Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Nov 5

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for November 5, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Study observes anomalous decay of coherence in a dissipative many-body system

A model to predict the size and shape of online comment threads

Chemists observe 'spooky' quantum tunneling

Scientists put the ​"solve" in ​"solvent" for lithium-sulfur battery challenge

An easier way of sneaking antibodies into cells

The most spectacular celestial vision you'll never see

Scientists probe the limits of ice

Learning is optimized when we fail 15% of the time

Diffuse X-ray emission detected around the ultraluminous X-ray pulsar NGC 5907 ULX-1

An artificial sunflower that bends toward the sun

Any amount of running linked to significantly lower risk of death

Could a new 2-D material allow semiconductors to keep getting smaller, stronger better and faster?

Cell chemistry illuminated by laser light

3-D-printed plastics with high performance electrical circuits

New assessment could identify risks of frailty

Physics news

Study observes anomalous decay of coherence in a dissipative many-body system

In quantum physics, some of the most interesting effects are the result of interferences. Decoherence, or loss of coherence, occurs when a quantum system eventually loses the ability to produce interferences, due to external noise or coupling to a larger and unmonitored system (i.e. the surrounding environment).

Chemists observe 'spooky' quantum tunneling

A molecule of ammonia, NH3, typically exists as an umbrella shape, with three hydrogen atoms fanned out in a nonplanar arrangement around a central nitrogen atom. This umbrella structure is very stable and would normally be expected to require a large amount of energy to be inverted.

Scientists probe the limits of ice

How small is the smallest possible particle of ice? It's not a snowflake, measuring at a whopping fraction of an inch. According to new research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the smallest nanodroplet of water in which ice can form is only as big as 90 water molecules—a tenth the size of the smallest virus. At those small scales, according to University of Utah chemistry professor and study co-author Valeria Molinero, the transition between ice and water gets a little frizzy.

Laser pulses create topological state in graphene

Discovering ways to control the topological aspects of quantum materials is an important research frontier because it can lead to desirable electrical and spin transport properties for future device technologies. Now MPSD scientists have discovered a pioneering laser-driven approach to generate a topological state in graphene. Their work has just been published in Nature Physics.

Researchers design 'intelligent' metamaterial to make MRIs affordable and accessible

Boston University researchers have developed a new, "intelligent" metamaterial—which costs less than ten bucks to build—that could revolutionize magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), making the entire MRI process faster, safer, and more accessible to patients around the world. The technology, which builds on previous metamaterial work by the team, was described in a new paper in Advanced Materials.

Physics of windshield-cracking raindrops could demolish kidney stones

A plane has to be going pretty fast for a mere raindrop to crack its windshield, but it can happen. Now, new models of the physics behind the improbable feat may just help doctors crack kidney stones to pieces.

Black holes sometimes behave like conventional quantum systems

A group of Skoltech researchers led by Professor Anatoly Dymarsky have studied the emergence of generalized thermal ensembles in quantum systems with additional symmetries. As a result they found that black holes thermalize the same way ordinary matter does. The results of their study were published in Physical Review Letters.

Nuclear—Out of this world

If humankind reaches Mars this century, an Oak Ridge National Laboratory-developed experiment testing advanced materials for spacecraft may play a key role.

Astronomy & Space news

The most spectacular celestial vision you'll never see

Contrary to previous thought, a gigantic planet in wild orbit does not preclude the presence of an Earth-like planet in the same solar system—or life on that planet.

Diffuse X-ray emission detected around the ultraluminous X-ray pulsar NGC 5907 ULX-1

Using NASA's Chandra spacecraft, European astronomers have detected a diffuse X-ray emission around an ultraluminous X-ray pulsar in the galaxy NGC 5907. The newly detected emission could be an expanding nebula powered by the wind of the pulsar. The finding is detailed in a paper published October 25 on the arXiv pre-print server.

Researchers claim data from Planck space observatory suggests universe is a sphere

A trio of researchers with the University of Manchester, Universit√† di Roma 'La Sapienza' and Sorbonne Universities has sparked a major debate among cosmologists by claiming that data from the Planck space observatory suggests the universe is a sphere—not flat, as current conventional theory suggests. In their paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy, Eleonora Di Valentino, Alessandro Melchiorri and Joseph Silk outline their arguments and suggest their findings indicate that there exists a cosmological crisis that must be addressed.

TESS presents panorama of southern sky

The glow of the Milky Way—our galaxy seen edgewise—arcs across a sea of stars in a new mosaic of the southern sky produced from a year of observations by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Constructed from 208 TESS images taken during the mission's first year of science operations, completed on July 18, the southern panorama reveals both the beauty of the cosmic landscape and the reach of TESS's cameras.

Wine cellar in space: 12 bottles arrive for year of aging

A dozen bottles of fine French wine arrived at the space station Monday, not for the astronauts, but for science.

