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Microscopic examination of blood smears remains the gold standard for laboratory inspection and diagnosis of malaria. Smear inspection is, however, time-consuming and dependent on trained microscopists with results varying in accuracy. We sought to develop an automated image analysis method to improve accuracy and standardization of smear inspection that retains capacity for expert confirmation and image archiving. Here, we present a machine learning method that achieves red blood cell (RBC) detection, differentiation between infected/uninfected cells, and parasite life stage categorization from unprocessed, heterogeneous smear images. Based on a pretrained Faster Region-Based Convolutional Neural Networks (R-CNN) model for RBC detection, our model performs accurately, with an average precision of 0.99 at an intersection-over-union threshold of 0.5. Application of a residual neural network-50 model to infected cells also performs accurately, with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.98. Finally, combining our method with a regression model successfully recapitulates intraerythrocytic developmental cycle with accurate lifecycle stage categorization. Combined with a mobile-friendly web-based interface, called PlasmoCount, our method permits rapid navigation through and review of results for quality assurance. By standardizing assessment of Giemsa smears, our method markedly improves inspection reproducibility and presents a realistic route to both routine lab and future field-based automated malaria diagnosis.
X-ray pulsars are the only accreting magnetic stars where rotation torques induced by accretion are large enough to be measured on short timescales ~ days. They are thus unique laboratories for studying the interaction between an accretion disk and a stellar magnetosphere. We describe 5 years of continuous pulsar timing observations by the BATSE instrument on GRO which paint a strikingly different picture of pulsar spin behavior than understood from the previous 20 years of sparse observations. In particular, we find that more than half of the persistent pulsars we observe undergo dramatic torque reversals, switching suddenly between extended periods of steady spin-up and steady spin-down. Moreover, variations in pulsed flux are anticorrelated with torque in at least one system undergoing secular spin-down, GX1+4. This behavior contradicts standard accretion torque theory (Ghosh and Lamb 1979). A simple – albeit unconventional – hypothesis which naturally explains these observations is that the disks in these systems somehow alternate between epochs of prograde and retrograde rotation.
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