Science X Newsletter Friday, Dec 13

Dear ymilog,

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

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Best of Last Year: The top MedicalXpress articles of 2019

An IKEA furniture assembly environment to train robots on complex manipulation tasks

Astronomers discover two new galaxy protoclusters

Researchers realize 'ideal' kagome metal electronic structure

Scientists 'tune in' to proton spin precession

Research reveals how muscles talk to the brain to regulate feeding behavior

Research shows how Plundervolt could mess with Intel CPUs

A self-cleaning surface that repels even the deadliest superbugs

Image: The galactic dance of NGC 5394 and NGC 5395

Mars Express tracks the phases of Phobos

Differences between deep neural networks and human perception

Why your best idea may be your second favorite

Sustainable sand pulls pollutants from stormwater

Unearthing the mystery of the meaning of Easter Island's Moai

NASA's Juno navigators enable Jupiter cyclone discovery

Physics news

Scientists 'tune in' to proton spin precession

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a non-invasive way to measure the "spin tune" of polarized protons at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC)—an important factor for maintaining these spinning particles' alignment.

Slippery when wet: How does lubrication work?

In a recent paper in Science Advances, researchers from the University of Amsterdam present new experimental insight into how lubrication works. They have developed a new method using fluorescent molecules to directly observe nanometric lubrication films with a sensitivity of a single molecular layer. Their quantitative description of the relation between topography, contact pressure and lubrication provides a deeper understanding of lubrication.

Colliding molecules and antiparticles

Antiparticles—subatomic particles that have exactly opposite properties to those that make up everyday matter—may seem like a concept out of science fiction, but they are real, and the study of matter-antimatter interactions has important medical and technological applications. Marcos Barp and Felipe Arretche from the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil have modelled the interaction between simple molecules and antiparticles known as positrons and found that this model agreed well with experimental observations. This study has been published in The European Physical Journal D.

Study leads to new approach to trapping light in photonic kagome crystals

A new approach to trapping light in artificial photonic materials by a City College of New York-led team could lead to a tremendous boost in the transfer speed of data online.

Astronomy & Space news

Astronomers discover two new galaxy protoclusters

Using Keck Observatory in Hawaii, astronomers have detected two new protoclusters of galaxies embedded in primordial superclusters. The research paper presenting the discovery and providing basic information about the newfound objects was published December 3 on the arXiv pre-print repository.

Image: The galactic dance of NGC 5394 and NGC 5395

"Everything is determined by forces over which we have no control... Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper," Albert Einstein wrote.

Mars Express tracks the phases of Phobos

ESA's Mars Express has captured detailed views of the small, scarred and irregularly shaped moon Phobos from different angles during a unique flyby.

NASA's Juno navigators enable Jupiter cyclone discovery

Jupiter's south pole has a new cyclone. The discovery of the massive Jovian tempest occurred on Nov. 3, 2019, during the most recent data-gathering flyby of Jupiter by NASA's Juno spacecraft. It was the 22nd flyby during which the solar-powered spacecraft collected science data on the gas giant, soaring only 2,175 miles (3,500 kilometers) above its cloud tops. The flyby also marked a victory for the mission team, whose innovative measures kept the solar-powered spacecraft clear of what could have been a mission-ending eclipse.

Researchers participate in study that adds new detail to merger models

Scientists are getting better at modeling the complex tangle of physics properties at play in one of the most powerful events in the known universe: the merger of two neutron stars.

Researchers estimate the mass of the Milky Way to be 890 billion times that of our sun

An international team of researchers has used sophisticated models to calculate the mass of the Milky Way. They have written a paper describing their efforts and results, and have posted it on the arXiv preprint server.

Newfound Martian aurora actually the most common; sheds light on Mars' changing climate

A type of Martian aurora first identified by NASA's MAVEN spacecraft in 2016 is actually the most common form of aurora occurring on the Red Planet, according to new results from the mission. The aurora is known as a proton aurora and can help scientists track water loss from Mars' atmosphere.

Searching explanations for mysterious structures in protoplanetary disks

In the discs of dust and gasses around young stars, mysterious structures occur. Together with professor Ewine van Dishoeck, Ph.D. student Paolo Cazzoletti investigate how we can explain these forms, such as rings, spirals and holes. On 12 December, he will defend his thesis.

An upcoming ESA mission is going to remove one piece of space junk from orbit

While working at the NASA Johnson Space Center during the 1970s, astrophysicist Donald Kessler predicted that collisions of space debris would become increasingly common as the density of space debris increases in orbit around the Earth, creating a cascading effect. Since 2005, the amount of debris in orbit has followed an exponential growth curve, confirming Kessler's prediction.

X marks the spot: NASA selects site for asteroid sample collection

After a year scoping out asteroid Bennu's boulder-scattered surface, the team leading NASA's first asteroid sample return mission has officially selected a sample collection site.

Image: Hubble views galaxy's dazzling display

NGC 3175 is located around 50 million light-years away in the constellation of Antlia (the Air Pump). The galaxy can be seen slicing across the frame in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, with its mix of bright patches of glowing gas, dark lanes of dust, bright core, and whirling, pinwheeling arms coming together to paint a beautiful celestial scene.

Breathable atmospheres may be more common in the universe than we first thought

The existence of habitable alien worlds has been a mainstay of popular culture for more than a century. In the 19th century, astronomers believed that Martians might be using canal-based transport links to traverse the red planet. Now, despite living in an age when scientists can study planets light years from our own solar system, most new research continues to diminish the chances of finding other worlds on which humans could live. The biggest stumbling block may be oxygen—human settlers would need a high oxygen atmosphere in which to breathe.

