Science X Newsletter Thursday, Dec 19

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for December 19, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Randpay: a technology for blockchain micropayments that requires a recipient's consent

For Canadian researcher, it's a microscopic Christmas

Mimicking enzymes, chemists produce large, useful carbon rings

Mitonuclear interactions in the control of life history

WISE1013+6112 is one of the most luminous infrared galaxies, study finds

Researchers develop new materials theory relevant to ultrafast electronics, batteries and more

Smelly, poisonous molecule may be a sure-fire sign of extraterrestrial life

A platform to prepare fluorescently tagged proteins and simulate their native environment

Robot experiment shows people trust robots more when robots explain what they are doing

Iron selenide quantum dots for in vivo multiphoton biomedical imaging

The meaning of emotion: Cultural and biological evolution impact how humans feel feelings

Fermi mission links nearby pulsar's gamma-ray 'halo' to antimatter puzzle

Psychiatrists most likely to speed while cardiologists most likely to drive luxury cars: study

CBT for social anxiety may have a protective effect on cells

'Inconsistent and misleading' password meters could increase risk of cyber attacks

Physics news

For Canadian researcher, it's a microscopic Christmas

There was Tiny Tim, and then the Little Drummer Boy—but they had nothing on the microscopic gingerbread house believed to be the smallest in the world and unveiled Wednesday by a Canadian researcher.

Researchers develop new materials theory relevant to ultrafast electronics, batteries and more

Phase transitions have long been of crucial importance to scientific research. The change from water to ice or steam is a simple example. A phase transition important to pioneering research today is that from metal to insulator in materials referred to as "correlated oxides." Scientists have reaped many insights into phenomena like superconductivity and magnetism by studying what happens when a correlated oxide that conducts electricity with little or no resistance (metallike) changes to one that does not (insulator) as a result of changes in temperature, pressure, or other external fields.

On-chip light source produces versatile range of wavelengths

Researchers have designed a new chip-integrated light source that can transform infrared wavelengths into visible wavelengths, which have been difficult to produce with technology based on silicon chips. This flexible approach to on-chip light generation is poised to enable highly miniaturized photonic instrumentation that is easy to manufacture and rugged enough to use outside the lab.

Physicists determine the barely-measurable property entropy for the first time in complex plasmas

Since the end of the 19th century, physicists have known that the transfer of energy from one body to another is associated with entropy. It quickly became clear that this quantity is of fundamental importance, and so began its triumphant rise as a useful theoretical quantity in physics, chemistry and engineering. However, it is often very difficult to measure. Professor Dietmar Block and Frank Wieben of Kiel University (CAU) have now succeeded in measuring entropy in complex plasmas, as they reported recently in the renowned scientific journal Physical Review Letters. In a system of charged microparticles within this ionized gas, the researchers were able to measure all positions and velocities of the particles simultaneously. In this way, they were able to determine the entropy, as it was already described theoretically by the physicist Ludwig Boltzmann around 1880.

Researchers report MRI on the atomic scale

Researchers at QuTech, a collaboration of TU Delft and TNO, have developed a new magnetic quantum sensing technology that can image samples with atomic-scale resolution. It opens the door towards imaging individual molecules, like proteins and other complex systems, atom by atom. The team reports on their results in Nature on the 18th of December.

New method captures real-time movement of millions of molecules in 3-D

The human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, wages war in our bodies using a strategy evolved over millions of years that turns our own cellular machines against themselves. Despite massive strides in understanding the disease, there are still important gaps. For years, scientists at the University of Utah wished there was a way to visualize how the virus and its molecules interact with human cells in real time. So, a research group developed one.

Ultrashort X-ray technique to probe conditions found at the heart of planets

Combining powerful lasers and bright X-rays, Imperial and STFC researchers have demonstrated a technique that will allow new extreme experiments.

Researchers directly measure 'Cheerios effect' forces for the first time

There's an interesting fluid dynamics phenomenon that happens every morning in millions of cereal bowls. When there are just a few bits of cereal left floating on top of the milk, they tend to cluster together in the middle or around the edges of the bowl, rather than dispersing across the surface.

Novel PPPL invention could improve the efficiency of car and truck engines while reducing pollutants

When it comes to car and truck engines, not much has changed since Nikolaus Otto invented the modern internal combustion engine in 1876. But the internal combustion engine could, at least theoretically, be in for a big change.

