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Sci, Volume 2, Issue 4 (December 2020) – 13 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): For thousands of years, the only treatment option for cancer was surgical resection. However, the last century of human innovation and discovery has resulted in an explosion of medical advancement. The field of chemotherapy emerged in the aftermath of World War I due to research on mustard gas and elucidation of protein pathways. New structures have since enabled the development of targeted small-molecule cancer therapeutics, and the discovery of the intricate mechanisms of the immune system has yielded a new wave of immune-modulating treatments. Here, each of these advancements is highlighted, and future directions in cancer treatment are discussed. View this paper.
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Article
Promoting Arabic Literacy in Primary Schools in the United Arab Emirates through the Emirati Dialect
Sci 2020, 2(4), 93; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci2040093 - 18 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1721
Abstract
Globalization has had an impact on the education system in the UAE, where the increased use of bilingual curriculum (Arabic-English) is held in high regard. Nevertheless, literacy in Arabic among Emirati children and teenagers remains low. This study uses a 15-item, open-ended questionnaire [...] Read more.
Globalization has had an impact on the education system in the UAE, where the increased use of bilingual curriculum (Arabic-English) is held in high regard. Nevertheless, literacy in Arabic among Emirati children and teenagers remains low. This study uses a 15-item, open-ended questionnaire completed by Emirati parents and an eight-item, open-ended questionnaire completed by Emirati primary school children from 8 to 11 years of age to compare the translations of The Little Prince into Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and into the Emirati dialect. The results suggest that not only the Emirati dialect, but any Arabic dialect (in its respective Arab country) could be used in primary schools to motivate children to read in Arabic and bridge the gap between their spoken language (dialect) and formal written Arabic. Not only must an Arab child learn how to read, but also, they have to understand a very formal language system that they are not used to speaking at home, i.e., Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). Having books in their own dialects may make children more interested in reading, as they can understand them more easily. Full article
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Article
Statistics and Machine Learning Experiments in English and Romanian Poetry
Sci 2020, 2(4), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci2040092 - 11 Dec 2020
Viewed by 1540
Abstract
This paper presents a quantitative approach to poetry, based on the use of several statistical measures (entropy, informational energy, N-gram, etc.) applied to a few characteristic English writings. We found that English language changes its entropy as time passes, and that entropy depends [...] Read more.
This paper presents a quantitative approach to poetry, based on the use of several statistical measures (entropy, informational energy, N-gram, etc.) applied to a few characteristic English writings. We found that English language changes its entropy as time passes, and that entropy depends on the language used and on the author. In order to compare two similar texts, we were able to introduce a statistical method to asses the information entropy between two texts. We also introduced a method of computing the average information conveyed by a group of letters about the next letter in the text. We found a formula for computing the Shannon language entropy and we introduced the concept of N-gram informational energy of a poetry. We also constructed a neural network, which is able to generate Byron-type poetry and to analyze the information proximity to the genuine Byron poetry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mathematics and Poetry, with a View towards Machine Learning)
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Article
Images of Roman Imperial Denarii: A Curated Data Set for the Evaluation of Computer Vision Algorithms Applied to Ancient Numismatics, and an Overview of Challenges in the Field
Sci 2020, 2(4), 91; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci2040091 - 07 Dec 2020
Viewed by 1577
Abstract
Automatic ancient Roman coin analysis only recently emerged as a topic of computer science research. Nevertheless, owing to its ever-increasing popularity, the field is already reaching a certain degree of maturity, as witnessed by a substantial publication output in the last decade. At [...] Read more.
