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Kosmos
Astronomia Astrofizyka
Inne

Kultura
Sztuka dawna i współczesna, muzea i kolekcje

Metoda
Metodologia nauk, Matematyka, Filozofia, Miary i wagi, Pomiary

Materia
Substancje, reakcje, energia
Fizyka, chemia i inżynieria materiałowa

Człowiek
Antropologia kulturowa Socjologia Psychologia Zdrowie i medycyna

Wizje
Przewidywania Kosmologia Religie Ideologia Polityka

Ziemia
Geologia, geofizyka, geochemia, środowisko przyrodnicze

Życie
Biologia, biologia molekularna i genetyka

Cyberprzestrzeń
Technologia cyberprzestrzeni, cyberkultura, media i komunikacja

Działalność
Wiadomości | Gospodarka, biznes, zarządzanie, ekonomia

Technologie
Budownictwo, energetyka, transport, wytwarzanie, technologie informacyjne

Czasopisma z MDPI

Wydawnictwo MDPI publikuje czasopisma Open Access.

The editors of Proteomes would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2013.

http://www.mdpi.com/2227-7382/2/1/84 2014/03/03 - 13:58

A universal pH indicator is used to fabricate a fiber optic ammonia sensor. The advantage of this pH indicator is that it exhibits sensitivity to ammonia over a broad wavelength range. This provides a differential response, with a valley around 500 nm and a peak around 650 nm, which allows us to perform ratiometric measurements. The ratiometric measurements provide not only an enhanced signal, but can also eliminate any external disturbance due to humidity or temperature fluctuations. In addition, the indicator is embedded in a hydrophobic and gas permeable polyurethane film named Tecoflex®. The film provides additional advantages to the sensor, such as operation in dry environments, efficient transport of the element to be measured to the sensitive area of the sensor, and prevent leakage or detachment of the indicator. The combination of the universal pH indicator and Tecoflex® film provides a reliable and robust fiber optic ammonia sensor.

http://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/14/3/4060 2014/03/03 - 13:58

Stinging jellyfish outbreaks represent a health hazard, causing contact dermatitis and systemic reactions. This study investigated the epidemiology, severity, and treatment protocols of jellyfish stings in a coastal area with high tourist development and frequent stinging jellyfish outbreaks of the central Mediterranean (Salento, Southern Italy), and the associated costs for the Italian National Health Service. In 2007–2011, 1,733 bathers (mostly children and females) sought medical assistance following jellyfish stings, the main cause of human pathologies due to contact with marine organisms. The majority of events were reported in the years 2007–2009, whereas the occurrence of cnidarian jellyfish outbreaks has been increasingly reported in the same area since summer 2010. Most symptoms were limited to local and cutaneous reactions; conversely, 8.7% of cases evoked complications, mainly due to allergic reactions. The main drugs used were corticosteroids, locally applied and systemic (46% and 43%, respectively), and with ammonia (74%) as the main non-pharmacological treatment. The estimated cost of jellyfish-related first-aid services along the Salento coastline over the 5-year period was approximately 400,000 Euros. Therefore the management of jellyfish outbreak phenomena need coordinated research efforts towards a better understanding of underlying ecological mechanisms, together with the adoption of effective prevention policy, mitigation strategies, and appropriate planning of health services at tourist hot spots.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/11/3/2488 2014/03/03 - 13:58

Stinging jellyfish outbreaks represent a health hazard, causing contact dermatitis and systemic reactions. This study investigated the epidemiology, severity, and treatment protocols of jellyfish stings in a coastal area with high tourist development and frequent stinging jellyfish outbreaks of the central Mediterranean (Salento, Southern Italy), and the associated costs for the Italian National Health Service. In 2007–2011, 1,733 bathers (mostly children and females) sought medical assistance following jellyfish stings, the main cause of human pathologies due to contact with marine organisms. The majority of events were reported in the years 2007–2009, whereas the occurrence of cnidarian jellyfish outbreaks has been increasingly reported in the same area since summer 2010. Most symptoms were limited to local and cutaneous reactions; conversely, 8.7% of cases evoked complications, mainly due to allergic reactions. The main drugs used were corticosteroids, locally applied and systemic (46% and 43%, respectively), and with ammonia (74%) as the main non-pharmacological treatment. The estimated cost of jellyfish-related first-aid services along the Salento coastline over the 5-year period was approximately 400,000 Euros. Therefore the management of jellyfish outbreak phenomena need coordinated research efforts towards a better understanding of underlying ecological mechanisms, together with the adoption of effective prevention policy, mitigation strategies, and appropriate planning of health services at tourist hot spots.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/11/3/2488 2014/03/03 - 13:58

