Latest Articles

Open AccessArticle
Evaluating Awareness and Perception of Botnet Activity within Consumer Internet-of-Things (IoT) Networks
Informatics 2019, 6(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/informatics6010008 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
The growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), and demand for low-cost, easy-to-deploy devices, has led to the production of swathes of insecure Internet-connected devices. Many can be exploited and leveraged to perform large-scale attacks on the Internet, such as those seen by [...] Read more.
The growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), and demand for low-cost, easy-to-deploy devices, has led to the production of swathes of insecure Internet-connected devices. Many can be exploited and leveraged to perform large-scale attacks on the Internet, such as those seen by the Mirai botnet. This paper presents a cross-sectional study of how users value and perceive security and privacy in smart devices found within the IoT. It analyzes user requirements from IoT devices, and the importance placed upon security and privacy. An experimental setup was used to assess user ability to detect threats, in the context of technical knowledge and experience. It clearly demonstrated that without any clear signs when an IoT device was infected, it was very difficult for consumers to detect and be situationally aware of threats exploiting home networks. It also demonstrated that without adequate presentation of data to users, there is no clear correlation between level of technical knowledge and ability to detect infected devices. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Ingredients in Zijuan Pu’er Tea Extract Alleviate β-Amyloid Peptide Toxicity in a Caenorhabditis elegans Model of Alzheimer’s Disease Likely through DAF-16
Molecules 2019, 24(4), 729; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24040729 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Amyloid-β, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), is toxic to neurons and can also cause brain cell death. Oxidative stress is known to play an important role in AD, and there is strong evidence that oxidative stress is associated with amyloid-β. [...] Read more.
Amyloid-β, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), is toxic to neurons and can also cause brain cell death. Oxidative stress is known to play an important role in AD, and there is strong evidence that oxidative stress is associated with amyloid-β. In the present study we report the protective effect of Zijuan Pu’er tea water extract (ZTWE) and the mixture of main ingredients (+)-catechins, caffeine and procyanidin (MCCP) in ZTWE on β-amyloid-induced toxicity in transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) CL4176 expressing the human Aβ1–42 gene. ZTWE, (+)-catechins, caffeine, procyanidin and MCCP delayed the β-amyloid-induced paralysis to different degrees. The MCCP treatment did not affect the transcript abundance of amyloid-β transgene (amy-1); however, Thioflavin T staining showed a significant decrease in Aβ accumulation compared to untreated worms. Further research using transgenic worms found that MCCP promoted the translocation of DAF-16 from cytoplasm to nucleus and increased the expression of superoxide dismutase 3 (SOD-3). In addition, MCCP decreased the reactive oxygen species (ROS) content and increased the SOD activity in CL4176 worms. In conclusion, the results suggested that MCCP had a significant protective effect on β-amyloid-induced toxicity in C. elegans by reducing β-amyloid aggregation and inducing DAF-16 nuclear translocation that could activate the downstream signal pathway and enhance resistance to oxidative stress. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Time-Scaling Properties of Sunshine Duration Based on Detrended Fluctuation Analysis over China
Atmosphere 2019, 10(2), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos10020083 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
The spatial and temporal variabilities of the daily Sunshine Duration (SSD) time series from the Chinese Meteorological Administration during the 1954–2009 period are examined by the Detrended Fluctuation Analysis (DFA) method. As a whole, weak long-range correlations (LRCs) are found in the daily [...] Read more.
The spatial and temporal variabilities of the daily Sunshine Duration (SSD) time series from the Chinese Meteorological Administration during the 1954–2009 period are examined by the Detrended Fluctuation Analysis (DFA) method. As a whole, weak long-range correlations (LRCs) are found in the daily SSD anomaly records over China. LRCs are also verified by shuffling the SSD records. The proportion of the stations with LRCs accounts for about 97% of the total. Many factors affect the scaling properties of the daily SSD records such as sea-land difference and Tibetan Plateau landform and so on. We find land use and land cover as one of the important factors closely links to LRCs of the SSD. Strong LRCs of the SSD mainly happen in underlying surface of deserts and crops, while weak LRCs occur in forest and grassland. Further studies of scaling behaviors are still necessary to be performed due to the complex underlying surface and climate system. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Transferring Know-How for an Autonomous Camera Robotic Assistant
Electronics 2019, 8(2), 224; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics8020224 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Robotic platforms are taking their place in the operating room because they provide more stability and accuracy during surgery. Although most of these platforms are teleoperated, a lot of research is currently being carried out to design collaborative platforms. The objective is to [...] Read more.
