Science X Newsletter Friday, Jan 3

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for January 3, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

AVID: a framework to enhance imitation learning in robots

A quantum breakthrough brings a technique from astronomy to the nano-scale

Snake-like proteins can wrangle DNA

Study unveils the nature of young stars near the cometary globule CG 30

First evidence found of tool use by seabirds

Miniaturized, light-adaptive, wireless dosimeters autonomously monitor exposure to electromagnetic radiation

A new mathematical model predicts a knot's stability

Experiments show altruistic behaviors reduce pain

Planetary nebula WR 72 has hydrogen-poor knots, study finds

Know thy mitochondria: Autoimmunity to organelles and their DNA

The case of the elusive Majorana: The so-called 'angel particle' is still a mystery

Sustainable supply of minerals and metals key to a low-carbon energy future

Tests measure solar panel performance beyond established standards

Researchers identify starting point for designing drugs that cure clostridium difficile

First reported occurrence and treatment of spaceflight medical risk 200+ miles above earth

Physics news

A quantum breakthrough brings a technique from astronomy to the nano-scale

Researchers at Columbia University and University of California, San Diego, have introduced a novel "multi-messenger" approach to quantum physics that signifies a technological leap in how scientists can explore quantum materials.

A new mathematical model predicts a knot's stability

In sailing, rock climbing, construction, and any activity requiring the securing of ropes, certain knots are known to be stronger than others. Any seasoned sailor knows, for instance, that one type of knot will secure a sheet to a headsail, while another is better for hitching a boat to a piling.

The case of the elusive Majorana: The so-called 'angel particle' is still a mystery

A 2017 report of the discovery of a particular kind of Majorana fermion—the chiral Majorana fermion, referred to as the "angel particle"—is likely a false alarm, according to new research. Majorana fermions are enigmatic particles that act as their own antiparticle and were first hypothesized to exist in 1937. They are of immense interest to physicists because their unique properties could allow them to be used in the construction of a topological quantum computer.

Researchers advance performance benchmark for quantum computers

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a quantum chemistry simulation benchmark to evaluate the performance of quantum devices and guide the development of applications for future quantum computers.

Field-resolved infrared spectroscopy of biological systems

Scientists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics have developed a unique laser technology for the analysis of the molecular composition of biological samples. It is capable of detecting minimal variations in the chemical make up of organic systems.

Superconductor or not? Exploring the identity crisis of this weird quantum material

Northeastern researchers have used a powerful computer model to probe a puzzling class of copper-based materials that can be turned into superconductors. Their findings offer tantalizing clues for a decades-old mystery, and a step forward for quantum computing.

Astronomy & Space news

Study unveils the nature of young stars near the cometary globule CG 30

Using the High-Resolution Echelle Spectrometer (HIRES), astronomers from Georgia State University (GSU) in Atlanta have investigated the nature of young stars near the cometary globule CG 30. The new study, presented December 20 on arXiv.org, provides important information about the properties of 21 young stars in this area.

Planetary nebula WR 72 has hydrogen-poor knots, study finds

Using the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), astronomers have conducted spectroscopic and imaging observations of the planetary nebula WR 72. They discovered hydrogen-poor knots in the central part of the nebula, which could be helpful in improving knowledge about the nature of this object. The finding is detailed in a paper published December 23 on arXiv.org.

First reported occurrence and treatment of spaceflight medical risk 200+ miles above earth

Serena Auñón-Chancellor, M.D., M.P.H., Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine's branch campus in Baton Rouge, is the lead author of a paper describing a previously unrecognized risk of spaceflight discovered during a study of astronauts involved in long-duration missions. The paper details a case of stagnant blood flow resulting in a clot in the internal jugular vein of an astronaut stationed on the International Space Station. The paper is published in the January 2, 2020 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Scientists pin down timing of lunar dynamo's demise

A conventional compass would be of little use on the moon, which today lacks a global magnetic field.

Research sheds light on the moon's dark craters

The next wave of robots to fly to Mars in 2020 could offer scientists an unprecedented understanding of Earth's closest neighboring planet. But there are still mysteries to be solved much closer to home, on Earth's own moon.

Scientists find evidence that Venus has active volcanoes

New research led by Universities Space Research Association (USRA) and published today in Science Advances shows that lava flows on Venus may be only a few years old, suggesting that Venus could be volcanically active today—making it the only planet in our solar system, other than Earth, with recent eruptions.

Alien life is out there, but our theories are probably steering us away from it

If we discovered evidence of alien life, would we even realize it? Life on other planets could be so different from what we're used to that we might not recognize any biological signatures that it produces.

Looking back at a New Horizons New Year's to remember

Safe to say, 2020 came in more quietly for many members of the New Horizons mission team than did 2019.

