Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Oct 29

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for October 29, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Batteries with fluorinated electrolytes that work at very high and low temperatures

Researchers uncover an anomaly in the electromagnetic duality of Maxwell Theory

Chameleon's tongue strike inspires fast-acting robots

Astronomers observe blazar S5 0836+710 during high activity period, detect two gamma-ray flares

New findings detail a method for investigating the inner workings of stars in a rare phase

A new method of extracting hydrogen from water more efficiently to capture renewable energy

Anti-inflammatory agents can effectively and safely curb major depressive symptoms

Exerting self-control does not mean sacrificing pleasure

Poor evidence cannabis improves mental health: study

Researchers move closer to new vaccine for killer TB

Air Force's mystery space plane lands, ends 2-year mission

Severe drought shuts down reproduction in copperhead snakes, study finds

Red algae thrive despite ancestor's massive loss of genes

De-identification team explores facial recognition block in videos

Scientists synthesize light with new intrinsic chirality to tell mirror molecules apart

Physics news

Researchers uncover an anomaly in the electromagnetic duality of Maxwell Theory

Researchers at the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (WPI) and Tohoku University in Japan have recently identified an anomaly in the electromagnetic duality of Maxwell Theory. This anomaly, outlined in a paper published in Physical Review Letters, could play an important role in the consistency of string theory.

Scientists synthesize light with new intrinsic chirality to tell mirror molecules apart

Light is the fastest way to distinguish right- and left-handed chiral molecules, which has important applications in chemistry and biology. However, ordinary light only weakly senses molecular handedness. Researchers from the Max Born Institute for Nonlinear Optics and Short Pulse Spectroscopy (MBI), the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) and Technische Universitaet Berlin (TU Berlin) now report a method to generate and characterize synthetic chiral light, which identifies molecules' handedness exceptionally distinctly. The results of their joint work have just appeared in Nature Photonics.

Structured light promises path to faster, more secure communications

Structured light is a fancy way to describe patterns or pictures of light, but deservedly so as it promises future communications that will be both faster and more secure.

Using an accurate measurement of the parameters of planetary bodies to constrain the mass of the graviton

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in France has revisited the idea of improving on estimates of the upper limit of the mass of a graviton. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the group describes their accurate measurement of the parameters of planetary bodies and what they found.

Liquid crystal droplets as versatile microswimmers

Nature's most common swimmers are single-celled organisms such as microalgae that swim toward light sources, and sperm cells that swim toward an ovum. For a physicist, cells are simply biochemical machines, which must obey well-described laws of chemistry and physics. Can scientists therefore create life-like, swimming micro-machines without invoking biology?

Scientists learn how to make oxygen 'perform' for them

When it comes to the fundamentals of making better materials—stronger-but-thinner glass for televisions or phone screens, for example—it almost always comes down to the building blocks of science. Understand the structure around an atom, the most basic piece of any material, and you might be able to change that material for the better.

First magnet installed for the ALPS II experiment at DESY

The international ALPS II ("Any light particle search") collaboration installed the first of 24 superconducting magnets today, marking the start of the installation of a unique particle physics experiment to look for dark matter. Located at the German research centre DESY in Hamburg, it is set to start taking data in 2021 by looking for dark matter particles that literally make light shine through a wall, thus providing clues to one of the biggest questions in physics today: what is the nature of dark matter?

A new type of acoustic insulation enables sound to be concentrated in corners

A group of researchers from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), in collaboration with Chinese scientists from the University of Nanjing (NJU), have designed a new type of acoustic insulation that enables sound waves to be concentrated in corners. This line of research could have applications in industrial ultrasound technologies or in the improvement of certain medical diagnostic tests such as ultrasound.

Researchers' theory predicts the lifespan of liquid droplets

Researchers at the University of Warwick have developed a new understanding of how liquids evaporate into vapour, pointing to potential applications for engineering design.