Robotic platforms are taking their place in the operating room because they provide more stability and accuracy during surgery. Although most of these platforms are teleoperated, a lot of research is currently being carried out to design collaborative platforms. The objective is to reduce the surgeon workload through the automation of secondary or auxiliary tasks, which would benefit both surgeons and patients by facilitating the surgery and reducing the operation time. One of the most important secondary tasks is the endoscopic camera guidance, whose automation would allow the surgeon to be concentrated on handling the surgical instruments. This paper proposes a novel autonomous camera guidance approach for laparoscopic surgery. It is based on learning from demonstration (LfD), which has demonstrated its feasibility to transfer knowledge from humans to robots by means of multiple expert showings. The proposed approach has been validated using an experimental surgical robotic platform to perform peg transferring, a typical task that is used to train human skills in laparoscopic surgery. The results show that camera guidance can be easily trained by a surgeon for a particular task. Later, it can be autonomously reproduced in a similar way to one carried out by a human. Therefore, the results demonstrate that the use of learning from demonstration is a suitable method to perform autonomous camera guidance in collaborative surgical robotic platforms. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
25-Hydroxyvitamin D Measurement in Human Hair: Results from a Proof-of-Concept study
Nutrients 2019, 11(2), 423; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11020423 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Vitamin D deficiency has been implicated in numerous human diseases leading to an increased interest in assessing vitamin D status. Consequentially, the number of requests for vitamin D measurement keeps dramatically increasing year-on-year. Currently, the recognised best marker of vitamin D status is [...] Read more.
Vitamin D deficiency has been implicated in numerous human diseases leading to an increased interest in assessing vitamin D status. Consequentially, the number of requests for vitamin D measurement keeps dramatically increasing year-on-year. Currently, the recognised best marker of vitamin D status is the concentration of the 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D3) in the blood circulation. While providing an accurate estimate of vitamin D status at the point in time of sampling, it cannot account for the high variability of 25(OH)D3 concentration. In this proof of concept study we set out to provide evidence that 25(OH)D3 can be extracted from hair samples in a similar fashion to steroid hormones. Two of the authors (L.Z. and M.H.) provided hair samples harvested from the crown area of the scalp and the third author (E.L.) provided beard samples. These samples, cut into 1 cm lengths, were weighed, washed and dried. 25(OH)D was extracted using a previously published steroid hormones extraction procedure. Blood samples were taken from the subjects at the same time all tissue samples were analysed using liquid-chromatography mass spectrometry. Hair samples showed presence of quantifiable 25(OH)D3 with concentrations ranging from 11.9–911 pg/mg. The beard sample had a concentration of 231 pg/mg. Serum levels of 25(OH)D3 ranged from 72–78 nmol/L. The results presented here confirm the feasibility of measuring 25(OH)D3 in hair samples. The findings warrant further validation and development and have the potential to yield valuable information relating to temporal trends in vitamin D physiology. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Metal-Free Alpha Trifluoromethylselenolation of Carbonyl Derivatives under Batch and Flow Conditions
Molecules 2019, 24(4), 726; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24040726 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Trifluoromethylselenolated carbonyl compounds represent an emerging class with potential applications in several fields; however, a widespread use of such compound is hampered by the very limited number of strategies for their preparation. In this study we developed a method for the preparation of [...] Read more.
Trifluoromethylselenolated carbonyl compounds represent an emerging class with potential applications in several fields; however, a widespread use of such compound is hampered by the very limited number of strategies for their preparation. In this study we developed a method for the preparation of α-SeCF3 substituted carbonyl derivatives using an in situ generated electrophilic ClSeCF3 species. We also implemented an in-flow protocol to improve the safety features of the process. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Novel Dantrolene Sodium-Loaded Mixed Micelle Containing a Small Amount of Cremophor EL: Characterization, Stability, Safety and Pharmacokinetics
Molecules 2019, 24(4), 728; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24040728 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Dantrolene sodium (DS) is the only drug specifically used for the treatment of malignant hyperthermia. Nevertheless, its clinical application is significantly restricted due to its aqueous insolubility and the limited formulations available in clinical practice. In order to solve these problems, a novel [...] Read more.
