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Robots and artificial machines have been captivating the public for centuries, depicted first as threats to humanity, then as subordinates and helpers. In the last decade, the booming exposure of humans to robots has fostered an increasing interest in soft robotics. By empowering robots with new physical properties, autonomous actuation, and sensing mechanisms, soft robots are making increasing impacts on areas such as health and medicine. At the same time, the public sympathy to robots is increasing. However, there is still a great need for innovation to push robotics toward more diverse applications. To overcome the major limitation of soft robots, which lies in their softness, strategies are being explored to combine the capabilities of soft robots with the performance of hard metallic ones by using composite materials in their structures. After reviewing the major specificities of hard and soft robots, paths to improve actuation speed, stress generation, self-sensing, and actuation will be proposed. Innovations in controlling systems, modeling, and simulation that will be required to use composite materials in robotics will be discussed. Finally, based on recently developed examples, the elements needed to progress toward a new form of artificial life will be described.
Aphidius ervi Haliday (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) is a major natural enemy of several agricultural pests in North America. Yet little is known about its overwintering strategy, especially concerning the plastic response to photoperiod and temperature that induce diapause. Information on parasitoid overwintering patterns is of great importance if we aim to predict their phenology and better inform pest outbreak control. Moreover, there is increasing evidence of plastic and genetic changes in overwintering strategies in insect from temperate areas following climate change. We set up a laboratory approach to better understand the factors acting on diapause induction in A. ervi. We studied the diapause incidence in a population from Québec, Canada, using the combination of two temperatures (14 °C and 20 °C) and three photoperiod treatments (10:14, 12:12, 14:10 [light:dark] hours). We found an effect of both factors on diapause incidence; A. ervi expressed close to 95% of diapause at the most fall-like conditions (14 °C, 10:14 [light:dark] hours) and almost no diapause (3.5%) at the most summer-like conditions tested (20 °C, 14:10 [light:dark] hours). This parasitoid species does have the potential to enter diapause in Québec before lethal frosts, despite a recent introduction from France (1960s), where mild winter occurs compared with Québec.
The Annamite mountains of Viet Nam and the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao) are an area of exceptional mammalian endemism but intensive poaching has defaunated much of the region, creating an extinction crisis for the endemic species. To make efficient use of limited conservation resources, it is imperative that conservation stakeholders obtain basic information about poorly known and threatened endemics. We present the first comprehensive information on the ecology, distribution and status of the little-known endemic Annamite striped rabbit Nesolagus timminsi. We used a systematic camera-trapping design to study the species in five areas in Viet Nam and Lao. In 29,180 camera-trap-nights we recorded 152 independent events at 36 of 266 stations. We obtained an additional 143 independent detections across 12 stations from a supplementary non-systematic survey. We analysed activity patterns and social behaviour. We also used single-species occupancy models to assess factors that influence occupancy at the landscape scale. We used N-mixture models to obtain local abundance estimates in one target area. The Annamite striped rabbit was found to be nocturnal and primarily solitary. Species occupancy was best explained by a proxy for past hunting pressure, with no significant relationships to current anthropogenic or environmental factors. Local abundance was 0.57 individuals per camera-trap station for one of our sites, and estimated to be zero at the other site where hunting appears to have been more intense. Our results provide information on priority areas for targeted anti-poaching efforts and give the first conservation baseline for the species.
The Brittany region of France is located in a low seismicity intraplate zone. Most of the instrumented earthquakes are limited to a shallow crustal depth without surface rupture. A paleoseismological analysis was performed on deposits on the Crozon Peninsula and in the Elorn estuary. We highlight hydroplastic deformations induced by liquefaction leading to clay diapirism, which were likely triggered by past earthquakes. This diapirism seems to be frequent in continental nonconsolidated sediments and to develop on the inherited tectonic structures, when a shallow water table and confining layers exist. Timing of deformation is dated using paleoenvironmental data, and electron spin resonance and infrared-stimulated luminescence dating methods. Two seismic periods were identified in western Europe during early Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage (MIS) 10 (~380 ka) and early MIS 8 (~280–265 ka). The lack of similar deformations affecting the Holocene tidal deposits in the Bay of Brest suggests that the magnitude of the triggering paleoearthquakes is probably higher (Mw ~6) than the recent events (Mw 5.4). These unusual intraplate major paleoearthquakes need specific factors affecting the far-field crustal stress loading to be triggered, such as a brief acceleration of the Africa-Eurasia lithospheric plate convergence, glacio-isostatic stress perturbations associated with the onset of major glaciations in northern Europe, or other processes induced by orbital forcing.
