Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Dec 4

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for December 4, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Researchers achieve quantum control of an oscillator using a Josephson circuit

A multi-objective optimization approach for socially aware robot navigation

Unusual X-ray spectral variability observed in NGC 1313 X-1

Researchers discover stress in early life extends lifespan

Parker Solar Probe traces solar wind to its source on sun's surface: coronal holes

First giant planet around white dwarf found

Atmospheric river storms create $1 billion-a-year flood damage

Monthly birth control pill could replace daily doses

Freeze frame: Scientists capture atomic-scale snapshots of artificial proteins

Adding copper strengthens 3-D-printed titanium

Global carbon emissions growth slows, but hits record high

Sleep helps memory, right? Not for eyewitnesses

Permanent hair dye and straighteners may increase breast cancer risk

A common drug could help restore limb function after spinal cord injury

New screening method identifies potential anticancer compounds that reawaken T cells

Physics news

Researchers achieve quantum control of an oscillator using a Josephson circuit

Superconducting circuits, which have zero electrical resistance, could enable the development of electronic components that are significantly more energy-efficient than most chips used today. Importantly, superconducting circuits rely on an electronic element known as the Josephson junction, which allows them to manipulate quantum information and mediate photon interactions. While past studies have tried to enhance the performance and coherence of Josephson circuits, so far, the most promising results in terms of photon lifetimes were achieved in microwave cavities.

Scientists develop tomographic method to visualize state of 'solitary' electrons

Scientists at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), working with the University of Latvia, the University of Berlin, Cambridge University and University College London, have developed a tomographic method to visualize the state of solitary electrons emitted from electron pumps.

Standard compression algorithm could revolutionize physical and biological computations, researchers say

Entropy, a measure of the molecular disorder or randomness of a system, is critical to understanding a system's physical composition. In complex physical systems, the interaction of internal elements is unavoidable, rendering entropy calculation a computationally demanding, and often impractical, task. The tendency of a properly folded protein to unravel, for example, can be predicted using entropy calculations.

How the U.S. hydrogen bomb secrets disappeared

Given a choice of items to lose on a train, a top-secret document detailing the newly developed hydrogen bomb should be on the bottom of the list. In January 1953, amid the Red Scare and the Korean War, that's exactly what physicist John Archibald Wheeler lost.

How small is a small-world network?

Discovered in the field of social sciences in the 1960s, the phenomenon known as small-world networks has fascinated popular culture and science for decades. It arose from the observation that in the world, any two people are connected by a short chain of social ties.

Chip-based optical sensor detects cancer biomarker in urine

For the first time, researchers have used a chip-based sensor with an integrated laser to detect very low levels of a cancer protein biomarker in a urine sample. The new technology is more sensitive than other designs and could lead to non-invasive and inexpensive ways to detect molecules that indicate the presence or progression of a disease.

Atom music lets listeners experience atomic world through sound

Atom music is a fun new way to explore the atomic world via musical synthesis techniques.

Astronomy & Space news

Unusual X-ray spectral variability observed in NGC 1313 X-1

An ultraluminous X-ray source (ULX) in the NGC 1313 galaxy, known as NGC 1313 X-1, showcases an unusual X-ray spectral variability, according to a new study recently conducted by an international team of astronomers. The finding is reported in a paper published November 21 on arXiv.org.

Parker Solar Probe traces solar wind to its source on sun's surface: coronal holes

A year ago, NASA's Parker Solar Probe flew closer to the sun than any satellite in history, collecting a spectacular trove of data from the very edge of the sun's million-degree corona.

First giant planet around white dwarf found

Researchers using ESO's Very Large Telescope have, for the first time, found evidence of a giant planet associated with a white dwarf star. The planet orbits the hot white dwarf, the remnant of a Sun-like star, at close range, causing its atmosphere to be stripped away and form a disc of gas around the star. This unique system hints at what our own Solar System might look like in the distant future.

Star-quake vibrations lead to new estimate for Milky Way age

Data gathered by NASA's now defunct Kepler telescope provides a solution to an astronomical mystery.

New study finds the mix that makes Titan's lakes spew nitrogen bubbles

New research explains how bubbles erupt in frigid hydrocarbon lakes on Saturn's largest moon Titan, potentially creating fizz intense enough to form geologic features on the moon.

