Science X Newsletter Thursday, Nov 7

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for November 7, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A third of California methane traced to a few super-emitters

Galactic fountains and carousels: order emerging from chaos

Researchers lay out first genetic history of Rome

Hubble captures a dozen Sunburst Arc doppelgangers

NICER catches record-setting X-ray burst

Faster heartbeat helps deer mice to survive at high altitudes

Tiny transporters could deliver treatment to stroke patients

E-cigs may damage the heart, study says

Self-cannibalizing mitochondria may set the stage for ALS development

Huge trove of mammoth skeletons found in Mexico

Mammals' complex spines are linked to high metabolisms; we're learning how they evolved

Neural network fills in data gaps for spatial analysis of chromosomes

Investigation of oceanic 'black carbon' uncovers mystery in global carbon cycle

New pathway for lung cancer treatment

OpenTitan for data centers: Google, partners push secure silicon design

Physics news

Researchers measure wake of supersonic projectiles

Imaging technology has vastly improved over the past 30 years. It's been about that long since the flow coming off of the base of projectiles, such as ballistic missiles, has been measured. Researchers in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign used a modern measurement technique called stereoscopic particle image velocimetry to take high-resolution measurements of the complicated flow field downstream of a blunt-based cylinder moving at supersonic speeds, which is representative of a projectile or an unpowered rocket.

Thorium superconductivity: Scientists discover new high-temperature superconductor

A group of scientists led by Artem Oganov of Skoltech and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, and Ivan Troyan of the Institute of Crystallography of RAS has succeeded in synthesizing thorium decahydride (ThH10), a new superconducting material with the very high critical temperature of 161 kelvins. The results of their study, supported by a Russian Science Foundation grant, were published in the journal Materials Today.

Obtaining order in the "frustrated" landscape of disordered magnetism

Identifying a material's magnetic structure is a key to unlocking new features and higher performance in electronic devices. However, solving increasingly complex magnetic structures requires increasingly sophisticated approaches.

The hidden ability of synchrotron radiation to perform coherent control

Coherent control is a method to manipulate the populations and pathways in matter by light, and is currently one of the most attractive research areas in optical physics and photochemistry. Lasers have been considered as unique light sources enabling one to perform coherent control, and, thanks to the development of laser technology, the on-going research is moving rapidly into the regime of extreme ultraviolet wavelengths.

Astronomy & Space news

Galactic fountains and carousels: order emerging from chaos

Scientists from Germany and the United States have unveiled the results of a newly-completed, state of the art simulation of the evolution of galaxies. TNG50 is the most detailed large-scale cosmological simulation yet. It allows researchers to study in detail how galaxies form, and how they have evolved since shortly after the Big Bang. For the first time, it reveals that the geometry of the cosmic gas flows around galaxies determines galaxies' structures, and vice versa. The researchers publish their results in two papers in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Hubble captures a dozen Sunburst Arc doppelgangers

Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have observed a galaxy in the distant regions of the Universe which appears duplicated at least 12 times on the night sky. This unique sight, created by strong gravitational lensing, helps astronomers get a better understanding of the cosmic era known as the epoch of reionisation.

NICER catches record-setting X-ray burst

NASA's Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) telescope on the International Space Station detected a sudden spike of X-rays at about 10:04 p.m. EDT on Aug. 20. The burst was caused by a massive thermonuclear flash on the surface of a pulsar, the crushed remains of a star that long ago exploded as a supernova.

NASA opens sealed Apollo sample ahead of Artemis missions

NASA scientists opened an untouched rock and soil sample from the Moon returned to Earth on Apollo 17, marking the first time in more than 40 years a pristine sample of rock and regolith from the Apollo era has been opened. It sets the stage for scientists to practice techniques to study future samples collected on Artemis missions.

The alchemy of merging neutron stars

For the first time, astronomers have identified a chemical element that was freshly formed by the merging of two neutron stars. The underlying mechanism, called the r-process—also known as rapid neutron capture—is considered to be the origin of large quantities of elements heavier than iron.

A balloon-based solar observatory

Southwest Research Institute successfully demonstrated a miniature solar observatory on a high-altitude balloon November 1. The SwRI Solar Instrument Pointing Platform (SSIPP)—a reusable, high-precision solar observatory about the size of a mini fridge and weighing 160 pounds—was carried by a stratospheric balloon, collecting 75 minutes of solar images in the proof-of-concept flight.