Astronomy & Space news

Astronomers observe blazar S5 0836+710 during high activity period, detect two gamma-ray flares

Italian astronomers have conducted multi-band observations of the high-redshift blazar S5 0836+710 during its period of high activity. The monitoring campaign resulted in the detection of two major gamma-ray flares from this source and provided more insights on the object's properties. The findings are available in a paper published October 18 on

New findings detail a method for investigating the inner workings of stars in a rare phase

In 5 billion years or so, when the sun has used up the hydrogen in its core, it will inflate and turn into a red giant star. This phase of its life—and that of other stars up to twice its mass—is relatively short compared with the more than 10 billion-year life of the sun. The red giant will shine 1000 times brighter than the sun, and suddenly the helium deep in its core will begin fusing to carbon in a process called the "helium core flash." After this, the star settles into 100 million years of quiet helium fusion.

Air Force's mystery space plane lands, ends 2-year mission

The Air Force's mystery space plane is back on Earth, following a record-breaking two-year mission.

Virgin Galactic becomes first space tourism company to land on Wall Street

Virgin Galactic landed on Wall Street Monday, debuting its listing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in a first for a space tourism company.

Dark energy: new experiment may solve one of the universe's greatest mysteries

As an astronomer, there is no better feeling than achieving "first light" with a new instrument or telescope. It is the culmination of years of preparations and construction of new hardware, which for the first time collects light particles from an astronomical object. This is usually followed by a sigh of relief and then the excitement of all the new science that is now possible.

Microsatellites to take never-before-seen look at the young solar wind

Scientists know that a solar wind streams out of the Sun and rushes into the void of space, constantly buffeting Earth and the other planets with gales of charged particles.

TESS reveals an improbable planet

Using asteroseismology, a team led by an Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço (IA) researcher studied two red-giant stars known to have exoplanets, and around one of them, found a seemingly improbable planet.

Technology news

Batteries with fluorinated electrolytes that work at very high and low temperatures

Electrolytes are chemical components that enable the flow of ions between the cathode and anode inside batteries, ultimately providing electrical power to technological devices. Most conventional and readily available non-aqueous Li-ion batteries are fabricated using carbonate-based electrolytes.

Chameleon's tongue strike inspires fast-acting robots

Chameleons, salamanders and many toads use stored elastic energy to launch their sticky tongues at unsuspecting insects located up to one-and-a-half body lengths away, catching them within a tenth of a second.

De-identification team explores facial recognition block in videos

Facebook has figured out the de-identification of people in videos. Wait, Facebook? Aren't social platforms often criticized over privacy rights? Not this time, at least not over in the halls of Facebook AI Research.

OmniVision announces world record for smallest image sensor

OmniVision, a developer of advanced digital imaging solutions, has announced that it has won a place in the Guinness Book of World Records with the development of its OV6948 image sensor—it now holds the record for the smallest image sensor in the world. Along with the sensor, the company also announced the development of a camera module based on the sensor called the CameraCubeChip.

Popular third-party genetic genealogy site is vulnerable to compromised data, impersonations

DNA testing services like 23andMe, and MyHeritage are making it easier for people to learn about their ethnic heritage and genetic makeup. People can also use genetic testing results to connect to potential relatives by using third-party sites, like GEDmatch, where they can compare their DNA sequences to others in the database who have uploaded test results.

Nature can help solve optimization problems

Today's best digital computers still struggle to solve, in a practical time frame, a certain class of problem: combinatorial optimization problems, or those that involve combing through large sets of possibilities to find the best solution. Quantum computers hold potential to take on these problems, but scaling up the number of quantum bits in these systems remains a hurdle.

Facial recognition software has a gender problem

With a brief glance at a single face, emerging facial recognition software can now categorize the gender of many men and women with remarkable accuracy.

Researchers increasing access to 3-D modeling through touch-based display

With the goal of increasing access to making, engineers at Stanford University have collaborated with members of the blind and visually impaired community to develop a touch-based display that mimics the geometry of 3-D objects designed on a computer.

