Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Nov 12

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for November 12, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Uber develops technique to predict pedestrian behavior, while new documents are released about last year's accident

Mechanisms of soft tissue and protein preservation in Tyrannosaurus rex

New chip for waking up small wireless devices could extend battery life

Physics experiment with ultrafast laser pulses produces a previously unseen phase of matter

Research team discovers epigenetic pathway that controls social behavior in carpenter ants

New material points toward highly efficient solar cells

Newborn baby hiccups could be key to brain development

Retinal imaging technology for early detection of Alzheimer's disease

Cats of the sea offer insights into territorial behavior of wild fishes

The voyage home: Japan's Hayabusa-2 probe to head for Earth

Microplastics found in oysters, clams on Oregon coast, study finds

Using sound waves to remotely target drugs to tumors

Study shows insulin can increase mosquitoes' immunity to West Nile virus

Research sheds new light on earthquake that killed 9,000 people

Spray painting fiber bandages onto wounds

Physics news

Physics experiment with ultrafast laser pulses produces a previously unseen phase of matter

Adding energy to any material, such as by heating it, almost always makes its structure less orderly. Ice, for example, with its crystalline structure, melts to become liquid water, with no order at all.

Using sound waves to remotely target drugs to tumors

The lack of a clinically viable method to track and direct cancer drugs to tumors is a big problem for targeted therapeutics.

Study investigates a critical transition in water that remains liquid far below the freezing point

Water can remain liquid at temperatures far below 0 degrees Celsius. This supercooled phase is a current focus for scientific research. A theoretical model developed at São Paulo State University (UNESP) in Brazil shows that in supercooled water, there is a critical point at which properties such as thermal expansion and compressibility exhibit anomalous behavior.

Sound-redirecting prototype could fool eavesdroppers

Tuning the instruments that produce some of our most indelible sound waves—guitars, pianos, vocal chords—has become commonplace, expected, easy.

Superconducting wind turbine chalks up first test success

A superconducting rotor has been successfully tested on an active wind turbine for the first time.

Massive photons in an artificial magnetic field

An international research collaboration from Poland, the UK and Russia has created a two-dimensional system—a thin optical cavity filled with liquid crystal—in which they trapped photons. As the properties of the cavity were modified by an external voltage, the photons behaved like massive quasiparticles endowed with a magnetic moment, called "spin," under the influence of an artificial magnetic field. The research has been published in Science on Friday, 8 November 2019.

New spin directions in pyrite an encouraging sign for future spintronics

A Monash University study revealing new spin textures in pyrite could unlock these materials' potential in future spintronics devices.

Astronomy & Space news

The voyage home: Japan's Hayabusa-2 probe to head for Earth

Japan's Hayabusa-2 probe will leave its orbit around a distant asteroid and head for Earth on Wednesday after an unprecedented mission, carrying samples that could shed light on the origins of the Solar System.

First study to combine 3-D climate modeling with chemistry refines which exoplanets are potentially habitable

In order to search for life in outer space, astronomers first need to know where to look. A new Northwestern University study will help astronomers narrow down the search.

Runaway star – out of the galactic heart of darkness like a bat out of hell

The discovery of the star, known as S5-HVS1, was made by Sergey Koposov from Carnegie Mellon University as part of the Southern Stellar Stream Spectroscopic Survey (S5). Located in the constellation of Grus—the Crane—S5-HVS1 was found to be moving ten times faster than most stars in the Milky Way.

At future Mars landing spot, scientists spy mineral that could preserve signs of past life

Next year, NASA plans to launch a new Mars rover to search for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet. A new study shows that the rover's Jezero crater landing site is home to deposits of hydrated silica, a mineral that just happens to be particularly good at preserving biosignatures.

With Mars methane mystery unsolved, Curiosity serves scientists a new one: Oxygen

For the first time in the history of space exploration, scientists have measured the seasonal changes in the gases that fill the air directly above the surface of Gale Crater on Mars. As a result, they noticed something baffling: oxygen, the gas many Earth creatures use to breathe, behaves in a way that so far scientists cannot explain through any known chemical processes.

NASA renames faraway ice world 'Arrokoth' after backlash

Ultima Thule, the farthest cosmic body ever visited by a spacecraft, has been officially renamed Arrokoth, or "sky" in the Native American Powhatan and Algonquian languages, following a significant backlash over the old name's Nazi connotations.