The integration of photonic materials into CMOS processing involves the use of new materials. A simple one-step metal-organic radio frequency plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition system (RF-PEMOCVD) was deployed to grow erbium-doped amorphous carbon thin films (a-C:(Er)) on Si substrates at low temperatures (<200 °C). A partially fluorinated metal-organic compound, tris(6,6,7,7,8,8,8-heptafluoro-2,2-dimethyl-3,5- octanedionate) Erbium(+III) or abbreviated Er(fod)3, was incorporated in situ into a-C based host. Six-fold enhancement of Er room-temperature photoluminescence at 1.54 µm was demonstrated by deuteration of the a-C host. Furthermore, the effect of RF power and substrate temperature on the photoluminescence of a-C:D(Er) films was investigated and analyzed in terms of the film structure. Photoluminescence signal increases with increasing RF power, which is the result of an increase in [O]/[Er] ratio and the respective erbium-oxygen coordination number. Moreover, photoluminescence intensity decreases with increasing substrate temperature, which is attributed to an increased desorption rate or a lower sticking coefficient of the fluorinated fragments during film growth and hence [Er] decreases. In addition, it is observed that Er concentration quenching begins at ~2.2 at% and continues to increase until 5.5 at% in the studied a-C:D(Er) matrix. This technique provides the capability of doping Er in a vertically uniform profile.

http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1944/7/3/1539 2014/03/03 - 13:58

The effects of cold air on cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases were investigated in an experimental study examining blood pressure and biochemical indicators. Zhangye, a city in Gansu Province, China, was selected as the experimental site. Health screening and blood tests were conducted, and finally, 30 cardiovascular disease patients and 40 healthy subjects were recruited. The experiment was performed during a cold event during 27–28 April 2013. Blood pressure, catecholamine, angiotensin II (ANG-II), cardiac troponin I (cTnI), muscle myoglobin (Mb) and endothefin-1 (ET-1) levels of the subjects were evaluated 1 day before, during the 2nd day of the cold exposure and 1 day after the cold air exposure. Our results suggest that cold air exposure increases blood pressure in cardiovascular disease patients and healthy subjects via the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) that is activated first and which augments ANG-II levels accelerating the release of the norepinephrine and stimulates the renin-angiotensin system (RAS). The combined effect of these factors leads to a rise in blood pressure. In addition, cold air exposure can cause significant metabolism and secretion of Mb, cTnI and ET-1 in subjects; taking the patient group as an example, ET-1 was 202.7 ng/L during the cold air exposure, increased 58 ng/L compared with before the cold air exposure, Mb and cTnI levels remained relatively high (2,219.5 ng/L and 613.2 ng/L, increased 642.1 ng/L and 306.5 ng/L compared with before the cold air exposure, respectively) 1-day after the cold exposure. This showed that cold air can cause damage to patients’ heart cells, and the damage cannot be rapidly repaired. Some of the responses related to the biochemical markers indicated that cold exposure increased cardiovascular strain and possible myocardial injury.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/11/3/2472 2014/03/03 - 13:58

Shape memory behavior of crystalline shape memory polyurethane (SPU) reinforced with graphene, which utilizes melting temperature as a shape recovery temperature, was examined with various external actuating stimuli such as direct heating, resistive heating, and infrared (IR) heating. Compatibility of graphene with crystalline SPU was adjusted by altering the structure of the hard segment of the SPU, by changing the structure of the graphene, and by changing the preparation method of the graphene/SPU composite. The SPU made of aromatic 4,4′-diphenylmethane diisocyanate (MSPU) exhibited better compatibility with graphene, having an aromatic structure, compared to that made of the aliphatic hexamethylene diisocyanate. The finely dispersed graphene effectively reinforced MSPU, improved shape recovery of MSPU, and served effectively as a filler, triggering shape recovery by resistive or IR heating. Compatibility was enhanced when the graphene was modified with methanol. This improved shape recovery by direct heating, but worsened the conductivity of the composite, and consequently the efficiency of resistive heating for shape recovery also declined. Graphene modified with methanol was more effective than pristine graphene in terms of shape recovery by IR heating.

