Science X Newsletter Friday, Oct 23

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for October 23, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Precision metrology closes in on dark matter

How the appreciation of beauty can foster perceptual learning

PESAO: An experimental setup to evaluate the perceptions of freely moving humans

New study details atmosphere on 'hot Neptune' 260 light years away that 'shouldn't exist'

Timekeeping theory combines quantum clocks and Einstein's relativity

New test method to standardize immunological evaluation of nucleic acid nanoparticles

New population of immune cells could play a role in multiple sclerosis

Seabird response to abrupt climate change 5,000 years ago transformed Falklands ecosystems: study

Coating implants with 'artificial bone' to prevent inflammation

Pump down the volume: Study finds noise-cancelling formula

New study first to link plastic ingestion and dietary metals in seabirds

Correcting each other's mistakes—why cells stuck together in early evolution

Producing less costly, greener hydrogen peroxide

Newly discovered mechanism controls cancer cell growth and metabolism

Fish exposed to estrogen produce fewer males

Physics news

Precision metrology closes in on dark matter

Optical clocks are so accurate that it would take an estimated 20 billion years—longer than the age of the universe—to lose or gain a second. Now, researchers in the U.S. led by Jun Ye's group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Colorado have exploited the precision and accuracy of their optical clock and the unprecedented stability of their crystalline silicon optical cavity to tighten the constraints on any possible coupling between particles and fields in the standard model of physics and the so-far elusive components of dark matter.

Timekeeping theory combines quantum clocks and Einstein's relativity

A phenomenon of quantum mechanics known as superposition can impact timekeeping in high-precision clocks, according to a theoretical study from Dartmouth College, Saint Anselm College and Santa Clara University.

Pump down the volume: Study finds noise-cancelling formula

Noisy, open-plan offices full of workers hunched over desks while wearing noise canceling headphones could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to new research from The Australian National University (ANU).

Time crystals lead researchers to future computational work

Time crystals sound like something out of science fiction, but they may be the next major leap in quantum network research. A team based in Japan has proposed a method to use time crystals to simulate massive networks with very little computing power.

Exploring the source of stars and planets in a laboratory

A new method for verifying a widely held but unproven theoretical explanation of the formation of stars and planets has been proposed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). The method grows from simulation of the Princeton Magnetorotational Instability (MRI) Experiment, a unique laboratory device that aims to demonstrate the MRI process that is believed to have filled the cosmos with celestial bodies.

Quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) exhibit extreme pulses

Extreme events occur in many observable contexts. Nature is a prolific source: rogue water waves surging high above the swell, monsoon rains, wildfire, etc. From climate science to optics, physicists have classified the characteristics of extreme events, extending the notion to their respective domains of expertise. For instance, extreme events can take place in telecommunication data streams. In fiber-optic communications where a vast number of spatio-temporal fluctuations can occur in transoceanic systems, a sudden surge is an extreme event that must be suppressed, as it can potentially alter components associated with the physical layer or disrupt the transmission of private messages.

Astronomy and Space news

New study details atmosphere on 'hot Neptune' 260 light years away that 'shouldn't exist'

A team led by an astronomer from the University of Kansas has crunched data from NASA's TESS and Spitzer space telescopes to portray for the first time the atmosphere of a highly unusual kind of exoplanet dubbed a "hot Neptune."

Ultimate absentee ballot: US astronaut votes from space station

At least she didn't have to wait in line.

NASA, human lunar lander companies complete key Artemis milestone

NASA's Human Landing System (HLS) Program recently checked off a key milestone in its progress toward landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024. The HLS Program conducted Certification Baseline Reviews (CBR) with the three U.S. companies competing to provide landers that will deliver Artemis astronauts to the Moon. These virtual meetings were the culmination of critical work by NASA and the companies since NASA announced the base period selections in April.