The links between low socioeconomic status and poor health are well established, yet despite adversity, some individuals with low socioeconomic status appear to avoid these negative consequences through adaptive coping. Previous research found a set of strategies, called shift-and-persist (shifting the self to stressors while persisting by finding meaning), to be particularly adaptive for individuals with low socioeconomic status, who typically face more uncontrollable stressors. This study tested (a) whether perceived social status, similar to objective socioeconomic status, would moderate the link between shift-and-persist and health, and (b) whether a specific uncontrollable stressor, unfair treatment, would similarly moderate the health correlates of shift-and-persist. A sample of 308 youth (Meanage = 13.0, range 8–17), physician diagnosed with asthma, completed measures of shift-and-persist, unfair treatment, asthma control, and quality of life in the lab, and 2 weeks of daily diaries about their asthma symptoms. Parents reported on perceived family social status. Results indicated that shift-and-persist was associated with better asthma profiles, only among youth from families with lower (vs. higher) parent-reported perceived social status. Shift-and-persist was also associated with better asthma profiles, only among youth who experienced more (vs. less) unfair treatment. These findings suggest that the adaptive values of coping strategies for youth with asthma depend on the family's perceived social status and on the stressor experienced.
Based on the metrisation of
-metric spaces of Paluszyński and Stempak [‘On quasi-metric and metric spaces’, Proc. Amer. Math. Soc.137(12) (2009), 4307–4312], we prove that every
-metric space has a completion. Our approach resolves the limitation in using the quotient space of equivalence classes of Cauchy sequences to obtain a completion of a
Susceptibility to cold is usually reported as a major factor involved in the neonatal mortality of piglets (English and Morrison, 1984). Low energy reserves and poor insulation largely contribute to the limited thermoregulatory capacities of the newborn pig (Mersmann, 1974; Curtis, 1974). Glycogen is the predominant source of energy accounting for about 0.6 of the total energy available at birth (Mellor and Cockburn, 1986) but glycogen stores are rapidly depleted after birth. In addition, the total body fat content is very low at birth, ranging from 10 to 20g/kg (Manners and McCrea, 1963). Whereas attempts made to increase the energy stored as fat in the newborn pig by manipulation of the sow diet during late gestation have given variable results (Seerley, 1984), colostrum has proved to be an efficient route for depositing fat and hence for the supply of energy to the piglet during the first postnatal day (Le Dividich, Esnault, Lynch, Hoo-Paris, Castex and Peiniau, 1991). The present study was designed to determine the effects of colostral fat level on the energy and fat metabolism of the newborn piglet when maintained during the 1st day of life at thermal neutrality (34°C) or in the cold (21°C).
A total of 35 newborn Large White pigs averaging 1140 (s.e. 54) g in weight were used. Within each litter five piglets were selected according to their live weight. One was killed in order to determine the initial body composition. The remaining pigs were fitted with umbilical artery catheters and stomach tubes. They were placed in individual cages in closed temperature-controlled chambers maintained at either 34 or 21°C and were fed normal colostrum (60 g fat per kg, NFC) or a colostrum deprived of fat (< 10 g fat per kg, LFC) at the rate of 15 to 18 g per meal per kg birth weight. A total of 24 meals were given at about 65-min intervals.
Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) presents a substantial economic burden and is associated with significant morbidity. While multiple treatment strategies have been evaluated, a cost-effective management strategy remains unclear.
We conducted a systematic review to assess cost-effectiveness analyses of CDI treatment and to summarize key issues for clinicians and policy makers to consider.
We searched PubMed and 5 other databases from inception to August 2016. These searches were not limited by study design or language of publication. Two reviewers independently screened the literature, abstracted data, and assessed methodological quality using the Drummond and Jefferson checklist. We extracted data on study characteristics, type of CDI, treatment characteristics, and model structure and inputs.
We included 14 studies, and 13 of these were from high-income countries. More than 90% of these studies were deemed moderate-to-high or high quality. Overall, 6 studies used a decision-tree model and 7 studies used a Markov model. Cost of therapy, time horizon, treatment cure rates, and recurrence rates were common influential factors in the study results. For initial CDI, fidaxomicin was a more cost-effective therapy than metronidazole or vancomycin in 2 of 3 studies. For severe initial CDI, 2 of 3 studies found fidaxomicin to be the most cost-effective therapy. For recurrent CDI, fidaxomicin was cost-effective in 3 of 5 studies, while fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) by colonoscopy was consistently cost-effective in 4 of 4 studies.