Automatic ancient Roman coin analysis only recently emerged as a topic of computer science research. Nevertheless, owing to its ever-increasing popularity, the field is already reaching a certain degree of maturity, as witnessed by a substantial publication output in the last decade. At the same time, it is becoming evident that research progress is being limited by a somewhat veering direction of effort and the lack of a coherent framework which facilitates the acquisition and dissemination of robust, repeatable, and rigorous evidence. Thus, in the present article, we seek to address several associated challenges. To start with, (i) we provide a first overview and discussion of different challenges in the field, some of which have been scarcely investigated to date, and others which have hitherto been unrecognized and unaddressed. Secondly, (ii) we introduce the first data set, carefully curated and collected for the purpose of facilitating methodological evaluation of algorithms and, specifically, the effects of coin preservation grades on the performance of automatic methods. Indeed, until now, only one published work at all recognized the need for this kind of analysis, which, to any numismatist, would be a trivially obvious fact. We also discuss a wide range of considerations which had to be taken into account in collecting this corpus, explain our decisions, and describe its content in detail. Briefly, the data set comprises 100 different coin issues, all with multiple examples in Fine, Very Fine, and Extremely Fine conditions, giving a total of over 650 different specimens. These correspond to 44 issuing authorities and span the time period of approximately 300 years (from 27 BC until 244 AD). In summary, the present article should be an invaluable resource to researchers in the field, and we encourage the community to adopt the collected corpus, freely available for research purposes, as a standard evaluation benchmark. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Machine Learning and Vision for Cultural Heritage)
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Commentary
Advancing Therapies for Cancer—From Mustard Gas to CAR T
Sci 2020, 2(4), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci2040090 - 07 Dec 2020
Viewed by 1719
Abstract
The development of targeted therapeutics for cancer continues to receive intense research attention as laboratories and pharmaceutical companies seek to develop drugs and technologies that improve treatment efficacy and mitigate harmful side effects. In the aftermath of World War I, it was discovered [...] Read more.
The development of targeted therapeutics for cancer continues to receive intense research attention as laboratories and pharmaceutical companies seek to develop drugs and technologies that improve treatment efficacy and mitigate harmful side effects. In the aftermath of World War I, it was discovered that mustard gas destroys rapidly dividing cells and could be used to treat cancer. Since then, chemotherapy has remained a predominant treatment for cancer; however, the destruction of dividing cells throughout the body yields devastating side effects including off-target damage of the digestive tract, bone marrow, skin, and reproductive tract. Furthermore, the high mutation rate of cancerous cells often renders chemotherapy ineffective long-term. Therapies with improved specificity, localization, and efficacy are redefining cancer treatment. Herein, we define and summarize the principal advancements in targeted cancer treatment and briefly comment on the march towards personalized medicine in the treatment of human cancer. Full article
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Article
Copper-To-Zinc Ratio as an Inflammatory Marker in Patients with Sickle Cell Disease
Sci 2020, 2(4), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci2040089 - 01 Dec 2020
Viewed by 1516
Abstract
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited disorder and a major health challenge in Nigeria. Micronutrient deficiencies often associated with the disorder may cause inflammation and abnormal metabolism in the body. The copper-to-zinc ratio is a more relevant diagnostic measure than the concentration [...] Read more.
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited disorder and a major health challenge in Nigeria. Micronutrient deficiencies often associated with the disorder may cause inflammation and abnormal metabolism in the body. The copper-to-zinc ratio is a more relevant diagnostic measure than the concentration of either metal alone in clinical practice. This study seeks to evaluate serum levels of c-reactive protein (CRP), copper, zinc and the copper-to-zinc ratio, and to correlate the latter with CRP in adult subjects with SCD. Serum copper, zinc, CRP and plasma fibrinogen were assayed in 100 confirmed SCD patients in steady clinical state and 100 age- and sex-matched subjects with normal hemoglobin. Serum copper and zinc were assayed by the colorimetric method using reagents supplied by Centronic, Germany, while CRP and fibrinogen were assayed using reagents supplied by Sigma (St. Louis, MO, USA) and Anogen (Ontario, Canada), respectively. The copper-to-zinc ratio was calculated from serum levels of copper and zinc. The measured parameters were compared between the groups using the Students t-test, and the Pearson correlation coefficient was used to relate CRP with the other parameters. Serum copper, CRP, fibrinogen and the copper-to-zinc ratio were significantly higher (p < 0.001), while zinc level was lower in SCD patients than in controls. Serum CRP concentration correlated with copper (r = 0.10; p < 0.02), zinc (r = −0.199; p < 0.05) and the copper-to-zinc ratio (r = 0.312; p < 0.002), but the correlation between CRP and fibrinogen was not significant. Inflammation may modulate copper and zinc homeostasis, and the copper-to-zinc ratio may be used as a marker of nutritional deficiency and inflammation in SCD patients. Full article
Essay
Mechanical Energy before Chemical Energy at the Origins of Life?
Sci 2020, 2(4), 88; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci2040088 - 30 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1568
Abstract
Mechanical forces and mechanical energy are prevalent in living cells. This may be because mechanical forces and mechanical energy preceded chemical energy at life’s origins. Mechanical energy is more readily available in nonliving systems than the various forms of chemical energy used by [...] Read more.
