Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Nov 19

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for November 19, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Machine learning-assisted molecular design for high-performance organic photovoltaic materials

Flexible organic electrodes built using water-processed silver nanowires

Ayahuasca compound changes brainwaves to vivid 'waking-dream' state

Exoplanet axis study boosts hopes of complex life, just not next door

Coming to a head: How vertebrates became predators by tweaking the neural crest

Predicting people's driving personalities

First detection of sugars in meteorites gives clues to origin of life

Beyond Moore's Law: Taking transistor arrays into the third dimension

Scientists find evidence of missing neutron star

Borderline personality disorder has strongest link to childhood trauma

Lab tests show that some traditional soup broths have antimalarial properties

Trash talk hurts, even when it comes from a robot

First evidence of the impact of climate change on Arctic Terns

Husbands' stress increases if wives earn more than 40 per cent of household income: study

WhatsApp users advised to update for protection

Physics news

Laying out directions for future of reliable blood clotting molecule models

Blood clots have long been implicated in heart attacks and strokes, together accounting for almost half of deaths annually in the United States. While the role of one key protein in the process, called von Willebrand factor, has been established, a reliable model for predicting how vWF collects in blood vessels remains elusive.

Birds of a feather flock together, but how do they decide where to go?

Coordinated behavior is common in a variety of biological systems, such as insect swarms, fish schools and bacterial colonies. But the way information is spread and decisions are made in such systems is difficult to understand.

Nanooptical traps: A promising building block for quantum technologies

Nanooptical traps are a promising building block for quantum technologies. Austrian and German scientists have now removed an important obstacle to their practical use. They were able to show that a special form of mechanical vibration heats trapped particles in a very short time and knocks them out of the trap.

A remote control for everything small

Atoms, molecules or even living cells can be manipulated with light beams. At TU Wien a method was developed to revolutionize such "optical tweezers".

Light-sensing camera may help detect extraterrestrial life, dark matter

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have made one of the highest-performance cameras ever composed of sensors that count single photons, or particles of light.

Study on surface damage to vehicles traveling at hypersonic speeds

Vehicles moving at hypersonic speeds are bombarded with ice crystals and dust particles in the surrounding atmosphere, making the surface material vulnerable to damage such as erosion and sputtering with each tiny collision. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studied this interaction one molecule at a time to understand the processes, then scaled up the data to make it compatible with simulations that require a larger scale.

The first high-speed straight motion of magnetic skyrmions at room temperature demonstrated

Researchers at Tohoku University have, for the first time, successfully demonstrated a formation and current-induced motion of synthetic antiferromagnetic magnetic skyrmions. The findings are expected to pave the way towards new functional information processing and storage technologies.

Development of magneto-optic effect measurement device using dual-comb spectroscopy

Professor Kaoru Minoshima from the University of Electro-Communications and NEOARK Corporation have succeeded in prototyping a greatly improved magneto-optic effect measurement device as part of the ERATO MINOSHIMIA Intelligent Optical Synthesizer Project, under the JST Strategic Basic Research Programs. An exhibition of the prototype device is planned for the Science Photonics Fair 2019 being held at the Science Museum from November 12 to 14, 2019.

Astronomy & Space news

Exoplanet axis study boosts hopes of complex life, just not next door

"They're out there," goes a saying about extraterrestrials. It would seem more likely to be true in light of a new study on planetary axis tilts.

First detection of sugars in meteorites gives clues to origin of life

Scientists find evidence of missing neutron star

The leftovers from a spectacular supernova that revolutionised our understanding of how stars end their lives have finally been spotted by astronomers at Cardiff University.

Earth's magnetic song recorded for the first time during a solar storm

Data from ESA's Cluster mission has provided a recording of the eerie "song" that Earth sings when it is hit by a solar storm.

Blowtorch jets from a black hole drive starbirth

Supermassive black holes, weighing millions or even billions of times our Sun's mass, are still only a tiny fraction of the mass of the galaxies they inhabit. But in some cases, the central black hole is the tail wagging the dog. It seems that black holes can run hot or cold when it comes to either enhancing or squelching star birth inside a cluster of galaxies.

NASA scientists confirm water vapor on Europa

Forty years ago, a Voyager spacecraft snapped the first closeup images of Europa, one of Jupiter's 79 moons. These revealed brownish cracks slicing the moon's icy surface, which give Europa the look of a veiny eyeball. Missions to the outer solar system in the decades since have amassed enough additional information about Europa to make it a high-priority target of investigation in NASA's search for life.

Long spaceflights found to lead to blood flowing in the wrong direction in some cases

An international team of researchers has found that people in space for long durations can experience blood flowing in the wrong direction in the jugular vein. In their paper published on JAMA Network Open, the group describes their study of blood flow in astronauts.

Photos show evidence of life on Mars, Ohio entomologist claims

As scientists scramble to determine whether there is life on Mars, Ohio University Professor Emeritus William Romoser's research shows that we already have the evidence, courtesy of photographs from various Mars rovers.