NASA launching RiTS 'robot hotel' to International Space Station

Sometimes robots need a place to stay in space, too. NASA is attaching a "robot hotel" to the outside of the International Space Station with the upcoming launch of the Robotic Tool Stowage (RiTS), a protective storage unit for critical robotic tools.

NASA's OSIRIS-REx in the midst of site selection

NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission is just days away from selecting the site where the spacecraft will snag a sample from asteroid Bennu. After a lengthy and challenging process, the team is finally ready to down-select from the four candidate sites to a primary and backup site.

Looking for exoplanet life in all the right spectra

A Cornell senior has come up with a way to discern life on exoplanets loitering in other cosmic neighborhoods: a spectral field guide.

Image: A cloudy martian night through the eyes of a supercomputer

As NASA's Curiosity rover makes its way over the surface of Mars, it's sometimes accompanied by clouds drifting by in the sky above. Like Earth, the Red Planet has a water cycle, with water molecules moving between the surface and the air, traveling through the atmosphere and coming together to form clouds. The behavior of water-ice clouds on Mars plays a big role in its climate, and this computer simulation shows them forming and dispersing over the course of a Martian day.

Extent of the challenge to clean up space debris revealed

Current levels of space activity may not be sustainable, even without the introduction of so-called 'mega-constellations,' a new study from the University of Southampton has shown.

Scientists have found out why photons from other galaxies do not reach Earth

An international group of scientists, including Andrey Savelyev, associate professor of the Institute of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and Information Technologies of the IKBFU, has improved a computer program that helps simulate the behavior of photons when interacting with hydrogen spilled in intergalactic space. Results are published in the scientific journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Mexican students launch a small satellite to the International Space Station

The first satellite built by students in Mexico for launch from the International Space Station is smaller than a shoebox but represents a big step for its builders.

NASA's Parker Solar Probe sheds new light on the sun

In August 2018, NASA's Parker Solar Probe launched to space, soon becoming the closest-ever spacecraft to the Sun. With cutting-edge scientific instruments to measure the environment around the spacecraft, Parker Solar Probe has completed three of 24 planned passes through never-before-explored parts of the Sun's atmosphere, the corona. On Dec. 4, 2019, four new papers in the journal Nature describe what scientists have learned from this unprecedented exploration of our star—and what they look forward to learning next.

Sun's close-up reveals atmosphere hopping with highly energetic particles

Outbursts of energetic particles that hurtle out from the sun and can disrupt space communications may be even more varied and numerous than previously thought, according to results from the closest-ever flyby of the sun.

SpaceX delays space station delivery due to high wind

SpaceX has delayed its delivery to the International Space Station because of dangerous wind gusts.

Technology news

A multi-objective optimization approach for socially aware robot navigation

Mobile robots are gradually making their way into a number of human-populated environments, including hospitals, malls and people's homes. In order for these robots to interact with humans in their surroundings, they should respect a number of unspoken social norms that are associated with sharing a given environment with others.

Amazon launches Transcribe Medical for doctors to dictate speech to text

Amazon is wasting no time in pursuing the opportunity to apply their voice technology expertise to the medical sector, which indeed has a need for voice to text transcriptions. With Amazon's service, the doctor can dictate clinical notes and speech into accurate text, resulting in transcriptions real time.

Tencent, Nintendo to launch Switch console in China

Chinese internet giant Tencent and gaming titan Nintendo on Wednesday announced plans to launch the Japanese company's popular Switch console in China from next week.

Google co-founders step down as Pichai named Alphabet CEO

Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are stepping down from their roles at the helm of parent firm Alphabet and handing the reins to current Google CEO Sundar Pichai, the company said Tuesday.

United Airlines orders 50 Airbus aircraft to replace Boeing 757s

United Airlines said Tuesday it had ordered 50 Airbus A321XLR aircraft, worth an estimated $6.5 billion, to replace an existing fleet of aging Boeings.

Green-sky thinking for propulsion and power

We're seeing a transformational change in the propulsion and power sectors. Aviation and power generation have brought huge benefits—connecting people across the world and providing safe, reliable electricity to billions—but reducing their carbon emissions is now urgently needed.

The tricky ethics of Google's Project Nightingale, an effort to learn from millions of health records

The nation's second-largest health system, Ascension, has agreed to allow the software behemoth Google access to tens of millions of patient records. The partnership, called Project Nightingale, aims to improve how information is used for patient care. Specifically, Ascension and Google are trying to build tools, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, "to make health records more useful, more accessible and more searchable" for doctors.

