Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Mar 31

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for March 31, 2020:

Due to an increasing volume of information and news about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we have split stories concerning the virus into a separate category in the MedicalXpress daily newsletter. As always, you may configure your email newsletter preferences in your ScienceX account.

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A new search for axion dark matter rules out past numerical predictions

Using skyrmions to create artificial synapses for neuromorphic computing

Neuroscientists gather new insight about the genetic risk of developing schizophrenia

Physicists weigh in on the origin of heavy elements

Sophisticatedly engineered 'watercourts' stored live fish, fueling Florida's Calusa kingdom

New method predicts which black holes escape their galaxies

On Mars or Earth, biohybrid can turn carbon dioxide into new products

Extreme high-frequency signals enable terabits-per-second data links

Study determines burst properties of the most recurring transient magnetar

Biochemists trap and visualize an enzyme as it becomes active

Researchers take another step closer to mind-reading computer

Sunny prospects for start-up's clear solar energy windows

Hubble finds best evidence for elusive mid-sized black hole

Blood test detects wide range of cancers, available to at risk individuals in clinical study

Untangling the social lives of spiders

Physics news

A new search for axion dark matter rules out past numerical predictions

The ADMX collaboration, a group of researchers working at universities across the U.S. and Europe, has recently performed a new search for invisible axion dark matter using a cavity haloscope and a low-noise Josephson parametric amplifier. Cavity haloscopes are sensitive instruments designed to detect and study halos around luminous bodies or other physical phenomena. Josephson parametric amplifiers, on the other hand, are technological tools that can be used to manipulate quantum states of microwave light fields.

Physicists weigh in on the origin of heavy elements

A long-held mystery in the field of nuclear physics is why the universe is composed of the specific materials we see around us. In other words, why is it made of "this" stuff and not other stuff?

New method predicts which black holes escape their galaxies

Shoot a rifle, and the recoil might knock you backward. Merge two black holes in a binary system, and the loss of momentum gives a similar recoil—a "kick"—to the merged black hole.

Extreme high-frequency signals enable terabits-per-second data links

Using the same technology that allows high-frequency signals to travel on regular phone lines, researchers tested sending extremely high-frequency, 200 GHz signals through a pair of copper wires. The result is a link that can move data at rates of terabits per second, significantly faster than currently available channels.

New explanation for sudden collapses of heat in plasmas can help create fusion energy on Earth

Scientists seeking to bring the fusion that powers the sun and stars to Earth must deal with sawtooth instabilities—up-and-down swings in the central pressure and temperature of the plasma that fuels fusion reactions, similar to the serrated blades of a saw. If these swings are large enough, they can lead to the sudden collapse of the entire discharge of the plasma. Such swings were first observed in 1974 and have so far eluded a widely accepted theory that explains experimental observations.

New quantum technology could help diagnose and treat heart condition

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart condition that causes an irregular and abnormally fast heart rate, potentially leading to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. While the causes of AF are unknown, it affects around one million people in the UK with cases predicted to rise at a great cost to the NHS.

High Altitude Water Cherenkov observatory tests speed of light

New measurements confirm, to the highest energies yet explored, that the laws of physics hold no matter where you are or how fast you're moving. Observations of record-breaking gamma rays prove the robustness of Lorentz Invariance—a piece of Einstein's theory of relativity that predicts the speed of light is constant everywhere in the universe. The High Altitude Water Cherenkov observatory in Puebla, Mexico detected the gamma rays coming from distant galactic sources.

Superfuids may merge via corkscrew mechanism

Scientists at the Florida State University-headquartered National High Magnetic Field Laboratory have made a discovery in fluid dynamics that is truly worth uncorking a bottle of fine wine.

Quantum-entangled light from a vibrating membrane

Entanglement, a powerful form of correlation among quantum systems, is an important resource for quantum computing. Researchers from the Quantum Optomechanics group at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, recently entangled two laser beams through bouncing them off the same mechanical resonator, a tensioned membrane. This provides a novel way of entangling disparate electromagnetic fields, from microwave radiation to optical beams. In particular, creating entanglement between optical and microwave fields would be a key step towards solving the long-standing challenge of sharing entanglement between two distant quantum computers operating in the microwave regime. The result is now published in Nature Communications.

New paradigm for 'auto-tuning' quantum bits could overcome major engineering hurdle

A high-end race car engine needs all its components tuned and working together precisely to deliver top-quality performance. The same can be said about the processor inside a quantum computer, whose delicate bits must be adjusted in just the right way before it can perform a calculation. Who's the right mechanic for this quantum tuneup job? According to a team that includes scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), it's an artificial intelligence, that's who.

