Science X Newsletter Friday, Mar 6

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for March 6, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Novel method for easier scaling of quantum devices

Topology protects light propagation in photonic crystal

Older beetle parents 'less flexible'

'Magnonic nanoantennas': optically-inspired computing with spin waves one step closer

Space lettuce: Nutritious and safe crops would be a dietary supplement to assist long-distance space missions

More accurate climate change model reveals bleaker outlook on electricity, water use

Terahertz radiation technique opens a new door for studying atomic behavior

SpaceX announces partnership to send tourists to ISS

Early research on existing drug compounds via supercomputing could combat coronavirus

'Tickling' an atom to investigate the behavior of materials

Seismic imaging technology could deliver finely detailed images of the human brain

World-first system forecasts warming of lakes globally

Nanoscale 4-D printing technique may speed development of new therapeutics

Machine sucks up tiny tissue spheroids and prints them precisely

New imaging technique enables the study of 3-D printed brain tumors

Physics news

Novel method for easier scaling of quantum devices

In an advance that may help researchers scale up quantum devices, an MIT team has developed a method to "recruit" neighboring quantum bits made of nanoscale defects in diamond, so that instead of causing disruptions they help carry out quantum operations.

Topology protects light propagation in photonic crystal

Dutch researchers at AMOLF and TU Delft have seen light propagate in a special material without reflections. The material, a photonic crystal, consists of two parts that each have a slightly different pattern of perforations. Light can propagate along the boundary between these two parts in a special way: It is "topologically protected," and therefore does not bounce back at imperfections. Even when the boundary forms a sharp corner, the light follows it without a problem.

Terahertz radiation technique opens a new door for studying atomic behavior

Researchers from the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have made a promising new advance for the lab's high-speed "electron camera" that could allow them to "film" tiny, ultrafast motions of protons and electrons in chemical reactions that have never been seen before. Such "movies" could eventually help scientists design more efficient chemical processes, invent next-generation materials with new properties, develop drugs to fight disease and more.

'Tickling' an atom to investigate the behavior of materials

Scientists and engineers working at the frontier of nanotechnology face huge challenges. When the position of a single atom in a material may change the fundamental properties of that material, scientists need something in their toolbox to measure how that atom will behave.

Catching new patterns of swirling light mid-flight

In many situations, it's fair to say that light travels in a straight line without much happening along the way. But light can also hide complex patterns and behaviors that only a careful observer can uncover.

'Rock-breathing' bacteria are electron spin doctors, study shows

Electrons spin. It's a fundamental part of their existence. Some spin "up" while others spin "down." Scientists have known this for about a century, thanks to quantum physics.

Radar and ice could help detect an elusive subatomic particle

One of the greatest mysteries in astrophysics these days is a tiny subatomic particle called a neutrino, so small that it passes through matter—the atmosphere, our bodies, the very Earth—without detection.

Scientists break Google's quantum algorithm

Google is racing to develop quantum-enhanced processors that use quantum mechanical effects to increase the speed at which data can be processed. In the near term, Google has devised new quantum-enhanced algorithms that operate in the presence of realistic noise. The so-called quantum approximate optimisation algorithm, or QAOA for short, is the cornerstone of a modern drive toward noise-tolerant quantum-enhanced algorithm development.

Proposed transistor is made of graphene and a two-dimensional superconductor

Researchers at the Center for Theoretical Physics of Complex Systems (PCS), within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS, South Korea) have proposed a transistor made of graphene and a two-dimensional superconductor that amplifies terahertz (THz) signals. This research was conducted in collaboration with colleagues from the Micro/Nano Fabrication Laboratory Microsystem and Terahertz Research Center (China), the A. V. Rzhanov Institute of Semiconductor Physics (Russia), and Loughborough University (UK) and was published in Physical Review Letters.

Argonne's pioneering user facility to add magic number factory

One of the big questions in physics and chemistry is, how were the heavy elements from iron to uranium created? The Argonne Tandem Linac Accelerator System (ATLAS) at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory is being upgraded with new capabilities to help find the answer to that question and many others.

A filter for cleaner qubits

A research team at the Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU), RIKEN, and the University of Tokyo have demonstrated how to increase the lifetime of qubits inside quantum computers by using an additional "filter" qubit. This work may help make higher fidelity quantum computers that can be used in financial, cryptographic, and chemistry applications.

Astronomy & Space news

Space lettuce: Nutritious and safe crops would be a dietary supplement to assist long-distance space missions

Astronauts in space live on processed, pre-packaged space rations such as fruits, nuts, chocolate, shrimp cocktails, peanut butter, chicken, and beef to name a few. These have often been sterilized by heating, freeze drying, or irradiation to make them last and key a challenge for the US Space Agency NASA has been to figure out how to grow safe, fresh food onboard.

SpaceX announces partnership to send tourists to ISS

SpaceX on Thursday announced a partnership to send three tourists to the International Space Station (ISS), the first private trip in more than a decade.