Machine learning research may aid many industries

Spam emails, bank fraud, diabetes, workers quitting their jobs. What do these topics have in common? The answer can be found in machine learning research at Binghamton University.

Pros and cons of outgoing car model vs. redesign

The end of the calendar year can be an exciting time for new-car buyers. Many vehicles have been redesigned and are packed with the latest technology. However, the outgoing models are still on dealer lots and likely to be discounted steeply by automakers and dealers looking to meet year-end sales goals.

Portland plans to propose first facial recognition ban affecting private companies

The city of Portland, Oregon, is considering a unique ban on facial recognition software that could limit how private companies use it.

Robotics researchers have a duty to prevent autonomous weapons

Robotics is rapidly being transformed by advances in artificial intelligence. And the benefits are widespread: We are seeing safer vehicles with the ability to automatically brake in an emergency, robotic arms transforming factory lines that were once offshored and new robots that can do everything from shop for groceries to deliver prescription drugs to people who have trouble doing it themselves.

Growth in data breaches shows need for government regulations

Do you remember when 40 million was a large number? Forty million dollars in sales, 40 million customers, 40 million Twitter followers, 40 million protesters —all once conveyed something substantial.

New 'hyper glue' formula developed

With many of the products we use every day held together by adhesives, researchers from UBC's Okanagan campus and the University of Victoria hope to make everything from protective clothing to medical implants and residential plumbing stronger and more corrosion resistant thanks to a newly-developed 'hyper glue' formula.

Travel giant Expedia sends CEO packing after weak results

Online travel giant Expedia announced the immediate departures Wednesday of chief executive Mark Okerstrom and chief financial officer Alan Pickerill after what the company termed "disappointing" third quarter results.

Holidays bring phishing scam surge aimed at small business

The email looked legitimate, so Danielle Radin clicked on the link it contained, expecting to have her products included in a holiday gift guide.

Sundar Pichai steps into huge role as Alphabet CEO

Taking the reins as chief executive of Google parent Alphabet, the soft-spoken, Indian-born Sundar Pichai faces a host of challenges at one of the world's most valuable companies, which has become besieged by activists and political leaders.

Instagram to require birth dates in move to block underage use

Instagram said Wednesday it would require new users to verify they are at least 13 when they join the visually focused, Facebook-owned social network.

California cuts electric-car rebates, drops luxury models

California's rebate program to entice more drivers to purchase electric vehicles has gotten less generous, especially for residents looking to buy luxury models.

TikTok sued in US over alleged China data transfer

A university student in California has filed a class-action lawsuit against video app TikTok, which she accuses of harvesting large amounts of user data and storing it in China.

TikTok drops 'blunt' cyberbullying policy

TikTok has dropped a "blunt" cyberbullying policy, the Chinese-owned video sharing app said Wednesday after a report it hid posts by disabled, gay and overweight people.

Suitable energy mix for smaller communities

Solar thermal, geothermal, photovoltaic—what form of energy supply is most suitable for a particular municipality? Representatives of smaller communities are overwhelmed by a huge amount of information, which tends to exacerbate existing uncertainty. A new online tool from Fraunhofer is now helping to clarify this confusion. The tool calculates the optimal energy mix for each individual case, including funding possibilities available.

How to build a smart city: Innovation diplomacy, transparency, trust and... conflict?

Turning smart city ambitions into partnerships and investment plans is a challenging path. Three people with hands-on experience in inspiring and guiding cities in this process are Muriel Pels and Inge van de Klundert from Municipality of Utrecht and Carolien van Hemel of Utrecht Sustainability Institute.

Google bans political ads in Singapore as elections loom

Google has banned political ads in Singapore ahead of elections, an opposition party said Wednesday, sparking accusations the tech giant was "kowtowing" to the tightly-controlled city's government.

Tips to help small business owners avoid phishing scam

Phishing scams that infect a computer and potentially allow hackers to invade bank and other accounts are highly preventable—but it takes eternal vigilance on the part of computer users.

Microsoft shareholders defeat 2 activist proposals

Microsoft's shareholders have defeated two proposals by activist investors calling for the company to add a rank-and-file employee on its board of directors and report on gender disparities in company salaries.

Big United order shows Airbus opportunity as Boeing reels

United Airlines' order for 50 new mid-range aircraft from Airbus not only hands the European giant a huge win, it exposes a gap in Boeing's portfolio exacerbated by the 737 MAX crisis.


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