Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Nov 13

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for November 13, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Using imitation and reinforcement learning to tackle long-horizon robotic tasks

Modern apes smarter than pre-humans

Astronomers conduct one of the most detailed studies of a stellar halo

Understanding transporter proteins at a single-molecule level

Multimaterial 3-D printing manufactures complex objects, fast

Experts unlock key to photosynthesis, a find that could help us meet food security demands

New strategy for encapsulating nutrients makes it easier to fortify foods with iron and vitamin A

After decades of little progress, researchers may be catching up to sepsis

ELeCt-ing a better candidate for chemo delivery

Extinct giant ape directly linked to the living orangutan

What survives, thrives and dominates over a thousand generations? The answer might be even more complex than thought

Theoretical tubulanes inspire ultrahard polymers

Maybe banking culture doesn't always make people dishonest

Calling Princess Leia: How the out-of-this-galaxy Star Wars hologram just became a step closer to reality

Mysteries behind interstellar buckyballs finally answered

Physics news

Etalumis 'reverses' simulations to reveal new science

Scientists have built simulations to help explain behavior in the real world, including modeling for disease transmission and prevention, autonomous vehicles, climate science, and in the search for the fundamental secrets of the universe. But how to interpret vast volumes of experimental data in terms of these detailed simulations remains a key challenge. Probabilistic programming offers a solution—essentially reverse-engineering the simulation—but this technique has long been limited due to the need to rewrite the simulation in custom computer languages, plus the intense computing power required.

A milestone in ultrashort-pulse laser oscillators

With the demonstration of a sub-picosecond thin-disk laser oscillator delivering a record-high 350-watt average output power, physicists at ETH Zurich set a new benchmark and pave the path toward even more powerful lasers.

Fluid dynamics provides insight into wildfire behavior

The Kincade Fire has been burning through Sonoma County, California, displacing people from their homes and leaving destruction in its wake. It is a stark reminder of the increasingly pressing need for a better understanding of how fires begin and spread.

Could the mysteries of antimatter and dark matter be linked?

Could the profound mysteries of antimatter and dark matter be linked? Thinking that they might be, scientists from the international BASE collaboration, led by Stefan Ulmer of the RIKEN Cluster for Pioneering Research, and collaborators have performed the first laboratory experiments to determine whether a slightly different way in which matter and antimatter interact with dark matter might be a key to solving both mysteries.

Rapidly compressing lead to planetary-core type pressures found to make it stronger than steel

A combined team of researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the U.S. and Atomic Weapons Establishment in the U.K. has found that rapidly compressing lead to planetary-core type pressures makes it stronger than steel. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the group describes how they managed to compress the metal so strongly without melting it.

Researchers capture moving object with ghost imaging

Researchers have developed a way to capture moving objects with the unconventional imaging method known as ghost imaging. The new method could make the imaging technique practical for new applications such as biomedical imaging, security checks and video compression and storage.

Deep learning expands study of nuclear waste remediation

A research collaboration between Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Brown University, and NVIDIA has achieved exaflop performance on the Summit supercomputer with a deep learning application used to model subsurface flow in the study of nuclear waste remediation. Their achievement, which will be presented during the "Deep Learning on Supercomputers" workshop at SC19, demonstrates the promise of physics-informed generative adversarial networks (GANs) for analyzing complex, large-scale science problems.

Unpacking the microstructure of stabilized oil-in-water emulsions using neutron scattering techniques

An international team led by New Zealand food scientists at the Riddet Institute has used neutron scattering techniques to characterize the structure of an oil-in-water emulsion commonly used in foods, such as milk, cream, salad dressings and sauces.

When bubbles bounce back

Collisions between bubbles or droplets suspended in liquid are more complex than previously thought. KAUST researchers have shown that conditions expected to promote coalescence can actually lead to the bubble or droplet pair bouncing right off of each other.

Few-cycle pulses break the 300 W barrier

A team led by researchers from the Max Born Institute for Nonlinear Optics and Short Pulse Spectroscopy (MBI), Laser-Laboratorium Göttingen (LLG) and Active Fiber Systems (AFS) has generated multi-millijoule 3-cycle pulses at 318 W average power level. These results mark a significant milestone in few-cycle laser technology paving the way towards industrial applications. The report appeared in Optica as a Memorandum.

Astronomy & Space news

Astronomers conduct one of the most detailed studies of a stellar halo

An international team of astronomers has used the Subaru Telescope to probe the stellar halo of the nearby Messier 81 (M81) galaxy. The observations resulted in one of the most detailed studies of a stellar halo conducted to date. The study is detailed in a paper published October 31 on arXiv.org.

