Science X Newsletter Thursday, Feb 13

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for February 13, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Quantum anomalous Hall effect in intrinsic magnetic topological insulator

Study unveils security vulnerabilities in EEG-based brain-computer interfaces

Quantum memories entangled over 50-kilometer cable

Fragile topology: Two new studies explain the strange electron flow in future materials

Study uncovers new electronic state of matter

Sophisticated Emotet malware loader thriving on unsophisticated passwords

Immune cells consult with neighbors to make decisions

Scientists develop first electrically-driven 'topological' laser

Image: 'Pale Blue Dot' revisited

Variations in precipitation at the North Pole set to increase sharply

Researchers develop potential way to reprogram immune cells to fight cancer, other diseases

How cellular machinery labels proteins for degradation

Hidden away: An enigmatic mammalian brain area revealed in reptiles

'Sensorized' skin helps soft robots find their bearings

New process for preserving lumber could offer advantages over pressure treating

Physics news

Quantum anomalous Hall effect in intrinsic magnetic topological insulator

Nontrivial band topology can combine with magnetic order in a magnetic topological insulator to produce exotic states of matter such as quantum anomalous Hall (QAH) insulators and axion insulators. An aim of condensed matter physics is to find new materials with useful properties and apply quantum mechanics to study them. The field has allowed physicists to better understand the uses of magnets for hard disk data storage, computer displays and other technologies. The recent discovery of topological insulators have attracted broad interest and researchers predict that the interplay between ferromagnetism and the topological insulator state can realize a range of exotic quantum magnetic phenomena of interest in fundamental physics and device applications.

Quantum memories entangled over 50-kilometer cable

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in China has succeeded in sending entangled quantum memories over a 50-kilometer coiled fiber cable. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the group describes several experiments they conducted involving entangling quantum memory over long distances, the challenges they overcame, and problems still to be addressed.

Fragile topology: Two new studies explain the strange electron flow in future materials

Electrons race along the surface of certain unusual crystalline materials, except that sometimes they don't. Two new studies from Princeton researchers and their collaborators explain the source of the surprising behavior and chart a course for restoring conductivity in these remarkable crystals, prized for their potential use in future technologies including quantum computers.

Study uncovers new electronic state of matter

A research team led by professors from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Physics and Astronomy has announced the discovery of a new electronic state of matter.

Scientists develop first electrically-driven 'topological' laser

Scientists and engineers from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and the University of Leeds in the U.K. have created the first electrically driven topological laser, which has the ability to route light particles around corners and to cope with defects in the manufacture of the device.

Temporally shaping the electric field of an attosecond pulse

Chemical reactions are determined at their most fundamental level by their respective electronic structure and dynamics. Steered by a stimulus such as light irradiation, electrons rearrange themselves in liquids or solids. This process takes only a few hundred attoseconds, whereby one attosecond is the billionth part of a billionth of a second. Electrons are sensitive to external fields, so researchers can easily control them by irradiating the electrons with light pulses. As soon as they thus temporally shape the electric field of an attosecond pulse, researchers can control the electronic dynamics in real time. A team led by Prof. Dr. Giuseppe Sansone from the Institute of Physics at the University of Freiburg shows in the scientific journal Nature how they were able to completely shape the waveform of an attosecond pulse.

Machine learning implemented for quantum optics

As machine learning continues to surpass human performance in a growing number of tasks, scientists at Skoltech have applied deep learning to reconstruct quantum properties of optical systems.

Simulation experiment allows deeper insights into ultrafast light-induced processes

Researchers from Graz University of Technology and the University of Vienna have better described the energy flow between strongly interacting molecular states. Since the 1990s, femtochemistry has been researching ultrafast processes at the molecular level. In the last few years, the research group Femtosecond Dynamics at TU Graz's Institute of Experimental Physics has been able to achieve a number of successes in the area of light-matter interaction.

Resistance is futile: Superconductivity will herald the age of electric flight

As air travel comes under pressure to reduce its environmental impact and prompts us to reconsider our transport choices, scientists are searching for greener ways to power flight.

Astronomy & Space news

Image: 'Pale Blue Dot' revisited

For the 30th anniversary of one of the most iconic views from the Voyager mission, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is publishing a new version of the image known as the "Pale Blue Dot."

NASA's space snowman reveals secrets: few craters, no water

NASA's space snowman is revealing fresh secrets from its home far beyond Pluto.

Record-setting astronaut feels good after near year in space

NASA's new record-setting astronaut said Wednesday that aside from sore muscles and trouble with balance, she's readjusting well to gravity after nearly 11 months in space.

