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J, Volume 5, Issue 1 (March 2022) – 14 articles

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Review
Applications of Time-Resolved Thermodynamics for Studies on Protein Reactions
J 2022, 5(1), 186-197; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/j5010014 - 08 Mar 2022
Viewed by 774
Abstract
Thermodynamics and kinetics are two important scientific fields when studying chemical reactions. Thermodynamics characterize the nature of the material. Kinetics, mostly based on spectroscopy, have been used to determine reaction schemes and identify intermediate species. They are certainly important fields, but they are [...] Read more.
Thermodynamics and kinetics are two important scientific fields when studying chemical reactions. Thermodynamics characterize the nature of the material. Kinetics, mostly based on spectroscopy, have been used to determine reaction schemes and identify intermediate species. They are certainly important fields, but they are almost independent. In this review, our attempts to elucidate protein reaction kinetics and mechanisms by monitoring thermodynamic properties, including diffusion in the time domain, are described. The time resolved measurements are performed mostly using the time resolved transient grating (TG) method. The results demonstrate the usefulness and powerfulness of time resolved studies on protein reactions. The advantages and limitations of this TG method are also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advance in Molecular Thermodynamics)
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Article
A Hypothesis on How the Azolla Symbiosis Mitigates Nitrous Oxide Based on In Silico Analyses
J 2022, 5(1), 166-185; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/j5010013 - 04 Mar 2022
Viewed by 706
Abstract
Nitrous oxide is a long-lived greenhouse gas that exists for 114 years in the atmosphere and is 298-fold more potent than carbon dioxide in its global warming potential. Two recent studies showcased the utility of Azolla plants for a lesser footprint in nitrous [...] Read more.
Nitrous oxide is a long-lived greenhouse gas that exists for 114 years in the atmosphere and is 298-fold more potent than carbon dioxide in its global warming potential. Two recent studies showcased the utility of Azolla plants for a lesser footprint in nitrous oxide production from urea and other supplements to the irrigated ecosystem, which mandates exploration since there is still no clear solution to nitrous oxide in paddy fields or in other ecosystems. Here, we propose a solution based on the evolution of a single cytochrome oxidase subunit II protein (WP_013192178.1) from the cyanobiont Trichormus azollae that we hypothesize to be able to quench nitrous oxide. First, we draw attention to a domain in the candidate protein that is emerging as a sensory periplasmic Y_Y_Y domain that is inferred to bind nitrous oxide. Secondly, we draw the phylogeny of the candidate protein showcasing the poor bootstrap support of its position in the wider clade showcasing its deviation from the core function. Thirdly, we show that the NtcA protein, the apical N-effecting transcription factor, can putatively bind to a promoter sequence of the gene coding for the candidate protein (WP_013192178.1), suggesting a function associated with heterocysts and N-metabolism. Our fourth point involves a string of histidines at the C-terminal extremity of the WP_013192178.1 protein that is missing on all other T. azollae cytochrome oxidase subunit II counterparts, suggesting that such histidines are perhaps involved in forming a Cu center. As the fifth point, we showcase a unique glycine-183 in a lengthy linker region containing multiple glycines that is absent in all proximal Nostocales cyanobacteria, which we predict to be a DNA binding residue. We propose a mechanism of action for the WP_013192178.1 protein based on our in silico analyses. In total, we hypothesize the incomplete and rapid conversion of a likely heterocystous cytochrome oxidase subunit II protein to an emerging nitrous oxide sensing/quenching subunit based on bioinformatics analyses and past literature, which can have repercussions to climate change and consequently, future human life. Full article
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Article
Strategies for Studying Acidification and Eutrophication Potentials, a Case Study of 150 Countries
J 2022, 5(1), 150-165; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/j5010012 - 01 Mar 2022
Viewed by 803
Abstract
Acidification and eutrophication are two environmental impacts that have a significant effect on air pollution and human health. The quantitative analysis of these two impacts remains hitherto unknown at the scale of new neighborhoods. The main objective of this study is to evaluate, [...] Read more.