http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1944/7/3/1520 2014/03/03 - 13:58

Taxation has been suggested as a possible preventive strategy to address the serious public health concern of childhood obesity. Understanding the public’s viewpoint on the potential role of taxation is vital to inform policy decisions if they are to be acceptable to the wider community. A Citizens’ Jury is a deliberative method for engaging the public in decision making and can assist in setting policy agendas. A Citizens’ Jury was conducted in Brisbane, Australia in May 2013 to answer the question: Is taxation on food and drinks an acceptable strategy to the public in order to reduce rates of childhood obesity? Citizens were randomly selected from the electoral roll and invited to participate. Thirteen members were purposively sampled from those expressing interest to broadly reflect the diversity of the Australian public. Over two days, participants were presented with evidence on the topic by experts, were able to question witnesses and deliberate on the evidence. The jurors unanimously supported taxation on sugar-sweetened drinks but generally did not support taxation on processed meats, snack foods and foods eaten/ purchased outside the home. They also supported taxation on snack foods on the condition that traffic light labelling was also introduced. Though they were not specifically asked to deliberate strategies outside of taxation, the jurors strongly recommended more nutritional information on all food packaging using the traffic light and teaspoon labelling systems for sugar, salt and fat content. The Citizens’ Jury suggests that the general public may support taxation on sugar-sweetened drinks to reduce rates of obesity in children. Regulatory reforms of taxation on sugar-sweetened drinks and improved labelling of nutritional information on product packaging were strongly supported by all members of the jury. These reforms should be considered by governments to prevent childhood obesity and the future burden on society from the consequences of obesity.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/11/3/2456 2014/03/03 - 13:58

We report an experimental study on confined systems formed by butyloxybenzylidene octylaniline liquid crystal (4O.8) + γ-alumina nanoparticles. The effects of the confinement in the thermal and dielectric properties of the liquid crystal under different densities of nanoparticles is analyzed by means of high resolution Modulated Differential Scanning Calorimetry (MDSC) and broadband dielectric spectroscopy. First, a drastic depression of the N-I and SmA-N transition temperatures is observed with confinement, the more concentration of nanoparticles the deeper this depression is, driving the nematic range closer to the room temperature. An interesting experimental law is found for both transition temperatures. Second, the change in shape of the heat capacity peaks is quantified by means of the full width half maximum (FWHM). Third, the confinement does not noticeably affect the molecular dynamics. Finally, the combination of nanoparticles and the external applied electric field tends to favor the alignment of the molecules in metallic cells. All these results indicate that the confinement of liquid crystals by means of γ-alumina nanoparticles could be optimum for liquid crystal-based electrooptic devices.

http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1944/7/3/1502 2014/03/03 - 13:58

The editors of Nanomaterials would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2013.

http://www.mdpi.com/2079-4991/4/1/155 2014/03/03 - 13:58

The editors of Humanities would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2013

http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0787/3/1/71 2014/03/03 - 13:58

The editors of Humanities would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2013

http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0787/3/1/71 2014/03/03 - 13:58

One of the main challenges during the development of operating strategies for modern diesel engines is the reduction of the CO2 emissions, while complying with ever more stringent limits for the pollutant emissions. The inherent trade-off between the emissions of CO2 and pollutants renders a simultaneous reduction difficult. Therefore, an optimal operating strategy is sought that yields minimal CO2 emissions, while holding the cumulative pollutant emissions at the allowed level. Such an operating strategy can be obtained offline by solving a constrained optimal control problem. However, the final-value constraint on the cumulated pollutant emissions prevents this approach from being adopted for causal control. This paper proposes a framework for causal optimal control of diesel engines. The optimization problem can be solved online when the constrained minimization of the CO2 emissions is reformulated as an unconstrained minimization of the CO2 emissions and the weighted pollutant emissions (i.e., equivalent emissions). However, the weighting factors are not known a priori. A method for the online calculation of these weighting factors is proposed. It is based on the Hamilton–Jacobi–Bellman (HJB) equation and a physically motivated approximation of the optimal cost-to-go. A case study shows that the causal control strategy defined by the online calculation of the equivalence factor and the minimization of the equivalent emissions is only slightly inferior to the non-causal offline optimization, while being applicable to online control.

