Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Mar 10

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for March 10, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A scheme for hybrid access point (H-AP) deployment in smart cities

A robotic planner that responds to natural language commands

Radio galaxy NGC 3894 investigated with Fermi

How a key brain region combines visual and spatial information to navigate

Research produces most accurate 3-D images of 2-D materials

AMD processors susceptible to security vulnerabilities, data leaks

Electrical power generation from moderate-temperature radiative thermal sources

Astronomers use slime mold model to reveal dark threads of the cosmic web

Wearing clothes could release more microfibres to the environment than washing them

Building a nuclear plant? Go online

Study reveals a mechanism that plants can use to dissipate excess sunlight as heat

Research shows mangrove conservation can pay for itself in flood protection

Uncovering novel relationships between SLCs and cytotoxic drugs in human cells

International study completes the largest genetic map of psychiatric disorders so far

From darkness to light: New findings unravel how plants control energy generation

Physics news

Electrical power generation from moderate-temperature radiative thermal sources

Moderate-temperature thermal sources often radiate waste heat as a by-product of mechanical work, chemical or nuclear reactions, or information processing. In a new report in Science, Paul S. Davids and a research team at the Sandia National Laboratory in the U.S., demonstrated the conversion of thermal radiation into electrical power. For this, they used a bipolar grating-coupled complimentary metal-oxide-silicon (CMOS) tunnel diode. Using a two-step photon-assisted tunneling charge pumping mechanism, the team separated the charge carriers in pn junction wells to develop a large, open-circuit voltage across a load. The scientists experimentally showed electrical power generation from a broadband blackbody thermal source with converted power densities of 27 to 61 µW/cm2 for thermal sources between 250 degrees C to 400 degrees C. The demonstrated scalable and efficient conversion of radiated waste heat into electrical power can be used to reduce energy consumption—in order to power electronics and sensors.

Introducing the light-operated hard drives of tomorrow

What do you get when you place a thin film of perovskite material used in solar cells on top of a magnetic substrate? More efficient hard drive technology. EPFL physicist László Forró and his team pave the way for the future of data storage.

Paper sheds light on infant universe and origin of matter

A new study, conducted to better understand the origin of the universe, has provided insight into some of the most enduring questions in fundamental physics: How can the Standard Model of particle physics be extended to explain the cosmological excess of matter over antimatter? What is dark matter? And what is the theoretical origin of an unexpected but observed symmetry in the force that binds protons and neutrons together?

New LHCb analysis still sees previous intriguing results

At a seminar today at CERN, the LHCb collaboration presented a new analysis of data from a specific transformation, or "decay," that a particle called B0 meson can undergo. The analysis is based on twice as many B0 decays as previous LHCb analyses, which had disclosed some tension with the Standard Model of particle physics. The tension is still present in the new analysis, but more data are needed to identify its nature.

Feeding fusion: hydrogen ice pellets prove effective for fueling fusion plasmas

Researchers have found that injecting pellets of hydrogen ice rather than puffing hydrogen gas improves fusion performance at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility, which General Atomics operates for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The studies by physicists based at DOE's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) compared the two methods, looking ahead to the fueling that will be used in ITER, the international fusion experiment under construction in France.

Astronomy & Space news

Radio galaxy NGC 3894 investigated with Fermi

Using the Large Area Telescope (LAT) onboard NASA's Fermi spacecraft, astronomers have investigated a nearby radio galaxy known as NGC 3894. Results of the study, presented in a paper published March 3, confirm the galaxy's young age and provide more insights into its properties.

Astronomers use slime mold model to reveal dark threads of the cosmic web

A computational approach inspired by the growth patterns of a bright yellow slime mold has enabled a team of astronomers and computer scientists at UC Santa Cruz to trace the filaments of the cosmic web that connects galaxies throughout the universe.

New technique could elucidate earliest stages of planet's life

A new kind of astronomical observation helped reveal the possible evolutionary history of a baby Neptune-like exoplanet.

Solved: The mystery of the expansion of the universe

The Earth, solar system, the entire Milky Way and the few thousand galaxies closest to us move in a vast "bubble" that is 250 million light years in diameter, where the average density of matter is half as high as for the rest of the universe. This is the hypothesis advanced by a theoretical physicist from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) to solve a conundrum that has been splitting the scientific community for a decade: At what speed is the universe expanding? Until now, at least two independent calculation methods have arrived at two values that are different by about 10% with a deviation that is statistically irreconcilable. This new approach, which is set out in the journal Physics Letters B, erases this divergence without making use of any "new physics."