Acidification and eutrophication are two environmental impacts that have a significant effect on air pollution and human health. The quantitative analysis of these two impacts remains hitherto unknown at the scale of new neighborhoods. The main objective of this study is to evaluate, analyze and compare the acidification and eutrophication potentials of one neighborhood initially located in Belgium. For making this comparison, this neighborhood was built in 149 other countries by applying four parameters such as building materials, energy mix, occupants’ mobility and local climate. The environmental costs of acidification and eutrophication coming from this neighborhood were assessed over 100 years. This research, extended to the scale of several nations, will enable new researchers, and especially policy-makers, to measure the effectiveness of sustainable neighborhoods. Eutrophication and acidification potentials were assessed under different phases (construction, use, renovation and demolition), with Pleiades software (version 4.19.1.0). The effects of the energy mix were the most significant among the other parameters. The results show that 72%, and 65% of acidification and eutrophication potentials are produced during the operational phase of the neighborhood. In the case of sustainable neighborhoods, the acidification potential is 22.1% higher in the 10 top low-income countries than in the 10 top high-income countries. At the neighborhood scale, the main eutrophication potential component is water (34.2%), while the main source of acidification potential is electricity production (45.1%). Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Environmental Sciences)
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Article
The Good, the Bad, and the Invisible with Its Opportunity Costs: Introduction to the ‘J’ Special Issue on “the Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Law”
J 2022, 5(1), 139-149; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/j5010011 - 19 Feb 2022
Viewed by 1180
Abstract
Scholars and institutions have been increasingly debating the moral and legal challenges of AI, together with the models of governance that should strike the balance between the opportunities and threats brought forth by AI, its ‘good’ and ‘bad’ facets. There are more than [...] Read more.
Scholars and institutions have been increasingly debating the moral and legal challenges of AI, together with the models of governance that should strike the balance between the opportunities and threats brought forth by AI, its ‘good’ and ‘bad’ facets. There are more than a hundred declarations on the ethics of AI and recent proposals for AI regulation, such as the European Commission’s AI Act, have further multiplied the debate. Still, a normative challenge of AI is mostly overlooked, and regards the underuse, rather than the misuse or overuse, of AI from a legal viewpoint. From health care to environmental protection, from agriculture to transportation, there are many instances of how the whole set of benefits and promises of AI can be missed or exploited far below its full potential, and for the wrong reasons: business disincentives and greed among data keepers, bureaucracy and professional reluctance, or public distrust in the era of no-vax conspiracies theories. The opportunity costs that follow this technological underuse is almost terra incognita due to the ‘invisibility’ of the phenomenon, which includes the ‘shadow prices’ of economy. This introduction provides metrics for such assessment and relates this work to the development of new standards for the field. We must quantify how much it costs not to use AI systems for the wrong reasons. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Law)
Article
Metrics, Explainability and the European AI Act Proposal
J 2022, 5(1), 126-138; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/j5010010 - 18 Feb 2022
Viewed by 1090
Abstract
On 21 April 2021, the European Commission proposed the first legal framework on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to address the risks posed by this emerging method of computation. The Commission proposed a Regulation known as the AI Act. The proposed AI Act considers not [...] Read more.
