Science X Newsletter Monday, Dec 16

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for December 16, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Best of Last Year: The top TechXplore articles of 2019

Plasma ionization-based 3-D titania nanofiber-like webs to enhance bioreactivity and osteoconductivity of biomaterials

Fossil shells reveal both global mercury contamination and warming when dinosaurs perished

Very Large Telescope images stunning central region of Milky Way, finds ancient star burst

Bird migration timing skewed by climate, new research finds

Visual neurons don't work the way scientists thought, study finds

New way to make biomedical devices from silk yields better products with tunable qualities

Hard as a rock? Maybe not, say bacteria that help form soil

Chemists glimpse the fleeting 'transition state' of a reaction

Researchers make robots from self-folding kirigami materials

Resident orcas' appetite likely reason for decline of big Chinook salmon

Planetary nebula NGC 3132 investigated with MUSE

Unveiling a new map that reveals the hidden personalities of jobs

Neutrons optimize high efficiency catalyst for greener approach to biofuel synthesis

How do silt and sand differ when going with the flow?

Physics news

New open release from CERN streamlines interactions with theoretical physicists

What if you could test a new theory against data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)? Better yet, what if the expert knowledge needed to do this was captured in a convenient format? This tall order is now on its way from the ATLAS Collaboration at CERN, with the first open release of full analysis likelihoods from an LHC experiment.

New heat model may help electronic devices last longer

A University of Illinois-based team of engineers has found that the model currently used to predict heat loss in a common semiconductor material does not apply in all situations. By testing the thermal properties of gallium nitride semiconductors fabricated using four popular methods, the team discovered that some techniques produce materials that perform better than others. This new understanding can help chip manufacturers find ways to better diffuse the heat that leads to device damage and decreased device lifespans.

Discovery reveals tractionless motion is possible

In an article published in Physical Review Letters, Bristol scientists have answered the fundamental question: "Is it possible to move without exerting force on the environment?", by describing the tractionless self-propulsion of active matter.

How to use entanglement for long-distance or free-space quantum communication

Entanglement, once called "spooky action at a distance" by Einstein, is the phenomenon in which the quantum states of separated particles cannot be described independently. This puzzling phenomenon is widely exploited in the quantum physicist's toolbox, and is a key resource for applications in secure quantum communication over long distances and quantum cryptography protocols. Unfortunately, entangled particles are easily disturbed by their surroundings, and their entanglement is readily diminished by the slightest interaction with the environment.

A general theory on explosions that happen against deformable objects

In line with current international research about the interaction of matter with high energies, the University of Seville researcher Alfonso M. Gañán Calvo has studied the explosive behavior of matter subjected to the highest known energy densities produced by humans on the Earth. As a result, he has developed a general theory and the first predictive analytical model of a three-dimensional violent explosion against a liquid object (very deformable). The scientific article that gathers these results has been given the distinction of being highlighted as a suggested article by the editor of Physical Review Letters in the latest issue of that publication.

Laser-based prototype probes cold atom dynamics

By tracking the motions of cold atom clouds, astronomers can learn much about the physical processes which play out in the depths of space. To make these measurements, researchers currently use instruments named 'cold atom inertial sensors' which, so far, have largely been operated inside the lab. In new work published in EPJ D, a team of physicists at Muquans and LNE-SYRTE (the French national metrology laboratory for time, frequency and gravimetry) present an innovative prototype for a new industrial laser system. Their design paves the way for the development of cold atom inertial sensors in space.

Super-resolution photoacoustic microscopy finds clogged blood vessels

200 years ago, a doctor from France used a stethoscope for the first time. Countless efforts to observe the human body have been made since then. Up to now, the best tool that provides anatomical, functional, and molecular information about humans and animals is the photoacoustic microscope. Super-resolution localization photoacoustic microscopy, which is 500 times faster than conventional photoacoustic microscopy, has been developed by a research team from POSTECH in Korea.

Leptons help in tracking new physics

Electrons with 'colleagues'—other leptons—are one of many products of collisions observed in the LHCb experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. According to theorists, some of these particles may be created in processes that extend beyond standard physics. The latest analysis verifies these predictions.

Physicist proposes a new approach in modeling the evolution of the universe

A physicist from RUDN University has proposed a new theoretical model for the interaction of spinor and gravitational fields. He considered the evolution of the universe within one of the variants of the widespread Bianchi cosmological model. In this case, a change in the calculated field parameters led to changes in the evolution of the universe under consideration. Upon reaching certain values, it began to shrink down to the Big Bang. The article was published in the journal The European Physical Journal Plus.

