Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Jul 1

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for July 1, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A hyperdimensional computing system that performs all core computations in-memory

Investigating the interplay between axions and dark photons in the early universe

An AI painter that creates portraits based on the traits of human subjects

Exotic never before seen particle discovered at CERN

Quantum fluctuations can jiggle objects on the human scale

Materials scientists drill down to vulnerabilities involved in human tooth decay

First exposed planetary core discovered allows glimpse inside other worlds

Coronae of supermassive black holes may be the hidden sources of mysterious cosmic neutrinos seen on Earth

Programming van der Waals interactions with complex symmetries into microparticles using liquid crystallinity

Disney makes face swapping more believable

Coordinating complex behaviors between hundreds of robots

New Zealand's ancient monster penguins had northern hemisphere doppelgangers

New mathematical idea reins in AI bias towards making unethical and costly commercial choices

Astronomers see unexpected molecule in exoplanet atmosphere

Findings weaken notion that size equals strength for neural connections

Physics news

Investigating the interplay between axions and dark photons in the early universe

Axions and dark photons are two of the most promising types of particles for unveiling new physics. The axion scalar field explains the absence of an electric dipole moment for the neutron, while the dark photon resembles regular photons responsible for electromagnetism, but it is massive and much more weakly coupled.

Exotic never before seen particle discovered at CERN

The Large Hadron Collider Beauty (LHCb) project has observed an exotic particle made up of four charm quarks for the first time.

Quantum fluctuations can jiggle objects on the human scale

The universe, as seen through the lens of quantum mechanics, is a noisy, crackling space where particles blink constantly in and out of existence, creating a background of quantum noise whose effects are normally far too subtle to detect in everyday objects.

Researchers develop computational model to build better capacitors

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a computational model that helps users understand how changes in the nanostructure of materials affect their conductivity—with the goal of informing the development of new energy storage devices for a wide range of electronics.

Researchers building a harder diamond, called pentadiamonds

Researchers at the University of Tsukuba used computer calculations to design a new carbon-based material even harder than diamond. This structure, dubbed "pentadiamond" by its creators, may be useful for replacing current synthetic diamonds in difficult cutting manufacturing tasks.

Laser takes pictures of electrons in crystals

Microscopes of visible light allow scientists to see tiny objects such living cells. Yet, they cannot discern how electrons are distributed among atoms in solids. Now, researchers with Prof. Eleftherios Goulielmakis of the Extreme Photonics Labs at the University of Rostock and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany, along with coworkers of the Institute of Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, have developed a new type of a light microscope, called the Picoscope, that overcomes this limitation.

Tabletop quantum experiment could detect gravitational waves

Predicted by Einstein's general theory of relativity, gravitational waves are ripples in space-time generated by certain movements of massive objects. They are important to study because they allow us to detect events in the universe that would otherwise leave little or no observable light, like black hole collisions.

Multi-focal Fibonacci sieve advances single-shot multi-planar wavefront measurement

Wavefront measurement has various applications in high power amplifiers, adaptive optical system, and phase microscopy. Among methods for high-precision wavefront measurement, the coherent diffraction imaging (CDI) is a technique that employs iterative algorithms to reconstruct the phase and amplitude information of the test object from its diffraction intensities. However, it requires multiple exposures of intensity images via mechanical and electrical scanning. Although some researchers have used a random phase mask to modulate the wavefront of the laser beam to simultaneously capture required images, the setup cannot be used for X-rays.

Energy-saving servers: Data storage 2.0

Whether it's sending the grandparents a few pictures of the kids, streaming a movie or music, or surfing the Internet for hours, the volume of data our society generates is increasing all the time. But this comes at a price, since storing data consumes huge amounts of energy. Assuming that data volumes continue to grow in future, the related energy consumption will also increase by several orders of magnitude. For example, it is predicted that energy consumption in the IT sector will rise to ten petawatt-hours, or ten trillion kilowatt-hours, by 2030. This would be equivalent to around half of the electricity produced worldwide.

