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  • Life is about thermodynamic extremes. When scientists first began formulating the Laws of Thermodynamics and talking about disorder and entropy, it seemed that somehow living things were in breach of the laws. How could they be such self-contained ordered, non-chaotic entities? But, of course, the answer lies in the fact that they are not self-contained, they do not represent a closed system.

    There is, of course, no decrease in entropy when we look at the complete system. Living creatures draw their energy from the sun and as the sun pours out its heart, it is the entropy of that body that increases. Life on Earth is essentially paying for its perceived order through the increased entropy of the solar system and the space that surrounds it.

    Writing in the International Journal of Exergy, a team from Turkey discusses how organisms live far-from thermodynamic equilibrium with their surroundings. They import exergy, export entropy and maintain constancy of their vital internal physiological constituents via homeostasis. Exergy is a measure of energy with the capacity to do what is referred to technically as work in the thermodynamic sense.

    Cennet Yildiz, Volkan Adem Bilgin, Bayram Yilmaz, and Mustafa Özilgen of Yeditepe University, in Istanbul, Turkey, have used data from the scientific literature to calculate how homeostasis helps organisms to save exergy when carrying out their life processes. Maintaining body temperature, by contrast, they show, costs exergy.

    Intriguingly, the team has found that there are big differences between mammals and reptiles in terms of their exergy requirements. The daily exergy expenditure rate of an animal depends on metabolic rate, body mass, and nutritional exergy uptake, the team explains. Their calculations show that endothermic (homeothermic) mammal that spends about one-third of its time in active metabolic mode and the rest of the day at rest needs a mere 6 grams of meat per kilogram of body mass each day to satisfy its exergy requirements. In contrast, an ectothermic reptile with the same level of activity needs 500 grams of meat per kilogram of body mass.

    Yildiz, C., Bilgin, V.A., Yılmaz, B. and Özilgen, M. (2020) 'Organisms live at far-from-equilibrium with their surroundings while maintaining homeostasis, importing exergy and exporting entropy', Int. J. Exergy, Vol. 31, No. 3, pp.287–301.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJEX.2020.106457

  • How might cloud-based inbound logistics work in the coffee industry? That's the question that research published in the International Journal of Manufacturing Technology and Management looks to answer.

    Anderson Nascimento, Eduardo Tavares, Gabriel Alves, Erica Sousa, and Bruno Nogueira of the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (UFPE), in Recife, Brazil, explain how the adoption of cloud computing across supply chains the world over has been growing and bringing with it many benefits in terms of on-demand resource provisioning and cost reduction. They point out that in the context of inbound logistics, there are also mechanisms by which cloud computing can facilitate information sharing for better decision making in terms of transport options for specific goods and suppliers.

    Cloud computing has been around for many years but is yet to be as widely adopted in some industries as it might. The team's work points to an analysis of its utility as well as its pros and cons that might help those in coffee industry understand how it might best be used for enhancing performance and efficiency in transportation. In their analysis they demonstrate how managers now have a useful decision-making tool to hand for their inbound logistics that could lead to considerable improvements in delivery throughput.

    Nascimento, A., Tavares, E., Alves Jr., G., Sousa, E. and Nogueira, B. (2020) 'Performability evaluation of transport modes for cloud-based inbound logistics: a study based on coffee industry', Int. J. Manufacturing Technology and Management, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp.126-147.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJMTM.2020.106209

  • A study from Pakistan alludes to a lack of engagement in science subjects from young students. Biology, chemistry, and physics are demanding subjects, essential to so many areas of modern life. However, it might be said that traditional teaching methods are no longer grabbing student attention. The team, writing in the International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning, suggests that multimedia audio-visual aids could be used a lot more in schools to captivate and engage science students.

    Zeeshan Iqbal of the Department of Commerce at Bahauddin Zakariya University, in Multan, Pakistan and Aisha Sami of the Department of Psychology there have surveyed 240 secondary school students and analysed their responses statistically. Their findings showed that using multimedia audio-visual aids in the classroom is an effective strategy that increases students activity, maintains a high level of interest in lessons, and encourages students to participate more.

    "The present study enriches the existing knowledge on use of advances technologies in various sectors including education sector. The researchers focus on the use of multimedia audio-visual aids in the science classrooms. They conclude that the utilisation of audio-visual aids play a very important role in effective learning of science subjects. This study provides significant insights in terms of taking reviews from teachers and students," the researchers explain.

    Ultimately, the team will extend their approach to bigger sample groups and other cities with the aim of gleaning more general conclusions.

    Iqbal, Z. and Sami, A. (2020) 'Role of technology in science classrooms: an exploratory study of Pakistan', Int. J. Technology Enhanced Learning, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp.115–126.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJTEL.2020.106281

  • The advent of the Internet of Thing, essentially smart devices with connectivity to the internet has wrought many benefits, but with it comes the problem of how to cope with third party users with malicious or criminal intent.