NASA's Mars 2020 rover goes coast-to-coast to prep for launch

NASA's next Mars rover has arrived in Florida to begin final preparations for its launch to the Red Planet this July. Two Air Force C-17 Globemaster cargo planes carrying the Mars 2020 rover as well as the cruise stage, descent stage and Mars Helicopter touched down at NASA's Kennedy Space Center at about 3 p.m. EST (12 p.m. PST) today, completing a 2,300-mile (3,700-kilometer) trip that began yesterday at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Images: The two halves of Mars' whole

Mars is very much a world of two halves, as this new image from ESA's Mars Express highlights, showing where these dramatically different regions come together as one.

Technology news

Study unveils security vulnerabilities in EEG-based brain-computer interfaces

Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are tools that can connect the human brain with an electronic device, typically using electroencephalography (EEG). In recent years, advances in machine learning (ML) have enabled the development of more advanced BCI spellers, devices that allow people to communicate with computers using their thoughts.

Sophisticated Emotet malware loader thriving on unsophisticated passwords

Emotet has evolved. And that's not good. The worm is winning the attention of security watchers this month, as an exploit of Wi-Fi networks. It hops. It spreads. Its triggers are insecure passwords on routers and Windows PCs.

'Sensorized' skin helps soft robots find their bearings

For the first time, MIT researchers have enabled a soft robotic arm to understand its configuration in 3-D space, by leveraging only motion and position data from its own "sensorized" skin.

Researchers identify security vulnerabilities in voting app

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in using internet and mobile technology to increase access to the voting process. At the same time, computer security experts caution that paper ballots are the only secure means of voting.

Computer-based weather forecast: New algorithm outperforms mainframe computer systems

The exponential growth in computer processing power seen over the past 60 years may soon come to a halt. Complex systems such as those used in weather forecast, for example, require high computing capacities, but the costs for running supercomputers to process large quantities of data can become a limiting factor.

Consider workplace AI's impact before it's too late, study says

The consequences of workplace automation will likely impact just about every aspect of our lives, and scholars and policymakers need to start thinking about it far more broadly if they want to have a say in what the future looks like, according to a new paper co-authored by a Cornell University researcher.

Will Facebook Dating swipe online lovebirds out of digital nest?

All's fair in electronic love and dating—or is it? The battle for hearts and minds of couples seeking their perfect match online has taken a new turn.

Andy Rubin smartphone startup Essential Products shuts down

Smartphone startup Essential Products, launched by one of the co-creators of Android mobile software, announced Wednesday that it was shutting down.

Fines cause turbulence for Airbus results

Airbus on Thursday reported a net loss of 1.36 billion euros for 2019, weighed down by massive fines to settle bribery scandals and extra costs for the A400M military transport aircraft.

Making the internet more energy efficient through systemic optimization

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, recently completed a five-year research project to make fiber optic communications systems more energy efficient. Among their proposals are smart, error-correcting data chip circuits that consume 10 times less energy. The project has yielded several scientific articles in publications including Nature Communications.

Facial recognition technology: In our rush to deploy it, are we ignoring the risks?

Taylor Swift uses it to identify stalkers. Retail stores are using it to provide a no-checkout, cashierless experience. Even churches are getting in on it to keep track of their congregants.

High-tech shortages loom as coronavirus shutdowns hit manufacturers

There are now more than 45,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus dubbed COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, and the disease has caused at least 1,115 deaths. The impact of the virus is now reaching way beyond public health: China is at the heart of global manufacturing, and as supply chains suffer, panic is beginning to set in.

'One more episode, please?' Why we can't stop binge-watching on Netflix

The increasing popularity of global media content like American TV series has been considered as one notable factor associated with binge-watching practices, or continuously consuming media content in a single session.

Cybersecurity regulations for air transport may prove ineffective

A new study led by academics from the Cloud Legal Project at Queen Mary University of London has found that current cybersecurity standards set by the European Union, known as the NIS Directive, do not go far enough and could potentially be undermined.

Can artificial intelligence replace whistleblowers in the business sector?

Research published in the International Journal of Technology Policy and Law sets out to answer the question: Can artificial intelligence (AI) replace whistle-blowers in the business sector?

Researchers devise approach to reduce biases in computer vision data sets

Addressing problems of bias in artificial intelligence, computer scientists from Princeton and Stanford University have developed methods to obtain fairer data sets containing images of people. The researchers propose improvements to ImageNet, a database of more than 14 million images that has played a key role in advancing computer vision over the past decade.

