Technology

Most modern cryptographic schemes rely on complexity for security - they can be cracked, but that would take a prohibitively long time, even with enormous computational resources.

Information-theoretic security, in which even an adversary with unbounded computational power could extract no useful information from an encrypted message, is far too complicated to be practical. With the current White House administration engaged in an unprecedented level of domestic spying, there is a great deal of interest in privacy even the government can't crack.


To gain followers on Twitter, some supposed social media and SEO "experts" claim that a lot of volume and following a lot of people is the road to popularity. 

Not really. The most effective strategy is to already be famous. Due to its imbalanced structure, Stephen Hawking is going to get more followers than you because he is already famous. Once a person with a lot of followers notifies the public he is on Twitter, it takes off much faster than if his social media intern followed 100 people with a few dozen followers. Less popular users can compensate for this by increasing their activity and their tweets but the outcome is costly and inefficient. 


In the past, it was common practice to get rid of anything that was used - and unused - in operating rooms, but with rising health care costs due to government insurance and growing realization that many countries have few supplies at all, recovery of unused operating room materials has gotten new life.

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reported during the 2014 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons that recovery of unused medical supplies from operating rooms for donation to surgical centers in developing countries can potentially alleviate a significant global burden of surgical diseases. 


A novel method to test for vitamin B12 deficiency is sensitive enough to work on anyone, including newborn babies and large swaths of the general population. It uses a single drop of blood collected from a finger prick which is then blotted and dried overnight on a card consisting of filter paper.

The dried blood spot card analysis is sensitive enough to measure the amount of methylmalonic acid (MMA), an indicator of a person's B12 level, according to study author Yvonne Lamers of the University of British Columbia. "This minimally invasive approach helps us measure deficiency in an easier and more convenient way, especially in large samples of people. Our method is the first to make dried blood spot analysis sensitive enough to test healthy people for B12 deficiency."


Three years ago, a patient at Sahlgrenska University Hospital received a blood vessel transplant grown from her own stem cells. Two other transplants were performed in 2012. The patients, two young children, had the same condition as in the first case – they were missing the vein that goes from the gastrointestinal tract to the liver. 

Professors
Suchitra Sumitran-Holgersson, Professor of Transplantation Biology at The Univerisity of Gothenburg, and Michael Olausson, Surgeon/Medical Director of the Transplant Center and Professor at Sahlgrenska Academy, came up with the idea, planned and carried out the procedure.



Right now, the police can't do much to help you until after a crime has been committed. In a science-fiction tale about free will and psychological determinism, Philip K. Dick's "Minority Report" detailed a world where PreCrime officers stop acts before they happen. They know who is going to do it.

But psychic mutants are a simplistic convention, criminologists have instead been trying to do it in the real world.



Think twice before you over-react. Image: Jim Bourg/Reuters

By Alfred Hermida, University of British Columbia

Whatever you do, don’t turn to Twitter for news about Ebola.

The volume and tone of tweets and retweets about the disease will make you wish you were watching the zombie apocalypse of The Walking Dead instead. It is much less scary.

Psychology and psychiatry have a big problem - they are trapped in the past. While most areas of medicine have moved beyond symptom-based diagnosis, the mental health community is instead adding new symptom-based diagnoses, and as a result the National Institute of Mental Health has declared that the newest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders should be considered little more than a glossary of terms.

To fix that, psychiatry needs to progress from symptom-based (e.g. antidepressant, antipsychotic etc.) to pharmacologically based (e.g. focusing on pharmacological target (serotonin, dopamine etc.) and the relevant mode of action. Not only is it more scientific, it will stop patient's wondering why they are getting an antipsychotic for simple anxiety.


I just returned from the Asian Science Park Association conference in Shiraz, Iran.[1] One Science Park official asked me, “Companies in our park cannot get any cooperation from the big petrochemical firms. What can we do?”

Image: the conversation

By David Glance, University of Western Australia

In 2012, the UK’s Sunday Times reported that actor Bruce Willis was going to sue Apple because he was not legally allowed to bequeath his iTunes collection of music to his children.

The story turned out to be false (and shockingly bad journalism) but it did start a conversation about what we can, and can’t, do with our digital possessions.