Is there life on super-Earths? The answer could lie in their cores

Rocky planets larger than our own, so-called super-Earths, are surprisingly abundant in our Galaxy, and stand as the most likely planets to be habitable. Getting a better idea of their interior structures will help predict whether different planets are able to generate magnetic fields—thought to be conducive for life to survive.

EU must boost spending in space or be squeezed out: experts

The EU needs to boost space funding and improve its strategy to compete with military superpowers and smaller upstarts, a panel of experts told MEPs on Tuesday.

UAE's first astronaut urges climate protection on Earth

Wearing a blue space suit with a UAE flag on one sleeve and a spaceship on the other, the first Emirati astronaut said Tuesday his mission highlighted a crucial issue—climate change.

Apparent meteor flashes across night sky in St. Louis area

An apparent meteor has brightened the night sky over St. Louis.

Video: Rosetta's ongoing science

On 12 November 2014 Philae became the first spacecraft to land on a comet as part of the successful Rosetta mission to study Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Five years later, and after the mission's official end in 2016, Rosetta is continuing to provide insights into the origins of our solar system.

Technology news

Uber develops technique to predict pedestrian behavior, while new documents are released about last year's accident

In years to come, self-driving vehicles could gradually become a popular means of transportation. Before this can happen, however, researchers will need to develop tools that ensure that these vehicles are safe and can efficiently navigate in human-populated environments.

New chip for waking up small wireless devices could extend battery life

A new power saving chip developed by engineers at the University of California San Diego could significantly reduce or eliminate the need to replace batteries in Internet of Things (IoT) devices and wearables. The so-called wake-up receiver wakes up a device only when it needs to communicate and perform its function. It allows the device to stay dormant the rest of the time and reduce power use.

New material points toward highly efficient solar cells

A new type of material for next-generation solar cells eliminates the need to use lead, which has been a major roadblock for this technology.

New research suggests robots appear more persuasive when pretending to be human

Recent technological breakthroughs in artificial intelligence have made it possible for machines, or bots, to pass as humans. A team of researchers led by Talal Rahwan, associate professor of Computer Science at NYU Abu Dhabi, conducted an experiment to study how people interact with bots whom they believe to be human, and how such interactions are affected once bots reveal their identity. The researchers found that bots are more efficient than humans at certain human-machine interactions, but only if they are allowed to hide their non-human nature.

Study shows where global renewable energy investments have greatest benefits

A new study finds that the amount of climate and health benefits achieved from renewable energy depends on the country where it is installed. Countries with higher carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and more air pollution, such as India, China, and areas in Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe, achieve greater climate and health benefits per megawatt (MW) of renewable energy installed than those operating in areas such as North America, Brazil, and parts of Europe. The study in Palgrave Communications by the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Harvard C-CHANGE) offers a new method for transparently estimating country-level climate and health benefits from renewable energy and transportation improvements that companies, investors, and policymakers can use to make strategic decisions around achieving the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Researchers discover vulnerabilities affecting billions of computer chips

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) security researchers Berk Sunar and Daniel Moghimi led an international team of researchers that discovered serious security vulnerabilities in computer chips made by Intel Corp. and STMicroelectronics. The flaws affect billions of laptop, server, tablet, and desktop users around the world. The proof-of-concept attack is dubbed TPM-Fail

Chinese consumers smash 'Singles' Day' shopping record

Chinese shoppers set new records for spending during the annual "Singles' Day" buying spree despite an economic slowdown and worries over the US trade war, with state media calling it a sign of China's rising economic strength.

Beyond Netflix: Disney Plus joins the streaming fray

Disney is throwing its hat into streaming Tuesday with the debut of its Disney Plus service.

Drone wireless system can help rescue workers see inside buildings

Engineers have developed a prototype drone-mounted wireless scanning system, which can fly up the outside of a high rise building and detect the whereabouts of individuals who may be trapped inside.

New efficiency world record for organic solar modules

A research team from Nuremberg and Erlangen has set a new record for the power conversion efficiency of organic photovoltaic (OPV) modules. The scientists designed an OPV module with an efficiency of 12.6 percent over an area of 26 square centimeters. The former world record of 9.7 percent was exceeded by 30 percent.

Amazon plans new grocery store in L.A. as it thinks about how to conquer the industry

Amazon.com Inc. said Monday that it planned to open a new type of grocery store in Los Angeles next year, another step in the e-commerce giant's multi-pronged effort to capture a larger piece of the massive U.S. grocery business.