Technology news

PESAO: An experimental setup to evaluate the perceptions of freely moving humans

Humans regularly tackle and solve a variety of complex visuospatial problems. In contrast, most machine learning and computer vision techniques developed so far are designed to solve individual tasks, rather than applying a set of capabilities to any task they are presented with.

A math idea that may dramatically reduce the dataset size needed to train AI systems

A pair of statisticians at the University of Waterloo has proposed a math process idea that might allow for teaching AI systems without the need for a large dataset. Ilia Sucholutsky and Matthias Schonlau have written a paper describing their idea and published it on the arXiv preprint server.

A cleaning-healing-cleaning method to eliminate ionic defects on the surface of perovskite films

A team of researchers affiliated with institutions in the U.K., China and Australia has developed a cleaning-healing-cleaning method that eliminates ionic defects on the surface of 3-D perovskite films. In their paper published in the journal Nature Electronics, the group describes their process and how well it works. Huihui Zhu, Ao Liu and Yong-Young Noh with the University of Science and Technology in Korea have published a News & Views piece in the same journal issue outlining the uses for metal halide perovskite semiconductors, factors limiting their use as field-effect transistors, and the work done by the team on this new effort.

Machine translation tools find word meanings vary based on news viewership

It's not news that U.S. politics are highly polarized or that polarization affects cable news channels. But researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, using computer translation tools in an unprecedented way, have found that even the meanings of some words are now polarized.

Researchers find huge, sophisticated black market for trade in online 'fingerprints'

Security on the internet is a never-ending cat-and-mouse game. Security specialists constantly come up with new ways of protecting our treasured data, only for cyber criminals to devise new and crafty ways of undermining these defenses. Researchers at TU/e have now found evidence of a highly sophisticated Russian-based online marketplace that trades hundreds of thousands of very detailed user profiles. These personal 'fingerprints' allow criminals to circumvent state-of-the-art authentication systems, giving them access to valuable user information, such as credit card details.

Google Nest hacker finds evidence of Google considering getting rid of 'Hey Google' hot words

Jan Boromeusz is a recognized Nest Home hacker with what many in the press describe as a proven track record in discovering new Google Nest features before they are announced or released by Google. He makes his announcements via YouTube videos. In his latest effort, he has created a video that shows what he describes as Google considering the possibility of eliminating the "Hey Google" hot words. He also reveals how he finds these secret features.

Tesla 'full self-driving' vehicles can't drive themselves

Earlier this week, Tesla sent out its "full self-driving" software to a small group of owners who will test it on public roads. But buried on its website is a disclaimer that the $8,000 system doesn't make the vehicles autonomous and drivers still have to supervise it.

Intel shares tumble as pandemic hits results

Computer chipmaker Intel saw shares slide Thursday after reporting weak sales for its data center and internet of things operations that overshadowed improvement in the personal computer market.

Charging electric cars up to 90% in six minutes

With Telsa in the lead, the electric vehicle market is growing around the world. Unlike conventional cars that use internal combustion engines, electric cars are solely powered by lithium ion batteries, so the battery performance defines the car's overall performance. However, slow charging times and weak power are still barriers to be overcome. In light of this, a POSTECH research team has recently developed a faster charging and longer lasting battery material for electric cars.

Google hiring 10,000 workers in four cities by 2025

Google plans to hire 10,000 workers in four cities over the next five years, with a focus on recruiting Black talent as part of the company's racial equity commitment announced in June.

Tesla to recall 30,000 cars from China over suspension defects

US electric car manufacturer Tesla will recall almost 30,000 vehicles imported into China due to suspension defects, China's market regulator said Friday.

Facebook gives you more control over your timeline, minus algorithm

If you ever got frustrated about Facebook showing you posts it thinks you want to see, we have some good news for you.

Huawei sales up, but growth slows under virus, US pressure

Chinese tech giant Huawei, one of the biggest makers of smartphones and switching equipment, said Friday its revenue rose 9.9% in the first nine months of this year, but growth decelerated in the face of U.S. sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic.