Alibaba earnings surge 58 pct on 'Single's Day' boost

Chinese e-commerce leader Alibaba said Thursday that net profit increased 58 percent in the latest quarter, citing another record "Single's Day" sales promotion in November and growth in cloud computing.

Russia fines Twitter, Facebook for keeping data abroad

A Moscow court on Thursday fined social networking giants Twitter and Facebook for ignoring a Russian law requiring them to store Russian citizens' user data inside the country.

France won't bar but may restrict Huawei in 5G network

France on Thursday said it would not bow to American pressure to exclude Huawei from supplying equipment for its 5G networks, though the Chinese telecommunications firm could be subject to restrictions.

Storytelling can reduce virtual reality cybersickness

A storyline with emotionally evocative details can reduce virtual reality cybersickness for some people, according to a new study.

Artificial intelligence is becoming sustainable

A research group from Politecnico di Milano has developed a new computing circuit that can execute advanced operations, typical of neural networks for artificial intelligence, in one single operation.

Bombardier exits commercial aviation with A220 sale to Airbus

Once the third largest aircraft maker, Canada's Bombardier on Thursday announced the sale of its A220 stake to Airbus and the Quebec government, effectively exiting commercial aviation after a failed expansion.

Newspaper chain McClatchy files for bankruptcy protection (Update)

McClatchy, the publisher of the Miami Herald, The Kansas City Star and dozens of other newspapers, has filed for bankruptcy protection as it struggles to pay off debt while revenue shrinks because more readers and advertisers are going online.

Huawei hit with new US charges of trade secrets theft

Chinese tech giant Huawei was hit Thursday with fresh US criminal charges alleging a "decades-long" effort to steal trade secrets from American companies.

Tesla shifts gears with plans to issue more shares

Tesla shifted gears Thursday and said it would issue new shares to raise fresh cash, as the electric carmaker responded to the coronavirus epidemic impact on its Shanghai factory and the China car market.

Facebook spars with EU regulator over dating app delay

Facebook and its Irish data regulator gave conflicting signals Thursday about what caused the tech giant to postpone the European launch of its vaunted dating app.

Amazon wins suspension of $10 bn 'JEDI' contract to Microsoft

A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked the US military from awarding a multibillion-dollar cloud computing contract to Microsoft, after Amazon claimed the process was tainted by politics.

Puerto Rico online scam targeted more than $4M amid crisis

An online scam that targeted Puerto Rican agencies attempted to steal more than $4 million, police said Thursday, deepening concerns about the management of local government finances during an economic crisis.

Billionaire Bezos buys estate for $165 mn: report

Billionaire Amazon chief Jeff Bezos has purchased a Los Angeles-area estate for $165 million, setting a new record for the region, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

Australian court approves $10 bn Vodafone-TPG merger

Two of Australia's largest telecommunications firms appear set to merge, after a court ruled on Thursday that the multi-billion-dollar deal between Vodafone and TPG would not pose a major threat to competition.

Nissan downgrades forecasts as 9-month net profit plunges

Crisis-hit Japanese automaker Nissan said Thursday its net profit plunged more than 87 percent for the nine months to December as it struggles with weak demand and fallout from the arrest of former boss Carlos Ghosn.

Human-centered design for future mobility

Evolution of the way we move rapidly increased during the industrial revolution when the automobile replaced horse-drawn carriages. In the early 1900s, linear production lines—largely attributed to the Ford Motor Company—made personal transportation more affordable. With this came many challenges, some of which are still being resolved today, such as safety, speed, efficiency and power.

Not (trade) fair: industry gatherings fall victim to coronavirus

Cancel, delay or go ahead: the organisers of industry events are faced with a difficult choice as international gatherings of thousands or even of tens of thousands of people pose a risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus.

Automated construction site productivity and quality monitoring

If you want to improve the productivity and quality of construction work, you need an efficient way to monitor progress and detect quality issues on a daily basis. Aalto University's Reality Capture (RECAP) project examined how photogrammetry and machine learning applications could be used for that purpose.

Facebook halts small Iranian group targeting U.S. users on social network

Facebook has taken down three networks, each of which used "coordinated inauthentic behavior" to exploit other users and spread misinformation across Facebook and Instagram.

Southwest again delays expected return date for Boeing Max

Southwest Airlines said Thursday it has removed the grounded Boeing 737 Max from its schedule for another two months during the peak summer travel season and will drop about 9% of its planned flights as a result.


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