The cost-effectiveness of fidaxomicin compared with other pharmacologic therapies was not definitive for either initial or recurrent CDI. Despite its high cost, FMT by colonoscopy may be a cost-effective therapy for recurrent CDI. A consensus on model design and assumptions are necessary for future comparison of CDI treatment.
Emergence and spread of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria, including extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Escherichia coli, have become serious problems worldwide. Recent studies conducted in Vietnam revealed that ESBL-producing E. coli are widely distributed in food animals and people. CTX-M-9 and CTX-M-1 are the most prevalent β-lactamases among the identified ESBLs. Furthermore, most of the ESBL-producing E. coli isolates were multi-drug resistant. Residual antimicrobials such as sulfamethoxazole, trimethoprim, sulfadimidine, cephalexin, and sulfadiazine were also detected at a high level in both animal meats and environmental water collected from several cities, including Ho Chi Minh city and Can Tho city. These recent studies indicated that improper use of antimicrobials in animal-originated food production might contribute to the emergence and high prevalence of ESBL-producing E. coli in Vietnam. Although clonal ESBL-producing E. coli was not identified, CTX-M-55 gene-carrying plasmids with similar sizes (105–139 kb) have been commonly detected in the ESBL-producing E. coli strains isolated from various food animals and human beings. This finding strongly suggests that horizontal transfer of the CTX-M plasmid among various E. coli strains played a critical role in the emergence and high prevalence of ESBL-producing E. coli in Vietnam.
Strongyloidiasis is a neglected tropical disease caused by the roundworm Strongyloides stercoralis affecting 30–100 million people worldwide. Many Southeast-Asian countries report a high prevalence of S. stercoralis infection, but there are little data from Vietnam. Here, we evaluated the seroprevalence of S. stercoralis related to geography, sex and age in Vietnam through serological testing of anonymized sera. Sera (n = 1710, 1340 adults and 270 children) from an anonymized age-stratified serum bank from four regions in Vietnam between 2012 and 2013 were tested using a commercial Strongyloides ratti immunoglobulin G ELISA. Seroreactivity was found in 29·1% (390/1340) of adults and 5·5% (15/270) of children. Male adults were more frequently seroreactive than females (33·3% vs. 24·9%, P = 0·001). The rural central highlands had the highest seroprevalence (42·4% of adults). Seroreactivity in the other regions was 29·9% (Hue) and 26·0% and 18·2% in the large urban centres of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, respectively. We conclude that seroprevalence of S. stercoralis was high in the Vietnamese adult population, especially in rural areas.
Twenty - two Wolf-Rayet stars (12 of type WN and 10 of type UC) were observed in the years 1986-1990 with the VBLUW photometer of Walraven. Eight (WC and WN) objects appeared to be constant. Five of the in total 14 variable objects will be discussed in the present paper: UR46 (WN3 pec), WR50 (WC6+a), WR55 (WN8), WR86 (WC7) and WR123 (WN8).
Simultaneous spectroscopy is made for WR46 and WR50. These results will be also discussed in short.
Satellite altimetric time series allow high-precision monitoring of ice-sheet mass balance. Understanding elevation changes in these regions is important because outlet glaciers along ice-sheet margins are critical in controlling flow of inland ice. Here we discuss a new airborne altimetry dataset collected as part of the ICECAP (International Collaborative Exploration of the Cryosphere by Airborne Profiling) project over East Antarctica. Using the ALAMO (Airborne Laser Altimeter with Mapping Optics) system of a scanning photon-counting lidar combined with a laser altimeter, we extend the 2003–09 surface elevation record of NASA’s ICESat satellite, by determining cross-track slope and thus independently correcting for ICESat’s cross-track pointing errors. In areas of high slope, cross-track errors result in measured elevation change that combines surface slope and the actual Δz/Δt signal. Slope corrections are particularly important in coastal ice streams, which often exhibit both rapidly changing elevations and high surface slopes. As a test case (assuming that surface slopes do not change significantly) we observe a lack of ice dynamic change at Cook Ice Shelf, while significant thinning occurred at Totten and Denman Glaciers during 2003–09.
