Science X Newsletter Thursday, Jan 23

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for January 23, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A design principle for creating selective and robust electrocatalytic interfaces

New phase diagrams of superfluid helium under varying degrees of confinement

Scanning system in sperm may control rate of human evolution

Astronomers investigate physical properties of the galaxy PGC 26218

New cages to trap molecules push boundaries of protein design

Unveiling the biggest and most detailed map of the fly brain yet

Researchers expand microchip capability with new 3-D inductor technology

Team significantly expands the global diversity of large and giant viruses

Keeping lead out of drinking water when switching disinfectants

Canonical sings praises for platform putting Android in the cloud

First space-baked cookies took two hours in experimental oven

Technique reveals whether models of patient risk are accurate

Researchers uncover the genomics of health

Preventing metastasis by stopping cancer cells from making fat

Study reveals two writers penned landmark inscriptions in eighth-century BCE Samaria

Physics news

New phase diagrams of superfluid helium under varying degrees of confinement

Physicists have been studying superfluid 3He under nanoscale confinement for several years now, as this unique liquid presents a rich variety of phases with complex order parameters that can be stabilized. While past studies have gathered many interesting observations, a complete and reliable picture of superfluid 3He under confinement has yet to be attained.

Ghostly particles detected in condensates of light and matter

Bose-condensed quantum fluids are not forever. Such states include superfluids and Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs).

Quantum experiments explore power of light for communications, computing

A team from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has conducted a series of experiments to gain a better understanding of quantum mechanics and pursue advances in quantum networking and quantum computing, which could lead to practical applications in cybersecurity and other areas.

Scientists invent a new method of generating intense short UV vortices

An international group of scientists, including Skoltech Professor Sergey Rykovanov, has found a way to generate intense "twisted" pulses. The vortices discovered by the scientists will help investigate new materials. The results of their study were published in Nature Communications.

Wannier90 program becomes community code in major new release

Wannier functions were first introduced by Gregory Wannier in 1937 as an alternative way of describing the electronic ground state of periodic systems. They were linked to Bloch orbitals, the standard method of describing these ground states, by families of transformations in a continuous space of unitary matrices. Unfortunately, this was linked to a large degree of arbitrariness.

Astronomy & Space news

Astronomers investigate physical properties of the galaxy PGC 26218

By conducting spectroscopic observations, astronomers from China and Spain have investigated physical properties of a nearby lenticular galaxy known as PGC 26218. The new study provides more hints about the origin of starbursts and star formation in this galaxy. Results of the observations were presented in a paper published January 16 on arXiv.org.

First space-baked cookies took two hours in experimental oven

The results are finally in for the first chocolate chip cookie bake-off in space.

New insights about the brightest explosions in the Universe

Swedish and Japanese researchers have, after ten years, found an explanation to the peculiar emission lines seen in one of the brightest supernovae ever observed—SN 2006gy. At the same time they found an explanation for how the supernova arose.

Astronomers detect large amounts of oxygen in ancient star's atmosphere

An international team of astronomers from the University of California San Diego, the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), and the University of Cambridge have detected large amounts of oxygen in the atmosphere of one of the oldest and most elementally depleted stars known—a "primitive star" scientists call J0815+4729.

OSIRIS-REx completes closest flyover of sample site nightingale

Preliminary results indicate that NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully executed a 0.4-mile (620-m) flyover of site Nightingale yesterday as part of the mission's Reconnaissance B phase activities. Nightingale, OSIRIS-REx's primary sample collection site, is located within a crater high in asteroid Bennu's northern hemisphere.

Second space data highway satellite set to beam

The second satellite in the European Data Relay System has reached its intended orbit and completed its in-orbit tests.

Betelgeuse is continues to dim, diminishes to 1.506 magnitude

Betelgeuse keeps getting dimmer, and everyone is wondering what exactly that means. The star will go supernova at the end of its life, but that's not projected to happen for tens of thousands of years or so. So what's causing the dimming?

How NASA's Webb Telescope will continue Spitzer's legacy

As one window to the universe closes, another will open with an even better view. Some of the same planets, stars and galaxies we first saw through the first window will appear in even sharper detail in the one that will soon open.

