Latest Articles

Open AccessArticle
The Application of Freely-Available Satellite Imagery for Informing and Complementing Archaeological Fieldwork in the “Black Desert” of North-Eastern Jordan
Geosciences 2018, 8(12), 491; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences8120491 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Recent developments in the availability of very high-resolution satellite imagery through platforms like GoogleEarth (Google, Santa Clara County, CA, USA) and Bing Maps (Microsoft, Redmond, WA, USA) have greatly opened up the possibilities of their use by researchers. This paper focusses on the
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Recent developments in the availability of very high-resolution satellite imagery through platforms like GoogleEarth (Google, Santa Clara County, CA, USA) and Bing Maps (Microsoft, Redmond, WA, USA) have greatly opened up the possibilities of their use by researchers. This paper focusses on the exclusive use of free remote sensing data by the Western Harra Survey (WHS), an archaeological project investigating the arid “Black Desert” of north-eastern Jordan, a largely impenetrable landscape densely strewn with basalt blocks. The systematic analysis of such data by conducting a holistic satellite survey prior to the commencement of fieldwork allowed for the precise planning of ground surveys, with advanced knowledge of which sites were vehicle-accessible and how to efficiently visit a stratified sample of different site types. By subsequently correlating the obtained ground data with this analysis, it was possible to create a typological seriation of the site forms known as “wheels”, determine that at least two-thirds of sites are within 500 m of valleys or mudflats (highlighting these features’ roles as access routes and resource clusters) and identify numerous anthropogenic paths cleared through the basalt for site access and long-distance travel. These results offer new insights into this underrepresented region and allow for supra-regional comparisons with better investigated areas by a method that is rapid and cost-effective. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Influence of N2 on Formation Conditions and Guest Distribution of Mixed CO2 + CH4 Gas Hydrates
Molecules 2018, 23(12), 3336; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules23123336 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
In this contribution, a method based on a solid solution theory of clathrate hydrate for multiple cage occupancy, host lattice relaxation, and guest-guest interactions is presented to estimate hydrate formation conditions of binary and ternary gas mixtures. We performed molecular modeling of the
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In this contribution, a method based on a solid solution theory of clathrate hydrate for multiple cage occupancy, host lattice relaxation, and guest-guest interactions is presented to estimate hydrate formation conditions of binary and ternary gas mixtures. We performed molecular modeling of the structure, guest distribution, and hydrate formation conditions for the CO2 + CH4 and CO2 + CH4 + N2 gas hydrates. In all considered systems with and without N2, at high and medium content of CO2 in the gas phase, we found that CO2 was more favorable in occupying clathrate hydrate cavities than CH4 or N2. The addition of N2 to the gas phase increased the ratio concentration of CO2 in comparison with the concentration of CH4 in clathrate hydrates and made gas replacement more effective. The mole fraction of CO2 in the CO2 + CH4 + N2 gas hydrate rapidly increased with the growth of its content in the gas phase, and the formation pressure of the CO2 + CH4 + N2 gas hydrate rose in comparison to the formation pressure of the CO2 + CH4 gas hydrate. The obtained results agreed with the known experimental data for simple CH4 and CO2 gas hydrates and the mixed CO2 + CH4 gas hydrate. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Real-Life Application of a Smart User Network
Energies 2018, 11(12), 3504; https://doi.org/10.3390/en11123504 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Smart Community microgrids could help to improve overall energy efficiency reducing transmission and distribution losses and allowing the implementation of optimal load control and resource dispatching. In this context, the authors have proposed the realization of DC smart microgrids. They are considered as
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Smart Community microgrids could help to improve overall energy efficiency reducing transmission and distribution losses and allowing the implementation of optimal load control and resource dispatching. In this context, the authors have proposed the realization of DC smart microgrids. They are considered as a future prospective according to the increase of DC loads and DC output type distribution energy sources such as Photovoltaic and energy storage systems. In this paper, a DC smart microgrid, called Smart User Network, realized in a real-life application as a part of pilot site under the national research project PON04_00146 Smart cities and Communities and Social innovation named “Reti, Edifici, Strade Nuovi Obiettivi Virtuosi per l’Ambiente e l’Energia” (RES NOVAE), is illustrated. The Smart User Network, is managed by a distributed and decentralized control logic, the DC Bus Signaling, which allows the converters to operate independently of each other according to a decentralized logic. It guarantees the reliability, the continuity and the quality of supply, optimizing the use of energy produced by renewable energy sources, also in stand-alone configuration. The most significant experimental results obtained both in grid-connected and stand-alone configuration are presented and discussed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Bank Credit and Housing Prices in China: Evidence from a TVP-VAR Model with Stochastic Volatility
J. Risk Financial Manag. 2018, 11(4), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/jrfm11040090 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Housing prices in China have been rising rapidly in recent years, which is a cause for concern for China’s housing market. Does bank credit influence housing prices? If so, how? Will the housing prices affect the bank credit system if the market collapses?