First intrinsic magnetic topological insulator discovered

The so-called topological insulators are those materials that are insulators in bulk, i.e., those that do not allow electric currents in their volume, but that are conductors on their surfaces. Unlike the usual conductors, that is, metals, the electric current circulating in a topological insulator does not suffer any loss of energy. This property opens great possibilities for application in electronics, since it would enable the fabrication of more efficient, faster and low-energy consumption devices. This is an objective as desirable as it is necessary in the current scenario of rapid advance of energy demand worldwide, which threatens our environment. For that very reason, the discovery of topological insulators about a decade ago caused a global research boom in the fields of nanotechnology and condensed matter physics.

Improving efficiency, effectiveness of security X-ray technology

The smuggling of contraband, such as explosives and drugs, is a major threat in airport security. These risks have increased in modern times with the uptick in parcel delivery, but security inspection methods have not seen any significant improvements.

Fluorescence spectroscopy helps to evaluate meat quality

Scientists of Sechenov University with colleagues from Australia have proposed a quicker and cheaper way to assess meat quality. It is based on exposing a small sample to UV light and measuring the spectrum of emission. The method proved to be precise in the classification of meat into standard quality categories. The description of the method and the results of the work were published in Journal of Biophotonics.

Astronomy & Space news

WISE1013+6112 is one of the most luminous infrared galaxies, study finds

Using the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), astronomers have investigated the infrared galaxy WISE J101326.25+611220.1 (or WISE1013+6112 for short). The researchers report that WISE1013+6112 is one of the most luminous infrared galaxies known to date. The finding is reported in a paper published December 12 on arXiv.org.

Smelly, poisonous molecule may be a sure-fire sign of extraterrestrial life

Phosphine is among the stinkiest, most toxic gases on Earth, found in some of the foulest of places, including penguin dung heaps, the depths of swamps and bogs, and even in the bowels of some badgers and fish. This putrid "swamp gas" is also highly flammable and reactive with particles in our atmosphere.

Fermi mission links nearby pulsar's gamma-ray 'halo' to antimatter puzzle

NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has discovered a faint but sprawling glow of high-energy light around a nearby pulsar. If visible to the human eye, this gamma-ray "halo" would appear about 40 times bigger in the sky than a full Moon. This structure may provide the solution to a long-standing mystery about the amount of antimatter in our neighborhood.

ESO observations reveal black holes' breakfast at the cosmic dawn

Astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope have observed reservoirs of cool gas around some of the earliest galaxies in the Universe. These gas halos are the perfect food for supermassive black holes at the centre of these galaxies, which are now seen as they were over 12.5 billion years ago. This food storage might explain how these cosmic monsters grew so fast during a period in the Universe's history known as the Cosmic Dawn.

Asteroid collisions trigger cascading formation of subfamilies, study concludes

Billions of years ago, asteroid collisions resulted in the ejection of fragments hundreds of kilometers across and sharing similar orbits. The resulting groups are known as asteroid families.

The 'cores' of massive galaxies had already formed 1.5 billion years after the Big Bang

A distant galaxy more massive than our Milky Way—with more than a trillion stars—has revealed that the 'cores' of massive galaxies in the Universe had formed already 1.5 billion years after the Big Bang, about 1 billion years earlier than previous measurements revealed.

'Cotton candy' planet mysteries unravel in new Hubble observations

"Super-Puffs" may sound like a new breakfast cereal. But it's actually the nickname for a unique and rare class of young exoplanets that have the density of cotton candy. Nothing like them exists in our solar system.

Groundbreaking astronaut glove for exploring the moon and Mars

NTNU students have developed a smart glove for astronauts that can be used while exploring other planets. NASA partners recently conducted successful testing of the glove at the Haughton Mars Project research station.

Ap­proach to make quicker and more ex­act ana­lyses of fire­ball ob­ser­va­tions

There is not enough time for more close study of all fireballs observed in the sky. The observation of a bright phenomenon reveals that a meteoroid has entered the atmosphere from space, but does any part of it end up on Earth? Only those with the survived terminal mass will reach the earth, but unfortunately many of them remain undiscovered.

A real-life deluminator for spotting exoplanets by reflected starlight

Perhaps you remember the opening scene of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" that took place on Privet Drive. A bearded man pulled a mysterious device, called a deluminator, from his dark robe and one by one the lights from the street lamps flew into it.

Technology news

Randpay: a technology for blockchain micropayments that requires a recipient's consent

Two researchers at Emercoin, a decentralized peer-to-peer (p2p) network providing secure blockchain business services, have recently developed a new technology called Randpay that only allows users to complete payments and transactions with a recipient's consent. Using this new technology, presented in a paper pre-published on arXiv, users can also safely and easily micropay specific data values derived from sensors, individual stock quotes, downloaded pictures, search engine results, road tolls and other sources.