Surfing the waves: Electrons break law to go with the flow

If you see people walking down a street and coming to a junction, it's difficult to predict which direction they might take. But, if you see people sitting in separate boats, floating down a stream, and the stream splits into two channels, it's likely that most, if not all, of them will be carried down one channel, the channel that has the stronger flow.

Astronomy and Space news

Study determines burst properties of the most recurring transient magnetar

Using NASA's Fermi and Swift spacecraft, astronomers have investigated SGR J1935+2154, the most recurring transient magnetar known to date. The new research sheds more light on the burst properties of this object. The study is detailed in a paper published March 23 on the arXiv pre-print repository.

Hubble finds best evidence for elusive mid-sized black hole

Astronomers have found the best evidence for the perpetrator of a cosmic homicide: a black hole of an elusive class known as "intermediate-mass," which betrayed its existence by tearing apart a wayward star that passed too close.

Warped space-time to help WFIRST find exoplanets

NASA's Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) will search for planets outside our solar system toward the center of our Milky Way galaxy, where most stars are. Studying the properties of exoplanet worlds will help us understand what planetary systems throughout the galaxy are like and how planets form and evolve.

Electron-eating neon causes star to collapse

An international team of researchers has found that neon inside a certain massive star can consume the electrons in the core, a process called electron capture, which causes the star to collapse into a neutron star and produce a supernova.

Unravelling the mystery of black holes: Scientists release stellar code to the public

Today, team COMPAS (Compact Object Mergers: Population Astrophysics and Statistics) has announced the first public beta release of their rapid binary population synthesis code (available for download here).

ESA to conduct BepiColombo flyby amid coronavirus crisis

Controllers at ESA's mission control center are preparing for a gravity-assist flyby of the European-Japanese Mercury explorer BepiColombo. The maneuver, which will see the mission adjust its trajectory by harnessing Earth's gravitational pull as it swings past the planet, will be performed amid restrictions ESA has implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

NASA selects mission to study causes of giant solar particle storms

NASA has selected a new mission to study how the Sun generates and releases giant space weather storms—known as solar particle storms—into planetary space. Not only will such information improve understanding of how our solar system works, but it ultimately can help protect astronauts traveling to the Moon and Mars by providing better information on how the Sun's radiation affects the space environment they must travel through.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope full mirror deployment a success

In a recent test, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope fully deployed its primary mirror into the same configuration it will have when in space.

Scientists reveal photochemical rationale of SH(X)/H2S abundance ratios in interstellar medium

Research group led by Prof. YUAN Kaijun and Prof. YANG Xueming from the Dalian Institue of Chemical Physics (DICP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences revealed the photochemical rationale of SH(X)/H2S abundance ratios in interstellar medium with the help of Dalian Coherent Light Source. The results were published in Nature Communications.

Optical telescopes obtain long-term monitoring results of flux variability in blazars

Blazars are a special kind of rare active galactic nuclei. They are currently the most likely candidates for high-energy neutrinos. Their relativistic jets may be the origin area of super-high-energy cosmic rays and neutrinos.

Technology news

Using skyrmions to create artificial synapses for neuromorphic computing

Skyrmions are ultra-stable atomic objects first discovered in real materials in 2009, which have more recently also been found also to exist at room temperatures. These unique objects have a number of desirable properties, including a substantially small threshold voltage, nanoscale sizes and easy electrical manipulation.

Sunny prospects for start-up's clear solar energy windows

A Redwood City, California-based tech startup has developed a glass window packed with transparent photovoltaic cells that it believes will revolutionize the way solar energy is harnessed.

Using cues and actions to help people get along with artificial intelligence

Learning how people interact with artificial intelligence-enabled machines—and using that knowledge to improve people's trust in AI—may help us live in harmony with the ever-increasing number of robots, chatbots and other smart machines in our midst, according to a Penn State researcher.

Some mobile phone apps may contain hidden behaviors that users never see

A team of cybersecurity researchers has discovered that a large number of cell phone applications contain hardcoded secrets allowing others to access private data or block content provided by users.

Scientists tap unused energy source to power smart sensor networks

The electricity that lights our homes and powers our appliances also creates small magnetic fields that are present all around us. Scientists have developed a new mechanism capable of harvesting this wasted magnetic field energy and converting it into enough electricity to power next-generation sensor networks for smart buildings and factories.

China's Huawei says '19 sales up 19% despite U.S. sanctions

Chinese tech giant Huawei said Tuesday its sales of smartphones and other products grew by double digits last year despite U.S. sanctions but warned it now faces a "more complicated" global environment.

Airbnb to pay hosts $250 mn for COVID-19 cancellations

Airbnb on Monday said it is devoting $250 million to help would-be hosts survive financial losses from refunds given to guests who cancelled travel plans due to the coronavirus pandemic.

China's Huawei warns more US pressure may spur retaliation

Huawei's chairman warned Tuesday that more U.S. moves to increase pressure on the Chinese tech giant might trigger retaliation by Beijing that could damage its worldwide industry.