Google sued by Australian regulators over location tracking

Australia's consumer watchdog sued Google on Tuesday alleging the technology giant broke consumer law by misleading Android users about how their location data was collected and used.

The streaming war's first victim: your wallet

With two young daughters, Mery Montenegro is preparing to add Disney+ to her list of streaming subscriptions, which already includes Netflix, Hulu and Amazon—and, when combined with her cable TV bill, costs her almost $1,500 per year.

Survey: Number of kids watching online videos soars

The number of young Americans watching online videos every day has more than doubled, according to survey findings released Tuesday. They're glued to them for nearly an hour a day, twice as long as they were four years ago.

Live sports, the newest weapon in the TV streaming war

Streaming services have long focused on series and movies, but as online TV competition heats up could live sports—historically a bit player on these platforms—change the game?

Where to install renewable energy in US to achieve greatest benefits

A new Harvard study shows that to achieve the biggest improvements in public health and the greatest benefits from renewable energy, wind turbines should be installed in the Upper Midwest and solar power should be installed in the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic regions. When adjusting for energy produced, the benefits ranged from $28 per MWh of energy produced from wind in California, to $113 per MWh of wind in the Upper Midwest and for utility-scale solar in the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic. The study in Environmental Research Letters by the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Harvard C-CHANGE) provides a guide for policymakers, businesses, and utilities on where to install renewable energy in the U.S. to maximize their health and climate benefits.

Airbus A220s ordered to slow down over engine incidents

The Airbus A220 should no longer use full power at high altitudes, Canadian and European air safety regulators have announced following several incidents with their engines, including one in which pieces came off in-flight.

Bandwidth for ubiquitous 5G and beyond might be just around the corner with this new microsystem

A new way to exploit the terahertz (THz) radio spectrum could prove cost-effective and reliable enough to commercialize new, under-used frequencies for high volume applications for 5G and beyond.

Surtrac allows traffic to move at the speed of technology

Artificial intelligence is giving more Pittsburgh drivers the green light.

Digital sovereignty: can the Russian Internet cut itself off from the rest of the world?

The Internet infrastructure is based on the principle of the internationalisation of equipment and data and information flows. Elements of the Internet with a geographic location in national territories need physical and information resources hosted in other territories to be able to function. However, in this globalised context, Russia has been working since 2012 to gradually increase national controls on information flows and infrastructure, in an atmosphere of growing political mistrust toward protest movements within the country and its international partners abroad. Several laws have already been passed in this regard, such as the one in force since 2016 requiring companies processing data from Russian citizens to store them on national territory, or the one regulating the use of virtual private networks (VPNs), proxies and anonymisation tools in force since 2017.

Technology selectively filters perchlorate from water

In June, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a request for public comment on a proposed rule for regulating perchlorate in public drinking water systems.

Drones help track wildfires, count wildlife and map plants

Drones are revolutionizing the way scientists observe, measure and monitor the natural environment. From mapping the patterns of wildfires, like those in California, to measuring the size of jellyfish populations, drones have the potential to improve our understanding of the natural environment.

Study finds companies may be wise to share cybersecurity efforts

Research finds that when one company experiences a cybersecurity breach, other companies in the same field also become less attractive to investors. However, companies that are open about their cybersecurity risk management fare significantly better than peers that don't disclose their cybersecurity efforts.

Team develops bimodal 'electronic skin'

Through the crafty use of magnetic fields, scientists from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the Johannes Kepler University in Linz have developed the first electronic sensor that can simultaneously process both touchless and tactile stimuli. Prior attempts have so far failed to combine these functions on a single device due to overlapping signals of the various stimuli. As the sensor is readily applied to the human skin, it could provide a seamless interactive platform for virtual and augmented reality scenarios. The researchers have published their results in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

Examination of conscience on the role of engineering in sustainable development

One defining feature of the beginning of the twenty-first century is the growing acceptance that our world (environment, economy, politics and culture) is highly diverse but strongly interrelated and interdependent. Being a responsible professional involves taking into account that professional practice contributes to society, in addition to considering the effects that attitudes and actions have on the profession.