Rust Belt upstart Lordstown Motors set to make Nasdaq debut

Could a new Tesla-like upstart be the savior of a once-mighty Ohio steel region ravaged by deindustrialization?

Big data firm Palantir working with US on vaccine effort

Big data company Palantir is working with US health officials on a project to track the production and distribution of future COVID-19 vaccines.

Daimler lifts outlook on higher third-quarter profits

German auto giant Daimler, maker of Mercedes-Benz, said Friday that it was upgrading its earnings forecast for the whole of 2020 after group profits rose in the third quarter.

Sweden, Denmark dig deeper to save SAS

The Swedish and Danish governments have agreed to stump up more cash to bail out ailing airline SAS in a recapitalisation plan that was finalised on Friday, the Scandinavian carrier announced.

Google hid a special treat in search for Pelé's 80th birthday. Here's where to find it

Legendary soccer player Pelé turned 80 on Friday, and Google paid tribute with a special treat hidden within search.

Don't look to stand in line at Apple Store for new iPhone, they won't let you

It wasn't that long ago that people camped out in front of Apple Stores for days to be the first on their blocks with new iPhones.

Airbus to keep A320 output at 40 per month

European aircraft giant Airbus said Friday it will maintain production of its workhorse A320 plane at 40 per month to mid-2021 when it expects the aviation industry to have recovered from the coronavirus pandemic.


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Science X Newsletter Thursday, Oct 22

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for October 22, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A machine-learning algorithm that can infer the direction of the thermodynamic arrow of time

Researchers discover 'spooky' similarity in how brains and computers see

How'd we get so picky about friendship late in life? Ask the chimps

Researchers develop an efficient, low-energy method for upcycling polyethylene plastic waste into valuable molecules

Pituitary puzzle gets a new piece, revising evolutionary history

Do the twist: Making two-dimensional quantum materials using curved surfaces

Control ions for quantum computing and sensing via on-chip fiber optics

Shedding light on moiré excitons: A first-principles perspective

Cicada-inspired waterproof surfaces closer to reality, researchers report

Mystery of unusual neutron star system revealed after 20 years, thanks to thousands of volunteers

Scientists borrow solar panel tech to create new ultrahigh-res OLED display

High-quality cat genome helps identify novel cause of dwarfism

Ice loss likely to continue in Antarctica

Scientists use gene therapy and a novel light-sensing protein to restore vision in mice

New approach could lead to designed plastics with specific properties

Physics news

A machine-learning algorithm that can infer the direction of the thermodynamic arrow of time

The second law of thermodynamics delineates an asymmetry in how physical systems evolve over time, known as the arrow of time. In macroscopic systems, this asymmetry has a clear direction (e.g., one can easily notice if a video showing a system's evolution over time is being played normally or backward).

Do the twist: Making two-dimensional quantum materials using curved surfaces

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered a way to control the growth of twisting, microscopic spirals of materials just one atom thick.

Control ions for quantum computing and sensing via on-chip fiber optics

Walk into a quantum lab where scientists trap ions, and you'll find benchtops full of mirrors and lenses, all focusing lasers to hit an ion "trapped" in place above a chip. By using lasers to control ions, scientists have learned to harness ions as quantum bits, or qubits, the basic unit of data in a quantum computer. But this laser setup is now holding research back—making it difficult to experiment with more than a few ions and to take these systems out of the lab for real use.

