Science X Newsletter Monday, Apr 27

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for April 27, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Photonic metasurfaces provide a new playground for twistronics

2MASS J050051.85–093054.9 is the closest extremely low-mass white dwarf, study finds

They remember: Communities of microbes found to have working memory

Sustainable light achieved in living plants

New findings suggest laws of nature 'downright weird,' not as constant as previously thought

Discovery: Scientists find for the first time how the eyes drain cellular waste and debris

'Elegant' solution reveals how the universe got its structure

Coupled magnetic materials show interesting properties for quantum applications

A new explanation for the origins of human fatherhood

Hurricanes twist evolution in island lizards

Researchers dig into case of geologic amnesia

Virus-infected honey bees more likely to gain entrance to healthy hives

Swift mission tallied water from interstellar comet Borisov

Could your contact lenses track, treat your diabetes?

Study traces spread of early dairy farming across Western Europe

Physics news

New findings suggest laws of nature 'downright weird,' not as constant as previously thought

Not only does a universal constant seem annoyingly inconstant at the outer fringes of the cosmos, it occurs in only one direction, which is downright weird.

Coupled magnetic materials show interesting properties for quantum applications

Like fans that blow in sync, certain magnetic materials can exhibit interesting energetic properties. In order to find new ways to transmit and process information, scientists have begun to explore the behavior of electronic and magnetic spins, specifically their resonant excitations, as information carriers. In some cases, researchers have identified new phenomena that could help eventually inform the creation of new devices for spintronic and quantum applications.

Quantum electrodynamics experiment 'major step toward' large-scale implementation

The fundamental laws of physics are based on symmetries that determine the interactions between charged particles, among other things. Using ultracold atoms, researchers at Heidelberg University have experimentally constructed the symmetries of quantum electrodynamics. They hope to gain new insights for implementing future quantum technologies that can simulate complex physical phenomena. The results of the study were published in the journal Science.

Applying quantum-impurity theory to quantum fluids of light

A Monash-led study develops a new approach to directly observe correlated, many-body states in an exciton-polariton system that go beyond classical theories.

To tame an electron bunch in an X-ray laser, scientists put a ring on it

A team of scientists has come up with a way to improve electron bunches and produce brighter X-ray beams: Put a ring on them. The team, which includes researchers from the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University, published their results in Physical Review Letters earlier this month.

It takes a neutron beam to find a proton

Understanding the behavior of proteins and enzymes is key to unlocking the secrets of biological processes. The atomic structures of proteins are generally investigated using X-ray crystallography; however, the precise information for hydrogen atoms and protons (hydrogen ions) is usually unattainable. Now a team including Osaka University, Osaka Medical College, National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology, Ibaraki University, and University of Tsukuba has used neutron crystallography to reveal high-resolution structural details of a very large oxidase protein. Their findings are published in PNAS.

New metasurface laser produces world's first super-chiral light

Researchers have demonstrated the world's first metasurface laser that produces "super-chiral light": light with ultra-high angular momentum. The light from this laser can be used as a type of "optical spanner" to or for encoding information in optical communications.

Superconductivity: It's hydrogen's fault

Last summer, a new age for high-temperature superconductivity was proclaimed—the nickel age. It was discovered that there are promising superconductors in a special class of materials, the so-called nickelates, which can conduct electric current without any resistance even at high temperatures.

A new spin on low-power data storage: Tiny ferromagnets with ultrathin insulating layers

The ability to control the magnetization of electrodes made from ferromagnets could help develop more energy-efficient devices for spintronic applications, including data storage technologies, wearable electronics and implantable medical devices.

Making terahertz waves: Why liquids prefer long optical pulses

Laser-induced ionization in matter—gas, cluster, liquid, and solid—occurs when a laser pulse with sufficient intensity is focused into a target material, creating electrons and ions through nonlinear processes of laser-matter interaction. Photoionization is an effective way to generate transient currents and electromagnetic radiation covering the spectrum from microwaves to X-rays.