Technology news

Researchers expand microchip capability with new 3-D inductor technology

Smaller is better when it comes to microchips, researchers said, and by using 3-D components on a standardized 2-D microchip manufacturing platform, developers can use up to 100 times less chip space. A team of engineers has boosted the performance of its previously developed 3-D inductor technology by adding as much as three orders of magnitudes more induction to meet the performance demands of modern electronic devices.

Canonical sings praises for platform putting Android in the cloud

Android is all up in the clouds, just where Canonical thought it could be, in working up its service called Anbox Cloud, announced earlier this week.

Using artificial intelligence to enrich digital maps

A model invented by researchers at MIT and Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) that uses satellite imagery to tag road features in digital maps could help improve GPS navigation.

Predictive touch response mechanism is a step toward a tactile internet

A Tactile Internet is potentially the next phase of the Internet of Things, in which humans can touch and interact with remote or virtual objects while experiencing realistic haptic feedback.

Some hackers take the ransom and run: researchers

Paying off hackers after a ransomware infection could end up being a total loss, according to a study released Thursday which finds some attackers just take the money and run.

Apple will reportedly release a much-cheaper iPhone as early as March

If you want a new iPhone but find the latest lineup too pricey, Apple may have a surprise in store for you.

Nostalgia play: Pricey foldable Motorola Razr goes on presale Jan. 26, at Verizon, Walmart

A sexy phone of yesteryear is about to hit the comeback trail.

German NGO accuses Volvo of diesel emissions cheating

A German environmentalist group said Thursday it had discovered Volvo SUVs emitting massively higher levels of harmful pollutants than legally allowed in the European Union, although Volvo denied cheating.

Intel and Softbank beware. Open source is coming to the chip business

After revolutionizing software, the open-source movement is threatening to do same to the chip industry.

iPhone 12 rumors and leaks: 4 things we expect from Apple in 2020

Even though Apple launched its trio of iPhone 11 models a mere four months ago in September, the rumor mill is already looking across the horizon and speculating about 2020 and the upcoming iPhone 12 (some rumors have already begun for the 2021 iPhones). Keep in mind that we don't know what the new iPhones' official names will be—and Apple has not confirmed anything about them—so we'll go with the iPhone 12 for now. In addition to adding 3-D depth-sensing to its rear cameras and new screen sizes, it's also being speculated that Apple will belatedly include a feature that would make it competitive with its rivals: 5G connectivity.

Skydiving, kayaking, fly fishing: Virtual reality therapy is taking paralyzed veterans to new places

A car wreck in 1983 paralyzed Navy veteran Mike Erbe from the waist down, but he fought to stay positive, stay active. He finished his engineering degree. He got his pilot's license.

Prehistoric microbes valorize carbon dioxide under high pressure to 'green gas'

A completely new kind of bioreactor for the biological production of methane has enabled the use of extremely high pressure levels for the first time—and set new efficiency standards for the conversion of CO2 and H2 into methane. This significant improvement compared with conventional bioreactors is down to billions of microorganisms that only truly come to life under extreme pressure, as well as Austrian company Krajete GmbH, which designed the bioreactor and has now built the first pilot plant for testing the technology. Successful installation required a combination of experience of implementing chemical facilities and biological expertise.

What a bundle of buzzing bees can teach engineers about robotic materials

Gathered inside a small shed in the midst of a peaceful meadow, my colleagues and I are about to flip the switch to start a seemingly mundane procedure: using a motor to shake a wooden board. But underneath this board, we have a swarm of roughly 10,000 honeybees, clinging to each other in a single magnificent pulsing cone.

Protecting wideband RF systems in congested electromagnetic environments

Today's electromagnetic (EM) spectrum is a scarce resource that is becoming increasingly congested and contested as friendly, unfriendly, and neutral entities vie for available spectrum resources at any given time, location, and frequency. Within the Department of Defense (DoD), radio frequency (RF) systems, such as communications networks and radar, must operate within this congested environment and contend with mission-compromising interference from both self- and externally generated signals. A desire to support wideband EM spectrum operations also adds to the burden, as current approaches to mitigating wideband receiver interference are sub-optimal and force compromises around signal sensitivity, bandwidth usage, and system performance. Further, in the case of self-interference, traditional mitigation approaches such as antenna isolation alone are often not sufficient for protecting wideband receivers.

