Science X Newsletter Thursday, Apr 30

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for April 30, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Imaging nematic transitions in iron pnictide superconductors

Study shows our sun is less active than similar stars

Switchbacks and spikes: Parker Solar Probe data consistent with 20-year-old theory

Scientists find highest ever level of microplastics on seafloor

Water is key in catalytic conversion of methane to methanol

A new solvent system: Hydrothermal molten salt

First results from ICESat-2 mission map 16 years of melting ice sheets

Researchers detect a supercurrent at the edge of a superconductor with a topological twist

Astronomers capture rare images of planet-forming disks around stars

New AI enables teachers to rapidly develop intelligent tutoring systems

New imaging technique sheds light on adult zebrafish brain

Antibodies from llamas could help in fight against COVID-19

'Gargantuan' hail in Argentina may have smashed world record

Computational techniques explore 'the dark side of amyloid aggregation in the brain'

New STM technique points way to new and purer pharmaceuticals

Physics news

Imaging nematic transitions in iron pnictide superconductors

Researchers at Stanford University have recently carried out an in-depth study of nematic transitions in iron pnictide superconductors. Their paper, published in Nature Physics, presents new imaging data of these transitions collected using a microscope they invented, dubbed the scanning quantum cryogenic atom microscope (SQCRAMscope).

Researchers detect a supercurrent at the edge of a superconductor with a topological twist

A discovery that long eluded physicists has been detected in a laboratory at Princeton. A team of physicists detected superconducting currents—the flow of electrons without wasting energy—along the exterior edge of a superconducting material. The finding was published in the May 1 issue of the journal Science.

Playing pool with neutrinos: Certain interactions look similar to the game

Hard to believe you can play pool with neutrinos, but certain neutrino interaction events are closer to the game than you think.

Double bubbles pierce with less trouble

Two microscopic bubbles are better than one at penetrating soft materials, concludes a new study by engineers at the University of California, Riverside.

First-of-its-kind demonstration unlocks further discovery for quantum technologies

Hidden within countless materials are valuable properties that will enable the next generation of technologies, like quantum computing and improved solar cells.

Major upgrades of particle detectors and electronics prepare CERN experiment to stream a data tsunami

For a gargantuan nuclear physics experiment that will generate big data at unprecedented rates—called A Large Ion Collider Experiment, or ALICE—the University of Tennessee has worked with the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory to lead a group of U.S. nuclear physicists from a suite of institutions in the design, development, mass production and delivery of a significant upgrade of novel particle detectors and state-of-the art electronics, with parts built all over the world and now undergoing installation at CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Gravitational waves could prove the existence of the quark-gluon plasma

Neutron stars are among the densest objects in the Uiverse. If our Sun, with its radius of 700,000 kilometres were a neutron star, its mass would be condensed into an almost perfect sphere with a radius of around 12 kilometres. When two neutron stars collide and merge into a hyper-massive neutron star, the matter in the core of the new object becomes incredibly hot and dense. According to physical calculations, these conditions could result in hadrons such as neutrons and protons, which are the particles normally found in our daily experience, dissolving into their components of quarks and gluons and thus producing a quark-gluon plasma.

Machine learning enhances light–Matter interactions in dielectric nanostructures

A paper published in Advanced Photonics "Enhanced light–matter interactions in dielectric nanostructures via machine-learning approach," suggests that machine-learning techniques can be used to enhance metasurfaces, optimizing them for nonlinear optics and optomechanics. The discovery has promising possibilities for the development of a wide range of photonic devices and applications including those involved in optical sensing, optoacoustic vibrations, and narrowband filtering.

Astronomy and Space news

Study shows our sun is less active than similar stars

By cosmic standards the sun is extraordinarily monotonous. This is the result of a study presented by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in the upcoming issue of Science. For the first time, the scientists compared the sun with hundreds of other stars with similar rotation periods. Most displayed much stronger variations. This raises the question whether the sun has been going through an unusually quiet phase for several millennia.