'Pandemic drones': Useful for enforcing social distancing, or for creating a police state?

People in Western Australia may soon see more than birds in the sky, as the state's police force has announced plans to deploy drones to enforce social distancing. The drones will visit parks, beaches and cafe strips, ensuring people comply with the most recent round of gathering rules.

These tools help older people connect digitally while isolating

Social isolation is hardly a new experience for many older people. If there is one silver lining to the current pandemic it may be that people of all ages are now in a position to gain empathetic insight into what was already daily life for many older people living on their own.

Cut off because of coronavirus? Connect with Marco Polo walkie-talkie video app

This week, more people downloaded the Marco Polo app from the Apple iOS app store than such long-established household names as Google Chrome, WhatsApp, Skype or Twitter, according to market tracker Apptopia.

OpenTable launches tool to help you avoid long lines at restaurants, grocery stores

The dinner reservation platform OpenTable is launching a tool to help grocery stores and restaurants mitigate long lines and overcrowding in the age of coronavirus.

Microsoft renames 365, throws in new Word, Excel features and more

Microsoft is overhauling its Office 365 subscription with a new focus on consumers, changing the name to Microsoft 365 and throwing in tons of new features for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Skype.

Nintendo to release remastered Mario classics for Switch in 2020

The Super Mario series is celebrating its 35th anniversary and Nintendo seems to have major plans in the works to commemorate the video game series franchise.

No musical talent, no problem—there are now apps for that

A new social music app is pushing the boundaries of music creation by making recording artists out of novices with little to no musical training or traditional talent.

'Tequila' powered biofuels more efficient than corn or sugar

The agave plant used to make tequila could be established in semi-arid Australia as an environmentally friendly solution to Australia's transport fuel shortage, a team of researchers at the University of Sydney, University of Exeter and University of Adelaide has found.

Those without broadband struggle in a stuck-at-home nation

In Sandwich, New Hampshire, a town of 1,200 best known as the setting for the movie "On Golden Pond," broadband is scarce. Forget streaming Netflix, much less working or studying from home. Even the police department has trouble uploading its reports.

Marriott says new data breach affects 5.2 million guests

Marriott says guests' names, loyalty account information and other personal details may have been accessed in the second major data breach to hit the company in less than two years.

Watchdog finds new problems with FBI wiretap applications

The FBI has failed to follow its own policies for ensuring the accuracy of applications it submits to conduct wiretaps in national security investigations, including in some cases by not having documentation to support arguments made to judges, according to a letter released Tuesday,

AI as mediator: 'Smart' replies help humans communicate during pandemic

Daily life during a pandemic means social distancing and finding new ways to remotely connect with friends, family and co-workers. And as we communicate online and by text, artificial intelligence could play a role in keeping our conversations on track, according to new Cornell University research.

Facebook feature lets people reach out for help in pandemic

Facebook on Tuesday activated a feature allowing people impacted by the coronavirus pandemic to reach out for help from their community.

Virus-linked fraud schemes cost US consumers nearly $5 mn

Coronavirus-related fraud schemes are rising fast and have cost US consumers some $4.77 million so far, a government watchdog said Tuesday.

Fiat Chrysler boss takes 50% temporary pay cut on virus

Fiat Chrysler chief executive Mike Manley will take a 50 percent pay cut for three months as part of efforts to protect the company's financial health during the coronavirus pandemic.

American Airlines to apply for $12 bn in govt relief

American Airlines became the first US carrier to announce it will request federal aid under the just-approved relief package, saying it will apply for $12 billion as it attempts to survive a global downturn sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.

Air Canada to temporarily lay off half its workforce

Air Canada announced Monday it would temporarily lay off nearly half of its employees and reduce activity by up to 90 percent in the second quarter due to the coronavirus.

How to help your relatives stay connected online during COVID-19

Professor of computer science and award-winning educator, Richard Buckland, shares his tips for helping less tech-savvy relatives adapt to socializing online—with as little tension as possible.

Dubai to inject capital into grounded Emirates Airline

Dubai said Tuesday it will support Emirates Airline with a capital injection to help the carrier through the coronavirus crisis which has forced it to halt passenger flights.

'Infodemic': Social media companies can do more to cut down coronavirus misinformation

As we practice social distancing, our embrace of social media gets only tighter. The major social media platforms have emerged as the critical information purveyors for influencing the choices people make during the expanding pandemic. There's also reason for worry: the World Health Organization is concerned about an "infodemic," a glut of accurate and inaccurate information about COVID-19.

Walmart to begin temperature checks of workers

Walmart announced Tuesday it will begin taking the temperatures of workers at stores and warehouse facilities in the United States as it fortifies its response to the coronavirus pandemic.


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