Virgin Galactic goes public and leads space tourism race

Richard Branson rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on October 28 as Virgin Galactic became the first commercial spaceflight company to list on the stock market. It was valued at more than US$1 billion following its merger with publicly-listed holding firm Social Capital Hedosophia, then experienced a 20% drop in its share price after a week of trading. It is now worth around US$800m.

Voyager 2 illuminates boundary of interstellar space

One year ago, on Nov. 5, 2018, NASA's Voyager 2 became only the second spacecraft in history to leave the heliosphere—the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by our Sun. At a distance of about 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from Earth—well beyond the orbit of Pluto—Voyager 2 had entered interstellar space, or the region between stars. Today, five new research papers in the journal Nature Astronomy describe what scientists observed during and since Voyager 2's historic crossing.

NASA's TESS spacecraft is finding hundreds of exoplanets – and is poised to find thousands more

Within just 50 light-years from Earth, there are about 1,560 stars, likely orbited by several thousand planets. About a thousand of these extrasolar planets—known as exoplanets—may be rocky and have a composition similar to Earth's. Some may even harbor life. Over 99% of these alien worlds remain undiscovered—but this is about to change.

Liftoff: Antares rocket boosts resupply ship from Virginia to the space station

As seabirds swooped and Atlantic waves lapped under a crisp blue sky, an Antares rocket roared to life Saturday morning and blasted off from Virginia's Eastern Shore without a hitch.

NASA's coating technology could help resolve lunar dust challenge

An advanced coating now being tested aboard the International Space Station for use on satellite components could also help NASA solve one of its thorniest challenges: how to keep the Moon's irregularly shaped, razor-sharp dust grains from adhering to virtually everything they touch, including astronauts' spacesuits.

Technology news

A model to predict the size and shape of online comment threads

On social media platforms such as Reddit and Twitter people can express their opinions and take part in discussions about a variety of topics. This is generally done in comment threads, which allow users to comment on existing posts.

Autonomous system improves environmental sampling at sea

An autonomous robotic system invented by researchers at MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) efficiently sniffs out the most scientifically interesting—but hard-to-find—sampling spots in vast, unexplored waters.

BlueKeep exploit in the wild is not devastating but sleuths stay cautious

A security exploit called BlueKeep is in the wild. Security watchers on numerous sites all reported that researchers had spotted evidence of exploitation. HotHardware said that so far the signs were that affected machines were being used to mine cryptocurrency.

Solving the three-body problem faster using a deep neural network

A small team of researchers from the University of Edinburgh, the University of Cambridge, Campus Universita´rio de Santiago and Leiden University has developed a way to use a deep neural network to solve the three-body problem. They have written a paper describing their efforts and have uploaded it to the arXiv preprint server.

Scientists use inorganic ingredients to limit perovskite solar cells defects, retain efficiency

Rice University scientists believe they've overcome a major hurdle keeping perovskite-based solar cells from achieving mainstream use.

Shorter hours boost sales in overworked Japan: Microsoft

In a country notorious for overwork, Microsoft Japan trialled a radical idea: working less. And it found that four-day weeks and other reforms both boosted sales and cut costs.

Uber shares skid as losses widen

Uber shares skidded Monday after the ride-hailing giant reported widening losses in the just-ended quarter as it boosted investment in new services and features.

Possibility or pipe dream: How close are we to seeing flying cars?

A glossy high rise in the heart of Miami aims to be the first residential building in the U.S. with a specially designed rooftop to accommodate a Jetsons-like future where cars take to the skies.

Researchers create a fleet of robots to navigate unknown underground environments

Earlier this semester, a group of Penn students, postdocs, and faculty travelled to an experimental mine near Pittsburgh to participate in the first round of the Subterranean (SubT) Challenge hosted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Led by Camillo J. Taylor, researchers partnered with Penn spinoff companies to build a team of robots to navigate and explore unknown underground environments.

Should you worry about Boeing 737s? Only if you run an airline

The cracks found in three Qantas-owned Boeing 737s last week led to calls that it should ground its 33 aircraft with a similar service record.

Wafer-thin bicycles, speedy shorts, go-faster trainers: controversial technology in sport

When the Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge became the first human to run a marathon in under two hours as part of the recent INEOS 1:59 Project Challenge, this was arguably one of the most significant achievements of athleticism since Sir Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile in 1954. But almost immediately afterwards there was controversy, not toward the runner or the unofficial nature of his run (his record has no official status), but over his running shoes.

Machine learning algorithms help predict traffic headaches

Urban traffic roughly follows a periodic pattern associated with the typical 9-to-5 work schedule. However, when an accident happens, traffic patterns are disrupted. Designing accurate traffic flow models, for use during accidents, is a major challenge for traffic engineers, who must adapt to unforeseen traffic scenarios in real time.