http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1073/7/3/1230 2014/03/03 - 13:58

One of the main challenges during the development of operating strategies for modern diesel engines is the reduction of the CO2 emissions, while complying with ever more stringent limits for the pollutant emissions. The inherent trade-off between the emissions of CO2 and pollutants renders a simultaneous reduction difficult. Therefore, an optimal operating strategy is sought that yields minimal CO2 emissions, while holding the cumulative pollutant emissions at the allowed level. Such an operating strategy can be obtained offline by solving a constrained optimal control problem. However, the final-value constraint on the cumulated pollutant emissions prevents this approach from being adopted for causal control. This paper proposes a framework for causal optimal control of diesel engines. The optimization problem can be solved online when the constrained minimization of the CO2 emissions is reformulated as an unconstrained minimization of the CO2 emissions and the weighted pollutant emissions (i.e., equivalent emissions). However, the weighting factors are not known a priori. A method for the online calculation of these weighting factors is proposed. It is based on the Hamilton–Jacobi–Bellman (HJB) equation and a physically motivated approximation of the optimal cost-to-go. A case study shows that the causal control strategy defined by the online calculation of the equivalence factor and the minimization of the equivalent emissions is only slightly inferior to the non-causal offline optimization, while being applicable to online control.

http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1073/7/3/1230 2014/03/03 - 13:58

The editors of Social Sciences would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2013.

http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0760/3/1/140 2014/03/03 - 13:58

The editors of Social Sciences would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2013.

http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0760/3/1/140 2014/03/03 - 13:58

Pleistocene rock art is abundant in Australia, but has so far received only limited attention. Instead there has been a trend, begun over a century ago, to search for presumed depictions of extinct megafauna and the tracks of such species. All these notions have been discredited, however, and the current evidence suggests that figurative depiction was introduced only during the Holocene, never reaching Tasmania. Nevertheless, some Australian rock art has been attributed to the Pleistocene by direct dating methods, and its nature implies that a significant portion of the surviving corpus of rock art may also be of such age. In particular much of Australian cave art is of the Ice Age, or appears to be so, and any heavily weathered or patinated petroglyphs on particularly hard rocks are good candidates for Pleistocene antiquity. On the other hand, there is very limited evidence of mobiliary paleoart of such age in Australia.

http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0752/3/1/156 2014/03/02 - 08:34

The editors of Diagnostics would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2013.

http://www.mdpi.com/2075-4418/4/1/12 2014/03/02 - 08:34

The editors of Animals would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2013.

http://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/4/1/59 2014/03/02 - 08:34

The editors of Vaccines would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2013.

http://www.mdpi.com/2076-393X/2/1/179 2014/03/02 - 08:34

The editors of the Journal of Low Power Electronics and Applications would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2013.

http://www.mdpi.com/2079-9268/4/1/63 2014/03/02 - 08:34

Current archaeological evidence supports the claim that symbolic behavior, including palaeoart, first emerged in human evolution around 1 million years ago. The purpose of this article is to review archaeological studies that might support the hypothesis that the earliest palaeoart actually is evident around 2 million years ago. This review identifies nine Oldowan artifacts that have been proposed as possible non-utilitarian and possibly symbolic behavior. Among seven stone tools, the three strongest candidates are the Olduvai Gorge, the FLK North grooved and pecked cobble, ~1.80 million years ago, and MNK Main subspheroid with hexagon shape framing an apparent natural dot-and-undulating-line motif, ~1.5–1.6 million years ago, both initially reported and described by Mary Leakey; and the curated Koobi Fora FxJj1 “broken core” with inner rhomboid shape, ~1.87 million years ago. All six stone tools from Olduvai Gorge need scientific re-examination to determine their chaîne opératoire and assess non-utilitarian features. If even one of the Olduvai Gorge artifacts were validated as symbolic behavior this would indicate the emergence of palaeoart one million years earlier than current proposals. It would also suggest that Homo habilis/rudolfensis or a very early Homo erectus had substantially more advanced cognitive, design and symbolic competencies than inferred in current theories. It would constitute a challenge to develop more advanced cognitive semiotic and art-theoretic analytical tools for illuminating the role of such palaeoart in hominin cultural evolution.