On 21 April 2021, the European Commission proposed the first legal framework on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to address the risks posed by this emerging method of computation. The Commission proposed a Regulation known as the AI Act. The proposed AI Act considers not only machine learning, but expert systems and statistical models long in place. Under the proposed AI Act, new obligations are set to ensure transparency, lawfulness, and fairness. Their goal is to establish mechanisms to ensure quality at launch and throughout the whole life cycle of AI-based systems, thus ensuring legal certainty that encourages innovation and investments on AI systems while preserving fundamental rights and values. A standardisation process is ongoing: several entities (e.g., ISO) and scholars are discussing how to design systems that are compliant with the forthcoming Act, and explainability metrics play a significant role. Specifically, the AI Act sets some new minimum requirements of explicability (transparency and explainability) for a list of AI systems labelled as “high-risk” listed in Annex III. These requirements include a plethora of technical explanations capable of covering the right amount of information, in a meaningful way. This paper aims to investigate how such technical explanations can be deemed to meet the minimum requirements set by the law and expected by society. To answer this question, with this paper we propose an analysis of the AI Act, aiming to understand (1) what specific explicability obligations are set and who shall comply with them and (2) whether any metric for measuring the degree of compliance of such explanatory documentation could be designed. Moreover, by envisaging the legal (or ethical) requirements that such a metric should possess, we discuss how to implement them in a practical way. More precisely, drawing inspiration from recent advancements in the theory of explanations, our analysis proposes that metrics to measure the kind of explainability endorsed by the proposed AI Act shall be risk-focused, model-agnostic, goal-aware, intelligible, and accessible. Therefore, we discuss the extent to which these requirements are met by the metrics currently under discussion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Law)
Article
Structural Stability Analysis of Proteins Using End-to-End Distance: A 3D-RISM Approach
J 2022, 5(1), 114-125; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/j5010009 - 14 Feb 2022
Viewed by 861
Abstract
The stability of a protein is determined from its properties and surrounding solvent. In our previous study, the total energy as a sum of the conformational and solvation free energies was demonstrated to be an appropriate energy function for evaluating the stability of [...] Read more.
The stability of a protein is determined from its properties and surrounding solvent. In our previous study, the total energy as a sum of the conformational and solvation free energies was demonstrated to be an appropriate energy function for evaluating the stability of a protein in a protein folding system. We plotted the various energies against the root mean square deviation, required as a reference structure. Herein, we replotted the various energies against the end-to-end distance between the N- and C-termini, which is not a required reference and is experimentally measurable. The solvation free energies for all proteins tend to be low as the end-to-end distance increases, whereas the conformational energies tend to be low as the end-to-end distance decreases. The end-to-end distance is one of interesting measures to study the behavior of proteins. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advance in Molecular Thermodynamics)
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Article
A Comparison of Post-Operative Occlusion with 3-D vs. 2-D Miniplate Fixation in the Management of Isolated Mandibular Angle Fractures
J 2022, 5(1), 107-113; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/j5010008 - 02 Feb 2022
Viewed by 710
Abstract
Mandibular angle fractures (MAFs) are treated in a variety of ways; however, the standard therapy is still up for debate. Despite the fact that many studies have generated evidence for the appropriate biomechanical stability of 3-D miniplates, there is an insufficient amount of [...] Read more.
Mandibular angle fractures (MAFs) are treated in a variety of ways; however, the standard therapy is still up for debate. Despite the fact that many studies have generated evidence for the appropriate biomechanical stability of 3-D miniplates, there is an insufficient amount of data on the treatment of mandibular angle fractures with these plates. A comparative study was conducted at The Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Islamabad. Patients were randomly divided into two groups of 52 patients each. Patients in group A were treated with 3-D miniplate placement on the lateral cortex following the principle of 3-D fixation proposed by Farmand and Dupoirieux, whereas patients included in group B were treated using 2-D conventional miniplate, placed according to Champy’s line of ideal osteosynthesis. A single surgical team performed the procedure. On the first and seventh post-operative days, the first month, and then the third month after surgery, regular evaluations were conducted. Assessment regarding Post Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (ORIF) occlusion was performed with the help of measuring tools. On the first day post-operative follow-up, 41 (78.8%) patients in group A and 31 (59.6%) patients in group B had satisfactory occlusion. The seventh day post-operative follow-up showed that 43 (82.7%) patients in group A and 41 (78.8%) patients in group B had satisfactory occlusion (p > 0.05). In both treatment groups, the first and third month follow-up evaluations revealed optimal occlusion. In comparison to conventional 2-D miniplate, the 3-D miniplate system produced better results and can be recommended as a better option for the management of mandibular angle fractures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Public Health & Healthcare)
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Editorial
Acknowledgment to Reviewers of J in 2021
J 2022, 5(1), 105-106; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/j5010007 - 28 Jan 2022
Viewed by 690
Abstract
Rigorous peer-reviews are the basis of high-quality academic publishing [...] Full article
Article
Photocatalytic H2 Production on Au/TiO2: Effect of Au Photodeposition on Different TiO2 Crystalline Phases
J 2022, 5(1), 92-104; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/j5010006 - 24 Jan 2022
Viewed by 915
Abstract
In this work, we investigated the role of the crystalline phases of titanium dioxide in the solar photocatalytic H2 production by the reforming of glycerol, focusing the attention on the influence of photodeposited gold, as a metal co-catalyst, on TiO2 surface. [...] Read more.
