as low as $250.Your annual percentage rate (APR) is a fixed interest rate that is based on your FICO score, loan amount, and repayment term.Repayment terms range from three to five years, depending on your loan size and, if a secured loan, on your collateral.Good to excellent credit is preferred for unsecured loans, although you might qualify if you have a fair credit score, depending on your pre-existing relationship with Regions. Secured loans are available if your credit score isn’t great and you already have accounts open at Regions.There’s a late payment fee of 5% of the unpaid loan amount or $100, whichever is less. There’s also a possibility you might be charged a processing fee, depending on how you applied for your loan. For instance, if you applied at a branch instead of online, the fee might be charged.You can receive your loan as soon as at the loan closing or as soon as you’re approved and there are no other requirements for you to process your application. Approval usually takes about one business day.Before you apply for a Regions personal loan, first decide which one you like. You can choose between an unsecured personal loan, a secured loan, or a deposit-secured loan. If you only need a small amount of money and already have a Regions account, you may want to choose a deposit-secured loan.However, if you don’t want to use your accounts or vehicles as collateral, an unsecured loan might work for you. You can check your rate before you apply to see if you’re eligible. Remember, you’ll need to live in one of the 15 states where Regions operates.When you apply, you’ll need to fill out some personal and financial details about yourself, such as:If you’re eligible, you’ll continue on with the application process. If you apply online, you could see approval and get your funds within one business day.Regions doesn’t offer personal loan refinancing at this time.If you’re thinking about getting a Regions loan and live where Regions operates, you may qualify for an unsecured loan if you have at least a good credit score. If not, you still may qualify for a secured loan by using your existing Regions accounts as collateral. With a few personal loan options, you should be able to find one that fits your needs.If you don’t live in a state where Regions operates or don’t have strong credit, you may want to consider other lending options. Look for a loan that has:There are lots of personal loan lenders that meet these standards, so it’s important to review all your options before settling on one. Before you choose a Regions personal loan, see what other loans are available near you.Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of personal loan lenders. We collected over 25 data points across more than 50 lenders—including interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms—to ensure that our content helps users make the right borrowing decision for their needs.<br><br><b>Author:Dori Zinn</b><br><b>Source:https://www.investopedia.com/regions-personal-loans-review-5072600</b>

Sourav kumar Haldar

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India to take equal, proportional measures if other countries impose trade barriers: Piyush Goyal

India to take equal, proportional measures if other countries impose trade barriers: Piyush Goyal

New Delhi: India will take "equal and proportional measures" to protect domestic manufacturing if other countries continue imposing restrictions or barriers on Indian goods, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said on Friday. He also said that if some countries continue exporting low-quality goods or dumping products or routing exports through India's free trade agreement (FTA) partners, India would take action."Many FTA countries do not allow access to Indian goods, even though they are part of FTA protocols. They put non-tariff barriers or other restrictive measures. <br> Gone are the days that India is going to sit and lie back and just take that...," the minister warned. He said India will have to plan its own measures whether it is by way of anti-dumping duty or some restrictions. "We will have to take equal and proportional measures to protect India's domestic manufacturing." The minister said while addressing the 10th meeting of Finland Chambers of Commerce in India.Goyal also said that the government is looking at providing 'plug and play' infrastructure, faster clearances, more affordable finance and lower logistics cost to invite businesses to India. "We would like to be a preferred and trusted trading partner of countries engaged in global trade and countries that believe in transparent and rule-based honest systems of government and I think Finland and India are best suited to work as partners," he added.The annual bilateral trade volume between India and Finland is USD 2.5 billion and it is "barely the tip of the iceberg" and if both the countries work together, "we can see a quantum jump in our business". Replying to a question, he said India has rarely used export restrictions and for exports, import of raw material is allowed freely. Any import restriction is imposed after a lot of thought and if Indian goods do not get fair and equitable access in other markets, he added.On a question that MNCs in India are not taken as local vendors when it comes to participation in government procurement, the minister said problems come when such companies set up just "screw-driver" operations. "Our current system is that we normally look at Make In India based on value addition. In some cases 20 per cent, and in some cases 50 per cent," he said.Referring to his interactions with auto companies on Thursday, he said if auto firms are importing components just to assemble cars and sell in Indian markets, which is big and growing, "then really you are not bringing in too much value to the Indian ecosystem". He said that companies should do Make in India in a true sense so that it adds significant value in the Indian manufacturing ecosystem.<br><br><b>Author:ETNow</b><br><b>Source:https://m.dailyhunt.in/news/india/english/etnow-epaper-etnoweng/india+to+take+equal+proportional+measures+if+other+countries+impose+trade+barriers+piyush+goyal-newsid-n206526594</b>

Supriyo Pandit

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