RIT and IAR observe pulsars for the first time from South America

Rochester Institute of Technology and the Instituto Argentino de Radioastronomía (IAR) have collaborated to make the first pulsar observations from South America.

Video: ESA's short film, 'The Burn'

ESA's short film, The Burn, takes us into the heart of Europe's mission control during a critical moment in the life of a future mission.

Calling radio amateurs: Help find OPS-SAT!

Calling all radio amateurs! ESA is challenging anyone with amateur radio equipment to catch the first signals from OPS-SAT, ESA's brand new space software laboratory.

Video: OPS-SAT, the flying laboratory

On 17 December, ESA will launch a first-of-its-kind space laboratory, OPS-SAT. The small, low-cost test satellite has been specifically designed for operational experiments in space, and includes the most powerful flight computer on board any current ESA spacecraft.

Technology news

An IKEA furniture assembly environment to train robots on complex manipulation tasks

In order to complete complex everyday tasks such as using equipment, cooking or building furniture, robots should be able to plan their actions and manipulate objects in their surroundings. So far, however, teaching robots to complete complicated tasks, such as those that require planning over a considerable period of time, has proved to be rather challenging, also due to a lack of reliable simulated environments to test them in.

Research shows how Plundervolt could mess with Intel CPUs

Undervolting can bring trouble Intel would not care to endure at all. Fortunately, the latest research warning signals have won Intel's attention and they are addressing the situation.

Differences between deep neural networks and human perception

When your mother calls your name, you know it's her voice—no matter the volume, even over a poor cell phone connection. And when you see her face, you know it's hers—if she is far away, if the lighting is poor, or if you are on a bad FaceTime call. This robustness to variation is a hallmark of human perception. On the other hand, we are susceptible to illusions: We might fail to distinguish between sounds or images that are, in fact, different. Scientists have explained many of these illusions, but we lack a full understanding of the invariances in our auditory and visual systems.

AI puts final notes on Beethoven's Tenth Symphony

A few notes scribbled in his notebook are all that German composer Ludwig van Beethoven left of his Tenth Symphony before his death in 1827.

Hey, Google, be my Spanish translator

In January, Google announced a cool new feature that turns the Google Assistant into a two-way language interpreter, but it only worked visually on smart displays, which generally aren't used in the real world, when people are traveling.

Microsoft unveils Xbox Series X as console war heats up

Microsoft has unveiled a name and look for its new gaming console, the Xbox Series X, promising a still-more immersive experience as it fends off threats from streaming and rival Sony.

Neural network for elderly care could save millions

If healthcare providers could accurately predict how their services would be used, they could save large sums of money by not having to allocate funds unnecessarily. Deep learning artificial intelligence models can be good at predicting the future given previous behavior, and researchers based in Finland have developed one that can predict when and why elderly people will use healthcare services.

Family says Ring camera in 8-year-old daughter's room accessed by hacker

A family in Mississippi claims a hacker gained access to a Ring camera placed in their 8-year-old daughter's room and started talking to her, say local reports.

Using virtual reality, US Army researchers in Orlando seek to train soldiers on IED detection

As UCF research associate Shane Reynolds guides his avatar over a virtual minefield using his iPad, small beeps and whistles reveal the location of the scourge of the modern war zone: Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs.

A self-driving truck delivered butter from California to Pennsylvania in three days

A Silicon Valley startup has completed what appears to be the first commercial freight cross-country trip by an autonomous truck, which finished a 2,800-mile-run from Tulare, California to Quakertown, Pennsylvania for Land O'Lakes in under three days. The trip was smooth like butter, 40,000 pounds of it.

Facebook worker payroll data stolen from car

Facebook on Friday alerted employees that hard drives rich with information about those on the social network's payroll were stolen from a car last month.

Boeing acknowledges 737 MAX won't fly until 2020

Chastised by the top US aviation regulator, Boeing on Thursday at last acknowledged that its 727 MAX aircraft will not return to the skies until next year.

Germany's Delivery Hero gobbles up S.Korean food app Woowa

German takeaway giant Delivery Hero on Friday said it had agreed to buy South Korea's largest food delivery app Woowa in a 3.6 billion euro ($4 billion) deal aimed at beefing up its presence in Asia.

Finding ground truth in social media

Is it possible to extract "journalistic" as opposed to "general" commentary from social media? Writing in the International Journal of Grid and Utility Computing, a team from Portugal describes an approach to human and automatic extraction of updates and reports one might describe as coming from citizen journalists. Their algorithm is trained on automatically annotated and human-annotated data sets and shows that the wholly automated approach homes in on "ground truth" data much more efficiently and effectively than when the data has had the human touch.

Norway's Telenor drops Huawei for Ericsson in 5G contract

Norway's biggest wireless carrier, Telenor, on Friday chose Sweden's Ericsson to supply part of its new 5G network, ending its cooperation with Chinese tech giant Huawei after a decade.

2020's 'Dark Alliance' video game features iconic Dungeons & Dragons characters, location

Dungeons and Dragons has never been more popular.

IQ test for artificial intelligence systems

Washington State University researchers are creating the first-ever "IQ test" for artificial intelligence (AI) systems that would score systems on how well they learn and adapt to new, unknown environments.

Suspected cyberattack hobbles New Orleans city government

A suspected cyberattack prompted a shutdown of city government computers in New Orleans on Friday.


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