Astronomy and Space news

First exposed planetary core discovered allows glimpse inside other worlds

The surviving core of a gas giant has been discovered orbiting a distant star by University of Warwick astronomers, offering an unprecedented glimpse into the interior of a planet.

Coronae of supermassive black holes may be the hidden sources of mysterious cosmic neutrinos seen on Earth

The origin of high-energy cosmic neutrinos observed by the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, whose detector is buried deep in the Antarctic ice, is an enigma that has perplexed physicists and astronomers. A new model could help explain the unexpectedly large flux of some of these neutrinos inferred by recent neutrino and gamma-ray data. A paper by Penn State researchers describing the model, which points to the supermassive black holes found at the cores of active galaxies as the sources of these mysterious neutrinos, appears June 30, 2020 in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Astronomers see unexpected molecule in exoplanet atmosphere

SRON-astronomers have found the signature for aluminum oxide (AlO) in the spectrum of exoplanet WASP-43b. This came as a surprise because AlO is expected to stay hidden in the lower atmospheric layers. It is only the second time that astronomers have observed the molecule in an exoplanet's atmosphere. The results are published in Astronomy & Astrophysics on July 1.

A binary star as a cosmic particle accelerator

With a specialized telescope in Namibia a DESY-led team of researchers has proven a certain type of binary star as a new kind of source for very high-energy cosmic gamma-radiation. Eta Carinae is located 7500 lightyears away in the constellation Carina (the ship's keel) in the Southern Sky and, based on the data collected, emits gamma rays with energies all the way up to 400 gigaelectronvolts (GeV), some 100 billion times more than the energy of visible light. The team headed by DESY's Stefan Ohm, Eva Leser and Matthias Füßling is presenting its findings, made at the gamma-ray observatory High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.), in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. An accompanying multimedia animation explains the phenomenon. "With such visualizations we want to make the fascination of research tangible," emphasizes DESY's Director of Astroparticle Physics, Christian Stegmann.

Astronauts complete 2nd spacewalk to swap station batteries (Update)

Astronauts completed their second spacewalk in under a week Wednesday to replace old batteries outside the International Space Station.

Launch of NASA Mars rover delayed again, 2 weeks left to fly

NASA has delayed the launch of its newest Mars rover yet again—to the end of July at the earliest—this time for a rocket issue.

China eyes July 20-25 launch for Mars rover

China's first Mars rover should launch later this month, authorities said Wednesday, as the country races to catch up with the US dominance of space.

Researchers find the origin and the maximum mass of massive black holes

Through simulations of a dying star, a team of theoretical physics researchers have found the evolutionary origin and the maximum mass of black holes which are discovered by the detection of gravitational waves.

Higher concentration of metal in Moon's craters provides new insights to its origin

Life on Earth would not be possible without the Moon; it keeps our planet's axis of rotation stable, which controls seasons and regulates our climate. However, there has been considerable debate over how the Moon was formed. The popular hypothesis contends that the Moon was formed by a Mars-sized body colliding with Earth's upper crust which is poor in metals. But new research suggests the Moon's subsurface is more metal-rich than previously thought, providing new insights that could challenge our understanding of that process.

SpaceX launches Air Force's newest GPS satellite

SpaceX launched the military's newest, most accurate GPS satellite Tuesday after a two-month delay due to the pandemic.

Image: Suitcase-sized asteroid explorer

A view of ESA's smallest future asteroid mission mapping its target body by laser.

Technology news

A hyperdimensional computing system that performs all core computations in-memory

Hyperdimensional computing (HDC) is an emerging computing approach inspired by patterns of neural activity in the human brain. This unique type of computing can allow artificial intelligence systems to retain memories and process new information based on data or scenarios it previously encountered.

An AI painter that creates portraits based on the traits of human subjects

Over the past decade or so, researchers have been developing increasingly advanced artificial intelligence (AI) systems for a wide range of applications. This includes computational techniques that can interact with humans, analyze large quantities of data, identify the most salient parts of texts and much more.

