Science X Newsletter Friday, Feb 14

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for February 14, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

The 'electronic Griffiths phase' in solid-state physical systems

Microelectronics embedded in live jellyfish enhance propulsion

Researchers develop device that mimics brain cells used for human vision

Can beauty be-er ignored?

Remdesivir prevents MERS coronavirus disease in monkeys

Academics identify 18 reasons why megaprojects often fail, as well as 54 preventative solutions

Polymers to the rescue! Saving cells from damaging ice

Caribbean sharks in need of large marine protected areas

UH Law center professors urge tighter controls on data held by health tech companies

Tourists pose continued risks for disease transmission to endangered mountain gorillas

Effectiveness of travel bans—readily used during infectious disease outbreaks—mostly unknown, study finds

Antarctica registers record temperature of over 20 C

Stubborn strain of Android malware disses resets

No such thing as nonlinear resolution in ultrafast laser machining

Skyrmions like it hot: Spin structures are controllable even at high temperatures

Physics news

The 'electronic Griffiths phase' in solid-state physical systems

Most theories of solid state and soft matter physics were developed independently; thus, a few physical concepts are applicable to both. Recent research, however, particularly a study by Elbio Dagotto, found that correlated electrons in solid-state physical systems can sometimes present a spatially inhomogeneous phase accompanied by extraordinarily slow electron dynamics, which resembles a phase observed in soft-matter systems.

No such thing as nonlinear resolution in ultrafast laser machining

This year, we celebrate the 60th birthday of the laser. Its inventor, Theodore Maiman, once famously called it "a solution looking for problems," a judgment that has been soundly contradicted over the decades, as demonstrated by the vast applicability of laser technology in diverse fields.

Skyrmions like it hot: Spin structures are controllable even at high temperatures

A joint research project of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that previously demonstrated the use of new spin structures for future magnetic storage devices has achieved yet another milestone. The international team is working on structures that could serve as magnetic shift registers, so-called racetrack memory devices. This type of storage promises low access times, high information density, and low energy consumption. The new insights published in Nature Electronics shed light on the effects of temperature on the dynamics of skyrmions. According to the researchers' findings, skyrmions move more efficiently at higher temperatures, and their trajectories only depend on the speed of the skyrmions. This makes device design significantly easier.

Measurement of mechanical stability of force transmission supramolecular linkages

NUS biophysicists have developed a manipulation assay that can quantify the mechanical stability and biochemical regulations of inter-molecular interactions at the single-molecule level.

Using noise to enhance optical sensing

In conventional sensing methods, noise is always a problem, especially in systems that are meant to detect changes in their environment that are hardly bigger or even smaller than the noise in the system. Encountering this problem in his experiments with interacting photons, AMOLF physicist Said Rodriguez thought of a way around it. In an article that will be published in Physical Review Applied, he demonstrates how noise can be turned into a resource for optical sensing rather than a problem.

Producing single photons from a stream of single electrons

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed a novel technique for generating single photons, by moving single electrons in a specially designed light-emitting diode (LED). This technique, reported in the journal Nature Communications, could help the development of the emerging fields of quantum communication and quantum computation.

Researchers realize two-photon pumped nanolaser from formamidinium perovskites

Formamidinium (FA) perovskites have exhibited outstanding optoelectronic properties in efficient solar cells and light-emitting diodes. However, their development on nanolaser application has rarely been explored, especially the up-conversion lasing performance.

Quantum interference observed in real time: Extreme UV-light spectroscopy technique

A team headed by Prof. Dr. Frank Stienkemeier and Dr. Lukas Bruder from the Institute of Physics at the University of Freiburg has succeeded in observing in real-time ultrafast quantum interferences—in other words the oscillation patterns—of electrons which are found in the atomic shells of rare gas atoms. They managed to observe oscillations with a period of about 150 attoseconds—an attosecond is a billionth of a billionth of a second. To this end, the scientists excited rare gas atoms with specially prepared laser pulses. Then they tracked the response of the atoms with a new measurement technique that enabled them to study quantum mechanical effects in atoms and molecules at extremely high time resolution. The researchers present their results in the latest edition of Nature Communications.