Astronomy and Space news

2MASS J050051.85–093054.9 is the closest extremely low-mass white dwarf, study finds

A team of astronomers from Australia and Italy has investigated a nearby white dwarf designated 2MASS J050051.85–093054.9 (J0500−0930 for short). In their new study, they report that the object is the closest extremely low-mass white dwarf. The finding is detailed in a paper published April 16 on arXiv.org.

'Elegant' solution reveals how the universe got its structure

The universe is full of billions of galaxies—but their distribution across space is far from uniform. Why do we see so much structure in the universe today and how did it all form and grow?

Swift mission tallied water from interstellar comet Borisov

For the first time, NASA's Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory tracked water loss from an interstellar comet as it approached and rounded the Sun. The object, 2I/Borisov, traveled through the solar system in late 2019.

A universe with oligarchs: Era of reionization likely the work of the most massive, luminous galaxies

The sparsely distributed hot gas found today between galaxies, the intergalactic medium (IGM), is ionized. The early universe started off hot, but then it rapidly expanded and cooled allowing its main constituent, hydrogen, to combine to form neutral atoms. When and how did these neutral atoms become reionized to compose the IGM we see today? Astronomers think that ultraviolet radiation emitted by massive young stars did this work once stars began to form and shine during the cosmic era named after this activity, the "era of reionization."

World's first 3-D simulations of superluminous supernovae

For most of the 20th century, astronomers have scoured the skies for supernovae—the explosive deaths of massive stars—and their remnants in search of clues about the progenitor, the mechanisms that caused it to explode, and the heavy elements created in the process. In fact, these events create most of the cosmic elements that go on to form new stars, galaxies, and life.

Research on the International Space Station shows key changes in cultured heart cells

Spaceflight changes much about the human body, including how the heart functions and how cells that create heart tissue behave. Scientists studying these changes on the International Space Station continue to report important discoveries.

Technology news

'Think small, learn fast' might be the way to go for novel energy technologies

In a paper just published in the journal Joule, scientists from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and TNO Energy Transition present an analysis of learning curves in energy technology and conclude that a focus on smaller unit size could facilitate faster cost reduction. According to Bob van der Zwaan, professor of sustainable energy technology at the UvA's Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS), this is particularly relevant for devices and processes capable of generating solar fuels, such as hydrogen, that may become essential elements of future energy systems.

Thin, iron-based generator uses waste heat to provide small amounts of power

Researchers have found a way to convert heat energy into electricity with a nontoxic material. The material is mostly iron, which is extremely cheap given its relative abundance. A generator based on this material could power small devices such as remote sensors or wearable devices. The material can be thin so it could be shaped into various forms.

Microsoft boasts 99 percent accuracy in AI bug detection

Software bugs have been a concern for programmers for nearly 75 years since the day programmer Grace Murray Hopper reported the cause of an error in an early Harvard Mark II computer: a moth stuck between relay contacts. Thus the term "bug" was born.

Tesla says cars can automatically stop for traffic lights

After testing on public roads, Tesla is rolling out a new feature of its partially automated driving system designed to spot stop signs and traffic signals.

Why we adopt then abandon online safety practices

We try to follow experts' cybersecurity and privacy recommendations but quite often many of us do so halfway or we give up.

Netflix has capitalized on social isolation, but will its success continue in a post-coronavirus world?

The coronavirus pandemic has been good business for Netflix: the video streaming service has added more than 15 million new subscribers so far this year. From an investing perspective, Netflix always surprises. Either the company's quarterly results turn out to disappoint or amaze —rarely do they stay within expectations.

New image recognition method proposed based on large-scale dataset

Researchers from the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology (SIAT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have proposed a product image recognition method with guidance learning and noisy supervision. The study was published in Computer Vision and Image Understanding.

Automating complex 3-D modeling could save hours of manual labor

A team of researchers led by Sandia National Laboratories have invented a first-of-its-kind software for scientists to create accurate digital representations of complex objects.