Disney makes face swapping more believable

It may sound contradictory, but deepfakes are becoming more real.

Coordinating complex behaviors between hundreds of robots

In one of the more memorable scenes from the 2002 blockbuster film Minority Report, Tom Cruise is forced to hide from a swarm of spider-like robots scouring a towering apartment complex. While most viewers are likely transfixed by the small, agile bloodhound replacements, a computer engineer might marvel instead at their elegant control system.

Using your phone's microphone to track possible COVID-19 exposure

Signals sent and received from cell phone microphones and speakers could help warn people when they have been near someone who has contracted COVID-19, researchers say.

A small, wide-field-of-view camera built based on fish eyes

A team of researchers affiliated with multiple institutions in South Korea and one from the U.S. has built a small, wide-field-of-view camera based on the structure of fish eyes. In their paper published in the journal Nature Electronics, the group describes their study of aquatic eyes in their search for a way to make smaller and lighter wide-field-of-view cameras and the development of the camera they made based on their findings.

New system combines smartphone videos to create 4-D visualizations

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have demonstrated that they can combine iPhone videos shot "in the wild" by separate cameras to create 4-D visualizations that allow viewers to watch action from various angles, or even erase people or objects that temporarily block sight lines.

Jellyfish-inspired soft robots can outswim their natural counterparts

Engineering researchers at North Carolina State University and Temple University have developed soft robots inspired by jellyfish that can outswim their real-life counterparts. More practically, the new jellyfish-bots highlight a technique that uses pre-stressed polymers to make soft robots more powerful.

Facebook boots far-right network and boosts original news

Facebook disrupted a "violent US-based anti-government network" and vowed to give original news priority as it remained under fire for what it takes down and lets stay.

Slow takeoff for aviation in Europe

After coronavirus lockdowns that brought civil aviation to nearly a complete halt air traffic is slowly resuming in Europe as borders reopen, but tens of thousands of jobs are still hanging in the balance.

How have people responded to COVID-19 restrictions around the world?

Public camera footage of how people have responded so far to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines in spaces such as tourist spots and busy street corners could help inform new policies as the pandemic progresses.

Innovation enhances digital privacy by hiding images from the prying eyes of AI

In one second, the human eye can only scan through a few photographs. Computers, on the other hand, are capable of performing billions of calculations in the same amount of time. With the explosion of social media, images have become the new social currency on the Internet.

UK regulator urges new rules to rein in Google, Facebook

British regulators want new rules to foster competition in digital advertising markets and rein in the industry's dominant players, Google and Facebook.

Mobile robot cleaner takes production hygiene to a higher level

Production lines and hygiene zones have to be spotlessly clean. And absolute cleanliness is critical wherever food is processed and medical instruments are handled. Now Fraunhofer researchers have come up with a mobile cleaning device that sanitizes equipment and production spaces to standards in a reproducible way. Equipped with self-learning and autonomous motility systems, this robot automatically detects the degree of fouling and selects the appropriate cleaning procedure.

Multi-sensor system for the precise and efficient inspection of roads, railways and similar assets

Critical infrastructure such as transport networks are the lifelines of modern society. Extreme weather events may cause damage to railway tracks, roads, tunnels and bridges. The Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques (IPM) has developed a novel 3-D laser scanner that can be used to closely monitor transport infrastructure and plan maintenance work in a timely manner. The multispectral sensor system measures surface structures as well as the surface moisture on objects, all in a single inspection process.

Zoom got big fast. Then videobombers made it rework security

intrusive "videobombers" barged into private meetings or just spied on intimate conversations.

Ad boycott strikes at heart of Facebook's business model

Adidas, Puma, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Unilever, Ford... not a day goes by without another big brand pulling ads from Facebook and other social media, a campaign that is weakening advertising-dependent sites but whose ultimate impact remains uncertain.