Shedding light on moiré excitons: A first-principles perspective

Moiré superlattices that are located within van der Waals (vdW) heterostructures can trap long-lived interlayer excitons to form ordered quantum dot arrays, paving the way for unprecedented optoelectronic and quantum information applications. Excitons are an electrically neutral quasiparticle that can transport energy without transporting net electric charge. They form when a material absorbs a photon of higher energy than its bandgap and the concept can be represented as the bound state of an electron and an electron hole that are attracted to each other by an electrostatic Coulomb force. In a new report now published on Science Advances, Hongli Guo and a team of scientists in the department of physics and astronomy at the California State University, Northridge, U.S., performed first-principles simulations to shed light on moiré excitons in twisted molybdenum disulfide/ tungsten disulfide (MoS2/WS2 ) heterostructures. The team showed direct evidence of localized interlayer moiré excitons in vdW heterostructures and mapped out the interlayer and intralayer moiré potentials based on energy gaps. They noted nearly flat valence bands in the heterostructures while exploring how the vertical field could be tuned to control the position, polarity, emission energy and hybridization strength of the moiré excitons. The scientists then predicted that the alternating electric fields could control the dipole moments of hybridized moiré excitons, while suppressing their diffusion in moiré lattices.

Researchers develop simple way to capture high quality 3-D images of live cells and organisms

Researchers have developed a simple method for simultaneously acquiring images at different depths with a standard microscope. The new technique can be applied to a variety of microscopy methods, making it useful for a wide range of biological and biomedical imaging applications.

Optical wiring for large quantum computers

Researchers at ETH have demonstrated a new technique for carrying out sensitive quantum operations on atoms. In this technique, the control laser light is delivered directly inside a chip. This should make it possible to build large-scale quantum computers based on trapped atoms.

World record resolution in cryo electron microscopy

Holger Stark from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen and his team have broken a crucial resolution barrier in cryo electron microscopy. For the first time, his group succeeded in observing individual atoms in a protein structure and taking the sharpest images ever with this method. Such detailed insights make it easier to understand how proteins do their work or cause diseases in the living cell. The technique can also be used in the future to develop new drugs.

Reviewing multiferroics for future, low-energy data storage

,A new UNSW study comprehensively reviews the magnetic structure of the multiferroic material bismuth ferrite (BiFeO3—BFO).

Microscopy breakthrough reveals how proteins behave in 3-D

Six years ago, the Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded to three scientists for finding ways to visualize the pathways of individual molecules inside living cells.

Adaptive turbo equalizer for underwater acoustic differential orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing systems

In mobile underwater acoustic communications (UAC), the relative movement between the transceivers will cause Doppler spread in the received signal, which will bring inter-carrier interference to the orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) UAC system, thereby distorting the transmitted symbols. The design of a high-performance low-complexity receiver in mobile OFDM UAC systems remains a difficult problem.

For the first time: Realistic simulation of plasma edge instabilities in tokamaks

Edge Localized Modes, ELMs for short, are one of the disturbances of the plasma confinement that are caused by the interaction between the charged plasma particles and the confining magnetic field cage. During ELM events, the edge plasma loses its confinement for a short time and periodically throws plasma particles and energy outwards onto the vessel walls. Typically, one tenth of the total energy content can thus be ejected abruptly. While the present generation of medium-sized fusion devices can cope with this, large devices such as ITER or a future power plant would not be able to withstand this strain.

Astronomy and Space news

Mystery of unusual neutron star system revealed after 20 years, thanks to thousands of volunteers

After more than two decades, an international research team has identified a galactic mystery source of gamma rays: a heavy neutron star with a very low mass companion orbiting it.

Trio who lived on space station return to Earth safely

A trio of space travelers safely returned to Earth on Thursday after a six-month mission on the International Space Station.

NASA spacecraft sent asteroid rubble flying in sample grab

NASA's Osiris-Rex spacecraft crushed rocks and sent rubble flying as it briefly touched an asteroid, a strong indication that samples were collected for return to Earth, officials said Wednesday.