In this work, we investigated the role of the crystalline phases of titanium dioxide in the solar photocatalytic H2 production by the reforming of glycerol, focusing the attention on the influence of photodeposited gold, as a metal co-catalyst, on TiO2 surface. We correlated the photocatalytic activity of 1 wt% Au/TiO2 in anatase, rutile, and brookite phases with the structural and optical properties determined by Raman spectroscopy, N2 adsorption–desorption measurements, UV–vis Diffuse Reflectance Spectroscopy (UV–vis DRS), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), Photoluminescence spectroscopy (PL), and Dynamic Light scattering (DLS). The best results (2.55 mmol H2 gcat−1 h−1) were obtained with anatase and gold photodeposited after 30 min of solar irradiation. The good performance of Au/TiO2 in anatase form and the key importance of the strong interaction between gold and the peculiar crystalline phase of TiO2 can be a starting point to efficiently improve photocatalysts design and experimental conditions, in order to favor a green hydrogen production through solar photocatalysis. Full article
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Article
Law, Socio-Legal Governance, the Internet of Things, and Industry 4.0: A Middle-Out/Inside-Out Approach
J 2022, 5(1), 64-91; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/j5010005 - 21 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1216
Abstract
The Web of Data, the Internet of Things, and Industry 4.0 are converging, and society is challenged to ensure that appropriate regulatory responses can uphold the rule of law fairly and effectively in this emerging context. The challenge extends beyond merely submitting digital [...] Read more.
The Web of Data, the Internet of Things, and Industry 4.0 are converging, and society is challenged to ensure that appropriate regulatory responses can uphold the rule of law fairly and effectively in this emerging context. The challenge extends beyond merely submitting digital processes to the law. We contend that the 20th century notion of ‘legal order’ alone will not be suitable to produce the social order that the law should bring. The article explores the concepts of rule of law and of legal governance in digital and blockchain environments. We position legal governance from an empirical perspective, i.e., as an explanatory and validation concept to support the implementation of the rule of law in the new digital environments. As a novel contribution, this article (i) progresses some of the work done on the metarule of law and complements the SMART middle-out approach with an inside-out approach to digital regulatory systems and legal compliance models; (ii) sets the state-of-the-art and identifies the way to explain and validate legal information flows and hybrid agents’ behaviour; (iii) describes a phenomenological and historical approach to legal and political forms; and (iv) shows the utility of separating enabling and driving regulatory systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Law)
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Article
On the Tree Gauge in Magnetostatics
J 2022, 5(1), 52-63; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/j5010004 - 21 Jan 2022
Viewed by 825
Abstract
We recall the classical tree-cotree technique in magnetostatics. (1) We extend it in the frame of high-order finite elements in general domains. (2) We focus on its connection with the question of the invertibility of the final algebraic system arising from a high-order [...] Read more.
We recall the classical tree-cotree technique in magnetostatics. (1) We extend it in the frame of high-order finite elements in general domains. (2) We focus on its connection with the question of the invertibility of the final algebraic system arising from a high-order edge finite element discretization of the magnetostatic problem formulated in terms of the magnetic vector potential. With the same purpose of invertibility, we analyse another classically used condition, the Coulomb gauge. (3) We conclude by underlying that the two gauges can be naturally considered in a high order framework without any restriction on the topology of the domain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Computation of Electromagnetic Fields)
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Article
Formalising the R of Reduce in a Circular Economy Oriented Design Methodology for Pedestrian and Cycling Bridges
J 2022, 5(1), 35-51; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/j5010003 - 17 Jan 2022
Viewed by 740
Abstract
The construction industry consumes over 32% of the annually excavated natural resources worldwide. Additionally, it is responsible for 25% of the annually generated solid waste. To become a more sustainable industry, a circular economy is necessary: resources are kept in use as long [...] Read more.