Robot experiment shows people trust robots more when robots explain what they are doing

A team of researchers from the University of California Los Angeles and the California Institute of Technology has found via experimentation that humans tend to trust robots more when they communicate what they are doing. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes programming a robot to report what it was doing in different ways and then showed it in action to volunteers.

'Inconsistent and misleading' password meters could increase risk of cyber attacks

Password meters are frequently made available to help users secure their personal data against the threats posed by cyber criminals.

Using innovative 3-D printing method, researchers reproduce millimeter-tall Michelangelo's David

Researchers in Zurich have reproduced Michelangelo's David as a miniature in metal. Their achievement highlights the potential of a special 3-D printing method developed at ETH.

New aqueous lithium-ion battery improves safety without sacrificing performance

As the lithium-ion batteries that power most phones, laptops, and electric vehicles become increasingly fast-charging and high-performing, they also grow increasingly expensive and flammable.

Model beats Wall Street analysts in forecasting business financials

Knowing a company's true sales can help determine its value. Investors, for instance, often employ financial analysts to predict a company's upcoming earnings using various public data, computational tools, and their own intuition. Now MIT researchers have developed an automated model that significantly outperforms humans in predicting business sales using very limited, "noisy" data.

Open-source system securing software updates 'graduates' to protect leading cloud services

The Update Framework (TUF), an open-source technology that secures software update systems, has become the first specification project to graduate from the Linux Foundation's Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). A specification—common examples of which are HTML and HTTP—allows different implementers to create core functionality in a common, precisely defined way to solve a task. Justin Cappos, lead of the TUF project and an associate professor of computer science and engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering, is also the first academic researcher to lead a project that has graduated from the CNCF.

Eight-year-old is highest paid YouTuber, earns $26 million in year

Eight-year-old Ryan Kaji earned $26 million in 2019 on his YouTube channel, making him the highest-paid creator on the platform, according to a list published Wednesday by Forbes magazine.

China targets tech giants in app privacy crackdown

Chinese tech companies including social media giant Tencent were ordered by regulators on Thursday to clean up how their apps handle user information or face possible penalties.

Uber to pay $4.4 million to end federal sex harassment probe

Uber Technologies Inc. will establish a $4.4 million fund to settle a federal investigation into allegations that the San Francisco company allowed a rampant culture of sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Wednesday.

Toyota's humanoid duplicates movements in robotic mobility

Toyota Motor Corp.'s upgraded version of the human-shaped robot T-HR3 now has faster and smoother finger movements because the wearable remote-control device has become lighter and easier to use.

EU court boost for activist in Facebook data transfer fight

EU regulators must make more effort to stop tech companies from transferring data to countries with weaker data-protection standards, an advisor to the European Union's top court said Thursday. It's the latest in a lengthy and complex legal case involving an Austrian privacy campaigner and Facebook.

Free of heavy metals, new battery design could alleviate environmental concerns

Today, IBM Research is building on a long history of materials science innovation to unveil a new battery discovery. This new research could help eliminate the need for heavy metals in battery production and transform the long-term sustainability of many elements of our energy infrastructure.

NASA's X-59 quiet supersonic research aircraft cleared for final assembly

NASA's first large scale, piloted X-plane in more than three decades is cleared for final assembly and integration of its systems following a major project review by senior managers held Thursday at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

These apps were the most-downloaded of the decade

As the decade comes to a close, there are mobile apps for just above every time of activity or interest. If you have a smartphone, you certainly have at least a few apps on it.

Facebook's ad delivery system still discriminates by race, gender, age

In settling five different lawsuits at once, Facebook earlier this year promised to change the way it manages the advertisements for housing, employment, and credit that run on its platform. Advertisers would no longer be able to target an audience by gender, race, or age, in order to prevent against discrimination of legally protected groups.

Uncomfortably sloped toilet designed to flush out procrastinating employees

That's one way to get a handle on employees procrastinating in the bathroom.

Updated Standard Scenarios Outlook models possible futures for US electricity sector

Like any system of moving parts, the U.S. electricity sector maintains a delicate balance. Any shift in the variety of factors comprising it—whether technology, policy, or market changes—has the potential to steer its future direction.

Brainwave devices can leak sensitive medical conditions and personal information

Brain-computer interfaces are rapidly gaining popularity in consumer markets, especially in the gaming industry. With these devices, people can control their computers using their thoughts.