Dantrolene sodium (DS) is the only drug specifically used for the treatment of malignant hyperthermia. Nevertheless, its clinical application is significantly restricted due to its aqueous insolubility and the limited formulations available in clinical practice. In order to solve these problems, a novel mixed micelle composed of phospholipid and Cremophor EL was designed and evaluated. The mixed micelle was prepared using a stirring- ultrasonic method. The Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) results showed that the micelle was small in size (12.14 nm) and narrowly distributed (PdI = 0.073). Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) images showed that the micelle was homogeneous and spherical. The stability study indicated that the system was stable for storage and dilution with distilled water, while the safety testing showed that the micelle was safe for intravenous administration with low hemolysis rates and low allergic reaction rates. In the pharmaceutics study, the Cmax and AUC0-t of the DS-loaded micelle were 4- and 4.5- folds higher than that of the DS. Therefore, the constructed phospholipid-Cremophor EL mixed micelle is a promising drug delivery system for DS. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Cognitive-Inspired Event-Based Control for Power-Aware Human Mobility Analysis in IoT Devices
Sensors 2019, 19(4), 832; https://doi.org/10.3390/s19040832 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) relates to the deployment of decision-making processes at the network edge or mobile devices rather than in a centralized network entity like the cloud. This paradigm shift is acknowledged as one key pillar to enable autonomous operation and self-awareness [...] Read more.
Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) relates to the deployment of decision-making processes at the network edge or mobile devices rather than in a centralized network entity like the cloud. This paradigm shift is acknowledged as one key pillar to enable autonomous operation and self-awareness in mobile devices in IoT. Under this paradigm, we focus on mobility-based services (MBSs), where mobile devices are expected to perform energy-efficient GPS data acquisition while also providing location accuracy. We rely on a fully on-device Cognitive Dynamic Systems (CDS) platform to propose and evaluate a cognitive controller aimed at both tackling the presence of uncertainties and exploiting the mobility information learned by such CDS toward energy-efficient and accurate location tracking via mobility-aware sampling policies. We performed a set of experiments and validated that the proposed control strategy outperformed similar approaches in terms of energy savings and spatio-temporal accuracy in LBS and MBS for smartphone devices. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Development of a Novel SMA-Driven Compliant Rotary Actuator Based on a Double Helical Structure
Robotics 2019, 8(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/robotics8010012 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
This paper proposes a new shape memory alloy (SMA)-driven compliant rotary actuator that can perform both passive and self-actuated motions. This SMA actuator is suitable as a redundant actuation part in a parallel robot joint to assist with singularity postures where the robot [...] Read more.
This paper proposes a new shape memory alloy (SMA)-driven compliant rotary actuator that can perform both passive and self-actuated motions. This SMA actuator is suitable as a redundant actuation part in a parallel robot joint to assist with singularity postures where the robot might lose the ability to maintain the position and orientation of the end effector. The double helical compliant joint (DHCJ) was chosen as a candidate mechanism; it can act in soft compliance with linear characteristics and a wide range of motion. The experimental results validated that the proposed model can be used to simulate the DHCJ behavior. The use of this mechanism exhibits advantages such as one-axis rotational motion, linear behavior even for a compliant mechanism, stiffness in the other axes of motion, and compact size. SMA leaves (strips) were used as actuation parts, and a single SMA leaf was tested before combining with the double helical frame as an SMA actuator. The prototype was fabricated, and necessary parameters such as deflection angle, temperature, torque, and stress–strain were collected to define the model for a controller. This actuator is controlled by a feedforward controller and provides rotational motion for both forward and reverse sides with a maximal range of 40 degrees. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Thermal, Mechanical, and Microstructural Study of PBO Fiber during Carbonization
Materials 2019, 12(4), 608; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma12040608 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Poly(p-phenylene benzobisoxazole) (PBO) fiber shows fascinating properties including excellent mechanical performance, high crystallinity, and fairly good heat resistance as a kind of polymer fiber. Its properties make it a possible candidate as a precursor of carbon fiber. This paper mainly investigates the possibility [...] Read more.