The construction industry consumes over 32% of the annually excavated natural resources worldwide. Additionally, it is responsible for 25% of the annually generated solid waste. To become a more sustainable industry, a circular economy is necessary: resources are kept in use as long as possible, aiming to reduce and recirculate natural resources. In this paper, the investigation focuses on pedestrian truss bridges of the types Warren and Howe. Many pedestrian bridges currently find themselves in their end-of-life phase and most commonly these bridges are demolished and rebuilt, thus needing a lot of new materials and energy. The aim is thus first and foremost to reduce the amount of necessary new materials. For this reason, a design tool will be created, using the software ‘Matlab’, in which truss bridges can be evaluated and compared in the conceptual design stage. The tool is based on the theory of morphological indicators: the volume indicator, displacement indicator, buckling indicator and first natural frequency indicator. These allow a designer to determine the most material efficient Warren or Howe truss bridge design with user-defined constraints concerning deflection, load frequency, buckling and overall dimension. Subsequently, the tool was tested and compared to calculations made in the finite element modelling software Diamonds. In total, 72 steel bridge structures were tested. From these it could be concluded that the manual calculations in Diamonds in general confirmed the results obtained with the automated design tool based on morphological indicators. As such, it allows a designer to converge more quickly towards the best performing structure, thus saving time, materials, and corresponding costs and energy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Trends in Smart Construction Education and Research)
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Article
Efficient Color Correction Using Normalized Singular Value for Duststorm Image Enhancement
J 2022, 5(1), 15-34; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/j5010002 - 10 Jan 2022
Viewed by 700
Abstract
A duststorm image has a reddish or yellowish color cast. Though a duststorm image and a hazy image are obtained using the same process, a hazy image has no color distortion as it has not been disturbed by particles, but a duststorm image [...] Read more.
A duststorm image has a reddish or yellowish color cast. Though a duststorm image and a hazy image are obtained using the same process, a hazy image has no color distortion as it has not been disturbed by particles, but a duststorm image has color distortion owing to an imbalance in the color channel, which is disturbed by sand particles. As a result, a duststorm image has a degraded color channel, which is rare in certain channels. Therefore, a color balance step is needed to enhance a duststorm image naturally. This study goes through two steps to improve a duststorm image. The first is a color balance step using singular value decomposition (SVD). The singular value shows the image’s diversity features such as contrast. A duststorm image has a distorted color channel and it has a different singular value on each color channel. In a low-contrast image, the singular value is low and vice versa. Therefore, if using the channel’s singular value, the color channels can be balanced. Because the color balanced image has a similar feature to the haze image, a dehazing step is needed to improve the balanced image. In general, the dark channel prior (DCP) is frequently applied in the dehazing step. However, the existing DCP method has a halo effect similar to an over-enhanced image due to a dark channel and a patch image. According to this point, this study proposes to adjustable DCP (ADCP). In the experiment results, the proposed method was superior to state-of-the-art methods both subjectively and objectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Environmental Sciences)
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Review
Direct Photon Production in High-Energy Heavy Ion Collisions within the Integrated Hydrokinetic Model
J 2022, 5(1), 1-14; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/j5010001 - 06 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 581
Abstract
The results on description of direct photon yields, transverse momentum spectra, and flow harmonics, measured in ultrarelativistic heavy-ion collisions at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) for different collision centrality classes, analyzed within the Integrated Hydrokinetic Model [...] Read more.
The results on description of direct photon yields, transverse momentum spectra, and flow harmonics, measured in ultrarelativistic heavy-ion collisions at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) for different collision centrality classes, analyzed within the Integrated Hydrokinetic Model (iHKM) are reviewed. The iHKM simulation results, corresponding to the two opposite approaches to the matter evolution treatment at the final stage of the system’s expansion within the model, namely, the chemically equilibrated and the chemically frozen evolution, are compared. The so-called “direct photon puzzle” is addressed, and its possible solution, suggesting the account for additional photon emission at confinement, is considered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Strange and Heavy Quark Production in Quark Matter)
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