This 'lemon' could help machine learning create better drugs

One of the challenges in using machine learning for drug development is to create a process for the computer to extract needed information from a pool of data points. Drug scientists must pull biological data and train the software to understand how a typical human body will interact with the combinations that come together to form a medication.

The Internet of Things by satellite will become increasingly accessible

For some years now, the Internet of Things (IoT) has been a constantly evolving reality. The possibility that machines (nodes) can communicate with each other has paved the way for applications that promise to have a profound impact on our lives. They include smart farming, home automation and communication between vehicles.

Breakthrough innovation enabling cheaper solar energy production is one step closer to the market

While the need for renewable energy around the world is growing exponentially, Lithuanian and German researchers have come up with a novel solution for developing low-cost solar technology. Material, synthesised by Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) Lithuania scientists, which self-assemble to form a molecular-thick electrode layer, presents a facile way of realising highly efficient perovskite single-junction and tandem solar cells. The licence to produce the material has been purchased by a Japanese company.

Dating app Tinder to move out of parent's home

The popular mobile dating app Tinder will move out on its own next year in a spinoff announced Thursday by corporate parent IAC.

Uber suffers fresh legal setback in Germany

A German court on Thursday barred Uber from offering rides through car hire firms, saying it lacked a licence to do so, in the latest legal setback for the US ride-hailing app.

Facebook bans false information about US census

Facebook on Thursday banned posts or ads that interfere with people taking part in the US census, which will have an online participation option next year for the first time.

Facebook to tackle efforts to interfere with 2020 US census

Facebook plans to clamp down on attempts to use its services to interfere with the 2020 U.S. census, including the posting of misleading information about when and how to participate, who can participate and what happens when people do.

Federal study finds race, gender affect face-scanning tech

A study by a U.S. agency has found that facial recognition technology often performs unevenly based on a person's race, gender or age.

Electric moped, scooter will get riders pumped at CES 2020

Segway-Ninebot will be keen to draw CES show-goers next month over to their new developments in electric transport, namely a brand-new scooter and brand-new moped.

Uber, Lyft to stop Phoenix airport trips over higher fees

Uber and Lyft said they will make good on their threats to stop taking customers to and from the airport in the nation's fifth-largest city, creating confusion next year for travelers used to opening a phone app to catch a ride after Phoenix decided to raise fees on ride-hailing companies.

ECJ says France can't make Airbnb register as estate agent

Online short-term rental platform Airbnb scored a victory against French hoteliers Thursday when the European Court of Justice ruled that the US giant is not an estate agent.

CNET names 2019's top tech products of the year

A ton of new tech came flying at us again in 2019. But weeding out the minor upgrades and the products that aren't ready for prime time from the stuff that's actually worth your hard-earned money is what CNET's all about. Our team kicked the tires on a lot of new products, and a bunch of those ended up in our roundups of the most interesting things. But only the most significant ones got a full review from our writers, editors and tech experts. And of those, only the cream of the crop earned our Editors' Choice.

Review: Hard-hitting 'Life is Strange 2' veers far away from original

"Life is Strange" was never supposed to have a sequel. When Dontnod created the game, the developers imagined it as a standalone project, a one-off. What they didn't anticipate was the success and enormous fan response.

Monkeying about to solve problems

There are countless computer algorithms that simulate biological behavior from leaping frogs, to bat foraging, from cuckoo search to ant colony optimization. They all have something in common, the algorithm behaves like a collective intelligence, taking on the call and response of a shoal of fish or a murmuration of starlings, and all those other patterns in nature. Writing in the International Journal of Swarm Intelligence, a team from India discusses the state of the art in a unique algorithm based on a biological system—the spider monkey.

Trump called Boeing CEO ahead of MAX shutdown: source

President Donald Trump phoned the head of Boeing ahead of the company's announcement on Monday that it was halting production of the 737 MAX, a person familiar with the matter said Thursday.

Senate passes anti-robocalls bill, sending it to Trump

The Senate approved a bill Thursday to crack down on robocalls, sending to President Donald Trump a measure meant to combat a persistent and costly problem for Americans.

With ADIOS, Summit processes celestial data at scale of massive future telescope

For nearly three decades, scientists and engineers across the globe have worked on the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a project focused on designing and building the world's largest radio telescope. Although the SKA will collect enormous amounts of precise astronomical data in record time, scientific breakthroughs will only be possible with systems able to efficiently process that data.


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