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Housing prices in China have been rising rapidly in recent years, which is a cause for concern for China’s housing market. Does bank credit influence housing prices? If so, how? Will the housing prices affect the bank credit system if the market collapses? We aim to study the dynamic relationship between housing prices and bank credit in China from the second quarter of 2005 to the fourth quarter of 2017 by using a time-varying parameter vector autoregression (VAR) model with stochastic volatility. Furthermore, we study the relationships between housing prices and housing loans on the demand side and real estate development loans on the supply side, separately. Finally, we obtain several findings. First, the relationship between housing prices and bank credit shows significant time-varying features; second, the mutual effects of housing prices and bank credit vary between the demand side and supply side; third, influences of housing prices on all kinds of bank credit are stronger than influences in the opposite direction. Full article
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Open AccessReview
A Narrative Review of Childhood Picky Eating and Its Relationship to Food Intakes, Nutritional Status, and Growth
Nutrients 2018, 10(12), 1992; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10121992 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
A main characteristic of children perceived as picky eaters is their tendency to avoid certain foods or food groups. The goal of this narrative review is to provide an overview of published studies that have examined whether picky eating in childhood is in
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A main characteristic of children perceived as picky eaters is their tendency to avoid certain foods or food groups. The goal of this narrative review is to provide an overview of published studies that have examined whether picky eating in childhood is in fact associated with measurable differences in food and/or nutrient intakes and growth. While picky eaters appear to consume less vegetables compared to non-picky eaters, no consistent differences were observed for the intakes of other food groups or the intakes of energy, macronutrients and dietary fiber. Although, in some studies, picky eaters had lower intakes of certain vitamins and minerals, the levels consumed generally exceeded the recommended values, suggesting nutritional requirements are being met. No consistent relationship between childhood picky eating and growth status was observed, although significant differences in body weight/growth between picky and non-picky eaters were most discernible in studies where multiple defining criteria were used to identify picky eating. The research area would benefit from the adoption of a uniform definition of picky eating. More longitudinal assessments are also required to understand the long-term impact of picky eating on nutritional status and growth. Full article
Open AccessArticle
A Comparative Study of Advanced Stationary Phases for Fast Liquid Chromatography Separation of Synthetic Food Colorants
Molecules 2018, 23(12), 3335; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules23123335 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Food analysis demands fast methods for routine control and high throughput of samples. Chromatographic separation enables simultaneous determination of numerous compounds in complex matrices, several approaches increasing separation efficiency and speed of analysis were involved. In this work, modern types of column with
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Food analysis demands fast methods for routine control and high throughput of samples. Chromatographic separation enables simultaneous determination of numerous compounds in complex matrices, several approaches increasing separation efficiency and speed of analysis were involved. In this work, modern types of column with monolithic rod or superficially porous particles were employed and compared for determination of eight synthetic food dyes, their chromatographic performance was evaluated. During method optimization, cyano stationary phase Chromolith Performance CN 100 × 4.6 mm and Ascentis Express ES-CN 100 × 4.6 mm, 5 µm were selected for the separation of polar colorants. The separation was performed by gradient elution of acetonitrile/methanol and 2% water solution of ammonium acetate at flow rate 2.0 mL min−1. Mobile phase composition and the gradients were optimized in order to enable efficient separation on both columns. The method using fused-core particle column provided higher separation efficiency, narrow peaks of analytes resulted in increased peak capacity and shortening of analysis time. After the validation, the method was applied for analysis of coloured beers, soft drinks and candies. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Fucoidan-Manganese Dioxide Nanoparticles Potentiate Radiation Therapy by Co-Targeting Tumor Hypoxia and Angiogenesis
Mar. Drugs 2018, 16(12), 510; https://doi.org/10.3390/md16120510 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Tumor hypoxia is a major mechanism of resistance to radiation therapy (RT), which is associated with poor prognosis in affected cancer patients. Various approaches to treat hypoxic and radioresistant cancers, including pancreatic cancer, have shown limited success. Fucoidan, a polysaccharide from brown seaweed,
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Tumor hypoxia is a major mechanism of resistance to radiation therapy (RT), which is associated with poor prognosis in affected cancer patients. Various approaches to treat hypoxic and radioresistant cancers, including pancreatic cancer, have shown limited success. Fucoidan, a polysaccharide from brown seaweed, has antitumor and antiangiogenesis activities. Here, we discuss the development of fucoidan-coated manganese dioxide nanoparticles (Fuco-MnO2-NPs) and testing of the therapeutic potential with RT using pancreatic cancer models. In vitro data showed that Fuco-MnO2-NPs generated oxygen efficiently in the presence of H2O2 and substantially suppressed HIF-1 expression under a hypoxic condition in human pancreatic cancer cells. Fuco-MnO2-NPs reversed hypoxia-induced radioresistance by decreasing clonogenic survival and increasing DNA damage and apoptotic cell death in response to RT. In a BxPC3 xenograft mouse model, the combination treatment with Fuco-MnO2-NPs and RT resulted in a greater tumor growth delay than RT alone. Fucoidan-coated NPs, but not naked ones, further suppressed tumor angiogenesis, as judged by immunohistochemistry data with diminished expression of phosphorylated vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR2) and CD31. These data suggest that Fuco-MnO2-NPs may potentiate the effects of RT via dual targeting of tumor hypoxia and angiogenesis, and they are of great clinical potential in the treatment of hypoxic, radioresistant pancreatic cancer. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Robust Day-Ahead Forecasting of Household Electricity Demand and Operational Challenges