Astronomy & Space news

Very Large Telescope images stunning central region of Milky Way, finds ancient star burst

ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) has observed the central part of the Milky Way with spectacular resolution and uncovered new details about the history of star birth in our galaxy. Thanks to the new observations, astronomers have found evidence for a dramatic event in the life of the Milky Way: a burst of star formation so intense that it resulted in over a hundred thousand supernova explosions.

Planetary nebula NGC 3132 investigated with MUSE

Using the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument, European astronomers have taken a closer look at the planetary nebula NGC 3132. MUSE observations have delivered crucial data regarding the nebula's physical and chemical properties. The new study is detailed in a paper published December 5 on arXiv.org.

How does our Milky Way galaxy get its spiral form?

A question that has long puzzled scientists is how our Milky Way galaxy which has an elegant spiral shape with long arms, took this form.

Researchers discover exoplanets can be made less habitable by stars' flares

The discovery of terrestrial exoplanets, planets that orbit stars outside the solar system, has been one of the most significant developments in modern astronomy. Several exoplanets lie in the "habitable zones" of stars, where planets are thought to be able to maintain liquid water on their surface, and have the potential to host life. However, an exoplanet that is too close to its host star is highly sensitive to radiation bursts from the star, also known as flares.

Astronomers present a concept for the next NASA flagship mission

Astronomers are making the case for a new mission to search for Earth-like planets outside our solar system.

2017 meteor was a 'grazing fireball'

A team of researchers at Curtin University in Australia reports that a meteor that streaked across the Australian sky back in 2017 was a rare "grazing fireball." The group has written a paper describing their observations and findings and have posted it on the arXiv preprint server.

Carbon cocoons surround growing galaxies—ALMA spots earliest environment pollution in the universe

Researchers have discovered gigantic clouds of gaseous carbon spanning more than a radius of 30,000 light-years around young galaxies using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). This is the first confirmation that carbon atoms produced inside of stars in the early universe have spread beyond galaxies. No theoretical studies have predicted such huge carbon cocoons around growing galaxies, which raises questions about our current understanding of cosmic evolution.

3-D print a piece of Mars for the holidays

There's a galaxy of gifts out there for space nerds. Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin may have just the thing to set your present apart: a model of Jezero Crater, the landing site of NASA's upcoming Mars 2020 Rover mission, that you can 3-D print yourself.

Satnav watching over rugby players

As France's top rugby players scrum, run and tackle they are being tracked by more than just TV cameras and the watching eyes of the crowd. Satnav-based tracking devices between their shoulder blades are keeping tabs on their position and performance—and helping to safeguard their health.

Image: Hubble's celestial peanut

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows NGC 1175, a galaxy with an intriguing and distinctive shape.

Researchers develop in-silico model of solar storms toward early warning system

A research group from Graz investigated how solar storms can be simulated in order to enable a more accurate prediction of their effects on the Earth. Their work has furnished a more accurate model for simulating solar storms in real time.

Technology news

Best of Last Year: The top TechXplore articles of 2019

It was a good year for technology development as a pair of engineers at Iowa State University solved a 50-year-old puzzle in signal processing—they came up with an algorithm to provide a generalization of the inverse fast Fourier transform—they called it the inverse chirp z-transform, and noted that it could be used with exponentially decaying or growing frequency components.

Researchers make robots from self-folding kirigami materials

Researchers have demonstrated how kirigami-inspired techniques allow them to design thin sheets of material that automatically reconfigure into new two-dimensional (2-D) shapes and three-dimensional (3-D) structures in response to environmental stimuli. The researchers created a variety of robotic devices as a proof of concept for the approach.

Report from AI watchdogs rips emotion tech

The opinion that affect recognition should be banned from important decisions sounds like an angry cry...but what does it all mean? Talk is heating up, actually, about artificial intelligence's impact on our daily lives in ways that cause as much worries as wonder.

Lofty promises for autonomous cars unfulfilled

The first driverless cars were supposed to be deployed on the roads of American cities in 2019, but just a few days before the end of the year, the lofty promises of car manufacturers and Silicon Valley remain far from becoming reality.

RCS rollout for Android raises messaging expectations

SMS is so 2019. RCS is where the cool will stand around and chat, or so the vision goes at Google which has finally completed the process of rolling out the RCS set of communication standards

Heat or eat? How one energy conservation strategy may hurt vulnerable populations

Any economic and conservation benefits associated with time-of-use electricity billing could be achieved at the expense of some of the most vulnerable citizens in our society: people with disabilities and the elderly, new research suggests.