http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0752/3/1/135 2014/03/02 - 08:34

Four types of monolayer-protected gold nanoclusters (MPCs) were synthesized and characterized as active layers of vapor sensors. An interdigitated microelectrode (IDE) and quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) were used to measure the electrical resistance and mass loading changes of MPC films during vapor sorption. The vapor sensing selectivity was influenced by the ligand structure of the monolayer on the surface of gold nanoparticles. The responses of MPC-coated QCM were mainly determined according to the affinity between the vapors and surface ligands of MPCs. The responses to the resistance changes of the MPC films were due to the effectiveness of the swelling when vapor was absorbed. It was observed that resistive sensitivity to polar organics could be greatly enhanced when the MPC contained ligands that contain interior polar functional groups with exterior nonpolar groups. This finding reveals that reducing interparticle attraction by using non-polar exterior groups could increase effective swelling and therefore enhance the sensitivity of MPC-coated chemiresistors.

http://www.mdpi.com/2227-9040/2/1/85 2014/03/02 - 08:34

This research was conducted at the Africa Rice Sahel Regional Station (near Saint Louis, Senegal) during two wet seasons (i.e., July to November) in 2010 and 2011 with the aim of assessing the performances of introduced hybrid cultivars along with an inbred check cultivar under low input fertilizer levels. The five treatments used in this study were (a) the control (without any fertilizer application), (b) 37.5–4.4–8.3 kg N–P–K ha−1, (c) half of recommend application in Senegal (75–8.75–16.5 kg N–P–K ha−1), (d) 112.5–13.3–24.8 kg N–P–K ha−1, and (e) the recommended application in the country (150–17.5–33 kg N–P–K ha−1). There were significant year and cultivar effects for all traits. The fertilizer levels affected significantly most traits except panicle length and 1000-grain weight. The year × fertilizer level and year × cultivar interactions were significant for most traits, but the fertilizer level × cultivar and year × fertilizer level × cultivar interactions were not significant. Days to maturity, plant height, panicle per m2, and grain yield increased with increasing fertilizer levels during the two wet seasons. The grain yield of rice hybrids (bred by the International Rice Research Institute) was not significantly higher than that of the check cultivar widely grown in Senegal. The assessment of other rice hybrid germplasm showing more adaptability to low fertilizer levels will facilitate further hybrid cultivar development in Africa.

http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/6/3/1153 2014/03/02 - 08:34

Several methods to conduct single-tree inventories using airborne laser scanning (ALS) have been proposed, and even terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) has recently emerged as a possible tool for the collection of forest inventory data. In the present study, a novel methodological framework for a combined use of ALS and TLS in an inventory was tested and compared to a method without the use of TLS. Single-tree Norway spruce crown biomass was predicted using an ALS-model with training data obtained by TLS. ALS and TLS data were collected for sets of sample trees, including 68 trees with both ALS and TLS data. In total, 29 destructively sampled trees were used to fit a TLS crown biomass model, which then was used to predict crown biomass in a separate set of 68 trees. This dataset was subsequently used to fit an ALS crown biomass model. When validating the model, using a separate dataset with accurately measured crown biomass obtained through destructive sampling, the mean error was 32% of the observed mean biomass. Corresponding crown biomass predictions derived with ALS-predicted diameters and the use of conventional and existing allometric models resulted in a mean error of 35%. Thus, in the present study, a slight improvement, in terms of prediction accuracy, was found when using training data with ground reference values obtained by TLS.