Boeing: Pin problem caused parachute issue in capsule test

Boeing says a problem with a pin caused its Starliner capsule to land with two instead of three parachutes earlier this week.

Technology news

OpenTitan for data centers: Google, partners push secure silicon design

The Google Security Blog on Tuesday announced OpenTitan as an open source chip design, where other organizations have joined Google in an effort to further rise the bar on security surrounding the original Titan chip.

Go with the flow: Scientists design new grid batteries for renewable energy

How do you store renewable energy so it's there when you need it, even when the sun isn't shining or the wind isn't blowing? Giant batteries designed for the electrical grid—called flow batteries, which store electricity in tanks of liquid electrolyte—could be the answer, but so far utilities have yet to find a cost-effective battery that can reliably power thousands of homes throughout a lifecycle of 10 to 20 years.

Sounds of mosquito mating rituals could lead to quieter drones

Mosquitoes flap their wings not just to stay aloft but for two other critical purposes: to generate sound and to point that buzz in the direction of a potential mate, researchers at Johns Hopkins University have discovered.

Flexible yet sturdy robot is designed to 'grow' like a plant

In today's factories and warehouses, it's not uncommon to see robots whizzing about, shuttling items or tools from one station to another. For the most part, robots navigate pretty easily across open layouts. But they have a much harder time winding through narrow spaces to carry out tasks such as reaching for a product at the back of a cluttered shelf, or snaking around a car's engine parts to unscrew an oil cap.

Toyota reports record first-half net profit, sales

Japanese car giant Toyota on Thursday reported record net profit and sales for the first half, with cost-cutting efforts helping to boost its balance sheet.

Hideo Kojima: enigmatic games creator inspired by movies

Hideo Kojima, creator of the hugely anticipated Death Stranding game released this week, turned a family obsession with film into a talent for making highly cinematic video games.

Documents show Facebook controlling competitors with user data: report

Leaked documents from a civil suit against Facebook show how the social network aimed to employ user data as a tool for bargaining and to manipulate competitors, NBC News reported on Wednesday.

Skip the queue: Singapore hotels use face recognition check-in

Tourists visiting Singapore can now check in at some hotels using facial recognition technology under a pilot programme that could cut waiting times and help tackle a labour crunch.

Abusing a robot won't hurt it, but it could make you a crueller person

Set in a dystopian 2019, the sci-fi classic Blade Runner explores how artificial humans could impact our humanity. Harrison Ford's character experiences powerful emotional and moral effects as he goes about hunting "replicants".

Novel solar cells arrive at International Space Station for testing

Five different types of solar cells fabricated by research teams at the Georgia Institute of Technology have arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) to be tested for their power conversion rate and ability to operate in the harsh space environment as part of the MISSE-12 mission. One type of cell, made of low-cost organic materials, has not been extensively tested in space before.

Data points way to more efficient, secure networks

Let's say a bunch of people in a small town in British Columbia are trying to stream the latest Star Wars movie.

How Russia's online censorship could jeopardize internet freedom worldwide

Russia's ever-tightening grip on its citizens' internet access has troubling implications for online freedom in the United States and other countries that share its decentralized network structure, according to a University of Michigan study.

Turning waste heat into hydrogen fuel

Hydrogen as an energy carrier can help us move away from fossil fuels, but only if it is created efficiently. One way to improve efficiency is to use waste heat that's left over from other industrial processes.

Soft robots of the future may depend on new materials that conduct electricity, sense damage and self-heal

Robots used to be restricted to heavy lifting or fine detail work in factories. Now Boston Dynamics' nimble four-legged robot, Spot, is available for companies to lease to carry out various real-world jobs, a sign of just how common interactions between humans and machines have become in recent years.

The ethical challenges of digital identity

The GDPR recently came into effect, confirming Europe's role as an example in personal data protection. However, we must not let it dissuade us from examining issues of identity, which have been redefined in this digital era. This means thinking critically about major ethical and philosophical issues that go beyond the simple question of the protection of personal information and privacy.

Google considers changing its political advertising policy

Managers at Google are considering changing policies on political advertising in the midst of a raging public debate on the topic, according to a person familiar with the company's plans.