Technology news

AVID: a framework to enhance imitation learning in robots

In recent years, research teams worldwide have been using reinforcement learning (RL) to teach robots how to complete a variety of tasks. Training these algorithms, however, can be very challenging, as it also requires substantial human efforts in properly defining the tasks that the robot is to complete.

Tests measure solar panel performance beyond established standards

Photovoltaics used in solar panels are sensitive to environmental factors and often suffer degradation over time. International Electrotechnical Commission standards for accelerated degradation do not include field tests. While some testing facilities have made data available, much of the data needed to make business decisions for PV is not available publicly.

Bosch: Will its lidar tech turn a corner for autonomous driving?

Lidar can be the third eye and an essential component for safe driving in your automated car's future. That is the word from Bosch. They want the world to know that two is not ideal company; three is better company. Cameras and radar alone don't cut it.

Supercharging tomorrow: Team develops world's most efficient lithium-sulfur battery

Imagine having access to a battery, which has the potential to power your phone for five continuous days, or enable an electric vehicle to drive more than 1000km without needing to "refuel".

Researchers develop new open-source system to manage and share complex datasets

Data is often at the heart of science—researchers track velocities, measure light coming from stars, analyze heart rates and cholesterol levels and scan the human brain for electrical impulses.

BP looks to ORNL, ADIOS to help rein in data

Researchers across the scientific spectrum crave data, as it is essential to understanding the natural world and, by extension, accelerating scientific progress. Lately, however, the tools of scientific endeavor have become so powerful that the amount of data obtained from experiments and observations is often unwieldy.

Ex-Googler seeking office urges tech firm regulation

A former Google executive running for US Senate called Thursday for tough regulation of tech titans, accusing the internet giant of straying from its "don't be evil" path.

Is your iPhone too bright? You ought to kick off 2020 in dark mode

In 2019, black was the new black. No, not California's power outages or the mood in your Facebook feed. We're talking about the buzzy new feature dark mode.

AI in 2020 and beyond: create a digital replica of your aging parent or yourself

You're racing to the airport, unaware there's a wreck on the highway ahead.

Your smart TV is spying on you. Here are step-by-step instructions to stop it

Those smart TVs that sold for unheard of low prices over the holidays come with a catch. The price is super low, but the manufacturers get to monitor what you're watching and report back to third parties, for a fee.

3 crashes, 3 deaths raise questions about Tesla's Autopilot

Three crashes involving Teslas that killed three people have increased scrutiny of the company's Autopilot driving system just months before CEO Elon Musk has planned to put fully self-driving cars on the streets.

Connecting energy production and storage

The good news is that renewables account for nearly 50 percent of electricity generated in Germany. The bad news is that they lack the flexibility to adapt to the day's fluctuating electricity demand. They only furnish electrical energy when the wind blows or the sun shines. In a perfect world, engineers would find a way to store the vast amounts of energy generated by renewables and coordinate power production and storage. And that is exactly what ES-FLEX-INFRA, a joint project led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Algorithms and Scientific Computing SCAI, aims to do.

Biodegradable bridges: Living structures that respond to the environment

Researchers are looking into new materials to lay the foundations for living structures that respond to their environment. They aim to create self-sustaining infrastructures that can monitor their condition and even repair themselves.

People are too trusting of virtual assistants

Attributing lifelike qualities to virtual assistants could cause people to reveal more personal information to the companies that own them than they otherwise would, according to a new study.

3-D printing chocolate: Bespoke confectionery gets an innovation

Based in the Pennovation Center, Cocoa Press is the fledgling 3D printing operation of Evan Weinstein, a May 2019 graduate and a graduate student in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. As a high school student at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, Weinstein brainstormed an innovative approach to the chocolate industry. "I felt the technology had so much potential, and I wanted to challenge myself to do something innovative." Why chocolate, though? "I think there's something about food that people really connect to, and especially chocolate."

Declining renewable costs drive focus on energy storage

An oft-repeated refrain—the sun doesn't always shine, and the wind doesn't always blow—is sometimes seen as an impediment to renewable energy. But it's also an impetus toward discovering the best ways to store that energy until it's needed.

Tesla 2019 sales hit goals, rise over 50% from previous year

Tesla's global deliveries rose more than 50% last year, meaning the company surpassed the low end of its sales goals for 2019.

Google AI system can surpass human experts in spotting breast cancer, study finds

Google's artificial intelligence system can identify breast cancer more accurately than radiologists, according to a study published in Nature on Wednesday.

How to spot deceptive drug injury ads like the HIV-related videos Facebook just disabled

Some ads can be more than misleading—they can put your health at risk.

E-car sales in Norway reach new record high

Sales of new electric cars in Norway hit a record high last year, sector experts said Friday, reaching 42.4 percent of all nearly-registered cars in 2019, mostly thanks to strong demand for Tesla's Model 3.

GM reports lower 4Q sales, inventories after strike

General Motors reported lower fourth-quarter car sales Friday as a lengthy US worker strike continued to pinch auto inventories.


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