Deconstructing Schrödinger's cat

The paradox of Schrödinger's cat—the feline that is, famously, both alive and dead until its box is opened—is the most widely known example of a recurrent problem in quantum mechanics: its dynamics seem to predict that macroscopic objects (like cats) can, sometimes, exist simultaneously in more than one completely distinct state. Many physicists have tried to solve this paradox over the years, but no approach has been universally accepted. Now, however, theoretical physicist Franck Laloë from Laboratoire Kastler Brossel (ENS-Université PSL) in Paris has proposed a new interpretation that could explain many features of the paradox. He sets out a model of this possible theory in a new paper in EPJ D.

Broadband transmission-type coding metasurface for electromagnetic beam forming and scanning

Due to their excellent performance in manipulating electromagnetic (EM) waves freely and flexibly, metasurfaces have been widely investigated since the beginning of the 21st century. However, with the rapid development of digital information technology, the traditional analog metasurfaces with continuous phase control become difficult to control digital information. In 2014, digital coding and programmable metasurfaces were proposed, which make it possible to manipulate the EM waves from the digital aspect, building up a bridge between information science and physical metasurface. Recently, some researchers have proposed a novel broadband transmission-type 1-bit digital coding metasurface and analyzed its manipulations on EM far-field radiating functionalities.

Astronomy & Space news

ESO telescope sees surface of dim Betelgeuse

Using ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), astronomers have captured the unprecedented dimming of Betelgeuse, a red supergiant star in the constellation of Orion. The stunning new images of the star's surface show not only the fading red supergiant but also how its apparent shape is changing.

Solar wind samples suggest new physics of massive solar ejections

A new study led by the University of Hawai'i (UH) at Mānoa has helped refine understanding of the amount of hydrogen, helium and other elements present in violent outbursts from the Sun, and other types of solar "wind," a stream of ionized atoms ejected from the Sun.

NASA selects four possible missions to study the secrets of the solar system

NASA has selected four Discovery Program investigations to develop concept studies for new missions. Although they're not official missions yet and some ultimately may not be chosen to move forward, the selections focus on compelling targets and science that are not covered by NASA's active missions or recent selections. Final selections will be made next year.

Galactic cosmic rays affect Titan's atmosphere

Planetary scientists using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) revealed the secrets of the atmosphere of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. The team found a chemical footprint in Titan's atmosphere indicating that cosmic rays coming from outside the Solar System affect the chemical reactions involved in the formation of nitrogen-bearing organic molecules. This is the first observational confirmation of such processes, and impacts the understanding of the intriguing environment of Titan.

Status update: OSIRIS-REx Osprey Flyover

NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft safely executed a 0.4-mile (620-m) flyover of the backup sample collection site Osprey as part of the mission's Reconnaissance B phase activities. Preliminary telemetry, however, indicates that the OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA) did not operate as expected during the 11-hour event. The OLA instrument was scheduled to provide ranging data to the spacecraft's PolyCam imager, which would allow the camera to focus while imaging the area around the sample collection site. Consequently, the PolyCam images from the flyover are likely out of focus.

Technology news

Microelectronics embedded in live jellyfish enhance propulsion

Researchers in robotic materials aim to artificially control animal locomotion to address the existing challenges to actuation, control and power requirements in soft robotics. In a new report in Science Advances, Nicole W. Xu and John O. Dabiri at the departments of bioengineering, civil and environmental engineering and mechanical engineering at the Stanford University presented a biohybrid robot that used onboard microelectronics to induce swimming in live jellyfish. They measured the ability to substantially enhance propulsion by driving body contractions at an optimal frequency range faster than natural behavior. The manoeuvre increased swimming speed by nearly threefold, although with only a twofold increase in metabolic expenditure of the animal and 10 mW of external power input to the microelectronics. The biohybrid robot used 10 to 1000 times less external power per mass than with previously reported aquatic robots. The capability can improve the performance scope of biohybrid robots relative to native performance, with potential applications as biohybrid ocean monitoring robots.

Stubborn strain of Android malware disses resets

It's being called nasty—oh, the reinfection of it all— and sneaky for good reason: It's all of that, known to headache-watchers as xHelper, which turns out to be of no help at all once infected. The malware xHelper was identified as a trojan dropper.

Artificial intelligence finds disease-related genes

An artificial neural network can reveal patterns in huge amounts of gene expression data and discover groups of disease-related genes. This has been shown by a new study led by researchers at Linköping University, published in Nature Communications. The scientists hope that the method can eventually be applied within precision medicine and individualized treatment.