Neutron star with measured at 11 kilometers radius

An international research team led by members of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute; AEI) has obtained new measurements of how big neutron stars are. To do so, they combined a general first-principles description of the unknown behavior of neutron star matter with multi-messenger observations of the binary neutron star merger GW170817. Their results, which appeared in Nature Astronomy today, are more stringent by a factor of two than previous limits and show that a typical neutron star has a radius close to 11 kilometers. They also find that neutron stars merging with black holes are in most cases likely to be swallowed whole, unless the black hole is small and/or rapidly rotating. This means that while such mergers might be observable as gravitational-wave sources, they would be invisible in the electromagnetic spectrum.

Study suggests Earth and Moon not identical oxygen twins

Scientists at The University of New Mexico have found that the Earth and Moon have distinct oxygen compositions and are not identical in oxygen as previously thought according to a new study released today in Nature Geoscience.

Elon Musk dismisses astronomy concerns over Starlink network

SpaceX founder Elon Musk on Monday dismissed scientists' concerns that his company's Starlink constellation of internet satellites would obscure the view of the night sky, predicting the network "will not cause any impact whatsoever in astronomical discoveries."

Image: The foam-coarsening experiment aboard the ISS

Another fluid experiment joins long running research on foam stability on the International Space Station. The Foam-Coarsening experiment, developed by Airbus for ESA, is scheduled to be activated this month in the Fluid Science Laboratory in the European Columbus module.

How the moon formed: New research sheds light on what happened

How the Earth got its moon is a long debated question. The giant impact theory – which states that the moon formed from the a collision between the early Earth and a rocky body called Theia—has become the front runner among the explanations. But the details around how this happened are blurry and there are many observations that scientists are still struggling to explain.

Every part of Blue Origin's new Glenn rocket is gigantic, including its nose cone

Massive. Enormous. Huge. Gigantic. And whatever other words you find in the thesaurus all do the job when it comes to describing Blue Origin's New Glenn Rocket. Especially its nosecone.

Docking, rendezvous and Newton's third law – the challenge of servicing satellites in space

If you want to build or fix something in space, you might think you'd need a human to do it. But what if you didn't? What if robotic spacecraft could be used to refuel satellites in orbit, add new instruments to outdated machinery and even build entire structures while in space?

Technology news

A scheme for hybrid access point (H-AP) deployment in smart cities

Researchers at the University of Essex, UESTC-China and ZTE have recently introduced a scheme for the deployment of hybrid access points (H-APs), which could simultaneously enable wireless information transfer (WIT) and wireless energy transfer (WET) in smart cities. This unique scheme, presented in a paper pre-published on arXiv, uses a mobility model of grid-based streets in urban environments to represent the movements of users navigating a city.

A robotic planner that responds to natural language commands

In years to come, robots could assist human users in a variety of ways, both when they are inside their homes and in other settings. To be more intuitive, robots should be able to follow natural language commands and instructions, as this allows users to communicate with them just as they would with other humans.

AMD processors susceptible to security vulnerabilities, data leaks

Graz University of Technology researchers recently revealed that AMD CPUs dating as far back as the early 2010s are susceptible to side channel attacks. Researchers have now demonstrated that a pair of infiltration approaches—collectively termed "Take A Way"—can access AES encryption keys.

Building a nuclear plant? Go online

Bucking current trends toward safe, clean and renewable energy resources, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur last week launched an initiative to reignite enthusiasm for nuclear energy.

Intel processors still vulnerable to attack: study

Computer scientists at KU Leuven have once again exposed a security flaw in Intel processors. Jo Van Bulck, Frank Piessens, and their colleagues in Austria, the United States, and Australia gave the manufacturer one year's time to fix the problem.

Analysis: Android has more vulnerabilities than Windows 10

Although Windows 10 users are used to complaining about bugs and upgrades, they may be surprised to learn that Android and Linux have more vulnerabilities.

Study uncovers a potential driver of premature solar panel failures

Unlike diamonds, solar panels are not forever. Ultraviolet rays, gusts of wind and heavy rain wear away at them over their lifetime.

Air France-KLM warns of worse to come after virus hits passenger numbers

Air-France KLM warned Tuesday the coronavirus outbreak will hit its business harder in coming months after February passenger numbers fell 0.5 percent overall as flights to China were cut.

Report: Pilots restarted software, causing fatal nosedive

Ethiopian investigators are mostly blaming Boeing for last year's crash of a Ethiopian Airlines jet shortly after takeoff, saying in an interim report Monday that there were design failures in the jet and inadequate training for pilots.

Restricting underage access to porn and gambling sites: Good idea, but technically tricky

Australia should work towards adopting a mandatory age-verification system for gambling and pornography websites, according to a recommendation from the federal parliamentary cross-party committee on social and legal issues.