Tesla becomes richest auto group as Detroit giants see sales drop

Tesla engineered its latest coup Wednesday, becoming the world's richest car company while two of Detroit's old guard, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler, reported sagging auto sales amid the coronavirus pandemic.

State aid helps French car sales bounce back from virus pain

French car sales recovered to pre-coronavirus crisis levels in June, the industry said Wednesday, as consumers took advantage of state-backed incentives.

Wirecard administrator eyes piece-by-piece sell-off

The unprecedented scandal at German payments processor Wirecard could lead to the group being sold off piecemeal, after its insolvency administrator said investors are eyeing profitable business units.

Why companies as diverse as eBay, IKEA, and Mars are increasingly supporting US clean energy policies

My new analysis of companies that seek to buy renewable electricity finds that business is becoming a powerful new ally in the U.S. political battle to stop climate change. Driven by pressure from environmental groups and by the increasingly competitive prices of wind and solar, many companies have pledged to power their operations with clean energy. But the legal and technical complexity of U.S. electricity markets has stalled corporate progress on their clean power goals. This has prompted companies as diverse as eBay, Mars, IKEA and Walmart to push for public policies that expand the generation of renewable energy in the U.S. and make it more accessible through mandates, incentives and other regulations.

Punchdrunk: New venture with Pokemon Go designer offers hope for post-pandemic theatre

Pubs and cinemas may be opening in the UK, but the performing arts sector remains languishing under lockdown and live performance continues to be prohibited. The government's roadmap, published at the end of June, has failed to excite, offering nothing in the way of certainty or, more importantly, money.

Next-generation battery storage delivers affordable, clean energy to communities in Sierra Leone

Researchers from the University of Sheffield are delivering affordable, clean energy to remote communities in Sierra Leone as part of a pioneering new project.

Building a path to extreme-scale computing

High-performance computing (HPC), typically used for solving advanced problems through modeling, simulation, and analysis, is increasingly deployed in scientific and engineering research. In addition to compute-intensive simulations, the demand for applications like Big Data analytics and sophisticated visualizations is also growing rapidly. However, it can be challenging for supercomputer architectures to handle these tasks efficiently.

Using digital twins for knowledge transfer

Gathering with customers and colleagues at meetings, events, workshops and seminars and collaborating with them in person has always been important—but it is not an option for the foreseeable future. The coronavirus pandemic is forcing us to find new ways of working together. The Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO and the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA have already developed solutions to enable remote communication in tomorrow's work scenarios. Cooperation with their partners from industry and research is shifting to the digital Future Work Lab run by the two Stuttgart-based institutes—a solution that crosses boundaries and borders. This new form of connectivity is made possible by digital twins and virtual lab tours.

UN agency cuts airlines some slack on CO2 emissions

The UN agency overseeing international aviation cut the COVID-hit industry some slack this week by modifying a landmark scheme to curb the sector's CO2 emissions.

Virgin Atlantic close to securing rescue deal: source

Virgin Atlantic is "close" to securing a deal to recapitalise the struggling British airline as the coronavirus pandemic slashes demand for air travel, a source told AFP Wednesday.

Walkie, no talkie: Japan city launches pedestrian smartphone ban

A Tokyo suburb on Wednesday imposed Japan's first ban on a habit seen around the world: pedestrians glued to their phone screens while walking, sometimes dangerously oblivious to their surroundings.

Innovative grilling technique improves air quality

Restaurant owners are increasingly turning to fired charcoal grills to prepare meals for customers—but the odors and fumes emitted by these grills are often a source of irritation for nearby residents. The German Environment Agency asked a team of researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics (IBP) to investigate whether the exhaust air treatment systems used in grills actually get the job done and to study ways of preventing pollutant and odor emissions.

American Airlines resumes trying to pack planes as virus cases surge

American Airlines resumed trying to fill its planes to full capacity Wednesday, abandoning some coronavirus precautions and drawing criticism from public health officials as the pandemic runs wild in parts of America.


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