Mechanical forces and mechanical energy are prevalent in living cells. This may be because mechanical forces and mechanical energy preceded chemical energy at life’s origins. Mechanical energy is more readily available in nonliving systems than the various forms of chemical energy used by living systems. Two possible prebiotic environments that might have provided mechanical energy are hot pools that experience wet/dry cycles and mica sheets as they move, open and shut, as heat pumps or in response to water movements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecules to Microbes)
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Article
Perception to Adaptation of Climate Change in Nepal: An Empirical Analysis Using Multivariate Probit Model
Sci 2020, 2(4), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci2040087 - 27 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2040
Abstract
This study assessed farmers’ perception of climate change, and estimated the determinants of, and evaluated the relationship among, adaptation practices using the multivariate probit model. A survey in 300 agricultural households was carried out covering 10 sample districts considering five agro-ecological zones and [...] Read more.
This study assessed farmers’ perception of climate change, and estimated the determinants of, and evaluated the relationship among, adaptation practices using the multivariate probit model. A survey in 300 agricultural households was carried out covering 10 sample districts considering five agro-ecological zones and a vulnerability index. Four adaptation choices (change in planting date, crop variety, crop type and investment in irrigation) were deemed as outcome variables and socioeconomic, demographic, institutional, farm-level and perceptions variables were deployed as explanatory variables. Their marginal effects were determined for three climatic variables—temperature, precipitation and drought. Age, gender and education of head of household, credit access, farm area, rain-fed farming and tenure, were found to be more influential compared to other factors. All four adaptation options were found to be complimentary to each other. Importantly, the intensity of the impact of dependent variables in different models, and for the available adaptation options, were found to be unequal. Therefore, policy options and support facilities should be devised according to climatic variables and adaptation options to achieve superior results. Full article
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Conference Report
Molecules to Microbes
Sci 2020, 2(4), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci2040086 - 27 Nov 2020
Viewed by 1538
Abstract
How did life begin on Earth? And is there life elsewhere in the Cosmos? Challenging questions, indeed. The series of conferences established by NoR CEL in 2013 addresses these very questions. This paper comprises a summary report of oral presentations that were delivered [...] Read more.
How did life begin on Earth? And is there life elsewhere in the Cosmos? Challenging questions, indeed. The series of conferences established by NoR CEL in 2013 addresses these very questions. This paper comprises a summary report of oral presentations that were delivered by NoR CEL’s network members during the 2018 Athens conference and, as such, disseminates the latest research which they have put forward. More in depth material can be found by consulting the contributors referenced papers. Overall, the outcome of this conspectus on the conference demonstrates a case for the existence of “probable chemistry” during the prebiotic epoch. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecules to Microbes)
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Article
Effects of the Use of Good Agricultural Practices on Aflatoxin Levels in Maize Grown in Nandi County, Kenya
Sci 2020, 2(4), 85; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci2040085 - 26 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1434
Abstract
Aflatoxin contaminated maize is of public health concern in Kenya. Training farmers on good agricultural practice (GAP) has been touted as a mitigative measure. Little is known of the effect of such training on aflatoxin levels in maize grown in Kenya. This study [...] Read more.
Aflatoxin contaminated maize is of public health concern in Kenya. Training farmers on good agricultural practice (GAP) has been touted as a mitigative measure. Little is known of the effect of such training on aflatoxin levels in maize grown in Kenya. This study evaluated what effect training farmers on GAP has on aflatoxin levels in maize grown in Kaptumo, Kilibwoni, and Kipkaren divisions in Nandi County. Ninety farmers were recruited for the study and interviewed on GAP. Maize samples were additionally collected from the participating farmers and analyzed for aflatoxins using competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (c-ELISA). All farmers prepared the land before planting, applied correct spacing between the planted crops, carried out weeding, cleaned their stores before use, checked the condition of the maize after harvesting, sorted maize after shelling, and knew about aflatoxins. The majority of the farmers (90%) used fertilizers, dried maize after harvesting, knew that aflatoxins were harmful to humans, and used clean transport in transporting the harvested maize. About 98% of farmers did stooking after harvesting and 97% used wooden pallets in the maize stores. The percentage of farmers who practiced early planting, top dressing, crop rotation, raising stores above the ground, applying insecticide after shelling and feeding damaged/rotten seeds to their animals was 84–96%, 62–80%, 67–85%, 86–98%, 63–81%, and 7–21% respectively. About 18/90 (20%) of all farmers reported that they had a relative who had died from liver cancer, and the mean aflatoxin levels in season 1 were significantly different from those in season 2 (1.92 ± 1.07 ppb; 1.30 ± 1.50 ppb). Our findings suggest that although training farmers to adopt good agricultural practices was observed to be efficient in mitigating the problem of aflatoxins, the receptiveness of farmers to different aspects of the training may have differed. Therefore, in designing an optimized regional aflatoxin contamination strategy, local applicability should be considered. Full article
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Article
Mathematics and Poetry • Unification, Unity, Union
Sci 2020, 2(4), 84; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci2040084 - 25 Nov 2020
Viewed by 1538
Abstract
We consider a multitude of topics in mathematics where unification constructions play an important role: the Yang–Baxter equation and its modified version, Euler’s formula for dual numbers, means and their inequalities, topics in differential geometry, etc. It is interesting to observe that the [...] Read more.