Mysteries behind interstellar buckyballs finally answered

Scientists have long been puzzled by the existence of so-called "buckyballs"—complex carbon molecules with a soccer-ball-like structure—throughout interstellar space. Now, a team of researchers from the University of Arizona has proposed a mechanism for their formation in a study published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Astronauts to test drive a lunar robot from the space station

Astronauts could one day remotely control Moon and Mars rovers from orbit. An upcoming test aboard the International Space Station could help make this a possibility. In November, the ESA (European Space Agency) will conduct an experiment in orbit known as ANALOG-1 to see if station crews, scientists on the ground and new technology can work together to guide a rover on a simulated lunar mission.

Japan spacecraft starts yearlong journey home from asteroid

A Japanese spacecraft left a distant asteroid on Wednesday, starting its yearlong journey home after successfully completing its mission to gather soil samples and data that could provide clues to the origins of the solar system, the country's space agency said.

New study proposes light signature for detecting black hole mergers

Gravitational wave detectors are finding black hole mergers in the universe at the rate of one per week. If these mergers occur in empty space, researchers cannot see associated light that is needed to determine where they happened. However, a new study in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, led by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History and the City University of New York (CUNY), suggests that researchers might finally be able to see light from black hole mergers if the collisions happen in the presence of gas.

High Definition Earth-Viewing payload reaches end-of-life on station, surpassing life expectancy

The International Space Station's High Definition Earth-Viewing (HDEV) payload officially reached end-of-life Aug. 22, 2019, after delivering live Earth views to more than 318 million viewers across the globe.

NASA's Mars 2020 will hunt for microscopic fossils

Scientists with NASA's Mars 2020 rover have discovered what may be one of the best places to look for signs of ancient life in Jezero Crater, where the rover will land on Feb. 18, 2021.

ESA's Mars orbiters did not see latest Curiosity methane burst

In June, NASA's Curiosity rover reported the highest burst of methane recorded yet, but neither ESA's Mars Express nor the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter recorded any signs of the illusive gas, despite flying over the same location at a similar time.

Astrophysicist discovers numerous multiple star systems with exoplanets

Is Earth the only habitable planet in the universe or are there more worlds somewhere out there that are capable of supporting life? And if there are, what might they look like? In a bid to answer these fundamental questions, scientists are searching space for exoplanets: distant worlds that orbit other stars outside our solar system.

Shape of the universe: study could force us to rethink everything we know about the cosmos

No matter how elegant your theory is, experimental data will have the last word. Observations of the retrograde motion of the planets were fundamental to the Copernican revolution, in which the sun replaced Earth at the centre of the solar system. And the unusual orbit of Mercury provided a spectacular confirmation of the theory of general relativity. In fact, our entire understanding of the universe is built on observed, unexpected anomalies.

A virtual reality camera captures life and science aboard the space station

With only minutes until sunrise aboard the International Space Station (ISS), astronaut Nick Hague rushed to shut off the lights in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM). Traveling 17,500 miles per hour, the space station orbits Earth 16 times in 24 hours, so every 90 minutes, the space station experiences a sunrise. For this sunrise, though, the speed of their approach was putting a time crunch on Hague. To capture this moment, timing was everything as he worked diligently to set up the perfect camera shot.

Video: Proba-2 watches Mercury transit

ESA's Proba-2 had a ring-side seat for the transit of Mercury on 11 November 2019. Proba-2 monitors the sun from Earth orbit and was able to spot Mercury's transit as a small black disc—seen here moving from left to right across the face of the sun.

Image: Aircraft nose dome assessed in ESA Hertz chamber

ESA test facilities can test more than just space hardware: here, the 2.0m-diameter nose of an Airbus A340 aircraft is seen in ESA's Hertz chamber, undergoing radio-frequency testing.

November meteors: Taurids, Leonids and a surprise Monocerotids outburst

For the northern hemisphere observers, November is fireball season. This month, keep an eye out for two sure-fire annual meteor showers, and—just maybe—a wild card outburst from the obscure Alpha Monocerotids worth watching out for.

Technology news

Using imitation and reinforcement learning to tackle long-horizon robotic tasks

Reinforcement learning (RL) is a widely used machine-learning technique that entails training AI agents or robots using a system of reward and punishment. So far, researchers in the field of robotics have primarily applied RL techniques in tasks that are completed over relatively short periods of time, such as moving forward or grasping objects.

Multimaterial 3-D printing manufactures complex objects, fast

3-D printers are revolutionizing manufacturing by allowing users to create any physical shape they can imagine on-demand. However, most commercial printers are only able to build objects from a single material at a time and inkjet printers that are capable of multimaterial printing are constrained by the physics of droplet formation. Extrusion-based 3-D printing allows a broad palette of materials to be printed, but the process is extremely slow. For example, it would take roughly 10 days to build a 3-D object roughly one liter in volume at the resolution of a human hair and print speed of 10 cm/s using a single-nozzle, single-material printhead. To build the same object in less than 1 day, one would need to implement a printhead with 16 nozzles printing simultaneously!