Fueling a cleaner future for transport

A simple, fast and inexpensive method for modeling the combustion characteristics of gasoline has been developed by KAUST researchers, paving the way for cleaner and more efficient transport fuels.

Approximating a kernel of truth

By using an approximate rather than explicit "kernel" function to extract relationships in very large data sets, KAUST researchers have been able to dramatically accelerate the speed of machine learning. The approach promises to greatly improve the speed of artificial intelligence (AI) in the era of big data.

Avoiding a technological anxiety attack

Almost everywhere you look where two or more people are gathered together, someone is staring at the screen of a mobile phone or other device, swiping left, swiping right, tapping icons, scrolling…

Groundbreaking all-solid-state battery technology

On March 9 in London, researchers from the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) and the Samsung R&D Institute Japan (SRJ) presented a study on high-performance, long-lasting all-solid-state batteries to Nature Energy, one of the world's leading scientific journals.

Environmental disaster or key to a clean energy future? A new twist on hydropower

Steve Lowe gazed into a gaping pit in the heart of the California desert, careful not to let the blistering wind send him toppling over the edge.

FBI arrests Russian accused of heading hacker 'storefront'

US authorities have arrested a Russian national who ran a hacker "storefront" that took in at least $17 million by selling stolen personal data and other illegal products and services, according to court records.

Edited Biden video portends social media challenges in 2020

As former Vice President Joe Biden's drive for the White House gains momentum, the 77-year-old's political opponents on both the right and left have launched an internet campaign suggesting he's not mentally or physically equipped to serve—sometimes using altered content and other disinformation to make their case.

Google restricts visits to curb coronavirus risk

Google on Monday began restricting visits to its offices in Silicon Valley, San Francisco and New York as it ramped up precautions against the deadly novel coronavirus.

Boeing factory employee tests positive for virus

US aviation giant Boeing said Monday that one of its factory workers had tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus—the company's first known case.

Qantas grounds planes, CEO forgoes pay as virus spreads

Qantas announced Tuesday it was grounding most of its Airbus A380 fleet and its CEO would forgo his salary as the airline slashed international flights in response to the coronavirus epidemic.

Why raising the alcohol content of Europe's fuels could reduce carbon emissions

By 2030, a fifth of the fuel that motorists put into the petrol tanks of their cars could be alcohol, according to research concluding that new petrol and ethanol blends can reduce carbon emissions from Europe's transport sector with little additional cost to consumers.

Japan Inc scraps corporate joining events due to virus

Major Japanese firms such as Toyota and Toshiba have cancelled their traditional corporate joining ceremonies originally scheduled for next month due to the new coronavirus, officials said Tuesday.

Driver's-ed-inspired system could make automated parallel parking more accessible

One of the most challenging tasks for drivers is parallel parking, which is why automatic parking systems are becoming a popular feature on some vehicles. However, the cost of designing and implementing such computing-intensive systems can significantly increase a vehicle's price, creating a barrier to adding the feature in many models.

Autonomous on-demand buses underway in the streets of Europe

Would you like to take a ride on a driverless bus? This will be possible in five European cities between April and October 2020, where autonomous buses will be tested in real-life traffic conditions. Three international consortia have been awarded with contracts for the final phase of the pre-commercial procurement under the EU-funded FABULOS project. These consortia will pilot autonomous buses as part of the existing public transport systems. The initial tests will run in Gjesdal (Norway), Helsinki (Finland) and Tallinn (Estonia) in the spring and autumn. Pilots will also be launched in Lamia (Greece) and Helmond (the Netherlands).

China's Trip.com says no pay for top execs while virus rages

Top executives with Trip.com, China's leading online travel service, will accept no salaries starting from this month as the company copes with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, its CEO has told employees.

Twitter's 'manipulated media' tag on Trump tweet suffers glitch

Twitter Inc. marked a video posted by President Donald Trump's team as manipulated content under its new media policy. But the tag doesn't show up for all users.

Airlines slash flights, freeze hiring as virus cuts travel

Airlines are slashing flights and freezing hiring as they experience a sharp drop in bookings and a rise in cancellations in the face of the spreading coronavirus.

EU to stop 'ghost flights' in coronavirus fightback

The EU is to act "very rapidly" to help airlines struggling from the new coronavirus outbreak by proposing a law to stop "ghost flights" to keep airport slots, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Tuesday.

Ryanair and EasyJet cancel Italy flights

Budget airlines Ryanair and EasyJet are to cancel all Italian flights until early April after the government ordered the entire country locked down because of the coronavirus, they announced Tuesday.


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