Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Nov 26

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for November 26, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

MOOSE: A platform to create complex multiphysics simulations

Hardening of the arteries: Platelets, inflammation and a rogue protein conspire against the heart

Fast surface dynamics enabled cold joining of metallic glasses

A new framework could aid the search for heavy thermal dark matter

Fire ants' raft building skills react as fluid forces change

16-million-year-old fossil shows springtails hitchhiking on winged termite

Dinosaur skull turns paleontology assumptions on their head

Fertility treatment, not maternal age, causes epigenetic changes in mouse offspring

AI debate machine argues with itself at Cambridge Union

Leftover grain from breweries could be converted into fuel for homes

Multiple sclerosis linked to variant of common herpes virus through new method

Harvesting fog can provide fresh water in desert regions

Chemical herders could impact oil spill cleanup

Ternary acceptor and donor materials increase photon harvesting in organic solar cells

Investigators narrow in on a microRNA for treating multiple sclerosis

Physics news

A new framework could aid the search for heavy thermal dark matter

Astrophysicists have been searching for dark matter for several decades, but these searches have so far yielded disappointing results. In a recent study, two researchers at Weizmann Institute of Science and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel have introduced a new theoretical framework outlining a mechanism of elementary thermal dark matter with a mass up to 1014 GeV.

Fire ants' raft building skills react as fluid forces change

Fire ants build living rafts to survive floods and rainy seasons. Georgia Tech scientists are studying if a fire ant colony's ability to respond to changes in their environment during a flood is an instinctual behavior and how fluid forces make them respond.

Harvesting fog can provide fresh water in desert regions

Fog harvesting is a potential practical source of fresh water in foggy coastal deserts, and current solutions rely on meter scale nets/meshes. The mesh geometry, however, presents a physiologically inappropriate shape for millimeter scale bulk bodies, like insects.

Chemical herders could impact oil spill cleanup

Oil spills in the ocean can cause devastation to wildlife, so effective cleanup is a top priority. One method to clean up oil spills is by burning, which only works if the oil is heavily concentrated in one area. Research from Johns Hopkins University shows the effects of chemical herders, which are agents that may be used to concentrate oil spills, on wave breaking.

Ternary acceptor and donor materials increase photon harvesting in organic solar cells

Organic solar cells are steadily improving as new materials are developed for the active layer, particularly when materials are stacked in a bulk heterojunction design that takes advantage of multiple combined absorption windows to use photons at more parts of the spectrum.

From firearms to fish—following patterns to discover causality

Mathematicians have successfully applied a new, pictorial approach to answer complex questions that puzzle analysts, such as, do media stories on firearm legislation influence gun sales? Cause-and-effect queries like this pop up in various fields, from finance to neuroscience, and objective methods are needed to deliver reliable answers.

Industrial bread dough kneaders could use physics-based redesign

Bakers have been crafting bread for more than 6,000 years with four simple ingredients: flour, salt, water and yeast. Apart from using high-quality ingredients, the kneading process and amount of time the dough is given to rise ultimately determine the bread's quality.

Researchers set new upper limit on neutrino mass

An international team of researchers has used a new spectrometer to find and set an upper limit for the mass of a neutrino. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the group describes how they came up with the new limit and why they believe finding it was important.

Injection of magnetizable fluid could extend trauma patients' survival time

Inspired by their use in mechanical systems, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers are testing a magnetically-actuated fluidic valve to use in trauma patients suffering from hemorrhage.

Resolving the 'proton radius puzzle'

How do you measure the width of a proton?

New study shows unique magnetic transitions in quasicrystal-like structures

In the world of materials science, many have heard of crystals—highly ordered structures in which atoms are arranged in a tight and periodic manner (in which the atomic arrangement is repeated). But, not many people know about quasicrystals, which are unique structures with strange atomic arrangements. Like crystals, quasicrystals are also tightly arranged, but what's different about them is the fact that they possess an unprecedented pentagonal symmetry, such that the atomic arrangement is highly ordered but not periodic.

Astronomy & Space news

More dark-matter-deficient dwarf galaxies found

A team of researchers with members affiliated with multiple institutions in China has found evidence for more dark-matter-deficient dwarf galaxies. In their paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy, the group describes their study of dwarf galaxies and how they found some they expected to be dominated by dark matter were not.

