Science X Newsletter Thursday, Jan 30

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for January 30, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

ArguLens: a framework to help developers make sense of usability-related feedback

Heart failure: Researchers make headway against diastolic dysfunction

Researchers create 3-D-printed, sweating robot muscle

Brain's 'GPS system' toggles between present and possible future paths in real time

Astronomers investigate broadband variability of the blazar Markarian 501

Four-dimensional micro-building blocks: Printable, time-related, programmable tools

Astronomers witness the dragging of space-time in stellar cosmic dance

New predatory dinosaur added to Australia's prehistory

Fermented soy products linked to lower risk of death

Meteorites reveal high carbon dioxide levels on early Earth

Emerging organic contaminant levels greatly influenced by stream flows, seasons

Cells' springy coils pump bursts of RNA

Antibiotic-resistance in Tanzania is an environmental problem

Microscopic partners could help plants survive stressful environments

Anti-solar cells: A photovoltaic cell that works at night

Physics news

Researchers combine X-rays and laser light to image sprays

Researchers have developed a new laser-based method that provides an unprecedented view of sprays such as the ones used for liquid fuel combustion in vehicle, ship and plane engines. The technique could provide new insights into these atomizing sprays, which are also used in a variety of industrial processes such as painting and producing food powders and drugs.

Bats inspire detectors to help prevent oil and gas pipe leaks

Engineers have developed a new scanning technique inspired by the natural world that can detect corroding metals in oil and gas pipelines.

Researchers discover a new way to control infrared light

In the 1950s, the field of electronics began to change when the transistor replaced vacuum tubes in computers. The change, which entailed replacing large and slow components with small and fast ones, was a catalyst for the enduring trend of miniaturization in computer design. No such revolution has yet hit the field of infrared optics, which remains reliant on bulky moving parts that preclude building small systems.

Physics of giant bubbles bursts secret of fluid mechanics

A study inspired by street performers making gigantic soap bubbles led to a discovery in fluid mechanics: Mixing different molecular sizes of polymers within a solution increases the ability of a thin film to stretch without breaking.

Super accurate sensor could lead to producing even smaller chips

Electrical engineer Stefanos Andreou built a sensor with an extraordinary accuracy of less than the size of an atom.

Improving aerodynamics during entire flight, not just takeoff and landing

Currently in use on the wings of airplanes are little fins near the leading edge or just upstream of control surfaces to help control the aircraft during takeoff or landing. But these vortex generator vanes and other similar solutions are fixed in place across the entire flight, creating a cruise penalty from the drag. A promising new idea for a device was tested at the University of Illinois that uses an electric spark that can be turned on and off when needed to generate rotating air across the wing for better lift.

Researchers lay foundation for next generation aortic grafts

A new study by researchers at McGill University has measured the dynamic physical properties of the human aorta, laying the foundation for the development of grafts capable of mimicking the native behaviour of the human body's largest artery.

Scientists develop a concept of a hybrid thorium reactor

Russian scientists have proposed a concept of a thorium hybrid reactor in that obtains additional neutrons using high-temperature plasma held in a long magnetic trap. This project was applied in close collaboration between Tomsk Polytechnic University, All-Russian Scientific Research Institute Of Technical Physics (VNIITF), and Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics of SB RAS. The proposed thorium hybrid reactor is distinguished from today's nuclear reactors by moderate power, relatively compact size, high operational safety, and a low level of radioactive waste.

Astronomy & Space news

Astronomers investigate broadband variability of the blazar Markarian 501

An international team of astronomers has studied variable broadband emission of the gamma-ray blazar Markarian 501 during a period of its high X-ray activity. The research, published January 21 on the arXiv preprint server, could lend better understanding of emission mechanisms in blazars.

Astronomers witness the dragging of space-time in stellar cosmic dance

An international team of astrophysicists led by Australian Professor Matthew Bailes, from the ARC Centre of Excellence of Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav), has shown exciting new evidence for 'frame-dragging'—how the spinning of a celestial body twists space and time—after tracking the orbit of an exotic stellar pair for almost two decades. The data, which is further evidence for Einstein's theory of General Relativity, is published today the journal Science.

Solar Orbiter mission to track the sun's active regions, improve space weather prediction

Our understanding of space weather, its origin on the sun, and its progression and threat to Earth, comes with critical gaps—gaps that the European Space Agency's Solar Orbiter hopes to help fill after its upcoming launch.

Two satellites just avoided a head-on smash: How close did they come to disaster?

It appears we have missed another close call between two satellites—but how close did we really come to a catastrophic event in space?