New cybersecurity guide is the first to gather global expertise

Some of the world's leading experts in cybersecurity have pooled their academic and industry insights to produce an authoritative guide that could help organizations to future proof their resources. The guide, the first of its kind, will also help expand the capabilities of those who will be at the forefront of tackling the challenges of an increasingly connected world.

Social media disinformation, surveillance growing: watchdog

Governments around the world are increasingly using social media to manipulate elections and monitor their citizens, in a worrisome trend for democracy, a human rights watchdog said Tuesday.

Hotel room rates: Human work or algorithmic plaything?

You would like to book a hotel room and browse the internet for which rooms and rates are an offer. The rates provided depend on forecasted demand and come about through the use of computer algorithms. However, the rates are often manually adjusted by hotel personnel. What are the consequences and how can those consequences be measured? Ph.D. defense on 12 November 2019.

IBM: face recognition tech should be regulated, not banned

IBM weighed in Tuesday on the policy debate over facial recognition technology, arguing against an outright ban but calling for "precision regulation" to protect privacy and civil liberties.

Facebook says Libra needs 'decades' to take hold

Facebook's planned digital currency Libra will need decades to establish itself and gain global acceptance, one of its creators predicted on Tuesday.

Eurozone banks moot European payment system to rival Visa, Mastercard

Twenty European banks are working on setting up a pan-European payment system to challenge the dominance of Visa, Mastercard and technology companies such as Google and PayPal, European banking and government sources said Tuesday.

AT&T fined $60M for misleading with 'unlimited' plans

AT&T will pay $60 million to settle the government's allegation that it misled customers of unlimited-data plans by slowing down service for heavy users.

Fujifilm takes control of Fuji Xerox, ending joint venture

Fujifilm said Tuesday it will make Fuji Xerox a wholly owned subsidiary, buying Xerox's stake in the firm and ending a 57-year-old partnership between the Japanese and US companies.

German government extends incentives for electric car buyers

The German government is supercharging subsidies for electric cars on the day the country's biggest automaker began production of a new all-electric vehicle.

Native American Heritage Month: Google honors actor Will Rogers with new Doodle

If you go to on Monday, you'll see an animated, multi-tasking cowboy with a grin on his face instead of the search giant's typical multicolored logo.

Hungary says Huawei to help build its 5G wireless network

Chinese tech company Huawei will take part in the construction of Hungary's next-generation 5G wireless network despite concerns among key allies like the U.S. about potential snooping by Beijing.

Wireless charging—More power, smaller package

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers created and tested new wireless charging designs that may double the power density, resulting in a lighter weight system compared with existing technologies, while maintaining safety.

Manufacturing—Built to last

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in collaboration with Lincoln Electric and Dienamic Tooling Systems, demonstrated that an additively manufactured hot stamping die can withstand up to 25,000 usage cycles, proving that this technique is a viable solution for production.

The future of protest is high tech – just look at the Catalan independence movement

People across the world are demonstrating their discontent in increasingly creative and disruptive ways.

Twitter's ban on political ads does change the game in one way

Twitter has announced that it is banning paid-for political adverts, just as the UK enters a general election, saying that the reach of political messages "should be earned, not bought".

Boeing chairman says Muilenburg did 'everything right' after deadly crashes

Boeing's new chairman on Tuesday gave a forceful vote of confidence in CEO Dennis Muilenburg amid calls in Congress for the embattled Boeing chief executive to resign after two deadly crashes.

Air France must capitalise on home market: AF-KLM chief

Air France has resolved difficult staff relations that led to debilitating strikes and must now reposition itself in the ultra-competitive airline industry to take advantage of its home turf, according to Ben Smith, the head of the Air France-KLM group.

Cooperating may result in a better self-driving experience

In a dynamic computer game in which the computer is also a decision maker, you may often find yourself competing with the game to reach your goal. Similarly in handling a "self-driving" car, an automobile equipped with automated driving technology, human drivers sometimes also need to fight the car for the steering wheel in order to keep the self-driving experience safe for self and others, and ultimately get to the desired destination. Until now, the majority of studies on this driving interaction have been largely based on non-cooperate game theory, in which the driver and the computer's decisions on how to steer the car do not match.

Better teleoperations with a less complicated system

Bilateral teleoperation systems are complicated robotic systems that allow people to perform tasks remotely or in hard to access environments. They can be used in various fields including entertainment systems, industrial machinery, drones, and even surgeries that are performed by doctors who are not in the same physical location as their patients. Making such systems less complicated while carrying out their tasks successfully is a key factor for improving the teleoperation performance and experience.

Putin calls for Russian alternative to Wikipedia

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday called for the creation of a more "reliable" national version of the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia.

Elon Musk back on Twitter after break

Elon Musk, who garnered attention for quitting Twitter last week, is back on the social platform, with little explanation for the hiatus or the return.

US telecom regulator approves T-Mobile/Sprint merger

The US telecom regulator on Tuesday approved the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, moving the tie-up of the third- and fourth-largest US carriers closer to completion.

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