Children are susceptible to online crime and abuse. The key to protecting these inexperienced internet users is to build more robust, easy-to-manage security and privacy features into browsers. EU-funded researchers are on the case. The ENCASE project is leveraging the latest advances in online security and privacy to design and implement a browser-based architecture for protecting youngsters from predators frequenting social networks, as well as other internet menaces. Key to the new developments being explored by the Cyprus-led team is ease-of-use, so guardians, whether at home or school, can easily activate and manage browser settings. To do this, they plan to develop a user-centric architecture (design, test and organise websites guided by user needs) focusing on distinct services, which can be combined to form what the team calls “an effective protective net” against, for example, cyber-bullying and lurid or abusive acts.
In a bid to foster a more sustainable and competitive olive-oil sector, the EU-funded BeFOre project is developing a molecular database of the most resilient olive varieties that have the highest agronomical potential. Over 1 200 varieties of olive are currently cultivated globally. For those interested in the molecular and agronomical aspects of the olive, this which makes it difficult to find agreed data As agricultural production faces new demands, variants of olive with a high resilience to climate change or relevance for functional foods are of particular interest to the olive-growing sector.
The world’s oldest known glue was made by Neanderthals. But how did they make it 200,000 years ago? Leiden archaeologists have discovered three possible ways. Publication in Scientific Reports, 31 August. A Neanderthal spear is predominantly made up of two parts, a piece of flint for the point, and a stick for the shaft. But one aspect is often overlooked, and has recently been puzzling archaeologists: the glue that fixes the point to the shaft. For this, Neanderthals used tar from birch bark, a material that researchers often assumed was complex and difficult to make.
A new study led by the University of Southampton has shed light on the swimming style of a prehistoric sea creature by creating a robot to mimic its movements.
A Southampton team including Luke Muscutt, a PhD student in Engineering and the Environment, worked with partners at the University of Bristol to analyse the propulsion method of plesiosaurs –marine reptiles that lived at the same time as dinosaurs and died out more than 65 million years ago.
Plesiosaurs are unique among vertebrates because they used two near-identical pairs of flippers to propel themselves through the water – whereas other animals, including existing species such as turtles and sea lions, have differently constructed front and back sets, using the front ones mainly for thrust and the back ones for steering. However, the propulsion dynamics of the plesiosaur have long been debated, with various theories proposed since the 1950s.
Making a biocell that is as effective as a platinum fuel cell: that’s the feat that researchers in the Laboratoire de Bioénergétique et Ingénierie des Protéines (CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université) have achieved, in collaboration with the Centre de Recherche Paul Pascal (CNRS/Université de Bordeaux) and the Institut Universitaire des Systèmes Thermiques Industriels (CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université). Three years after making their first prototype biocell, the researchers have just reached a new milestone and increased its performance and stability. This biocell could, in the long run, offer an alternative to fuel cells that require rare and costly metals, such as platinum. Their work was published in Energy & Environmental Science on August 17, 2017. A fuel cell converts chemical energy into electrical energy via hydrogen combustion. Though it is considered to be a clean technology – because it does not emit greenhouse gases – fuel cells do use costly rare metal catalysts1, such as platinum, to oxidize hydrogen and reduce oxygen. In recent years, the identification of biocatalysts, enzymes with remarkable properties, has revitalized research in this area: their oxygen, and especially hydrogen, transformation activity is comparable to that of platinum. Hydrogenase activity was, until recently, inhibited by oxygen and therefore incompatible with use in cells.