Calling Princess Leia: How the out-of-this-galaxy Star Wars hologram just became a step closer to reality

Academics at the University of Sussex have come the closet yet to recreating one of the most iconic of Star Wars technology by developing for the first time holograms that can be seen by the naked eye as well as heard and felt.

Could AI's next chapter bring design of feeling machines?

Could robots with feelings be the next step in AI? A research paper discusses an interesting approach to robot design. It is titled "Homeostasis and soft robotics in the design of feeling machines" in Nature Machine Intelligence.

Deep Neural Network aims to improve imaging of cells

Improving the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases like cancer will require more detailed, rapid, and agile imaging technology that can show doctors not just what a specific organ looks like, but also what's happening within the cells that make up those tissues.

Artificial intelligence to run the chemical factories of the future

A new proof-of-concept study details how an automated system driven by artificial intelligence can design, build, test and learn complex biochemical pathways to efficiently produce lycopene, a red pigment found in tomatoes and commonly used as a food coloring, opening the door to a wide range of biosynthetic applications, researchers report.

Engineers help with water under the bridge and other tough environmental decisions

In two new papers, civil engineers explore how to make decisions using quantifiable social, economic and environmental guidelines.

Paris e-scooters under pressure to prove green credentials

Pulling on makeshift roped hooks along a sun-drenched bank of the Seine River in Paris, Youva Hadjali and Edison Gompo fish out two electric scooters—not the most ecological fate for devices billed as a carbon-free fix for strained urban transport systems.

Tesla to build factory in Germany after subsidies announced

Germany on Wednesday hailed Tesla's decision to build its first European factory in the country, days after the government said it would boost subsidies for buyers of electric cars.

China retail giant Alibaba given OK for huge Hong Kong listing

Chinese online retail titan Alibaba has been given the go-ahead to list shares in Hong Kong, reports said Wednesday, in what could be the city's biggest IPO in almost a decade.

Art meets AI: computer-generated works set for New York sale

Two paintings up for auction in New York highlight a growing interest in artificial intelligence-created works—a technique that could transform how art is made and viewed but is also stirring up passionate debate.

Nuclear fuel alternatives after Fukushima have challenges ahead

Research at The University of Manchester suggests that the preferred candidate fuel to replace uranium oxide in nuclear reactors may need further development before use.

As flames encroach, those at risk may lose phone signal when they need it most

Yesterday, New South Wales and Queensland issued fire warnings classified as either "catastrophic," "severe" or "extreme"—and these conditions will remain in the coming days.

Elucidation of cause of electromagnetic noise allows for EM noise-less electric circuits

Most common devices are driven and controlled by electric power. Signals and power can be sent by transferring electricity through an electric circuit made up of conductors that conduct electrical current. However, interactions between a circuit and its environment, such as the ground and the earth, generate EM noise, causing malfunctions and generating heat. The equations developed in this study theoretically verified that EM noise was caused not only by the interference between transmission lines, but also by conditions of elements connected to the electric circuit.

The environmental cost of cryptocurrency mines

Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Monero—the names of digital-based cryptocurrencies are being heard more and more frequently. But despite having no physical representation, could these new methods of exchange actually be negatively impacting our planet? It's a question being asked by researchers at The University of New Mexico, who are investigating the environmental impacts of mining cryptocurrencies.

New AI model tries to synthesize patient data like doctors do

Artificial intelligence will never replace a doctor. However, researchers at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have taken a big step toward the day when AI can help physicians predict medical events. A new approach developed by PNNL scientists improves the accuracy of patient diagnosis up to 20 percent when compared to other embedding approaches.

Flu season is here: Supercomputers are a new line of defense

Time to stock up on tissues.

Argonne applies machine learning to cybersecurity threats

It is indisputable that technology is now a fundamental and inextricable part of our everyday existence—for most people, our employment, transportation, healthcare, education, and other quality of life measures are fully reliant on technology. Our dependence has created an urgent need for dynamic cybersecurity that protects U.S. government, research and industry assets in the face of technology advances and ever more sophisticated adversaries.

10 secret Amazon Prime benefits you may not know about

Amazon is a trendsetter in retail and delivery. The company is constantly fine-tuning and adding new benefits for Prime members, who fork over $119 a year.

UPS tracks beef shipment from farm to table with new technology

UPS demonstrated blockchain-verified tracking of a shipment of Black Angus beef from Kansas to the table of a Japanese steakhouse last week.