http://www.mdpi.com/1999-4907/5/3/384 2014/03/02 - 08:34

Microbiological processes were used for chitin and chitosan production with Cunninghamella elegans UCP/WFCC 0542 grown in different concentrations of two agro-industrial wastes, corn steep liquor (CSL) and cassava wastewater (CW) established using a 22 full factorial design. The polysaccharides were extracted by alkali-acid treatment and characterized by infrared spectroscopy, viscosity, thermal analysis, elemental analysis, scanning electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction. The cytotoxicity of chitosan was evaluated for signs of vascular change on the chorioallantoic membrane of chicken eggs. The highest biomass (9.93 g/L) was obtained in trial 3 (5% CW, 8% CSL), the greatest chitin and chitosan yields were 89.39 mg/g and 57.82 mg/g, respectively, and both were obtained in trial 2 (10% CW, 4% CSL). Chitin and chitosan showed a degree of deacetylation of 40.98% and 88.24%, and a crystalline index of 35.80% and 23.82%, respectively, and chitosan showed low molecular weight (LMW 5.2 × 103 Da). Chitin and chitosan can be considered non-irritating, due to the fact they do not promote vascular change. It was demonstrated that CSL and CW are effective renewable agroindustrial alternative substrates for the production of chitin and chitosan.

http://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/19/3/2771 2014/03/02 - 08:34

Ammonothermal synthesis is a method for synthesis and crystal growth suitable for a large range of chemically different materials, such as nitrides (e.g., GaN, AlN), amides (e.g., LiNH2, Zn(NH2)2), imides (e.g., Th(NH)2), ammoniates (e.g., Ga(NH3)3F3, [Al(NH3)6]I3 · NH3) and non-nitrogen compounds like hydroxides, hydrogen sulfides and polychalcogenides (e.g., NaOH, LiHS, CaS, Cs2Te5). In particular, large scale production of high quality crystals is possible, due to comparatively simple scalability of the experimental set-up. The ammonothermal method is defined as employing a heterogeneous reaction in ammonia as one homogenous fluid close to or in supercritical state. Three types of milieus may be applied during ammonothermal synthesis: ammonobasic, ammononeutral or ammonoacidic, evoked by the used starting materials and mineralizers, strongly influencing the obtained products. There is little known about the dissolution and materials transport processes or the deposition mechanisms during ammonothermal crystal growth. However, the initial results indicate the possible nature of different intermediate species present in the respective milieus.

http://www.mdpi.com/2304-6740/2/1/29 2014/03/02 - 08:34

Trillions of microorganisms that inhabit the intestinal tract form a diverse and intricate ecosystem with a deeply embedded symbiotic relationship with their hosts. As more detailed information on gut microbiota complexity and functional diversity accumulates, we are learning more about how diet-microbiota interactions can influence the immune system within and outside the gut and host health in general. Heat shock proteins are a set of highly conserved proteins that are present in all types of cells, from microbes to mammals. These proteins carry out crucial intracellular housekeeping functions and unexpected extracellular immuno-regulatory features in order to maintain the mucosal barrier integrity and gut homeostasis. It is becoming evident that the enteric microbiota is one of the major determinants of heat shock protein production in intestinal epithelial cells. This review will focus on the interactions between diet, gut microbiota and their role for regulating heat shock protein production and, furthermore, how these interactions influence the immune system and the integrity of the mucosal barrier.

http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0817/3/1/187 2014/03/02 - 08:34

The nonverbal transmission of information between social animals is a primary driving force behind their actions and, therefore, an important quantity to measure in animal behavior studies. Despite its key role in social behavior, the flow of information has only been inferred by correlating the actions of individuals with a simplifying assumption of linearity. In this paper, we leverage information-theoretic tools to relax this assumption. To demonstrate the feasibility of our approach, we focus on a robotics-based experimental paradigm, which affords consistent and controllable delivery of visual stimuli to zebrafish. Specifically, we use a robotic arm to maneuver a life-sized replica of a zebrafish in a predetermined trajectory as it interacts with a focal subject in a test tank. We track the fish and the replica through time and use the resulting trajectory data to measure the transfer entropy between the replica and the focal subject, which, in turn, is used to quantify one-directional information flow from the robot to the fish. In agreement with our expectations, we find that the information flow from the replica to the zebrafish is significantly more than the other way around. Notably, such information is specifically related to the response of the fish to the replica, whereby we observe that the information flow is reduced significantly if the motion of the replica is randomly delayed in a surrogate dataset. In addition, comparison with a control experiment, where the replica is replaced by a conspecific, shows that the information flow toward the focal fish is significantly more for a robotic than a live stimulus. These findings support the reliability of using transfer entropy as a measure of information flow, while providing indirect evidence for the efficacy of a robotics-based platform in animal behavioral studies.

http://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/16/3/1315 2014/03/02 - 08:34