Black hole nurtures baby stars a million light years away

Black holes are famous for ripping objects apart, including stars. But now, astronomers have uncovered a black hole that may have sparked the births of stars over a mind-boggling distance, and across multiple galaxies.

Scientists inch closer than ever to signal from cosmic dawn

Around 12 billion years ago, the universe emerged from a great cosmic dark age as the first stars and galaxies lit up. With a new analysis of data collected by the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope, scientists are now closer than ever to detecting the ultra-faint signature of this turning point in cosmic history.

Image: Giant magnetic ropes in a galaxy's halo

This image of the "Whale Galaxy" (NGC 4631), made with the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), reveals hair-like filaments of the galaxy's magnetic field protruding above and below the galaxy's disk.

Space travel can make the gut leaky

Bacteria, fungi, and viruses can enter our gut through the food we eat. Fortunately, the epithelial cells that line our intestines serve as a robust barrier to prevent these microorganisms from invading the rest of our bodies.

Testing time for MetOp Second Generation

MetOp Second Generation (MetOp-SG) is a follow-on system to the successful MetOp satellites, the last of which launched into its 800 km polar orbit in 2018.

Anisotropic radio-wave scattering in the solar corona

Solar radio emission is produced in the turbulent medium of the solar atmosphere, and its observed properties (source position, size, time profile, polarization, etc.) are significantly affected by the propagation of the radio waves from the emitter to the observer. Scattering of radio waves on random density irregularities has long been recognized as an important process for the interpretation of radio source sizes (e.g., Steinberg et al. 1971), positions (e.g., Fokker 1965; Stewart 1972), directivity (e.g., Thejappa et al. 2007; Bonnin et al. 2008; Reiner et al. 2009), and intensity-time profiles (e.g., Krupar et al. 2018, Bian et al. 2019). While a number of Monte Carlo simulations have been developed to describe radio-wave scattering (mostly for isotropic density fluctuations), not all agree. The present work addresses this important issue both by extending and improving the previous descriptions.

Technology news

MOOSE: A platform to create complex multiphysics simulations

In recent decades, technological advances have opened up exciting new possibilities for research in a variety of fields, including physics. Nonetheless, creating sophisticated simulations to represent or address multiphysics problems using computing resources can still be very challenging.

AI debate machine argues with itself at Cambridge Union

IBM has a Project Debater AI system that can debate humans on complex topics. A recent event to showcase its capabilities turned into pure drama as the machine proceeded to throw AI under the bus as it took both con and pro positions as to whether or not AI is harmful to humans.

A record-setting transistor

Many of the technologies we rely on, from smartphones to wearable devices and more, utilize fast wireless communications. What might we accomplish if those devices transmitted information even faster?

Nuclear reactors with a newly proposed barrier could have withstood Chernobyl and Fukushima

In the aftermath of the notorious accidents in the history of nuclear energy at Three Mile Island (1979), Chernobyl (1986) and Fukushima (2011), where all three have turned into devastating disasters due to meltdown in the core of a reactor, leading in turn to the release of radiation into the environment, many countries around the world have already pledged to a nuclear power phase-out.

Alibaba shares surge on Hong Kong debut

Chinese online retail giant Alibaba surged Tuesday as it drew back the curtain on a Hong Kong listing the firm described as a vote of confidence in the embattled city.

Firings spark dissent in Google ranks

Google on Monday fired four employees on the grounds they violated data security policies, prompting ire among colleagues concerned it was retaliation for worker organizing.

Saving bats from wind turbine death

Wind energy holds great promise as a source of renewable energy, but some have wondered if measures taken to address climate change have taken precedence over conservation of biodiversity. Wind turbines, for example, kill some birds, and the fatality rate for bats is even higher. Since bats are a crucial part of the ecosystem, helping with pollination, insect management, plant seed dispersal, etc., the high fatality rate is concerning.

Search results not biased along party lines, Stanford study finds

In recent months, questions have arisen about big tech's unparalleled influence over what news and information people see online. Potential political bias and censorship in search engine results are a big part of the conversation. Is the concern well-founded?

