Weekly News Bites: Finger-tapping robots, children’s screen time, and a dung beetle map

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are a robotic hand with a magic touch, a solution to reduce the negative effects of screen time in children, and a team charting dung beetles.

The Indian Institute of Science (IISC) has developed a model to simulate the effects of a lightning strike on an aircraft. The team hope that using the data will help them better understand the atmosphere before and after the bolt of lightning hits, including humidity and air pressure. This data can help manufacturers optimize airplane design for preventative measures to protect them from lightning strikes.

With a simple tap of the finger, a robotic hand created by Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University can detect levels of mercury in food or drinks. The nanosensor at the fingertip uses wires that become electrically charged in the presence of mercury ions. The technology can be used to monitor mercury levels in at-risk areas.

Scientists from IIT Madras, Jadavpur University, and Northwestern University have created a mathematical model to show how viruses spread to the lungs. The model determined that droplets containing viruses that infect the mucus lining of the respiratory tract can descend into the lungs. Recommendations from these insights aim to help avoid serious lung disease in COVID 19 patients.

Researchers from Osaka University have discovered a “simple” way to reduce the negative impacts of screen time for children: playing outside. The negative effects of screen time on daily living skills reduced by 20 percent in children who had increased playtime outdoors. Children can still have some screen time, but an indoor/outdoor balance is needed for healthy development. 

A study by the National University Hospital Singapore and the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine found that middle-aged women with weak muscles had a higher risk of developing diabetes. The study measured the patient's grip and time taken to stand up and found that poor performers in these tests were more likely to have diabetes. To keep healthy, the researchers recommend incorporating resistance training into your exercise routine.

Dung may not be the most appealing thing to find… except if you’re a dung beetle! The presence of dung beetles can be an indicator of a healthy ecosystem (more dung equals more animals) and habitat changes, so a team from Nanyang Technological University has decided to chart these insects in Singapore

Researchers from the Tokyo Medical and Dental University and the Innovation Center of Nanomedicine have developed “nanomachines” that can remove an Alzheimer’s-causing protein. These nanomachines are made up of antibody fragments that attach to the protein and glucose that can help it cross the blood-brain-barrier that protects the brain.