SciTech Roundup, April 12

Recording the inner activity of a cell

With how small cells are, it's difficult enough to see what a cell does, let alone see what's happening inside a cell. But researchers from Carnegie Mellon and Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia believe that they can make recording the activity within a cell easier using their microelectrode platform. They pulse a laser over electrodes made of graphene, a cheap and flexible carbon material, which opens pores on the cell's surface and allows them to record the inner electrical activity of the cell. Their method using graphene allows them to damage the cell as little as possible and hence can be repeated on the same cell over and over again. This work can help research on neurological and cardiac diseases, and the team hopes to use their findings to monitor the effects of drugs on heart cells.

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Making a social media platform to study the spread of misinformation

Misinformation is rampant on the internet and many researchers are interested in figuring out how to preserve the accuracy of the information on social media, but there are limits to studying trends on already existing social media platforms. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab decided to create their own open-source social media platform mimicking Twitter to study how post credibility is associated with post likes. By creating their own platform, they would be able to monitor the changes in the user network from the very beginning. They were also able to create their own custom features, such as displaying user credibility scores based on whether they shared videos containing misinformation. Through this, they were able to find a relationship predicting the authenticity of a post based on its shares, likes, and other information.

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Audio conferencing may be better than video conferencing

Video conferencing has been adopted globally in response to COVID-19 as companies and organizations struggle to recreate in-person meetings and collaboration. However, researchers from Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business and the Department of Communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara found that video conferencing did not seem to have many benefits over audio conferencing in promoting team problem solving, which the researchers called "collective intelligence." In addition, they found that visual cues from video conferencing seemed to allow some participants to speak out of turn and dominate the conversation more easily, while participants in audio-only conferencing were more likely to speak in turn.

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