Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Dec 31

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for December 31, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Nearly quantized conductance plateau of vortex mode in an iron-based superconductor

Extending El NiƱo event predictions to a year

Simulations show thousands of lakes in Himalaya Mountains at risk of flooding due to global warming

Samsung C-Lab's gee-whiz results to draw looks in Vegas

Best of Last Week – Long distance qubit interactions, a zero-emission airplane and a possible cure for baldness

Wind conditions influence water circulation and carbon dioxide concentrations in the Southern Ocean

Rewriting quantum mechanics in their spare time

New study reveals higher microplastics in London air compared to other cities

Plants model more efficient thermal cooling method

Giant magnetic ropes seen in Whale Galaxy's halo

Buzzing through the blood-brain barrier

Betrayed by bile: bile acids help norovirus sneak into cells

Blazar variability

Physics news

Nearly quantized conductance plateau of vortex mode in an iron-based superconductor

When a semiconducting nanowire is coupled to a superconductor, it can be tuned to topological quantum states thought to host localized quasiparticles known as Majorana Zero Modes (MZM). MZMs are their own antiparticles, with promising applications in topological quantum computing. Due to particle-antiparticle equivalence, MZMs exhibit quantized conductance at low temperatures. While many theoretical proposals exist to realize MZMs in solid state systems, their experimental realization is confronted by non-idealities.

Rewriting quantum mechanics in their spare time

As students, Jussi Lindgren and Jukka Liukkonen had found one element of their quantum mechanics lectures unsatisfying. "When we were taught physics, there were some fundamental elements you were told were true, and you had to accept they were true without it being shown why," said Jussi Lindgren, "and I didn't really like this".

Radiophysicists study the properties of composites for 5G devices

TSU radiophysicists are forming a database of properties of composite materials that can be used to create 5G and space communication devices operating in the terahertz range. The scientists are creating composite materials from ABS plastic and nanotubes and measuring their properties in a frequency range from 10 MHz to 1 THz.

Astronomy & Space news

Giant magnetic ropes seen in Whale Galaxy's halo

Using the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array radio telescope, a team of astronomers has captured for the first time an image of large-scale, coherent, magnetic fields in the halo of a faraway spiral galaxy, confirming theoretical modeling of how galaxies generate magnetic fields and potentially increasing knowledge of how galaxies form and evolve.

Blazar variability

Active galactic nuclei (AGN) are supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies that are accreting material. These AGN emit jets of charged particles that move at speeds close to that of light, transporting huge amounts of energy away from the central black hole region and radiating across the electromagnetic spectrum. Blazars are extreme examples of AGN in which the collimated jets are coincidentally aligned towards us. Blazar jets have two peak emission wavelengths, one that spans the range from the radio to the X-ray, the result of charged particle acceleration, and one at extremely short wavelength, high energy gamma ray bands usually (and somewhat controversially) attributed to the charged particles scattering infrared "seed" photons from a variety of other sources. All these bands manifest strong and unpredictable variability. Simultaneous, long-term observations across multiple bands therefore, by modeling the relative timing of flares and other variable emission, offer a valuable way to investigate the numerous possible physical mechanisms at work.

Image: Hubble views a galaxy with an active center

This swirling mass of celestial gas, dust and stars is a moderately luminous spiral galaxy named ESO 021-G004, located just under 130 million light-years away.

Technology news

Samsung C-Lab's gee-whiz results to draw looks in Vegas

Skunkworks is the tag given to big companies that let creative thinkers have their freedom to work on projects, away from the others who put their heads down to satisfy product launch dates.

Microsoft seizes web domains used by North Korean hackers

Microsoft said Monday it obtained a court order allowing it to seize web domains used by North Korean hacking groups to launch cyberattacks on human rights activists, researchers and others.

Feds: No evidence hackers disrupted North Carolina voting

A federal investigation didn't turn up any evidence that cyber attacks were responsible for computer errors that disrupted voting in a North Carolina county in 2016, according to a report issued Monday.

Trump signs law to reduce robocalls, though they won't end

An anti-robocalls measure signed into law Monday by President Donald Trump should help reduce the torrent of unwanted calls promising lower interest rates or pretending to be the IRS, though it won't make all such calls disappear.

Physicists create highly efficient rocket fuel

Scientists at the Faculty of Physics and Engineering, working with the Tomsk company Scientific and Production Center Chemical Technologies, have created and tested an improved model of a hybrid rocket engine. The team synthesized new fuel components that increased its calorie content, and therefore its efficiency.

Engineers create drones based on digital twins

The TSU Supercomputer Center staff has developed a method for the automated design of drones based on mathematical modeling using the computing power of the SKIF Cyberia supercomputer. The new approach includes the creation of a digital twin and its prototyping—the production of a functioning UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) model. This method can be used to construct aircraft models and to optimize the performance of existing aircraft.

India to let Huawei take part in 5G trials

New Delhi has said it will let Chinese telecoms giant Huawei take part in trials for the rollout of 5G services in the huge Indian market, giving the firm a major boost as it battles US sanctions.

Scientists improve signal and image processing algorithms

TSU mathematicians have completed a project on mathematical methods for analyzing signals and images in complex telecommunication and navigation systems that are affected by random noise. The methods they created make evaluating information 10 times more accurate and help to restore the image or signal with high quality. The next step will be the application of the algorithm to "big data" analysis.

If you think the millennium bug was a hoax, here comes a history lesson

It's not hard to find echoes of the late 1990s in the zeitgeist. Now as then, impeachment is on many peoples' minds, and films such as The Matrix and The Sixth Sense continue to influence culture. Another feature of the same era that perhaps has a more important, if subtler, influence is the infamous Y2K bug.

Ring, Amazon sued by man who says hacker bothered his kids

A man is suing doorbell maker Ring and its parent company, Amazon, after he says a hacker communicated with his children over the internet-connected camera he had bought as "additional security" for his family.

Beware of the smart device: Ways to stay private and safe

Did someone invite a spy into your home over the holidays? Maybe so, if a friend or family member gave you a voice-controlled speaker or some other smart device.

Uber, Postmates sue to challenge California's new labor law

Ride-share company Uber and on-demand meal delivery service Postmates sued Monday to block a broad new California law aimed at giving wage and benefit protections to people who work as independent contractors.

Huawei says sales rose 18% in 2019 despite US pressure

Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies said Tuesday that its sales rose about 18% in 2019 despite U.S. moves to restrict its business.

Facebook fined $1.65 mn by Brazil

Brazil on Monday fined Facebook $1.65 million for improperly sharing users' data in a case linked to the global Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Ghosn: A tycoon full of surprises

Former auto tycoon Carlos Ghosn, once-revered boss of three huge car companies, has masterminded an exit from Japan as stunning as his arrest that shocked the world more than a year ago.

Bot or not? Mystery over anonymous user retweeted by Trump

The Twitter user goes by Gigi, though sometimes Sophia, Emma or Leona. The occupation is listed at various times as teacher, historian, documentary writer and model. There's been speculation about whether this person is really a woman—or even human. But bot or not, the account has gotten the attention of the president and his Twitter followers.


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