Subaru telescope detects the mid-infrared emission band from complex organic molecules in comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner

Using the Cooled Mid-Infrared Camera and Spectrometer (COMICS) on the Subaru Telescope, astronomers have detected an unidentified infrared emission band from comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner (hereafter, comet 21P/G-Z) in addition to the thermal emissions from silicate and carbon grains. These unidentified infrared emissions are likely due to complex organic molecules, both aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons, contaminated by N- or O-atoms. Considering the properties of the dust and organic molecules, comet 21P/G-Z might have originated from the circumplanetary disk of a giant planet (like Jupiter or Saturn) where it was warmer than the typical comet-forming regions.

How large can a planet be?

Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system. In terms of mass, Jupiter dwarfs the other planets. If you were to gather all the other planets together into a single mass, Jupiter would still be 2.5 times more massive. It is hard to understate just how huge Jupiter is. But as we've discovered thousands of exoplanets in recent decades, it raises an interesting question about how Jupiter compares. Put another way, just how large can a planet be? The answer is more subtle than you might think.

Using AI to predict Earth's future

A recent "deep learning" algorithm—despite having no innate knowledge of solar physics—could provide more accurate predictions of how the sun affects our planet than current models based on scientific understanding.

Fly me (partway) to the moon

Last week, scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the University of Guelph sent a telescope to the top of the sky, almost to space itself. The trip was a moonlight-gathering mission that has yielded some of the best measurements ever taken of the brightness, or more specifically the surface reflectance, of Earth's nearest neighbor, the Moon.

Olivine-norite rock detected by Yutu-2 likely crystallized from the SPA impact melt pool

The South Pole-Aitken (SPA) is the largest and deepest basin on the Moon, theoretically opening a window into the lunar lower crust and likely into the upper mantle. However, compositional information of the SPA basin was mainly obtained from orbital remote sensing. Chang'E-4 landed in the SPA Basin, providing a unique chance for in situ probing the composition of the lunar interior. The landing site is located on ejecta strips radiating from Finsen crater, which lies ~135 km to the northeast. The lunar surface at the landing site consists of a very homogenous regolith overlain by few scattered rocks.

Technology news

Flexible organic electrodes built using water-processed silver nanowires

Organic electronic devices, which are made of small molecules or polymers (i.e., substances composed primarily or completely of similar units bound together) are known to have several advantageous properties. In fact, organic electronics have relatively low production costs, they are easy to integrate with other systems and they enable good device flexibility.

Predicting people's driving personalities

Self-driving cars are coming. But for all their fancy sensors and intricate data-crunching abilities, even the most cutting-edge cars lack something that (almost) every 16-year-old with a learner's permit has: social awareness.

Beyond Moore's Law: Taking transistor arrays into the third dimension

Silicon integrated circuits, which are used in computer processors, are approaching the maximum feasible density of transistors on a single chip—at least, in two-dimensional arrays.

Trash talk hurts, even when it comes from a robot

Trash talking has a long and colorful history of flustering game opponents, and now researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have demonstrated that discouraging words can be perturbing even when uttered by a robot.

WhatsApp users advised to update for protection

A WhatsApp vulnerability could have put both iOS and Android users at risk. referred to the flaw as "a specially-crafted malicious MP4 file."

How traditional Indian building techniques can make modern cities more climate-friendly

Dense, humid broadleaf forests, monsoon-swollen rivers and deep ravines—in the Indian state of Meghalaya wooden bridges easily decay or are washed away in floodwaters. Bridges made from steel and concrete are pushed to their limits here as well. But bridges made of living tree roots can survive here for centuries. Prof. Ferdinand Ludwig of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has investigated these special structures and proposes integrating this extraordinary building technique in modern architecture.

Algorithm may improve brain-controlled prostheses and exoskeletons

A team of researchers at the MIT Media Lab has devised an algorithm that promises to vastly improve the simultaneous tracking of any number of magnets. This has significant implications for prostheses, augmented reality, robotics, and other fields.

How the road network determines traffic capacity

ETH researchers have shown that we can use the structure of urban road networks to predict their traffic capacity. This information enables urban and transportation planners to quantify how changes will influence traffic volumes.

Showtime for Stadia cloud gaming service (Update)

Google set out to transform the video game world Tuesday with the launch of a Stadia service crafted to let people access console-quality games as easily as they do email.

Snapchat checks for deception in political ads

Snap on Monday confirmed that it checks political ads at Snapchat to make sure they are not deceptive or misleading and thus enforce its ban on such material.

Mario mugs, Zelda tote bags as Nintendo opens first Tokyo store

Nintendo this week throws open the doors to its first bricks-and-mortar store in Tokyo, offering everything from Super Mario mugs to Zelda handbags as part of a new gaming complex in the heart of the city.

Google healthcare project targeted by Congress committee

A US congressional committee on Monday asked for a briefing on a Google project to modernize healthcare while giving the internet titan access to millions of people's medical data.

EasyJet flies into 'greenwashing' row over zero-carbon pledge

British no-frills airline EasyJet on Tuesday began offsetting carbon emissions amid global concerns over climate change—but flew into strong criticism from green campaigners who dismissed the move as insufficient.