Technology news

ArguLens: a framework to help developers make sense of usability-related feedback

Evaluating the usability of open-source software (OSS), software that is made freely available to developers worldwide, generally entails analyzing the feedback and comments of those who used it. Processing and understanding the feedback provided in user discussions, however, can be challenging due to the vast number of comments online, and because they often present opposing opinions.

Researchers create 3-D-printed, sweating robot muscle

Just when it seemed like robots couldn't get any cooler, Cornell researchers have created a soft robot muscle that can regulate its temperature through sweating.

Four-dimensional micro-building blocks: Printable, time-related, programmable tools

Four-dimensional (4-D) printing is based on merging multimaterial printing, reinforcement patterns or micro and nanofibrous additives as time-related programmable tools, to achieve desired shape reconfigurations. However, the existing programming approaches still follow an origami design principle to generate reconfigurable structures using self-folding and stacked 2-D materials at small scales. In a new report on Science Advances, T. Y. Huang and a team of interdisciplinary, international researchers in the U.S. and China proposed a programmable modular design to directly construct 3-D reconfigurable microstructures capable of 3-D-to-3-D transformations via 4-D micro-building block assembly.

Anti-solar cells: A photovoltaic cell that works at night

What if solar cells worked at night? That's no joke, according to Jeremy Munday, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC Davis. In fact, a specially designed photovoltaic cell could generate up to 50 watts of power per square meter under ideal conditions at night, about a quarter of what a conventional solar panel can generate in daytime, according to a concept paper by Munday and graduate student Tristan Deppe. The article was published in, and featured on the cover of, the January 2020 issue of ACS Photonics.

Rachmaninoff the most innovative composer according to network science

Rachmaninoff, followed by Bach, Brahms and Mendelssohn, was the most innovative of the composers who worked during the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras of music (1700 to 1900) according to a study published in the open access journal EPJ Data Science.

Intel casts third patch to battle MDS Goliath

What does a chip giant gotta do? ZombieLoad won't die and that is not to be allowed. Intel has forced out a third patch, said reports.

Wearable health tech gets efficiency upgrade

North Carolina State University engineers have demonstrated a flexible device that harvests the heat energy from the human body to monitor health. The device surpasses all other flexible harvesters that use body heat as the sole energy source.

Giving cryptocurrency users more bang for their buck

A new cryptocurrency-routing scheme co-invented by MIT researchers can boost the efficiency—and, ultimately, profits—of certain networks designed to speed up notoriously slow blockchain transactions.

Computer servers now able to retrieve data much faster

Computer scientists at the University of Waterloo have found a novel approach that significantly improves the storage efficiency and output speed of computer systems.

Samsung Electronics says Q4 net profit slumps 38%

The world's biggest smartphone maker, Samsung Electronics, reported a slump in fourth-quarter net profits on Thursday, blaming weakening demand in key products and falling chip prices.

Mitsubishi Motors denies emissions test fraud after German raids

Mitsubishi Motors denied Thursday equipping engines with devices to make them appear less polluting, after raids by prosecutors in Germany probing suspected diesel emissions cheating.

Huawei races to replace Google apps for next smartphone

If you can make smartphone apps, Chinese tech giant Huawei wants you.

Toyota's 2019 global vehicle sales trail Volkswagen's

German automaker Volkswagen has kept its lead as the world's largest automaker after Japanese rival Toyota announced it sold fewer vehicles last year.

Uber, Lyft confirm Phoenix airport business as usual for now

Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft say they won't change their service at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport until Arizona's highest court rules on proposed fee increases that prompted threats to stop picking up and dropping off customers at one of the nation's largest airports.

Apple, Broadcom ordered to pay $1.1bn for patent infringement

A Los Angeles jury on Wednesday ordered Apple and Broadcom to pay $1.1 billion to a California university for infringing wifi technology patents in what is thought to be one of the largest patent verdicts ever.

Nintendo logs nine-month profit leap, upgrades annual forecast

Japanese gaming giant Nintendo on Thursday reported a leap in sales and profit for the nine months to December, upgrading its full-year profit forecast on strong demand for its popular Switch console.

Microsoft gets lift from rise in earnings

Microsoft said Wednesday that its profits rose sharply in the past quarter, boosted by improving sales across a range of consumer products and business services, sending its shares higher.

Using AI, people who are blind are able to find familiar faces in a room

Theo, a 12-year-old boy who is blind, is seated at a table in a crowded kitchen on a gray and drippy mid-December day. A headband that houses cameras, a depth sensor and speakers rings his sandy-brown hair. He swivels his head left and right until the camera in the front of the headband points at the nose of a person on the far side of a counter.

Building standards give us false hope. There's no such thing as a fireproof house

Bushfires have killed 33 people and destroyed nearly 3,000 houses across Australia so far this fire season. Canberra is under threat right now.