    Ivan Letteri, Giuseppe Della Penna, and Giovanni De Gasperis of the Department of Information Engineering at the University of L'Aquila, Italy, writing in the International Journal of High Performance Computing and Networking have looked at an aspect of IoT insecurity, attacks on smart devices by so-called botnets. A botnet is a network of computers or other devices that have been repurposed by a third party, often surreptitiously and almost always with improper use the ultimate aim. The improper use might be for personal gain, financial or otherwise, sabotage or other destructive or disruptive purposes.

    Botnets are propagated through malware and might be operated by malicious individuals, hacker groups, corporate entities, criminal gangs, organized crime cartels, or indeed rogue states. One particularly insidious purpose to which they are put is to apply a directed attack on a target's computers so that they are overwhelmed. Such a distributed denial of service attack, leads, as the name would suggest to disruption of the normal computing activities of the target. This might be simply for the purposes of sabotage, perhaps to interfere with the day to day operations of an individual, company or even a government. But, often the dDOS is carried out so that while the system is overwhelmed, its security might be breached at another exposed entry point.

    With IoT and other networked smart devices being recruited by botnet operators for nefarious purposed, the team has focused on how such dDOS attacks might be detected and halted by the system using deep learning techniques. Obviously, it is difficult to distinguish between normal activity and activity from distributed sources that are designed to overwhelm a system. To the system, it simply sees lots of requests and knowing which are from genuine users and which malicious cannot easily be discerned. The team points out that with the rise of software-defined networking (SDN), which is increasingly replacing conventional networking in IoT, the problem is becoming more acute.

    The team's deep learning approach has been tested on two state-of-the-art frameworks, i.e., Keras and TensorFlow, and found to have 97 percent accuracy in detecting botnet attacks on the systems.

    Letteri, I., Della Penna, G. and De Gasperis, G. (2019) 'Security in the internet of things: botnet detection in software-defined networks by deep learning techniques', Int. J. High Performance Computing and Networking, Vol. 15, Nos. 3/4, pp.170-182.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJHPCN.2019.106095

  • For many years, researchers have turned to the public logs of search engine terms to help them track the spread of disease. They can analyse the keywords and phrases that people use and when they become interested in a disease or have symptoms. Much value has been recognised in this kind of disease tracking and it has been used to research influenza outbreaks, the spread of MERS and the Zika virus, and other health problems. At the time of writing, it is approximately three months since we first recognised the emergence of a new coronavirus in China that would ultimately become known as the pathogen to cause the novel pandemic disease, Covid-19.

    Writing in the International Journal of Web and Grid Services, in rather prescient work undertaken long before the disease name Covid-19 had been coined, a team from Gachon University in Korea, was asking whether social media content might be harvested to allow researchers to spot the emergence of new diseases and to track them once they appear.

    SoYeop Yoo, DaeHo Kim, SungMin Yang, and OkRan Jeong of the Department of Software at Gachon University, explain how social media has become as a sensor for a wide range of topics in almost every area of human endeavour. Mining the vast daily output of this realm is a daunting task, but it can be done and many trends in politics, finance, science, health, medicine, entertainment, celebrity, and beyond can be tracked.

    The team has now built a workflow that allows them to carry out real-time processing of social media data and to develop a model that manages the data and can detect the emergence of disease accurately. "If we can detect information about an infectious disease in real time, we can cope with it more quickly," the team suggests. Moreover, "We can obtain information about the symptoms of specific diseases and hospital information by analysing various opinions and information on the disease."

    Yoo, S., Kim, D., Yang, S. and Jeong, O. (2020) 'Real-time disease detection and analysis system using social media contents', Int. J. Web and Grid Services, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp.22-38.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJWGS.2020.106103

  • The "blockchain" concept on which cryptocurrencies work might be extrapolated to many other areas of life, such as voting systems, where it's incontrovertible chain of decisions and evidence could ensure validity in a political or other election.

    Writing in the International Journal of Web and Grid Services, a team from Lodz University of Technology, in Lódz, Poland, explain how it was the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, introduced by an individual (or a group) under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, that revealed the blockchain concept. The blockchain concept was invented to be used to give value to a cryptocurrency but its description shows that it might be used in other areas equally as well:

    A blockchain is essentially an open and distributed ledger, a growing list of records (blocks) that are linked sequentially and encrypted. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data (generally represented as a mathematical Merkle tree). The nature of a blockchain means that previous entries cannot be modified without all users seeing the modification, which makes it tamperproof.