OSIRIS-REx TAGs surface of asteroid Bennu

Captured on Oct. 20, 2020 during the OSIRIS-REx mission's Touch-And-Go (TAG) sample collection event, this series of images shows the SamCam imager's field of view as the NASA spacecraft approaches and touches down on asteroid Bennu's surface, over 200 million miles (321 million km) away from Earth. The sampling event brought the spacecraft all the way down to sample site Nightingale, touching down within three feet (one meter) of the targeted location. The team on Earth received confirmation at 6:08 pm EDT that successful touchdown occurred. Preliminary data show the one-foot-wide (0.3-meter-wide) sampling head touched Bennu's surface for approximately 6 seconds, after which the spacecraft performed a back-away burn.

Einstein's theory of relativity, critical for GPS, seen in distant stars

What do Albert Einstein, the Global Positioning System (GPS), and a pair of stars 200,000 trillion miles from Earth have in common?

Dark matter: Our method for catching ghostly halos could help unveil what it's made of

The search for dark matter—an unknown and invisible substance thought to make up the vast majority of matter in the universe—is at a crossroads. Although it was proposed nearly 70 years ago and has been searched for intensely—with large particle colliders, detectors deep underground and even instruments in space—it is still nowhere to be found.

Supercomputers dig into first star fossils

No one has yet found the first stars.

The implications of signs of life on Venus?

The planet Venus has arguably remained less captivating than, say, the legendary tennis star or, for that matter, the women's razor blade company—both of those Venuses have at least enjoyed ample airtime on cable TV.

The science behind life in space on 'Away'

Do you feel like you've been locked in a small room for months on end, isolated from the people that you love? Welcome to Netflix's "Away" and the bubble of five scientists on the world's first manned mission to Mars.

What would a realistic space battle look like?

Science fiction space movies can do a poor job of educating people about space. In the movies, hot-shot pilots direct their dueling space ships through space as if they're flying through an atmosphere. They bank and turn and perform loops and rolls, maybe throw in a quick Immelman turn, as if they're subject to Earth's gravity. Is that realistic?

Technology news

Researchers discover 'spooky' similarity in how brains and computers see

The brain detects 3-D shape fragments (bumps, hollows, shafts, spheres) in the beginning stages of object vision—a newly discovered strategy of natural intelligence that Johns Hopkins University researchers also found in artificial intelligence networks trained to recognize visual objects.

Scientists borrow solar panel tech to create new ultrahigh-res OLED display

By expanding on existing designs for electrodes of ultra-thin solar panels, Stanford researchers and collaborators in Korea have developed a new architecture for OLED—organic light-emitting diode—displays that could enable televisions, smartphones and virtual or augmented reality devices with resolutions of up to 10,000 pixels per inch (PPI). (For comparison, the resolutions of new smartphones are around 400 to 500 PPI.)

Boston Dynamics to give Spot a robot arm and charging station

Boston Dynamics announced that it has developed a robot arm for its "Spot" robot and also a charging station. Both will be available for purchase this spring.

Tesla posts net profit for fifth straight quarter

Tesla charged through a summertime auto industry sales slump in the U.S. to post stronger-than-expected net earnings for the third quarter.

The myth of electric cars: Why we also need to focus on buses and trains

California recently announced that it plans to ban the sales of gas-powered vehicles by 2035, Ontario has invested $500 million in the production of electric vehicles (EVs) and Tesla is quickly becoming the world's highest-valued car company.

Creating 3-D maps of complex buildings for disaster management

In case of an emergency, first responders like the fire brigade need up-to-date information. Two-dimensional maps are a common source of information, but they can be difficult to read in an emergency situation. UT Ph.D. student Shayan Nikoohemat created an algorithm that can accurately generate 3-D models of the insides of large buildings from point clouds.

People want data privacy but don't always know what they're getting

The Trump administration's move to ban the popular video app TikTok has stoked fears about the Chinese government collecting personal information of people who use the app. These fears underscore growing concerns Americans have about digital privacy generally.

A roadmap for making critical infrastructure safer as natural disasters increase

According to the European Union, it costs around €20 billion to repair and maintain transport infrastructure as a direct result of natural hazards. The American Society of Civil Engineers believes neglecting to maintain transport infrastructure could have dire economic consequences, including a loss of 2.5 million jobs and $7 trillion in business sales by 2025—figures which could rise by 16 percent as a result of climate change.