Since the initial proof-of-concept studies examining the ability of antigen-encoded plasmid DNA to serve as an immunogen, DNA vaccines have evolved as a clinically safe and effective platform for priming HIV-specific cellular and humoral responses in heterologous “prime-boost” vaccination regimens. Direct injection of plasmid DNA into the muscle induces T- and B-cell responses against foreign antigens. However, the insufficient magnitude of this response has led to the development of approaches for enhancing the immunogenicity of DNA vaccines. The last two decades have seen significant progress in the DNA-based vaccine platform with optimized plasmid constructs, improved delivery methods, such as electroporation, the use of molecular adjuvants and novel strategies combining DNA with viral vectors and subunit proteins. These innovations are paving the way for the clinical application of DNA-based HIV vaccines. Here, we review preclinical studies on the DNA-prime/modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA)-boost vaccine modality for HIV. There is a great deal of interest in enhancing the immunogenicity of DNA by engineering DNA vaccines to co-express immune modulatory adjuvants. Some of these adjuvants have demonstrated encouraging results in preclinical and clinical studies, and these data will be examined, as well.

http://www.mdpi.com/2076-393X/2/1/160 2014/03/02 - 08:34

The mutualism model, an alternative for the g-factor model of intelligence, implies a formative measurement model in which “g” is an index variable without a causal role. If this model is accurate, the search for a genetic of brain instantiation of “g” is deemed useless. This also implies that the (weighted) sum score of items of an intelligence test is just what it is: a weighted sum score. Preference for one index above the other is a pragmatic issue that rests mainly on predictive value.

http://www.mdpi.com/2079-3200/2/1/12 2014/03/02 - 08:34

The editors of Antioxidants would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2013.

http://www.mdpi.com/2076-3921/3/1/114 2014/03/02 - 08:34

In 2012, an FHV-1-like virus was isolated from a tiger that presented with clinical signs of sialorrhea, sneezing and purulent rhinorrhea. Isolation was performed with the FK81 cell line, and the virus was identified by PCR, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and the phylogenetic analysis of the partial thymidine kinase (TK) and glycoprotein B (gB) genes. A total of 253 bp of the TK gene and 566 bp of the gB gene were amplified from the trachea of the tiger by PCR/RT-PCR method. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the isolate belonged to the same cluster with other FHV-1 strains obtained from GenBank. Herpes-like viruses with an envelope and diameters of approximately 200 nm were observed in the culture supernatants of FK81 cells inoculated with samples from the tiger. The FHV-1 infection was confirmed by an animal challenge experiment in a cat model. Our finding extends the host range of FHV-1 and has implications for FHV-1 infection and South China tiger conservation.

http://www.mdpi.com/1999-4915/6/3/1004 2014/03/02 - 08:34

Climate change is globally defined as a “reality”. This does not mean however that the way in which it is understood is the same all over the world. Rather, perceptions may differ at different places and times, even if physical and geographical conditions are similar. For the time being, this phenomenon has not been dealt with on a theoretical-conceptual level. The article will address this desiderate. Based on the approaches of social constructivism as well as actor-network theory, a theoretical concept will be suggested as a heuristic model for empirical analysis. By the examples of Lübeck and Rostock, two cities on Germany’s Baltic coast, it will be shown that climate change related perceptions of vulnerability and resilience may build on physical-material aspects but that they are above all considerably interwoven with specific cultural and social patterns of interpretation. In the framework of the local discourse in Lübeck, it is the strong Hanseatic tradition which consumes the climate change issue, whereas in Rostock it is the problems and historical breaks of a transformation society which shape the way of viewing climate change.

http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0760/3/1/142 2014/03/02 - 08:34

Combinations of unmanned aerial platforms and multispectral sensors are considered low-cost tools for detailed spatial and temporal studies addressing spectral signatures, opening a broad range of applications in remote sensing. Thus, a key step in this process is knowledge of multi-spectral sensor calibration parameters in order to identify the physical variables collected by the sensor. This paper discusses the radiometric calibration process by means of a vicarious method applied to a high-spatial resolution unmanned flight using low-cost artificial and natural covers as control and check surfaces, respectively.

http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/6/3/1918 2014/03/02 - 08:34