Supercharging decarbonization through intelligent technologies

Integrating digital tools into the world's energy systems could reduce carbon emissions by more than 50%, a new review has found.

Low-cost 'smart' diaper can notify caregiver when it's wet

For some infants, a wet diaper is cause for an instant, vociferous demand to be changed, while other babies may be unfazed and happy to haul around the damp cargo for lengthy periods without complaint. But if worn too long, a wet diaper can cause painful rashes, and miserable babies—and parents.

Longstanding flaw in sensor readings could lead to heating and cooling design errors

Standard comfort measurements used to design buildings' heating and cooling systems share a common flaw, according to new research. The researchers said the findings could mean that designers have relied on inaccurate measurements for decades when building their systems.

Algorithms 'consistently' more accurate than people in predicting recidivism, study says

In a study with potentially far-reaching implications for criminal justice in the United States, a team of California researchers has found that algorithms are significantly more accurate than humans in predicting which defendants will later be arrested for a new crime.

Facebook's Zuckerberg wants 'new framework' for digital tax

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Friday backed moves by the OECD group of free-market economies to reform the way online giants are taxed worldwide, even if that means companies like his own paying more to national governments.

Virus could mean $5 bn in airline losses: UN agency

The new coronavirus outbreak could mean a $4-5 billion drop in worldwide airline revenue, the International Civil Aviation Organization said on Thursday.

Asian plane makers struggle to take off in crowded market

Asian plane makers have thrown huge sums at building jets but flagship projects have suffered repeated setbacks, and they face a tough time breaking into a market dominated by established players.

Court rules Apple must pay California workers during bag checks

The California Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Apple must pay employees for time spent waiting for their bags and personal electronic devices to be searched when they leave work.

Tesla prices its second offering of stock at $767 apiece

Tesla priced its second offering of stock at $767 apiece Friday.

How social media makes breakups that much worse

Imagine flipping through your Facebook News Feed on Valentine's Day and spotting a notification that your ex is now "in a relationship."

Drone designs arise from butterfly study: Undulating flight saves monarchs' energy

In a finding that could benefit drone design, award-winning research by a doctoral student at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) shows that the undulating flight paths of monarch butterflies are actually more energy efficient than a straight-line path.

Google makes 1,000 new high-res satellite images available in Earth View

Google has cornered the market on making high-resolution, aerial imagery of earth's most breathtaking landscapes available to the public.

Mac software threats climbed 400% in 2019, more than Microsoft Windows, report says

Mac computers are less secure than they used to be and more vulnerable to certain types of software threats than their Microsoft Windows counterparts.

How to make money on YouTube: Insider tips on starting a channel

Google recently announced that its YouTube had a $15-billion year in 2019, based on advertising sales, showing the world just how huge a business the video network has become.

Snapchat is 'here for you' with new mental health feature

At a time when cyberbullying and unhealthy messaging are running rampant online, social networking sites are grappling with how to address it.

Blame game over 830-mn-euro settlement in VW's German diesel cases

Consumer representatives and car giant Volkswagen each blamed the other Friday for a breakdown in talks over a settlement for 400,000 German customers in the firm's "dieselgate" emissions cheating scandal.

Facebook reverses on paid influencers after Bloomberg memes

Facebook has decided to let political campaigns pay online influencers to spread their messages, a practice that had sidestepped many of the social network's rules governing political ads.

Google mulls licensing deals with news media: industry sources

Google is in discussions on deals to pay media organizations for content, a move aimed at blunting criticism that it unfairly profits from copyrighted news, according to people familiar with the talks.

Lufthansa cancels China flights through to late March

German airline giant Lufthansa said Friday it would prolong its suspension of flights to the Chinese mainland until March 28 over the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

Renault reports first net losses in decade for 2019

French carmaker Renault said Friday it went into the red last year for the first time in a decade on lower sales and a falling contribution from its Japanese partner Nissan.

Researchers discover how to improve safety of nuclear power plants

Researchers at Tomsk Polytechnic University found a method to increase fuel lifetimes by 75%. According to the research team, it will significantly increase safety and reduce the operating cost of nuclear power plants in hard-to-reach areas. The study results were published in Nuclear Engineering and Design.

United Airlines pushes 737 MAX flights to September

United Airlines announced Friday it was pushing back to September 4 the resumption of flights using the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, grounded worldwide following two deadly crashes.


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