Energies 2018, 11(12), 3503; https://doi.org/10.3390/en11123503 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
In the recent years, several short-term forecasting models of household electricity demand have been proposed in the literature. This is partly due to emerging smart-grid applications, which require these kinds of forecasts to manage systems such as smart homes, prosumer aggregations, etc., and
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In the recent years, several short-term forecasting models of household electricity demand have been proposed in the literature. This is partly due to emerging smart-grid applications, which require these kinds of forecasts to manage systems such as smart homes, prosumer aggregations, etc., and partly thanks to the availability of data from smart meters, which enable the development of such models. Since most models are academically developed, they often do not address challenges related to their implementation in a real-world environment. In the latter case, several issues arise, related to data quality and availability, which affect the operational performance and robustness of a forecasting system. In this paper, we design a hierarchical forecasting framework based on a total of 5 probabilistic models of varying complexity, after analyzing the respective performance and advantages of the models with an offline dataset. This multi-layered framework is necessary to address the various problematic situations occurring in practice and abide by the requirements for a real-world deployment. The forecasting system is deployed in a real-world case and evaluated here on data from 20 households. Field data, comprising forecasts and measurements, are analyzed for each household. A detailed comparison is drawn between the online and offline performances. Since a notable degradation is observed in the operational environment, we discuss at length the reasons for such an effect. We determine that the exact settings of the training and test periods are marginally responsible, but that the main cause is the intrinsic evolution of the demand time series, which hinders the forecasting performance. This evolution is due to unknown household characteristics that need to be monitored to provide more adaptable models. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
It’s about Time: Ossification Center Formation in C57BL/6 Mice from E12–E16
J. Dev. Biol. 2018, 6(4), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/jdb6040031 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
The establishment of precise, high-resolution temporal sequences for morphogenetic events in laboratory mice remains a vexing issue in developmental biology. Mouse embryos collected at the same period of gestation, even those from the same litter, show wide variation in individual levels of progress
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The establishment of precise, high-resolution temporal sequences for morphogenetic events in laboratory mice remains a vexing issue in developmental biology. Mouse embryos collected at the same period of gestation, even those from the same litter, show wide variation in individual levels of progress along their developmental trajectory. Therefore, age at harvest does not provide sufficient information about developmental progress to serve as the basis for forming samples for the study of rapidly or near-simultaneously occurring events such as the sequence of ossification center formation. Here, we generate two measures of individual developmental progress (developmental age) for a large sample of mouse embryos using crown–rump lengths that measures size, and limbstaging ages produced by the embryonic Mouse Ontogenetic Staging System (eMOSS) that measure shape. Using these measures, we establish fine-grained sequences of ossification center appearance for mouse embryos. The two measures of developmental progress generate slightly different sequences of ossification center formation demonstrating that despite their tight correlation throughout the developmental period, size and shape are aspects of form that are at least partially dissociated in development. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Transcriptome Analysis of Phycocyanin-Mediated Inhibitory Functions on Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer A549 Cell Growth
Mar. Drugs 2018, 16(12), 511; https://doi.org/10.3390/md16120511 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Phycocyanin (PC), derived from cyanobacteria and Spirulina cells, is a type of natural antineoplastic marine protein. It has been reported that phycocyanin exerts an antitumor function in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells, but the underlying mechanism has not been elucidated. In this
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Phycocyanin (PC), derived from cyanobacteria and Spirulina cells, is a type of natural antineoplastic marine protein. It has been reported that phycocyanin exerts an antitumor function in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells, but the underlying mechanism has not been elucidated. In this research, a transcriptome study was performed to investigate the regulatory mechanisms of phycocyanin on human NSCLC A549 cells. The survival rate and proliferation ability of A549 cells were markedly reduced by phycocyanin, along with abnormal morphologic changes. The transcriptome analysis showed that 2970 genes were differentially expressed after phycocyanin treatment in A549 cells, including 1431 down-regulated and 1539 up-regulated genes. Gene ontology and KEGG analysis suggested that some classical pathways, such as Wnt, NF-κB, and PI3K-AKT signaling, were significantly enriched. Strikingly, protein–protein interaction (PPI) analysis showed that ubiquitin-C (UBC) occupied the highest degree (the highest number of interactions) in differential genes, indicating that it might play a key role in the phycocyanin-mediated regulatory process in A549 cells. Moreover, qRT-PCR results showed consistent expression trends of differential genes with transcriptome analysis. Consequently, this study has provided a theoretical basis for regulation of phycocyanin in A549 cells, which lays a foundation for the treatment of NSCLC. Full article
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