Antioxidant vitamins supplements have been suggested as a strategy to decrease the risk of age-related cataract development. However, the results from observational studies and interventional trials of associations between antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E and cataract development have been inconsistent. We aim to evaluate the effectiveness of multivitamin/mineral supplements for decreasing the risk of age-related cataracts by conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis. In September 2013, we searched multiple databases to identify relevant studies including both cohort studies and randomized controlled trials (RCTs). A random-effects model was used to calculate the pooled relative risks (RR) with a 95% confidence interval (CI). Twelve prospective cohort studies and two RCTs were included. Pooled results from the cohort studies indicated that multivitamin/mineral supplements have a significant beneficial effect in decreasing the risk of nuclear cataracts (RR: 0.73; 95% CI: 0.64–0.82), cortical cataracts (RR: 0.81; 95% CI: 0.68–0.94), and any cataracts (RR: 0.66; 95% CI: 0.39–0.93). In addition, there were no decreases in the risk of posterior capsular cataracts (RR: 0.96; 95% CI: 0.72–1.20) or cataract surgery (RR: 1.00; 95% CI: 0.92–1.08). The two RCTs demonstrated that multivitamin/mineral supplements could decrease the risk of nuclear cataracts. There is sufficient evidence to support the role of dietary multivitamin/mineral supplements for the decreasing the risk of age-related cataracts.

http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/6/3/931 2014/03/02 - 08:34

The editors of Nutrients would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2013.

http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/6/3/922 2014/03/02 - 08:34

Image corner detection is a fundamental task in computer vision. Many applications require reliable detectors to accurately detect corner points, commonly achieved by using image contour information. The curvature definition is sensitive to local variation and edge aliasing, and available smoothing methods are not sufficient to address these problems properly. Hence, we propose Mean Projection Transform (MPT) as a corner classifier and parabolic fit approximation to form a robust detector. The first step is to extract corner candidates using MPT based on the integral properties of the local contours in both the horizontal and vertical directions. Then, an approximation of the parabolic fit is calculated to localize the candidate corner points. The proposed method presents fewer false-positive (FP) and false-negative (FN) points compared with recent standard corner detection techniques, especially in comparison with curvature scale space (CSS) methods. Moreover, a new evaluation metric, called accuracy of repeatability (AR), is introduced. AR combines repeatability and the localization error (Le) for finding the probability of correct detection in the target image. The output results exhibit better repeatability, localization, and AR for the detected points compared with the criteria in original and transformed images.

http://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/14/3/4126 2014/03/02 - 08:34

Using the finite element method (FEM) and particle swarm optimization (PSO), a nonlinearity analysis based on parameter optimization is proposed to design an inductive angle sensor. Due to the structure complexity of the sensor, understanding the influences of structure parameters on the nonlinearity errors is a critical step in designing an effective sensor. Key parameters are selected for the design based on the parameters’ effects on the nonlinearity errors. The finite element method and particle swarm optimization are combined for the sensor design to get the minimal nonlinearity error. In the simulation, the nonlinearity error of the optimized sensor is 0.053% in the angle range from −60° to 60°. A prototype sensor is manufactured and measured experimentally, and the experimental nonlinearity error is 0.081% in the angle range from −60° to 60°.

http://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/14/3/4111 2014/03/02 - 08:34

Governmental and commercial lists of food retailers are often used to measure food environments and foodscapes for health and nutritional research. Information about the validity of such secondary food source data is relevant to understanding the potential and limitations of its application. This study assesses the validity of two government lists of food retailer locations and types by comparing them to direct field observations, including an assessment of whether pre-classification of the directories can reduce the need for field observation. Lists of food retailers were obtained from the Central Business Register (CVR) and the Smiley directory. For each directory, the positive prediction value (PPV) and sensitivity were calculated as measures of completeness and thematic accuracy, respectively. Standard deviation was calculated as a measure of geographic accuracy. The effect of the pre-classification was measured through the calculation of PPV, sensitivity and negative prediction value (NPV). The application of either CVR or Smiley as a measure of the food environment would result in a misrepresentation. The pre-classification based on the food retailer names was found to be a valid method for identifying approximately 80% of the food retailers and limiting the need for field observation.

http://www.mdpi.com/2220-9964/3/1/236 2014/03/02 - 08:34