Google's do-good arm tries to make up for everything else

Google Vice President Jacqueline Fuller says the company is having "a lot of conversations" internally amid worries about the tech giant's bottomless appetite for consumer data and how it uses its algorithms.

A sustainable answer to industrial pollution? That's 'bananas!'

Penn State Harrisburg graduate students in environmental pollution control Rizki Prasetyaningtyas and Saskia Putri have been eating lots of bananas and oranges. So have their classmates at Penn State Harrisburg, as well as all their friends and neighbors. They have made banana bread, banana pancakes and loads of slushies.

Free broadband: Internet access is now a human right, no matter who pays the bills

The UK Labour Party is promising to provide free broadband internet to every British household by 2030 if it wins the 2019 election. To do this, the party would nationalize the broadband infrastructure business of BT and tax internet giants like Google and Facebook. Whatever you think of this plan, it at least reflects that the internet has become not only an essential utility for conducting daily life, but also crucial for exercising our political rights.

Travelers split on whether they would take trips in autonomous vehicles, study finds

Autonomous vehicles are becoming more of a reality as technology improves, but people are far from settled in accepting a future with driverless cars. A University of Kansas researcher has co-written a study that found when asked if they would make a trip they had recently completed in an autonomous vehicle, respondents fell into roughly equal camps of enthusiastic acceptance, resistance or uncertainty. The findings show there is more uncertainty about adopting the technology than expected.

How virtual reality is preparing West Aussie paramedics

A bus driver has a heart attack, veering off the road and crashing into a building site. Many passengers are injured, and the clock is ticking. Who should you treat first?

Amazon adds free music for anyone, with ads

Amazon is adding another streaming music option for customers, a free, ad-supported service that requires no subscriptions and is available on a range of devices.

Apple hosting special press event in New York to honor best apps and games of 2019

Apple is hosting a "special event" on Dec. 2 in New York to honor what the company says are "our favorite apps and games" of 2019. The invitation to the press event showcases the App Store icon and includes the tagline "Loved by millions. Created by the best."

Mobile access won't fix the digital divide

Mobile services have had an important and positive impact on developing countries where they are the main means of connecting to the internet. However, mobile services have capacity constraints. They use limited radio frequency spectrum, which means that mobile data typically has usage limits. They also have high prices per unit (per gigabyte), which results in lower use per connection.

Disney Plus user accounts already found on hacking sites

Disney says its new Disney Plus streaming service doesn't have a security breach, but some users have been shut out after hackers tried to break into their accounts.

Official: Safety lacking before Uber self-driving car crash

The chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board says Uber had an ineffective safety culture when one of its autonomous test vehicles ran down and killed a pedestrian last year in Tempe, Arizona.

For Americans, mobile devices top for news: survey

Americans rely on their mobile devices for online news far more than desktop or laptop computers, building on a trend that began several years ago, a survey showed Wednesday.

Google Assistant to be 'news host' on devices

Google said Wednesday its digital assistant will serve as a "news host" on its connected devices to deliver stories from a variety of its media partners.

Microsoft competes for popularity with upstart Slack

Microsoft says that its own workplace collaboration service Teams now has more than 20 million daily active users.

Amazon tells senator it's considered face-scanning doorbells

Amazon says it has considered adding facial recognition technology to its Ring doorbell cameras.

Attempted cyberattack disrupts Louisiana state government

Many of Louisiana's state government websites and email systems are shut down because of what the governor's office says is an attempted ransomware attack.

European car sales accelerate to decade-high speed in October

European car sales hit their highest October level in a decade, an industry body said Tuesday, as the sector recovers from a stall last year over tighter pollution regulations.

Boeing announces new MAX orders as grounding crisis drags on (Update)

Boeing's 737 MAX got a boost Tuesday with confirmation of new orders for the still-grounded plane, but a fresh lawsuit connected to the development of the troubled aircraft poses another challenge for the company.

Algorithmic integrity advocate: The implications of human interaction with technology

We wear it, watch it, work with it—and may suffer separation anxiety when it's not available. What are the implications of human interaction with technology, particularly when it's used to predict or police us?

Researchers design new hybrid engines that are more efficient and less contaminating

A team of the CMT-Thermal Engines Institute of the UPV University suggests a new configuration that unites all the benefits of hybrid motors with dual-fuel combustion technology.

Engineer develops browser-based analysis framework observer

Malicious third-party advertisers or hackers expose web users to a security threat by injecting malicious JavaScript code to intercept user clicks and trick them into visiting untrusted web content. To investigate the problem of click interception, the research team led by Professor Wei Meng of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) developed a browser-based analysis framework—Observer, which is able to detect three different techniques for intercepting web user clicks.

Boeing bags business for troubled 737 MAX at Dubai show

Boeing's troubled 737 MAX aircraft won another boost Tuesday, as Air Astana said it planned to buy 30 of the planes a day after SunExpress of Turkey ordered 10 of the jets, which were grounded in March.

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