    Aneta Poniszewska-Maranda, Michal Pawlak, and Jakub Guziur of the Institute of Information Technology at LUT, explain that current electronic voting systems have their pros and cons. However, a common problem with all of the approaches used so far is that they suffer from inadequate transparency and auditability. There are four main approaches to electronic voting – dedicated voting machines, voting with optical scanning voting machines, voting with electronic ballot printers, and voting through the internet. Each has benefits, each has drawbacks. Moreover, the field is very fragmented by diverse technology and solutions to each of those main four methods.

    This, the team suggests, is where blockchain would come into its own. Blockchain could underpin an existing approach to electronic voting but add the requisite ability to supervise the process and make it auditable to preclude fraud. Not only might the blockchain approach be used to prevent fraud it opens up the voting system to independent inspection beyond those holding the ballot, whether government, company board or other organization. It opens it up to being audited and inspected without compromising voter anonymity or the integrity of the result.

    In theory.

    The team concedes that there are limitations to even the blockchain approach at the moment in that voter anonymity might be compromised to a limited degree by the proximity of given blocks in the system. However, they suggest this will be surmountable with additional research.

    Poniszewska-Maranda, A., Pawlak, M. and Guziur, J. (2020) 'Auditable blockchain voting system – the blockchain technology toward the electronic voting process', Int. J. Web and Grid Services, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp.1–21.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJWGS.2020.106102

  • Heed the words of their profits – In uncertain times, uncertain things can happen. Writing in the International Journal of Business Performance Management, a team in the United Arab Emirates asks whether cryptocurrencies, of which Bitcoin is perhaps the most infamous, might ultimately overtake conventional currencies, the fiat money.

    Avaneesh Jumde and Boo Yun Cho of the Higher Colleges of Technology on Dubai Women's Campus, Al Nahda, Dubai, point out how Bitcoin made the terms "cryptocurrency" and "blockchain" familiar to financiers and investors the world over. The technological roots of these terms quickly attracting those who live by the words of their profits. At first, there was a cryptocurrency bubble, which has waxed and waned, but always in the background and barely acknowledged by the bankers and financial regulators is the idea that such forms of money might somehow usurp hard cash.

    The team has now used statistical analysis to hedge their bets as to which of the cryptocurrencies might eventually predominate following the proliferation of such forms of money and whether there might be a displacement of fiat money. There is, of course, the possibility that cryptocurrencies would exist in parallel with the fiat in a similar way to gold bullion existing alongside folding paper money, for instance. They have looked at the likes of Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ether, and Ripple and compared and contrasted their characteristics against the fiat money of different countries.

    At the moment, fiat money remains the main contender in the battle for dominance in terms of accessibility, utility, the ability to convert to the currency of other nations, liquidity, volatility, and even financial speculation. Fiat money is more amenable to these requirements and remains preferable for the vast majority of people. However, major uncertainty about human behaviour driven by disease, climate change, and other uncontrollable factors, could lead to gradual or sudden change in our perception of money, its worth, and its utility.

    Jumde, A. and Cho, B.Y. (2020) 'Can cryptocurrencies overtake the fiat money?', Int. J. Business Performance Management, Vol. 21, Nos. 1/2, pp.6–20.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJBPM.2020.106107

  • A survey of secure deletion of data held "in the cloud" has been undertaken by Minyao Hua, Yinyuan Zhao, and Tao Jiang of the School of Cyber Engineering at Xidian University in Xi'an, Shaanxi, China. The team reports details in the International Journal of Embedded Systems.

    Cloud computing utilizing third-party computer systems, servers, processors, data storage equipment to allow uses to offload the resources they would otherwise require on their premises on to remote systems. There are many different levels of cloud service, some are free or freemium or paid and aimed at individual consumers all the way up to the demands of the corporate and enterprise level. Security and privacy of the data any user stores in the cloud is critical to their ongoing success and sustainability. Breaches occur.

    There is a secondary, but just as important issue in that when a user deletes the data they have stored in the cloud, they need to be assured that the data is securely deleted and can no longer be retrieved either by the cloud service provider or malicious parties that might illicitly access those services. The team's survey compares private and public cloud services and reports on the deletion security of the various services available.

    In conclusion, the team recognises that there are problems facing users and have recognized two obvious, fundamental deletion methods that are used to purportedly ensure deletion security for users. The first is the extreme, physical destruction of storage media. The second usually involves software deletion that encrypts the data irretrievably if the key is discarded or lost. There is inevitably a trade-off between efficiency and security. The next challenge will be to ensure deleted data cannot be recovered by future quantum computing technology.

