Weekly News Bites: Starquakes, a buttery planet core, and smart inflatable prosthetics

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are radiation blasts that come from outer space, a new way of seeing the Earth’s core, and a prosthetic socket that fills in the gaps.

Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are mysterious blasts of radiation that hit Earth. FRBs are difficult to source as they happen in a fraction of a second and repeating FRBs resemble earthquakes. The University of Tokyo says these may be from “starquakes” on the surfaces of neutron stars which are very dense, dying stars with lots of energy.

Back down on Earth, research shows that our planet’s core may not be a rigid sphere but “soft as butter” due to iron atoms constantly moving. A team from the UT Jackson School of Geosciences, Sichuan University and Nanjing University created a computer simulation that helped understand these movements.

Binging on social media could be linked to mental health conditions in young people says a study by National Cheng Kung University. The students who excessively used social media reported issues such as weight-related stigma, which can cause distress and negative emotions. Many of the participants were at risk for social media addiction where they would be unable to regulate their time spent on these platforms.

Titanium dioxide is commonly found in cosmetics but a researcher at Tottori University sees its potential to make better rechargeable batteries. Titanium dioxide is much cheaper than the lithium titanium oxide used in powerful batteries and can be used in the potential successors to current lithium-ion batteries.

A misfitting prosthetic can cause pain to the wearer through friction or pressure. To help with this, the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials has developed an inflatable socket that adapts to the pressure put on it (e.g. when walking) using AI. Sensors detect gaps in the socket and the algorithm activates a pump to fill them.