New tool uses AI to flag fake news for media fact-checkers

A new artificial intelligence (AI) tool could help social media networks and news organizations weed out false stories.

Florida city mum on ransom demands by cyberattackers

A Florida city confirmed Friday that hackers seeking to extort money were responsible for crippling its computer systems earlier this week but officials have yet to decide whether they will pay a reported $1 million ransom.

Reports: FTC may try to block Facebook from integrating apps

Facebook's stock dropped almost 3% in regular trading after news reports suggested that the FTC may take antitrust action to prevent Facebook from integrating its disparate messaging apps.

Boeing could suspend or cut 737 MAX output: report

Boeing could on Monday announce whether to further cut or suspend production of its grounded 737 MAX plane, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

Device makes electric vehicle charging a two-way street

New tech means cars can power houses, as well as the other way round.

The dark side of Alexa, Siri and other personal digital assistants

A few short years ago, personal digital assistants like Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri and Google Assistant sounded futuristic. Now, the future is here and this future is embedded, augmented and ubiquitous.

How to secure your home surveillance cameras from getting hacked

Hackers are breaking into home security cameras, and the process isn't always as difficult as you may think.

FBI breaks up two illegal streaming sites with more subscribers than Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu

Two programmers in Las Vegas recently admitted to running two of the largest illegal television and movie streaming services in the country, according to federal officials.

How can we make sure that algorithms are fair?

Using machines to augment human activity is nothing new. Egyptian hieroglyphs show the use of horse-drawn carriages even before 300 B.C. Ancient Indian literature such as "Silapadikaram" has described animals being used for farming. And one glance outside shows that today people use motorized vehicles to get around.

A flaky option boosts organic solar cells

An inexpensive material, made from tungsten disulfide flakes just a few atoms thick, has helped to improve the performance of organic solar cells1. The discovery by KAUST researchers could be an important step toward bringing these photovoltaic cells into wider use for generating clean electricity.

New system transmits high-speed unrepeated signal over 520 kilometers

Researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology have partnered up with engineers from Corning Inc., U.S., and T8, Russia, and developed a system for high-throughput data transfer over great distances without the need for signal repeating along the way. Systems of this kind could be used to provide internet connection and other communication services in remote communities. The study is reported in IEEE Photonics Technology Letters.

Smart intersections could cut autonomous car congestion

In the not-so-distant future, city streets could be flooded with autonomous vehicles. Self-driving cars can move faster and travel closer together, allowing more of them to fit on the road—potentially leading to congestion and gridlock on city streets.

Intel buys Israeli AI chip startup Habana for $2B

Intel is paying $2 billion to buy an Israeli startup that specializes in processing chips for artificial intelligence.

US lawmakers fault regulators on T-Mobile-Sprint tie-up

US Democratic lawmakers on Monday criticized the process for approving the merger of wireless carriers T-Mobile and Sprint, saying regulators downplayed the competition implications of the $26 billion deal.

Latest ransomware victim, New Orleans crippled by attack

City services in New Orleans were hobbled Monday as the city operated under an emergency declaration following a cyber attack that locked down its main computer networks.

Large hospital system says it was hit by ransomware attack

New Jersey's largest hospital system said Friday that a ransomware attack last week disrupted its computer network and that it paid a ransom to stop it.

Russian nuclear-powered giant icebreaker completes test run

Russia's nuclear-powered icebreaker Arktika, touted as the strongest of its kind and a symbol of Moscow's ambition to tap the Arctic's commercial potential, returned to Saint Petersburg on Saturday after a two-day test run.

Effect of dirty inspection surfaces on the accuracy of visual inspection

To supply high-quality products to the market, visual inspection by human senses is conducted in many manufacturing industries. It is generally recommended that visual inspection for a high-quality product be performed in a clean room.

Copyright probe, raids stoke fear in Russian IT

Russia's tech community has expressed alarm over raids on web company Nginx, one of the country's biggest IT success stories, in a copyright probe that its co-founder condemned on Monday as "racketeering".

Investors in cryptocurrency exchange demand founder's body be exhumed

Investors in a cryptocurrency exchange who lost access to tens of millions of dollars when the website's Canadian founder died abruptly, are demanding his body be exhumed to rule out any chance that he faked his own death.

Smart holiday shopping: Avoiding fake reviews and tricky ads

There are lots of bargains online during the holidays, but also plenty of ways to get scammed, even at established outlets like Amazon.

British Airways pilots accept pay agreement to end strikes

Pilots from the BALPA union on Monday accepted a wage agreement with flagship carrier British Airways after months of dispute than included a historic two-day strike in September.


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