This series scans the latest research and developments in the realms of science, academia, technology and geopolitics, providing a glance at the ever changing world
Trump’s “peace plan”; a strategy for himself?
Earlier this week, President Donald Trump released his “peace plan” for the long disputed “holy land”, the proposal claims to provide a legitimate two-state solution. It has also claimed to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict but has sparked great concern worldwide as a strategy that will usurp the little identity and freedom Palestinians have.
Trump has proposed an independent Palestinian state and the recognition of Israel’s control over the West Bank settlements, in response President Mahmoud Abbas said, “I say to Trump and Netanyahu: Jerusalem is not for sale, all our rights are not for sale and are not for bargain”.
Last year, the Trump administration decided to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; a holy city for both Muslims and Jews. Though the decision was rejected by the majority of world leaders, their views were vetoed by the US and Jerusalem was recognised as the capital of Israel by America. The decision, nevertheless, gained the support of the President’s supporters (home and abroad); many others saying the decision was Trump’s attempt for further political support.
A recent New York Times article by David E Sanger, the first senior fellow in The Press and National Security at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard and a national security correspondent at the New York Times, deliberated on Trump’s “peace plan” as “trying to prevail in an impeachment trial”. He said that the plan “builds on his [Trump’s] decision to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem – a huge political success…” The senior writer for the New York Times explained how the timing of the peace plan was “no accident” as the focus of television is on the impeachment but Trump has tried to “stand in the East Room and cast himself as a peacemaker.”
The article mentioned Robert Malled, president of the International Crisis Group who said “Strip away the domestic and Israeli political considerations that determined the timing of the plan’s release, and the message to the Palestinians, boiled down to its essence, is: ‘You’ve lost, get over it,’”
Mr Sanger wrote that “By tilting the map of a future Palestinian state so precipitously in Israel’s direction, Mr. Trump has embraced a plan that essentially dismantles 60 years of bipartisan…”
The plan has not been approved by world leaders, though some Muslim nations have supported the idea, and a clear refusal from Palestine was heard. The article noted that though the announcement has been made, “For election purposes, Mr. Trump does not need a deal, he simply needs the impression that progress is being made.” (nytimes.com, 28 January 2020)
“Researchers reporting in ACS Central Science have developed color-changing bandages that can sense drugresistant and drug-sensitive bacteria in wounds and treat them accordingly.” Antibiotic resistance, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is one of the greatest problems to world health and there is a constant battle to reduce resistance. The new bandages will aid towards a solution as “Sensing and treating bacterial infections earlier could help improve patients’ recovery, as well curb the spread of antibiotic-resistant microbes.” (phys.org, 29 January 2020)
Imperfections make perfect
Physicists from Northwestern University researchers have showed that “certain systems with interacting entities can synchronize only if the entities within the system are different from one another.” This new research changes previous understanding on how “collective behavior found in nature… can arise even when the individual insects or cells are different.” In simple terms, a difference makes all the difference! Two identical entities will act identically when not interacting, however once they start interacting, they behave differently. A change is therefore needed between them for the entities to act identically again. “It is interesting that systems need to be asymmetric to exhibit behavioral symmetry,” said Nishikawa, professor of physics at Weinberg. “This is remarkable mathematically, let alone physically. So, many colleagues thought that experimentally demonstrating this effect was impossible.” (phys.org, 20 January 2020)
5G, What’s the fuss?
Speculation and debate has risen about the supply of 5G, particularly from Huawei. But what is 5G and the fuss about? Well, it’s the next generation of internet connection, offering increased download speeds that opens a world of developments. Ian Fogg from OpenSignal described it in the following words, “Think of smart glasses featuring augmented reality, mobile virtual reality, much higher quality video, the internet of things making cities smarter.”
Some companies have predicted 5G internet speeds would be 10 to 20 times faster and would “allow you to download a high-definition film in a minute or so.” However, there are privacy concerns about buying 5G from the Chinese company Huawei, the US has banned the company while Britain has taken a more lenient stance. (bbc.com/news, 28 January 2020)
How to increase 30% greater focus in the classroom
According to a new study published in Educational Psychology, teachers should focus on praising children for good behaviour as opposed to telling them off for bad behaviour. The study took place in the US and involved 2,536 students from 5-12 years old. “The children observed were shown to focus on tasks up to 20% to 30% more when teachers were required to consider the number of praise statements given, compared to the number of reprimands.” Dr Calderella, from David McKay School of Education at Brigham Young, noted that “Unfortunately, previous research has shown that teachers often tend to reprimand students for problem behaviour as much or more than they praise pupils for appropriate behaviour, which can often have a negative effect on classrooms and student behaviour”. (phys.org, 29 January 2020)
GOOD TO KNOW
Artery plaque-eating nanoparticle
Scientists from Michigan State University and Stanford University have created a “Trojan Horse” nanoparticle that noshes away bits of plaques that cause heart attacks, the findings were published in Nature Nanotechnology. The nanoparticle administers a drug agent once it reaches the macrophages in the plaques; the drug stimulates the cell to “engulf and eat cellular debris.” It removes dead cells out of the plaque, thus helping in clearing the heart from possible heart attacks. (sciencedaily. com, 28 January 2020)