Estimating the risk of a complicated course of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) might help doctors guide treatment. We aimed to validate 3 published prediction models: Hensgens (2014), Na (2015), and Welfare (2011).
The validation cohort comprised 148 patients diagnosed with CDI between May 2013 and March 2014. During this period, 70 endemic cases of CDI occurred as well as 78 cases of CDI related to an outbreak of C. difficile ribotype 027. Model calibration and discrimination were assessed for the 3 prediction rules.
A complicated course (ie, death, colectomy, or ICU admission due to CDI) was observed in 31 patients (21%), and 23 patients (16%) died within 30 days of CDI diagnosis. The performance of all 3 prediction models was poor when applied to the total validation cohort with an estimated area under the curve (AUC) of 0.68 for the Hensgens model, 0.54 for the Na model, and 0.61 for the Welfare model. For those patients diagnosed with CDI due to non-outbreak strains, the prediction model developed by Hensgens performed the best, with an AUC of 0.78.
All 3 prediction models performed poorly when using our total cohort, which included CDI cases from an outbreak as well as endemic cases. The prediction model of Hensgens performed relatively well for patients diagnosed with CDI due to non-outbreak strains, and this model may be useful in endemic settings.
Strategies for the involvement of primary care in the management of patients with presumed or diagnosed dementia are heterogeneous across Europe. We wanted to explore attitudes of primary care physicians (PCPs) when managing dementia: (i) the most popular cognitive tests, (ii) who had the right to initiate or continue cholinesterase inhibitor or memantine treatment, and (iii) the relationship between the permissiveness of these rules/guidelines and PCP's approach in the dementia investigations and assessment.
Key informant survey. Setting: Primary care practices across 25 European countries. Subjects: Four hundred forty-five PCPs responded to a self-administered questionnaire. Two-step cluster analysis was performed using characteristics of the informants and the responses to the survey. Main outcome measures: Two by two contingency tables with odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were used to assess the association between categorical variables. A multinomial logistic regression model was used to assess the association of multiple variables (age class, gender, and perceived prescription rules) with the PCPs’ attitude of “trying to establish a diagnosis of dementia on their own.”
Discrepancies between rules/guidelines and attitudes to dementia management was found in many countries. There was a strong association between the authorization to prescribe dementia drugs and pursuing dementia diagnostic work-up (odds ratio, 3.45; 95% CI 2.28–5.23).
Differing regulations about who does what in dementia management seemed to affect PCP's engagement in dementia investigations and assessment. PCPs who were allowed to prescribe dementia drugs also claimed higher engagement in dementia work-up than PCPs who were not allowed to prescribe.
Cattle manure value chains play important biological and economic roles in smallholder crop–livestock systems in developing countries, but relative to other livestock products our understanding of the nature and impact of manure sales is limited. In regions with an active manure trade, farmers face a choice between manure use on-farm and sales, which affects nutrient flows and participant incomes. We analyzed the manure value chain operating in south-central Vietnam as an example of the function and role of manure trade in crop–livestock systems. Lowland cattle farmers sell manure through a network of chain participants, including small-scale collectors, lowland and highland traders, to pepper, coffee, dragon fruit and rubber farms in the central highlands and southeast coast. We collected and summarized quantitative data (e.g., manure-related labor, manure transactions, and fertilizer and manure use) gathered in semi-structured interviews with value-chain participants [lowland cattle owners (n = 101), traders (n = 27) and end users (n = 72)]. Lowland cattle owners were selected by stratified random sampling, and subsequent participants were identified in preceding interviews. One key finding concerns the seasonality of the manure value chain: most manure flowed between February and August (lowland dry season and period of peak highland demand) from lowland communes to highland coffee and pepper farms for use as organic soil amendments. Fewer sales occurred, at a lower price, to southeast coastal dragon fruit farms and rubber companies. Value addition to manure occurred via drying, bagging, collection, transport and composting. The presence of local traders facilitated market sales for smallholder cattle owners, and prices through the value chain generally reflected costs for value addition. The geographic distribution of cattle relative to agricultural land influenced the flow of manure, with net outflows from regions with higher animal density to regions with lower density and higher value crop production. Manure trade was an important source of supplementary income for farmers and a primary livelihood activity for traders. Value chain participant net incomes ranged from near US$100 yr−1 for lowland farmers to over US$13,000 yr−1 for traders, and returns to labor were just over US$0.50 h−1 for lowland farmers and US$2 h−1 for traders. The quantitative information generated during our descriptive assessment provides an important first step toward manure value chain improvement, indicates survey methods that can be applied in other areas, and identifies next steps necessary to evaluate chain evolution and resilience.