    Hua, M., Zhao, Y. and Jiang, T. (2020) 'Secure data deletion in cloud storage: a survey', Int. J. Embedded Systems, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp.253–265.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJES.2020.105939

  • Researchers in Nigeria are investigating how organic composting of cow rumen and vegetable waste affects macro-invertebrate populations at a market composting site. Composting is an important way to deal with such waste and the changes in populations of flies (Diptera), beetles (Coleoptera), and mites and ticks (Acarina), can act as a useful proxy for how well the process is working. The shifting populations coupled with physical and chemical examination can then be used to fine-tune the composting process for best end results.

    Oluwatobi Oni of the University of Ibadan and his colleagues point out that it is critical that waste generated by people is managed properly whether it is of animal or other origin. The team points out that improper management can lead to the formation of breeding sites for pathogen-carrying invertebrates, such as malaria-bearing mosquitoes. The presence of waste in a market might also lead to food poisoning and diarrhoea, surface and groundwater contamination, the emergence of diseases such as cholera, poor indoor and outdoor air quality, and even increase the risk of flooding. As such, better methods of waste management are high on the agenda in the developing world, for instance.

    "It is certain that composting remains important in the management of organic waste, especially in this part of the world and extensive study is proposed as regards species biodiversity associated with the different composting stages and their impact on compost quality," the team concludes.

    Oni, O.D., Oloruntoba, E.O., Sridhar, M.K.C., Hammed, T.B., Ibrahim, K.T. and Popoola, K.O.K. (2020) 'Macro-invertebrate population changes during composting of organic waste at Alesinloye Market, Ibadan', Int. J. Agriculture Innovation, Technology and Globalisation, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp.266–284.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJAITG.2020.106010

  • New research published in the International Journal of Learning and Change discusses the psychological needs and educational support of children with special physical needs.

    Sofia Usmanova and Regina Gazizova of the Bashkir State University in Sterlitamak, Russia, discuss the promotion of what they refer to as a "harmonised personality" in learners with physical disabilities and how the necessary support can ensure that these young people have the tools to grow to be important and valued members of society.

    There is an increasing number of children with special educational needs that require complex support in their educational activities, socialisation, upbringing, and development. We need to accumulate all available experience and attract various specialists to increase the level of development and adaptation in children with special needs, the team writes. An important part of that, the researchers suggest is providing diagnostics of a child's development based on several criteria, including verbal and non-verbal communication, motor skills, adaptation within the group, development of attention and concentration. Ultimately, training of educators based on improved knowledge is key.

    Usmanova, S.G. and Gazizova, R.R. (2020) 'Characteristics of psychological and pedagogical support of children with special needs', Int. J. Learning and Change, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp.55–75.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJLC.2020.105958

News

International Journal of Comparative Management announces 2019 awards

The International Journal of Comparative Management's Editor in Chief, Prof. K.S. Reddy, is pleased to announce the following awards for 2019:

  • Highly Commended Paper Award: Dr. Geeta Duppati (University of Waikato, New Zealand), Prof. Narendar V. Rao (Northeastern Illinois University, USA), Prof. Frank Scrimgeour (University of Waikato, New Zealand) and Dr. Neha Matlani (University of Delhi, India), for the following paper: Gender diversity reporting, performance, and exogenous shocks: Evidence from New Zealand. International Journal of Comparative Management 2019 2(3/4), 203-228
  • Outstanding Reviewers: Prof. Vincenzo Pisano (University of Catania, Italy); Dr. Godfred Amewu (Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, Ghana); Dr. Boonlert Jitmaneeroj (University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, Thailand); Miss Sayoni Santra (Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India)

New Editor for International Journal of Public Law and Policy

Prof. Giuseppe Mastruzzo from the International University College of Turin in Italy has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Public Law and Policy.

New Editor for International Journal of Hydromechatronics

Prof. Yimin Shao from Chongqing University in China has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Hydromechatronics.

Scholarly publishing community has role to play in protecting U.S. healthcare workers from COVID-19: non-medical professionals asked to donate protective supplies to GetUsPPE.org

Critical PPE items such as facemasks, goggles, gloves, and protective gowns are stockpiled in offices and facilities that have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic: from labs in universities and corporations, to machine shops, cleanrooms and engineering and construction job sites.

The website GetUsPPE.org is coordinating the transfer of unused PPE from private organisations to the healthcare facilities requesting them in the same vicinity.

GetUsPPE.org is a grassroots organisation led by emergency medicine physicians, working to give all PPE proceeds to the frontline healthcare workers most in need.

GetUsPPE.org needs:

  • Surgical masks
  • Goggles
  • Face shields
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Isolation gowns
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Scrubs
  • Disposable shoe covers
  • Nasopharyngeal swabs
  • Respirators

Please visit GetUsPPE.org for details of how you can help.

New Editor for International Journal of Value Chain Management

Prof. Zbigniew Pastuszak from Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Poland has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Value Chain Management.