Here's a $10,000 offer to leave the Bay Area

A trio of former Google employees who were drawn to the promise of Silicon Valley have founded a company that will pay Bay Area residents $10,000 to move away.

With its electric motor, Linear Labs wants to turn Dallas-Fort Worth into 'Detroit of electrification'

Fort Worth-based Linear Labs wants to put its electric motors into everything from scooters to air conditioners—and it wants to make them in North Texas.

Health websites in UK share data with advertisers: FT

Health websites accessed from within Britain are without permission sharing users' sensitive information with online giants, including Google, Amazon and Facebook, the Financial Times reported Wednesday following an investigation.

AI to determine when to intervene with your driving

Can your AI agent judge when to talk to you while you are driving? According to a KAIST research team, their in-vehicle conservation service technology will judge when it is appropriate to contact you to ensure your safety.

Making (fun) multi-player gaming an educational experience

A new video game framework brings together two well-studied approaches to educational software in order to keep multiple players engrossed in the learning experience while fostering collaboration and problem solving. The framework is one of the first to integrate narrative-centered learning and collaborative learning techniques, laying the groundwork for future efforts in the field.

A new facial analysis method detects genetic syndromes with high precision and specificity

Each year, over a million children are born with a genetic disease. Although about half of genetic syndromes present facial dysmorphology, abnormal facial features are often subtle at birth and their identification by paediatricians can prove challenging. Delays and errors in diagnosis have a significant impact on mortality and morbidity associated with genetic syndromes. By way of example, the average accuracy in the detection of one of the most studied genetic syndromes, Down syndrome, by a trained paediatrician is as low as 64% in the US, and so methods for the early detection of genetic syndromes become very important.

Google plans to offer checking accounts

Google plans to add checking accounts from Citigroup and a credit union to its Google Pay digital wallet in 2020, the tech company said Wednesday.

Privacy, consumer groups seek to block Google-Fitbit deal

Nine privacy, social justice and consumer groups are calling for the U.S. government to block Google's $2.1 billion acquisition of fitness-gadget maker Fitbit, citing antitrust and privacy concerns.

Promise and peril for German carmakers in Tesla's Berlin touchdown

Hopes are high that US electric pioneer Tesla's first European factory just outside Berlin will boost German carmakers, but it also ups the pressure on homegrown manufacturers to raise their battery-powered game.

Disrupting the disruptor: Disney+ signs up 10 mn in day

Walt Disney Co.'s new streaming television service Disney+ got off to a roaring start by signing up 10 million subscribers on its first day, the company announced Wednesday.

New artificial intelligence system automatically evolves to evade internet censorship

Internet censorship by authoritarian governments prohibits free and open access to information for millions of people around the world. Attempts to evade such censorship have turned into a continually escalating race to keep up with ever-changing, increasingly sophisticated internet censorship. Censoring regimes have had the advantage in that race, because researchers must manually search for ways to circumvent censorship, a process that takes considerable time.

How Let's Encrypt doubled the internet's percentage of secure websites in four years

The percentage of websites protected with HTTPS secure encryption —indicated by the lock icon in the address bar of most browsers—has jumped from just over 40% in 2016 to 80% today.

Volkswagen expanding electric vehicle production in US

Volkswagen is making Tennessee its North American base for electric vehicle production, breaking ground on an $800 million (727 million euro) expansion at its plant in Chattanooga.

Disney+ has its classics, plus Marvel and 'Star Wars,' but no R-rated films, little bingeing

The company that got its fame from a 1928 silent cartoon short featuring an animated mouse is betting the bank on a new streaming future with Disney+, which launches Tuesday.

Gadgets: Multi-functional clock radio has alarm and so much more

Bedside clock radios are critical for time displays and alarms to get you going in the morning. These days they are also needed for so much more, and the new AC powered iHome iBTW281 dual alarm clock speaker system does it all; it even cleaned up my nightstand mess of cables.

Canada spy agencies split over proposed Huawei 5G ban: media

Canada's spy agencies are divided over whether or not to ban Chinese technology giant Huawei from fifth generation (5G) networks over security concerns, the Globe and Mail reported Wednesday.

German air force rejects delivery of two Airbus planes

Germany's air force said Wednesday it had refused delivery of two Airbus A400M transport planes over technical faults, saying bolts holding the propellers on some already operational aircraft were loose.

The risk of discrimination by algorithm

Not only companies but state institutions increasingly rely on automated decisions by algorithm-based systems. Their efficiency saves time and money, but also entails many risks of individuals or population groups being discriminated against. This is the result of a study made by the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) on behalf of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency.

Facebook nixes billions of fake accounts

Facebook on Wednesday said it has taken down some 5.4 billion fake accounts this year in a sign of the persistent battle on social media against manipulation and misinformation.


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