News Mash-up: Recent Research

Category : Health

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. unsettling / ʌnˈsɛt ə lɪŋ / (adj.) – causing someone to feel worried or uneasy

    The feeling that somebody’s staring at you is very unsettling.

  2. queasy / ˈkwi zi / (adj.) – feeling unpleasant because of nervousness or worry

    I feel queasy when I’m alone in the dark for a long time.

  3. uncanny valley / ʌnˈkæn i ˈvæl i / (n.) – the uncomfortable feeling one has when looking at robots that almost look like real humans

    The robot smiled at me. It looked so real that it gave me a sense of uncanny valley.

  4. wound / wund / (n.) – damage to the skin, such as a cut, caused by a knife, blade, etc.

    I got a small wound on my finger from a paper cut.

  5. antimicrobial / ˌæn ti maɪˈkroʊ bi əl / (adj.) – having the ability to destroy or stop the growth of germs and bacteria

    It’s important to use cleaning products that contain antimicrobial ingredients.


Read the text below.

A robot’s gaze can affect the human brain

It has long been known that making eye contact with a robot can be an unsettling experience. Scientists even have a name for the queasy feeling: the “uncanny valley.” Now, thanks to researchers, we also know it’s more than just a feeling.

A team at the Istituto Italiano Di Tecnologia in Genoa has shown how a robot’s gaze can trick us into thinking we are socially interacting and slow our ability to make decisions.

“Gaze is an extremely important social signal that we employ on a day-to-day basis when interacting with others,” said Agnieszka Wykowska, lead author of the research, published on Sept. 1 in the journal Science Robotics. (Reuters)

Antibacterial bandages made from durian

Scientists at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore are tackling food waste by turning discarded durian husks into antibacterial gel bandages.

The process extracts cellulose powder from the husks of the fruits after they are sliced and freeze-dried, then mixes it with glycerol. This mixture becomes soft hydrogel, which is then cut into bandage strips.

Compared to conventional bandages, the organo-hydrogel bandages are able to keep wound areas cooler and moist, which can help accelerate healing.

The researchers say using waste materials and yeast for the antimicrobial bandages is more cost-effective than for the production of conventional bandages. (Reuters)

These articles were provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • A team at Istituto Italiano Di Tecnologia showed how a robot’s gaze can trick us into thinking we’re socially interacting and slow our ability to make decisions. Do you think this could have any serious effects? Based on these findings, do you think robot designers should strive to make robots less realistic? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • How do you feel about interacting with robots? Do you think regular interactions with robots will become more common in the future? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Organo-hydrogel bandages were created as a way of tackling food waste. Do you think these bandages should totally replace conventional bandages? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Bandages made from durian can help make wounds heal faster and are also more cost-effective. If this kind of bandage becomes available in your country, will you try using it? Why or why not? Discuss.
Category : Health