New AI deep learning model allows earlier, more accurate ozone warnings

Researchers from the University of Houston have developed an artificial intelligence-based ozone forecasting system, which would allow local areas to predict ozone levels 24 hours in advance.

Apple resumes human reviews of Siri audio with iPhone update

Apple is resuming the use of humans to review Siri commands and dictation with the latest iPhone software update.

Amazon drops monthly fee to boost grocery delivery sales

Amazon has a new plan to try and jumpstart its grocery delivery business: cut some fees for its Prime members.

Facebook takes more heat for enabling political falsehoods

Facebook came under fresh criticism Tuesday for its hands-off approach to political speech, as a group of employees and US lawmakers called on the social network to fact-check politicians spreading misinformation.

The internet is now 50 years old. The first online message? It was a typo

Fifty years ago, two letters were transmitted online, forever altering the way that knowledge, information and communication would be exchanged.

Apple TV Plus launching Friday with lowest price for major subscription service

The company that brought you the Macintosh computer, iPhone, iPad and iTunes now wants you to turn to it for Apple-branded entertainment.

Deep neural network generates realistic character-scene interactions

A key part of bringing 3-D animated characters to life is the ability to depict their physical motions naturally in any scene or environment.

WhatsApp sues Israeli firm NSO over cyberespionage

WhatsApp on Tuesday sued Israeli technology firm NSO Group, accusing it of using the Facebook-owned messaging service to conduct cyberespionage on journalists, human rights activists and others.

Team develops a detector that stops lateral phishing attacks

Lateral phishing attacks—scams targeting users from compromised email accounts within an organization—are becoming an increasing concern in the U.S.

Maker of China's TikTok denies report it is planning HK listing

Chinese internet start-up ByteDance, whose globally popular app TikTok has raised US security concerns, on Tuesday denied reports that it was considering an initial public offering in Hong Kong in the first quarter of next year.

Facebook employees sign letter opposing political ads policy

Hundreds of Facebook employees have signed a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other executives saying they oppose the social network's policy of letting politicians lie in advertisements.

Is the US losing the artificial intelligence arms race?

The U.S. government, long a proponent of advancing technology for military purposes, sees artificial intelligence as key to the next generation of fighting tools.

Young inventors come up with smart sneakers

Navigation in unfamiliar places is a major problem for residents of large cities. Therefore, the popularity of mobile GPS devices has risen significantly. However, it's nonetheless sometimes difficult for users to understand where to go. In addition, they have to regularly look at the screen to track the route, which distracts them from what's happening around them and increases risks on the road. Pre-university students from the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI in Moscow have created sneakers that can give directions, count a person's steps and tally the number calories burned.

Air Canada misses earnings forecast due to 737 MAX grounding

Air Canada on Tuesday posted record operating revenues and strong earnings, but missed forecasts, which it blamed on the grounding of Boeing's 737 MAX jetliners over the past eight months.

Boeing CEO grilled on Capitol Hill after MAX crashes

Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg faced a barrage of criticism from US lawmakers Tuesday at a jammed hearing on the company's commitment to safety as family members of victims of two deadly MAX 737 crashes looked on.

India's IndiGo makes $33bn mega-order of Airbus jets

Indian airline IndiGo has placed an order for 300 A320neo family aircraft, Airbus said Tuesday, in one of its largest-ever orders from a single firm, worth over $33.2 billion at catalogue prices.

GM earnings top expectations; forecast cut after strike

General Motors reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings Tuesday on strong auto sales but trimmed its full-year forecast after a lengthy strike that ended last week.

Restaurant delivery gets easier for most, but not Grubhub

Shares in Grubhub plunged 43% Tuesday after it sharply cut its revenue expectations for the year and warned of intense competition.

Concert promoters turn away from facial recognition tech

Concert promoters in the U.S. are stepping back from plans to scan festivalgoers with facial recognition technology, after musicians and others gave it some serious side-eye.

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