Big Tobacco wants social media influencers to promote its products. Will the platforms stop it?

Big Tobacco likes to stay ahead of the curve—it has to in order to survive. Its fundamental problem is that one in two of its long-term users die from tobacco-related diseases. To hook a new generation into addiction, it has to try every advertising and marketing trick in its playbook.

'Magic' gloves let acclaimed Brazilian pianist play again

A few days before Christmas, renowned pianist João Carlos Martins summoned his friends to a Sao Paulo bar so he could show off the best gift he'd received in years: a new pair of bionic gloves that are letting the 79-year-old play with both hands for the first time in more than two decades.

The easy route the easy way: New chip calculates the shortest distance in an instant

How would you go about returning books to the correct shelves in a large library with the least amount of walking? How would you determine the shortest route for a truck that has to deliver many packages to multiple cities? These are some examples of the "traveling salesman problem," a type of "combinatorial optimization" problem, which frequently arises in everyday situations. Solving the traveling salesman problem involves searching for the most efficient of all possible routes. To do this easily, we require the help of low-power, high-performance artificial intelligence.

Tinder unveils 'panic button' for emergency response

Tinder announced Thursday that US users would soon have a "panic button" to alert authorities to potentially dangerous situations as part of a stepped up safety initiative by the popular dating app.

Dutch foundation launches 'Dieselgate' action against VW in France

A Dutch foundation said Thursday it had launched a "joint action" in France against carmaker Volkswagen as part of a European bid for damages for millions of car owners duped in an emissions cheating scheme.

Xerox nominates 11 to replace HP board

Xerox will nominate 11 people to replace HP's board, a company that it is targeting for a takeover.

TikTok inks music deal as it sets up shop in California

TikTok on Thursday licensed a catalogue of independent music as it worked to build on the momentum of the social networking app specializing in video snippets.

Waymo self-driving minivans take to more US roads

Alphabet's self-driving vehicle unit Waymo is expanding testing to more regions of the United States to explore "new transportation solutions."

New CEO stands by 737 MAX, eyeing reset at troubled Boeing

Boeing Chief Executive David Calhoun sought to pivot from a bruising period of crisis and scandal on Wednesday, pledging a renewed commitment to safety and transparency and endorsing the long-term viability of the 737 MAX plane.

VW in Canada ordered to pay CAN$196.5 mn over emissions scandal

A court in Toronto on Wednesday ordered Volkswagen to pay a fine of Can$196.5 million (US$150 million) after the automaker pleaded guilty to violating environmental laws in the emissions cheating scandal.

A new battleground in the web browser wars: Privacy

Google announced a massive shift last week in how it handles cookies, those pesky digital trackers that chase us around the internet and serve up targeted ads that are both creepy yet eerily precise reflections of our wants. The search giant, which just helped Alphabet Inc. surpass a $1 trillion valuation, said it will eventually stop supporting third-party cookies in its ubiquitous Chrome browser.

Flying the safer skies

In Atlanta, where the world's busiest airport fields thousands of flights each day, applied linguistics professor Eric Friginal is working to improve communication and safety in global travel. Friginal recently co-authored "English in Global Aviation" with his former student Jennifer Roberts, now an aviation English specialist at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., and aviation expert Elizabeth Mathews. Here, he explains how language and communication affect flight safety worldwide.

American Airlines reports higher profits despite MAX hit

American Airlines reported a jump in fourth-quarter profits on Thursday due to continued strong consumer demand that offset the hit from the grounding of Boeing's 737 MAX jets.

Strong flying demand cushions MAX earnings hit at US carriers

Continued strong demand for travel boosted airline earnings Thursday even as US carriers struggle with the grinding Boeing 737 MAX crisis that has clouded their outlook.


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