Dimming Betelgeuse likely isn't cold, just dusty, new study shows

Late last year, news broke that the star Betelgeuse was fading significantly, ultimately dropping to around 40% of its usual brightness. The activity fueled popular speculation that the red supergiant would soon explode as a massive supernova.

First official names given to features on asteroid Bennu

Asteroid Bennu's most prominent boulder, a rock chunk jutting out 71 ft (21.7 m) from the asteroid's southern hemisphere, finally has a name. The boulder—which is so large that it was initially detected from Earth—is officially designated Benben Saxum after the primordial hill that first arose from the dark waters in an ancient Egyptian creation myth.

The dark dunes of Mars: Moreux crater

Known for its wide swathes of rippling, textured, gently sloping dunes, the Terra Sabaea region on Mars is home to many fascinating geological features—including the prominent Moreux crater, the star of a new image from ESA's Mars Express.

New telescopes aim to detect extraterrestrial intelligence

A team of astronomers led by UC San Diego physicist Shelley Wright is deploying a pair of telescopes that will constantly search the nighttime sky for signals from intelligent life in our galaxy.

Comparing mountains on the moon to the Earth's peaks

NASA's Artemis Program is planning to land astronauts on the moon's south pole. To prepare for this, NASA's Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) is creating the Lunar South Pole Atlas (LSPA). As part of that atlas, NASA is mapping the topography of the region, including the mountains.

Gastronauts: Developing food ready for the next space race

For the new space race, astronauts and space tourists will want to eat a little better than the corn beef sandwiches, applesauce and high-calorie cubes of protein, fat and sugar consumed by NASA scientists in the 1960s.

Boeing hit with 61 safety fixes for astronaut capsule

Boeing faces 61 safety fixes following last year's botched test flight of its Starliner crew capsule, NASA said Friday.

Lunar lasers and cosmic crops: NASA funds UArizona space exploration missions

Many things change for astronauts when they leave Earth and head into space, but at least one remains the same: They need food and water. NASA recently awarded funding to two University of Arizona teams to search for water and grow food in space.

Technology news

SETI@Home ends its public phase, hunt for aliens continues

For the general public, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is almost over. On March 2, SETI@home revealed its crowdsourced supercomputing application will go into hibernation on March 30 of this year.

By observing humans, robots learn to perform complex tasks, such as setting a table

Training interactive robots may one day be an easy job for everyone, even those without programming expertise. Roboticists are developing automated robots that can learn new tasks solely by observing humans. At home, you might someday show a domestic robot how to do routine chores. In the workplace, you could train robots like new employees, showing them how to perform many duties.

Ransomware attack on sheep farmers shows there's no room for woolly thinking in cyber security

While many Australians were preoccupied with panic-buying toilet paper, sales of another commodity encountered a very different sort of crisis.

New software agents will infer what users are thinking

Personal assistants today can figure out what you are saying, but what if they could infer what you were thinking based on your actions? A team of academic and industrial researchers led by Carnegie Mellon University is working to build artificially intelligent agents with this social skill.

Would you ditch your car if public transport were free? Here's what researchers have found

Luxembourg recently became the first country in the world to make all public transport free. As of March 1 2020, all buses, trains and trams throughout the country can be boarded without paying a fare—the largest area to institute free public transport for both residents and tourists so far.

'Internet of things' could be an unseen threat to elections

The app failure that led to a chaotic 2020 Iowa caucus was a reminder of how vulnerable the democratic process is to technological problems—even without any malicious outside intervention. Far more sophisticated foreign hacking continues to try to disrupt democracy, as a rare joint federal agency warning advised prior to Super Tuesday. Russia's attempt to interfere in the 2016 election has already revealed how this could happen: social media disinformation, email hacking and probing of voter registration systems.

Autonomous vehicles can be fooled to 'see' nonexistent obstacles

Nothing is more important to an autonomous vehicle than sensing what's happening around it. Like human drivers, autonomous vehicles need the ability to make instantaneous decisions.

Top 13 tips to work at home amid coronavirus concerns

Many companies, most notably Twitter, are recommending working at home for their staff in the wake of the coronavirus. King County, home to Seattle in Washington state, where at least 10 people have died, has made the same recommendation.

Could quantum computing help beat the next coronavirus?

Quantum computing isn't yet far enough along that it could have helped curb the spread of this coronavirus outbreak. But this emerging field of computing will almost certainly help scientists and researchers confront future crises.

Lufthansa to halve flight capacity over virus

German airline giant Lufthansa said Friday it would slash capacity by half in the coming weeks, as the group battles "drastic declines in bookings and numerous flight cancellations" prompted by the novel coronavirus.

Improving the vision of self-driving vehicles

There may be a better way for autonomous vehicles to learn how to drive themselves: by watching humans. With the help of an improved sight-correcting system, self-driving cars could learn just by observing human operators complete the same task.

Facebook shuts London, Singapore offices after coronavirus case

Facebook said Friday it was shutting its London office and part of its Singapore base for "deep cleaning" after an employee in the Asian city state was diagnosed with coronavirus.


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