Switchbacks and spikes: Parker Solar Probe data consistent with 20-year-old theory

Continued analysis of Parker Solar Probe data is starting to create a clearer picture of the sun's magnetic activity, which may bolster our ability to predict dangerous solar events.

Astronomers capture rare images of planet-forming disks around stars

An international team of astronomers has captured 15 images of the inner rims of planet-forming disks located hundreds of light-years away. These disks of dust and gas, similar in shape to a music record, form around young stars. The images shed new light on how planetary systems are formed. They were published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Future detectors to detect millions of black holes and the evolution of the universe

Gravitational-wave astronomy provides a unique new way to study the expansion history of the Universe. On 17 August 2017, the LIGO and Virgo collaborations first detected gravitational waves from a pair of neutron stairs merging. The gravitational wave signal was accompanied by a range of counterparts identified with electromagnetic telescopes.

Clearing up a supermassive (black hole) confusion

Black holes are among the most enigmatic objects in our universe. These mysterious celestial bodies do not emit any light of their own and are thus incredibly difficult to spot. In fact, one can only detect black holes based on the effects that they have on their surroundings. Black-holes come in various flavors and sizes, from 'small' stellar-mass black holes to supermassive black holes found in the center of galaxies. Stellar-mass black holes are the final remnants of massive stars, born more than 20 to 30 times the mass of our Sun and should only form in certain mass ranges according to current theory. In this context, the claimed discovery, published in the distinguished journal Nature in November 2019, of a black hole 70 times more massive than our Sun caught the attention of the astronomical community.

Alabama student names NASA's first Mars helicopter

An Alabama high school student named NASA's first Mars helicopter that will be deployed to the red planet later this summer.

Astronomers could spot life signs orbiting long-dead stars

The next generation of powerful Earth- and space-based telescopes will be able to hunt distant solar systems for evidence of life on Earth-like exoplanets—particularly those that chaperone burned-out stars known as white dwarfs.

NASA's Webb Telescope to unravel riddles of a stellar nursery

A bustling stellar nursery in the picturesque Orion Nebula will be a subject of study for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in 2021. A team led by Mark McCaughrean, the Webb Interdisciplinary Scientist for Star Formation, will survey an inner region of the nebula called the Trapezium Cluster. This cluster is home to a thousand or so young stars, all crammed into a space only 4 light-years across—about the distance from our Sun to Alpha Centauri.

No blue skies for super-hot planet WASP-79b

The weather forecast for the giant, super-hot Jupiter-size planet WASP-79b is steamy humidity, scattered clouds, iron rain, and yellow skies.

Musk, Bezos win NASA contracts for Moon lander

NASA on Thursday awarded almost $1 billion in contracts to three space companies including those owned by Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos to develop lunar landers as the United States seeks to return human beings to the Moon.

Terrible luck: The only person ever killed by a meteorite—back in 1888

What are your chances of getting smacked – and killed—by a meteorite? One astronomer put the odds of death by space rock at 1 in 700,000 in a lifetime, while others say it's more like 1 in 1,600,000.

Video: Can wormholes act like time machines?

Time travel into the past is a tricky thing. We know of no single law of physics that absolutely forbids it, and yet we can't find a way to do it, and if we could do it, the possibility opens up all sorts of uncomfortable paradoxes (like what would happen if you killed your own grandfather).

China's first Mars Lander is going to be called 'Tianwen'

Friday April 24th was China's "Space Day," celebrated on the 50 year anniversary of their first satellite launch. This past Friday, China marked the occasion with the announcement of the name for their first Mars Lander: Tianwen.

Technology news

New AI enables teachers to rapidly develop intelligent tutoring systems

Intelligent tutoring systems have been shown to be effective in helping to teach certain subjects, such as algebra or grammar, but creating these computerized systems is difficult and laborious. Now, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have shown they can rapidly build them by, in effect, teaching the computer to teach.