China demand for Jaguar, Land Rover boosts India's Tata Motors

Chinese demand for British luxury brands Jaguar and Land Rover helped Indian automaker Tata Motors return to the black on Thursday, despite falling sales in the domestic market.

Big hit for Facebook as latest results show cracks in growth

Facebook shares came under heavy selling pressure Thursday as the latest earnings report for the leading social network highlighted mushrooming costs in dealing with privacy, abuse and misinformation.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a message for you: He doesn't care if you like him

Mark Zuckerberg has a message for you: He doesn't care if you like him.

IBM's Watson Center pitches AI for everyone, from chefs to engineers

At the IBM Watson Experience Center, digital and physical worlds meet in a futuristic-looking lounge overlooking San Francisco's Financial District.

Axing Lightning for iPhone would mean unprecedented e-waste, Apple says

Forcing Apple to change iPhones from Lightning to USB-C connectors would cause "an unprecedented volume of electronic waste," the company said recently. The remark follows a European Commission call earlier this month for a common charger for all mobile phones, an effort to reduce waste and make life easier for consumers. Apple argues, however, that this would create even more waste, because its Lightning accessories would become obsolete.

Here's why Galaxy Z Flip is the foldable phone I'm most excited for right now.

Samsung's fully embraced the "Go big or go home" mentality with its tabletlike Galaxy Fold last year. But its second foldable phone—rumored to be called the Galaxy Z Flip (internal code name Galaxy Bloom) - is almost guaranteed to be smaller. It's also likely going to be cheaper, bend vertically instead of horizontally and be outfitted with only half the cameras its folding predecessor has. And honestly, I couldn't be more excited.

Novel approach allows 3-D printing of finer, more complex microfluidic networks

First introduced in the 1980s, stereolithography (SL) is an additive manufacturing process that prints 3-D objects by the selective curing of liquid polymer resin using an ultra-violet (UV) light source in a layer-by-layer fashion. The polymer employed undergoes a photochemical reaction which turns it from liquid to solid when exposed to UV illumination. Today, SL is touted as one of the most accurate forms of 3-D printing that is accessible to consumers, with desktop models (e.g., liquid crystal display variants) costing as little as USD $300.

World record: Efficiency of perovskite silicon tandem solar cell jumps to 29.15%

While silicon converts mostly the red portions of sunlight into electricity, perovskite compounds primarily utilise the blue portions of the spectrum. A tandem solar cell made of stacked silicon and perovskite thus achieves significantly higher efficiency than each individual cell on its own.

Autonomous pods SWARM together like bees in world first demonstration

Autonomous pods born in Coventry are now able to swarm together in a world first, thanks to research by WMG at the University of Warwick in partnership with Aurrigo and Milton Keynes council.

Sun, wind, and hydrogen: New Arctic station will do without diesel fuel

The Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) has initiated a project of the Russian Federation called "Arctic Hydrogen Energy Applications and Demonstrations" (AHEAD) in the Arctic Council's Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG). The project is supported by the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic, the governor of Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, and the EnergyNet infrastructure center of the National Technology Initiative.

Hummer is making a comeback, but this time it's electric

The Hummer, once a gas-guzzling target for environmentalists, is making a comeback. But this time around it won't burn fuel or spew greenhouse gases.

Self-learning heat­ing control system saves energy

Can buildings learn to save all by themselves? Empa researchers think so. In their experiments, they fed a new self-learning heating control system with temperature data from the previous year and the current weather forecast. The "smart" control system was then able to assess the building's behavior and act with good anticipation. The result: greater comfort, lower energy costs.

Haptic helmet for firefighters

Imagine firefighters trying to navigate through an unfamiliar, burning building full of suffocating smoke and deafening noise. Firefighting is exceedingly dangerous, and the ability for first responders to maintain communications in hostile environments can literally mean life or death.

Dating apps face US inquiry over underage use, sex offenders

A House subcommittee is investigating popular dating services such as Tinder and Bumble for allegedly allowing minors and sex offenders to use their services.

UK automakers report drop in investment, production

British auto production dropped for a third straight year in 2019, as carmakers continued to hold off on investment amid uncertainty over the country's departure from the European Union.

Dark patterns: The secret sauce behind addictive tech

Think you're pretty internet savvy? You may be falling for app and web design tricks without even realizing it ...

Likelihood of e-book purchases increase 31% by combining previews and reviews

New research in the INFORMS journal Information Systems Research finds that the purchasing decision of customers considering buying e-books is significantly influenced through easy access to a combination of e-book previews and reviews, resulting in a staggering 31% increase in a consumer's likelihood to purchase an e-book. When exposed to either previews only or online reviews only, purchase likelihood is between 7 and 17%.

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