Periodic review of the artificial intelligence industry reveals challenges

As part of Stanford's ongoing 100-year study on artificial intelligence, known as the AI100, two workshops recently considered the issues of care technologies and predictive modeling to inform the future development of AI technologies.

Former Tinder CEO Sean Rad accused of secretly recording employees and bosses in new court filing

The multibillion-dollar legal battle between Sean Rad, the co-founder and former chief executive of Tinder, and parent company IAC took a new turn this week when IAC alleged in a new court filing that Rad secretly recorded multiple conversations with Tinder employees and his supervisors, potentially violating California law requiring both parties to consent to being recorded.

Even computer algorithms can be biased. Scientists have different ideas of how to prevent that

Scientists say they've developed a framework to make computer algorithms "safer" to use without creating bias based on race, gender or other factors. The trick, they say, is to make it possible for users to tell the algorithm what kinds of pitfalls to avoid—without having to know a lot about statistics or artificial intelligence.

New safety recommendations for culvert repair released

Communities across the U.S. rely on drainage culverts to keep roadways safe. While these buried structures cross streams and divert water from roadways, many are in need of repair. Unexpected culvert failures can disrupt traffic, damage the environment and nearby property, and can even be fatal.

New research considers future interactions with computer-generated people in virtual reality

Dr. Rachel McDonnell, Assistant Professor in Creative Technologies at Trinity, focuses on the animation of virtual humans for the entertainment industry and virtual reality (VR).

Hydrogen from natural gas without carbon dioxide emissions

Methane pyrolysis will allow for the future climate-friendly use of fossil natural gas. Methane is separated into gaseous hydrogen and solid carbon that is a valuable material for various industry branches and can also be stored safely. This may be a key component of future climate-neutral energy supply. Researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have developed a highly efficient process for this purpose. Together with the industry partner Wintershall Dea, this process will now be further developed for use on the industrial scale.

Xerox launches shareholder fight for control of HP

Xerox said Tuesday it would take its hostile takeover offer for HP to shareholders after the computer and printer maker rejected the $33 billion offer.

Ad business a boon for Amazon but a turn-off for shoppers

Mike Maddaloni went to Amazon.com knowing exactly what he wanted to buy.

Audi to slash 9,500 jobs in Germany by 2025

German luxury carmaker Audi said Tuesday it planned to slash 9,500 jobs in Germany by 2025 as part of a massive overhaul to help finance a costly switch to electric vehicles.

Report shows high injury rate at Amazon warehouses

Injury rates reported for workers at Amazon warehouses across the United States are more than double the national average, according to a news investigation into workplace conditions at the electronic commerce giant.

Google tensions deepen over firings of 'Thanksgiving Four'

Google on Monday fired four employees on the grounds they had violated data security policies, but the tech titan was accused of persecuting them for trying to unionize staff.

Tesla and Ford trade challenges in macho truck world

Tesla and Ford were in a virtual stare-down on Tuesday in the macho truck world, each claiming their electric pick-up was strongest.

New technology makes internet memes accessible for people with visual impairments

People with visual impairments use social media like everyone else, often with the help of screen reader software. But that technology falls short when it encounters memes, which don't include alternate text, or alt text, to describe what's depicted in the image.

Team develops satellites that fix other satellites

When satellites break, which is surprisingly often, there isn't much you can do about them.

Senate Democrats propose sweeping data privacy bill

Senate Democrats are proposing a broad federal data privacy law that would allow people to see what information companies have collected on them and demand that it be deleted.

UK science engineering company ready to take Purdue heating technology to the market

A novel heating technology based on materials commonly used in the aerospace industry soon may be helping doctors, forensic scientists and automobile manufacturers. Alconbury Weston Limited, a science-engineering company based in the United Kingdom, has licensed carbon fiber technology from Purdue Research Foundation to support industries ranging from research institutes to commercial manufacturers.

Do you know exactly where you are?

We all rely on GPS to tell us where we are and where we're going. The US government's global network of 30+ satellites guides planes, ships, cars, tractors and much more. The latest GPS systems can provide mm- to cm-accuracy using advanced equipment and technique.

Baby Yoda GIFs are back after 'confusion' led to removal

People can send each other animations of Baby Yoda again.


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