This review summarizes the results from the INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique) divergent selection experiment on residual feed intake (RFI) in growing Large White pigs during nine generations of selection. It discusses the remaining challenges and perspectives for the improvement of feed efficiency in growing pigs. The impacts on growing pigs raised under standard conditions and in alternative situations such as heat stress, inflammatory challenges or lactation have been studied. After nine generations of selection, the divergent selection for RFI led to highly significant (P<0.001) line differences for RFI (−165 g/day in the low RFI (LRFI) line compared with high RFI line) and daily feed intake (−270 g/day). Low responses were observed on growth rate (−12.8 g/day, P<0.05) and body composition (+0.9 mm backfat thickness, P=0.57; −2.64% lean meat content, P<0.001) with a marked response on feed conversion ratio (−0.32 kg feed/kg gain, P<0.001). Reduced ultimate pH and increased lightness of the meat (P<0.001) were observed in LRFI pigs with minor impact on the sensory quality of the meat. These changes in meat quality were associated with changes of the muscular energy metabolism. Reduced maintenance energy requirements (−10% after five generations of selection) and activity (−21% of time standing after six generations of selection) of LRFI pigs greatly contributed to the gain in energy efficiency. However, the impact of selection for RFI on the protein metabolism of the pig remains unclear. Digestibility of energy and nutrients was not affected by selection, neither for pigs fed conventional diets nor for pigs fed high-fibre diets. A significant improvement of digestive efficiency could likely be achieved by selecting pigs on fibre diets. No convincing genetic or blood biomarker has been identified for explaining the differences in RFI, suggesting that pigs have various ways to achieve an efficient use of feed. No deleterious impact of the selection on the sow reproduction performance was observed. The resource allocation theory states that low RFI may reduce the ability to cope with stressors, via the reduction of a buffer compartment dedicated to responses to stress. None of the experiments focussed on the response of pigs to stress or challenges could confirm this theory. Understanding the relationships between RFI and responses to stress and energy demanding processes, as such immunity and lactation, remains a major challenge for a better understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms of the trait and to reconcile the experimental results with the resource allocation theory.
In this paper we first give a negative answer to a question of Amini-Harandi [‘Best proximity point theorems for cyclic strongly quasi-contraction mappings’, J. Global Optim.56 (2013), 1667–1674] on a best proximity point theorem for cyclic quasi-contraction maps. Then we prove some new results on best proximity point theorems that show that results of Amini-Harandi for cyclic strongly quasi-contractions are true under weaker assumptions.
Two new 14C reference materials have been developed for international use, filling a gap in the present C1–C6 series available from the IAEA. By mixing a modern and a synthetic substance, 150 kg of C7 (ca. 50 pMC activity) and C8 (ca. 15 pMC activity), respectively, were obtained.
The aims of the present study were to provide nationally representative data on fruit and vegetable consumption in Vietnam, and to assess the accuracy of the reported numbers of ‘standard servings’ consumed. Data analysed were from a multi-stage stratified cluster survey of 14 706 participants (46·5 % males, response proportion 64·1 %) aged 25−64 years in Vietnam. Measurements were made in accordance with the WHO STEPwise approach to surveillance of non-communicable diseases (STEPS) protocols. Approximately 80 % of Vietnamese people reported having less than five servings of fruit and vegetables daily in a typical week. Fruit and vegetable intake reported in ‘standard serving’ sizes was positively correlated with levels of education completed and household income (P<0·001 for trend). The correlations between summary values for each province reflect some known demographic, geographical and climatic characteristics of the country. For example, provinces at higher latitude had higher mean servings of vegetables (r 0·90), and provinces with higher proportions of urban population had higher mean servings of fruit (r 0·40). In conclusion, about eight in ten Vietnamese people aged 25–64 years did not meet WHO recommendations for daily consumption of at least five servings of fruit and vegetables. On the basis of the consistency of the data collected with other estimates and with physical and demographic characteristics of the country, the WHO STEPS instrument has construct validity for measuring fruit and vegetable intake, but with two issues identified. The issues were seasonal variation in reporting and a limitation on the usefulness of the information for associative analyses.