Does Amazon Echo Studio speaker deliver on its promise of amazing sound?

When Amazon demonstrated the new Echo Studio at a company event in September, I was blown away. This was some of the best audio I had ever heard from a little speaker, filling a room of hundreds of journalists and sounding like it was many speakers connected together.

No more traffic blues for information transfer: Decongesting wireless channels

The wireless Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of devices in which each device can directly send information to another over wireless channels of communication, without human intervention. With the number of IoT devices increasing every day, the amount of information on wireless channels is also increasing. This is causing congestion over the network, leading to loss of information due to interference and the failure of information delivery. Research to solve this problem of congestion is ongoing, and the most widely accepted and applied solution is "multi-channel" technology. With this technology, information transmission is distributed among various parallel channels based on the traffic in a particular channel at a given time.

Research shows how climate change will affect hydropower production in Canada

Changing climate and weather patterns are going to have dramatic impacts on Canada's production potential of hydroelectricity, according to new Concordia research.

Robots 'not evil' says Boston Dynamics as humanoids go viral

As videos of robot-like dogs made by Boston Dynamics go viral on the internet, the humanoids' uncanny abilities have also sparked worries that they could become a threat to humans.

EU hails 'fast, ambitious' pace towards digital tax

An international effort to better tax tech giants such as Google or Facebook has achieved surprising results, a top EU official said on Thursday.

China imposes curfew on minors in gaming crackdown

China has imposed a curfew to limit the time spent by children playing games online, in the latest part of a government crackdown on youth gaming addiction.

Baidu Q3 revenue beats expectations but profit drops

Chinese internet search leader Baidu beat revenue estimates in its latest quarter but still posted a net loss, which it blamed largely on equity investments that fared poorly.

German cabin crew kick off 'massive' Lufthansa strike

Tens of thousands of Lufthansa passengers faced disruptions Thursday as cabin crew in Germany staged a "massive" 48-hour walkout in the biggest escalation yet of a bitter row over pay and conditions.

HP says it has received a 'proposal' from Xerox

Computer and printer maker HP Inc. said Wednesday it had received a "proposal" from copier maker Xerox and has had conversations "from time to time" with the company about a potential business combination.

Researchers take flight with unmanned aerial vehicles

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are getting smarter with the help of an international team of researchers. They developed a way for multiple UAVS to fall into formation while still automatically controlling their own flight needs, just like the drones used by the villain portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal in the 2019 Spiderman movie.

Scientists design 'smart' asphalts with magnetic materials for safer electric scooters

Scientists from the University of Granada have used magnetic materials in "smart" asphalts that modify their properties in the presence of external magnetic fields. This work—part of the wider research field of "smart cities"—would enable roads to signal to scooters when to slow down, for example, or could automatically cut off the electric motor or engine in case of danger.

Distributed solar prices fall annually by 5% to 7%

The latest edition of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's (Berkeley Lab's) annual Tracking the Sun report finds that prices for distributed solar power systems continued to fall in 2018, that industry practices continued to evolve, and that systems are getting bigger and more efficient.

New standards developed to improve metal-detector testing

Metal detectors now appear routinely in the entrances of many schools, airports and even houses of worship. They serve as portals to correctional facilities, prisons and courthouses, and guards often wave the hand-held models around the bags of incoming ticketholders at sports arenas, too. The increased usage is making it more important than ever to know that these machines will always work as expected and can be counted upon to help detect weapons and other threats. To help meet these demands, scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have researched and developed four metal detection testing standards. Three have been published by the ASTM International standards organization and a fourth one is still in development.

Deep-learning AI system puts Singapore on global map of big data analytics

A team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has put Singapore on the global map of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data analytics. Their open-source project, called Apache SINGA, "graduated" from the Apache Incubator on 16 October 2019 and is now Southeast Asia's first Top-Level Project (TLP) under the Apache Software Foundation, the world's largest open-source software community.

Idaho, Energy Department sign deal on spent nuclear fuel

Idaho granted a conditional waiver Thursday to the U.S. Department of Energy that could allow research quantities of spent nuclear fuel into the state after years of blocking such shipments.

T-Mobile promises consumer benefits if Sprint deal OK'd

T-Mobile promises a new $15 wireless plan if its $26.5 billion Sprint deal goes through.


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