Apple co-founder says Goldman's Apple Card algo discriminates

Apple Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., two of the most recognizable companies in tech and finance, are caught up in a growing debate over whether lenders unintentionally discriminate when they use complex models to determine how Americans borrow money.

Using mountains for long-term energy storage

Batteries are rapidly becoming less expensive and might soon offer a cheap, short-term solution to store energy for daily energy needs. However, the long-term storage capabilities of batteries, for example, in a yearly cycle, will not be economically viable. Although pumped-hydro storage (PHS) technologies are an economically feasible choice for long-term energy storage with large capacities—higher than 50 megawatts (MW) - it becomes expensive for locations where the demand for energy storage is often smaller than 20 MW with monthly or seasonal requirements, such as small islands and remote locations.

Fair trade: Your soul for data?

In an increasingly data-driven world, are we just walking data sources for the benefit of giant multinational corporations?

How knitting won the war

Craftivists have been savvy cryptographers for aeons longer than any computing geek.

New Low-Load Cycle targets heavy-duty diesel engine emissions

Southwest Research Institute engineers developed a new certification cycle, the Low-Load Cycle (LLC), to gauge the performance of heavy-duty diesel engine aftertreatment systems in low-load conditions. Aftertreatment systems filter exhaust emissions and reduce pollutants escaping into the environment. SwRI's Low-Load Cycle challenges aftertreatment systems by analyzing them in unfavorable, but common, low-load conditions, such as while idling, at speeds less than 25 miles per hour, and when exhaust temperatures are low. Current regulatory certification cycles simulate urban and highway driving only.

Magnetic skin ensures the force is with you

Who has not unleashed their inner Jedi to use "the force" to open automatic doors at the shopping mall? A novel magnetic skin has been developed at KAUST that can remotely control switches and keyboards with the wave of a hand or the blink of an eye.

New exploration method for geothermal energy

Where to drill? This is the basic question in the exploration of underground energy resources, such as geothermal energy. Water in rocks flows along permeable pathways, which are the main target for geothermal drilling. Borehole, core and micro-earthquake data show that the pathways are spatially connected, permeable structures, such as fractures or faults in the rock. However, the geothermal potential of these structures cannot be fully exploited with the techniques available to date.

Nuclear warheads? This robot can find them

Picture a swarm of autonomous, three-foot rolling robots armed with smart detectors to support nuclear safeguards and verify arms-control agreements. The prototype of such robots, being developed by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and Princeton University, recently demonstrated the ability to identify the source of nuclear radiation and whether it has been shielded to avoid detection.

AI-driven single blood cell classification

Every day, millions of single blood cells are evaluated for disease diagnostics in medical laboratories and clinics. Most of this repetitive task is still done manually by trained cytologists who inspect cells in stained blood smears and classify them into roughly 15 different categories. This process suffers from classification variability and requires the presence and expertise of a trained cytologist.

Facebook messaging apps getting unified payment system

Facebook on Tuesday said it is consolidating the system that handles payments at the social network and in its family of messaging apps.

Army researcher promotes cooperation between humans, autonomous machines

The trust between humans and autonomous machines is a top priority for Army researchers—as machines become integral to society, it is critical to understand the impact on human decision-making.

Google's health care ambitions now involve patient data

Google is working with large health care system Ascension, the latest foray into the health industry by the tech giant.

Crisis-hit Nissan chops forecasts, net profit worst for a decade

Crisis-hit Japanese automaker Nissan Tuesday slashed its full-year forecast for both sales and profit as it struggles with weak demand in Japan, the US and Europe, as well as fallout from the arrest of former boss Carlos Ghosn.

Speeding up the transition towards sustainable cities

In a rapidly urbanizing world, the concept of smart cities is increasingly being used across Europe to improve the quality of life for citizens. Thanks to several EU-funded projects, such as MAtchUP, Sharing Cities and REMOURBAN, various steps have been taken in energy, mobility and ICT sectors to create more livable and sustainable cities.

'Historic' Disney+ streaming launch marred by glitches

Disney flung open its vast archive with the arrival of its much-hyped new television streaming service Tuesday, but the big launch was marred by glitches which prevented many customers accessing titles from Mickey Mouse cartoons to Star Wars.

Huawei giving employees bonus for coping with US sanctions

Huawei is paying its employees bonuses totaling more than $285 million as thanks for helping the Chinese tech giant cope with U.S. sanctions that threaten its smartphone and other businesses.


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