We consider a multitude of topics in mathematics where unification constructions play an important role: the Yang–Baxter equation and its modified version, Euler’s formula for dual numbers, means and their inequalities, topics in differential geometry, etc. It is interesting to observe that the idea of unification (unity and union) is also present in poetry. Moreover, Euler’s identity is a source of inspiration for the post-modern poets. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mathematics and Poetry, with a View towards Machine Learning)
Article
Atmospheric Temperature and CO2: Hen-Or-Egg Causality?
Sci 2020, 2(4), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci2040083 - 25 Nov 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 5760
Abstract
It is common knowledge that increasing CO2 concentration plays a major role in enhancement of the greenhouse effect and contributes to global warming. The purpose of this study is to complement the conventional and established theory, that increased CO2 concentration due [...] Read more.
It is common knowledge that increasing CO2 concentration plays a major role in enhancement of the greenhouse effect and contributes to global warming. The purpose of this study is to complement the conventional and established theory, that increased CO2 concentration due to human emissions causes an increase in temperature, by considering the reverse causality. Since increased temperature causes an increase in CO2 concentration, the relationship of atmospheric CO2 and temperature may qualify as belonging to the category of “hen-or-egg” problems, where it is not always clear which of two interrelated events is the cause and which the effect. We examine the relationship of global temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration in monthly time steps, covering the time interval 1980–2019 during which reliable instrumental measurements are available. While both causality directions exist, the results of our study support the hypothesis that the dominant direction is T → CO2. Changes in CO2 follow changes in T by about six months on a monthly scale, or about one year on an annual scale. We attempt to interpret this mechanism by involving biochemical reactions as at higher temperatures, soil respiration and, hence, CO2 emissions, are increasing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers 2020 Editors' Collection)
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Editorial
Changing Sci from Post-Publication Peer-Review to Single-Blind Peer-Review
Sci 2020, 2(4), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci2040082 - 05 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1890
Abstract
Sci was launched in 2018 [...] Full article
Article
A Hybrid Approach: Dynamic Diagnostic Rules for Sensor Systems in Industry 4.0 Generated by Online Hyperparameter Tuned Random Forest
Sci 2020, 2(4), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci2040075 - 09 Oct 2020
Viewed by 1861
Abstract
In this work, a hybrid component Fault Detection and Diagnosis (FDD) approach for industrial sensor systems is established and analyzed, to provide a hybrid schema that combines the advantages and eliminates the drawbacks of both model-based and data-driven methods of diagnosis. Moreover, it [...] Read more.
In this work, a hybrid component Fault Detection and Diagnosis (FDD) approach for industrial sensor systems is established and analyzed, to provide a hybrid schema that combines the advantages and eliminates the drawbacks of both model-based and data-driven methods of diagnosis. Moreover, it shines light on a new utilization of Random Forest (RF) together with model-based diagnosis, beyond its ordinary data-driven application. RF is trained and hyperparameter tuned using three-fold cross validation over a random grid of parameters using random search, to finally generate diagnostic graphs as the dynamic, data-driven part of this system. This is followed by translating those graphs into model-based rules in the form of if-else statements, SQL queries or semantic queries such as SPARQL, in order to feed the dynamic rules into a structured model essential for further diagnosis. The RF hyperparameters are consistently updated online using the newly generated sensor data to maintain the dynamicity and accuracy of the generated graphs and rules thereafter. The architecture of the proposed method is demonstrated in a comprehensive manner, and the dynamic rules extraction phase is applied using a case study on condition monitoring of a hydraulic test rig using time-series multivariate sensor readings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Data Science for Industry 4.0. Theory and Applications)
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