Poly(p-phenylene benzobisoxazole) (PBO) fiber shows fascinating properties including excellent mechanical performance, high crystallinity, and fairly good heat resistance as a kind of polymer fiber. Its properties make it a possible candidate as a precursor of carbon fiber. This paper mainly investigates the possibility of yielding carbon fiber from PBO by direct carbonization using a continuous process and multiple properties of yielded fiber treated under different heat treatment temperature (HTT). The results show that PBO fiber was able to sustain an HTT as high as 1400 °C under the inert atmosphere and that the shape of fiber was still preserved without failure. Using thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA) and TGA coupled with mass spectroscopy (TGA-MS), it was found that a significant mass loss procedure happened around 723.3 °C, along with the emission of various small molecules. The mechanical performance first suffered a decrease due to the rupture of the PBO structure and then slightly increased because of the generating of graphite crystallite based on the broken structure of PBO. It was observed that PBO’s microstructure transformed gradually to that of carbonaceous material, which could be the reason why the change of mechanical performance happened. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Modeling of GRACE-Derived Groundwater Information in the Colorado River Basin
Hydrology 2019, 6(1), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/hydrology6010019 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Groundwater depletion has been one of the major challenges in recent years. Analysis of groundwater levels can be beneficial for groundwater management. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s twin satellite, Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), serves in monitoring terrestrial water storage. Increasing [...] Read more.
Groundwater depletion has been one of the major challenges in recent years. Analysis of groundwater levels can be beneficial for groundwater management. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s twin satellite, Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), serves in monitoring terrestrial water storage. Increasing freshwater demand amidst recent drought (2000–2014) posed a significant groundwater level decline within the Colorado River Basin (CRB). In the current study, a non-parametric technique was utilized to analyze historical groundwater variability. Additionally, a stochastic Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average (ARIMA) model was developed and tested to forecast the GRACE-derived groundwater anomalies within the CRB. The ARIMA model was trained with the GRACE data from January 2003 to December of 2013 and validated with GRACE data from January 2014 to December of 2016. Groundwater anomaly from January 2017 to December of 2019 was forecasted with the tested model. Autocorrelation and partial autocorrelation plots were drawn to identify and construct the seasonal ARIMA models. ARIMA order for each grid was evaluated based on Akaike’s and Bayesian information criterion. The error analysis showed the reasonable numerical accuracy of selected seasonal ARIMA models. The proposed models can be used to forecast groundwater variability for sustainable groundwater planning and management. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Yield and Fruit Properties of Husk Tomato (Physalis phyladelphica) Cultivars Grown in the Open Field in the South of West Siberia
Horticulturae 2019, 5(1), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae5010019 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Husk tomato (Physalis philadelphica Lam.) a source of functional food and medicinal compounds, has attracted renewed interest for production in temperate zones. Field-grown husk tomato yield and fruit properties and their relationship with soil chemistry and temperature were studied in the south [...] Read more.
Husk tomato (Physalis philadelphica Lam.) a source of functional food and medicinal compounds, has attracted renewed interest for production in temperate zones. Field-grown husk tomato yield and fruit properties and their relationship with soil chemistry and temperature were studied in the south of West Siberia, Russia, at five experimental sites. At each site, a microplot experiment with two cultivars was conducted. Basic soil chemical properties and fruit pH and dry matter, total carbon, nitrogen, and ascorbic acid content were determined. Both cultivars grew and yielded very well, producing on average 70 fruits, or 1.46 kg, per plant, with 14 mg ascorbic acid per 100 g fresh weight, 9.0% dry matter, and juice pH of 4.1. Variation in environmental conditions among sites was the major factor determining production and fruit property variation, with cultivar biology accounting for 10%. The cultivars responded differently to some soil properties, but generally their yield and fruit quality depended on soil pH and labile phosphorous and potassium. Thus, husk tomato has remarkable capacity for vigorous yields in unprotected conditions in West Siberia, despite air and soil temperatures that are much lower than in its region of origin. Detailed studies are needed to elucidate its response to varying solar radiation and atmospheric precipitation. Full article
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