Mobile phone data is useful in coronavirus battle. But are people protected enough?

Tracking people infected with COVID-19 has become an important weapon in global responses to combating the virus. Through the use of geo-location, mobile technology offers a simple solution for tracing people possibly exposed to COVID-19. With big data analytics there is the potential for tracking the pandemic's spread, and employing analytics to forecast future patterns of contagion.

COVIDSafe tracking app reviewed: the government delivers on data security, but other issues remain

About 1.13 million people had downloaded the federal government's COVIDSafe app by 6am today, just 12 hours after its release last night, said Health Minister Greg Hunt. The government is hoping at least 40% of the population will make use of the app, designed to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus disease.

Virtual and augmented reality: Warnings about the ethical dangers

Research on virtual reality started in the eighties, but only now is the technology advanced to the point where it is becoming available to the public, and it can become a mass consumer product soon. However, there is almost no scientific knowledge on the effects of virtual reality in the long run, nor any oversight over content.

Open access hardware and 3-D printing can help tackle demand for health supplies

Free open source hardware and 3-D printing could help to alleviate the burden of Covid-19 on global health systems, according to scientists at the University of Sussex.

Condor airline receives 550 mln euros in German state aid

Stricken airline Condor on Monday said it would receive 550 million euros ($596 million) in loans from the German government and the state of Hesse to keep it afloat during the coronavirus crisis.

Proximity tracing and the coronavirus pandemic: A proposal for Germany

Proximity tracing apps are a digital option for efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic currently underway. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has developed an approach of its own for a German proximity tracing app. Using Bluetooth technology on cell phones to measure distance and time, it is to send digital notifications to people who are at risk of a SARS-CoV-2 infection. The aim is to develop an IT system with digital tools to augment health authorities' processes.

Hotels, Airbnb beef up cleaning standards to calm travelers

Hotels and home-sharing companies are beefing up their cleaning efforts in order to soothe jittery travelers.

The COVID-19 infodemic: Combating dangerous misinformation on social media

As the world stays home, the withdrawal from public life in response to COVID-19 has moved difficult conversations about the global pandemic to social media. Many exchanges are rife with falsehoods and misinformation, particularly on text-focused channels like Facebook and Twitter.

Development of a new ventilator prototype for the ICU against COVID-19

Researchers and technicians from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and the University Hospital Gregorio Marañón (HGUGM) have designed and developed a new ventilator prototype for Intensive Care Units (ICU) in the fight against the health crisis caused by COVID-19. The assembly of two units has just been completed in order to start animal tests and homologation processes.

ExOne, Pitt collaborate to produce reusable respirators with 3-D printed metal filters

The ExOne Company and the University of Pittsburgh have partnered to develop reusable metal filters that fit into a specially designed respirator cartridge for sustainable, long-term protection against contaminants, such as COVID-19.

Boeing directors elected despite concerns by advisory firms

Boeing shareholders approved a slate of 12 company-backed nominees for the board on Monday despite recommendations from two proxy advisers against five directors, including the chairman, for what the advisers called poor oversight of the company's handling of the 737 Max crisis.

Airbus warns of new production cuts as finances diminish

Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury has warned employees of new production cuts at the European aircraft maker due to the crisis caused by the coronavirus, saying that its finances were diminishing at an unprecedented rate, according to a letter obtained by AFP Monday.

Embraer shares drop 15 pct after Boeing deal fails

Shares of Embraer plunged by 15 percent Monday after Boeing pulled out of a $4.2 billion deal to buy the Brazilian aircraft maker's commercial plane division.

GM suspends dividend to save cash

General Motors announced Monday that it will suspend its dividend and halt share repurchases as it conserves cash amid a broad economic slowdown expected to weigh on auto purchases.

Boeing CEO sees slow airline rebound, no dividend for 'years'

Boeing's head said Monday that restoring the dividend could take three to five years as the company girds for a slow air travel recovery in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.


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