Why don't we click on some social media posts?

We take the time to read a heartfelt post from a dear friend on Facebook about a struggle at work but aren't sure what to say, so we don't comment or otherwise show we read it.

Designing batteries for easier recycling could avert a looming e-waste crisis

As concern mounts over the impacts of climate change, many experts are calling for greater use of electricity as a substitute for fossil fuels. Powered by advancements in battery technology, the number of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles on U.S. roads is increasing. And utilities are generating a growing share of their power from renewable fuels, supported by large-scale battery storage systems.

US voter data traded on hacker forums: researchers

A database with information on virtually the entire US voting population has been circulated on hacker forums, opening up the potential for disinformation and scams that could impact the November 3 election, security researchers say.

Self-driving shuttle debuts in high-traffic Virginia spot

The future of transportation arrived in northern Virginia, looking like a big blue toaster on wheels that seats six and drives itself through the region's notorious traffic.

Comparing the promise and reality of e-scooters

Is shared micromobility the ideal first/last mile supplement to transit? Can electric scooters make it easier for historically disadvantaged populations to get around? In just three years, brand-new fleets of e-scooters have substantially disrupted and altered the urban mobility landscape. For proponents, it's tempting to view them as a new answer to old problems. A just-released study finds however, that while there is potential for improved mobility if they are paired with other interventions, the shiny rows of e-scooters parked around cities aren't a catchall solution for our longstanding issues.

In Dubai, oil-rich UAE sees a new wonder: A coal power plant

A new wonder is rising in the southern desert of Dubai against the backdrop of Persian Gulf beaches, but it's not another skyscraper to grace the futuristic sheikhdom. Instead, it's one of mankind's oldest power sources gaining its own space on the oil-rich Arabian Peninsula—a coal-fired power plant.

Short-video app Quibi shutting down just months after launch

Short-video app Quibi said it is shutting down just six months after its early April launch, having struggled to find customers.

Airbnb partners with ex-Apple design star Jony Ive

Airbnb has hired former Apple design chief Jony Ive to work on showcasing the homesharing platform's forthcoming products, it announced Wednesday.

How algorithms can help the clothing industry

Can big data and artificial intelligence (AI) improve the clothing industry's value chains, adapt products to customer needs, and help the industry keep up with how customer needs are evolving? Sheenam Jain, doctoral student in the SMDTex program, has examined this in her thesis.

American Airlines reports $2.4 bln loss in Q3

American Airlines announced Thursday that its earnings plunged 73 percent in the third quarter amid the collapse in air travel during the coronavirus pandemic, causing a loss of $2.4 billion, which was not as bad as analysts expected.

Microsoft, Alaska Airlines team up for alternative jet fuel

Microsoft and Alaska Airlines announced a partnership Thursday to use sustainable jet fuel to offset emissions from the technology giant's employee travel.

American, Southwest Airlines shore up finances amid pandemic

US airlines' continued efforts to rein in costs and step up safety measures so travelers will return to the skies paid off in results reported Thursday that showed carriers paring losses in the latest quarter.

Pandemic hurts AT&T in 3rd quarter, wireless unit stable

The pandemic continued to hit AT&T through the third quarter as closed theaters, wary U.S. moviegoers and the Hollywood shutdown hurt its WarnerMedia movie and TV business.

Artificial intelligence can predict students' educational outcomes based on tweets

Ivan Smirnov, Leading Research Fellow of the Laboratory of Computational Social Sciences at the Institute of Education of HSE University, has created a computer model that can distinguish high academic achievers from lower ones based on their social media posts. The prediction model uses a mathematical textual analysis that registers users' vocabulary (its range and the semantic fields from which concepts are taken), characters and symbols, post length, and word length.


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