An ultra-thin and ultra-flexible organic solar cell for advanced wearable devices

Research from Monash University, the University of Tokyo and RIKEN, partly undertaken at the Australian Synchrotron, has produced an ultra-flexible ultra-thin organic solar cell that delivered a world-leading performance under significant stretching and strain.

Artificial intelligence still lags behind humans at recognising emotions

When it comes to reading emotions on people's faces, artificial intelligence still lags behind human observers, according to a new study involving UCL.

Researchers unveil a pruning algorithm to make artificial intelligence applications run faster

As more artificial intelligence applications move to smartphones, deep learning models are getting smaller to allow apps to run faster and save battery power. Now, MIT researchers have a new and better way to compress models.

Tesla ekes out 1Q profit, Musk rails against virus measures

Tesla reported that it eked out a first-quarter net profit Wednesday and its CEO went on a rant about the legality of government stay-home orders issued to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

Facebook revenue growth slows, but 'signs of stability' rise

Facebook on Wednesday reported its slowest quarterly growth as a public company, pressured by the coronavirus pandemic and a resulting global slowdown in digital advertising.

Microsoft's cloud business helps offset pandemic woes

Ongoing demand for Microsoft's cloud computing services help softened the blow of the coronavirus pandemic on the software giant's other products during the first three months of the year.

US trade commission probing Nintendo Switch patent complaint

Shares in Nintendo fell Thursday after the US international trade commission said it was investigating alleged patent infringement involving the Japanese firm's hugely popular Switch game console.

Twitter offers data to researchers studying virus

Twitter said Wednesday it would allow researchers to access data on real-time conversations about the coronavirus pandemic to help deepen their understanding of the disease.

The COVIDSafe app was just one contact tracing option. These alternatives guarantee more privacy

Since its release on Sunday, experts and members of the public alike have raised privacy concerns with the federal government's COVIDSafe mobile app.

COVID-19 testing sites to childcare: Google's self-made maps get huge boost during crisis

Google's "MyMaps," which offers self-generated directions, has been rediscovered in a big way during the COVID-19 crisis.

High-tech prosthetic arm melds with patient's anatomy

A new "mind-controlled" prosthetic arm can allow amputees to regain a sense of touch and move through their daily lives more easily, researchers report.

Twitter swings to loss as pandemic hits advertising

Twitter swung to a loss in the past quarter as the global pandemic hit advertising revenue, even as the social platform saw a surge in new users.

EU demands end to coronavirus cyberattacks

The European Union on Thursday accused unnamed parties of exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to launch cyberattacks on infrastructure and healthcare services.

Warsaw hospitals eye drones to transport virus test samples

A Polish company is betting that its drones can help save lives by speeding up deliveries of coronavirus test samples and medical supplies.

Energy generated on offshore wind turbine farms and conveyed ashore as hydrogen fuel

Researchers at the UPV/EHU's Faculty of Engineering—Vitoria-Gasteiz have proposed using the energy generated on offshore wind turbine farms to produce hydrogen in situ instead of conveying it ashore by cable. They have shown that this is technically possible and economically viable. They have also confirmed that incorporating some very low-cost components significantly improves wind turbine efficiency. The research has been published by the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy.

Researchers develop groundbreaking new rocket-propulsion system

A University of Central Florida researcher and his team have developed an advanced new rocket-propulsion system once thought to be impossible.

3-D-printed concrete to help build offshore wind energy infrastructure

Wind off the coasts of the U.S. could be used to generate more than double the combined electricity capacity of all the nation's electric power plants, reports have suggested.

Nokia profit up; sales dip with coronavirus supply issues

Finnish telecom equipment maker Nokia has reported improved first quarter profit but said the COVID-19 pandemic dented sales by around 200 million euros ($218 million) mainly due to supply issues associated with disruptions in China.

Japan Airlines net profit falls nearly 65% as virus hits travel

Japan Airlines' annual net profit plunged nearly 65 percent, the company said Thursday, as it faced the "unprecedented" impact of the coronavirus pandemic on aviation demand.

Researchers study possible privacy issues of using bluetooth for contact tracing

Bluetooth technology is expected to play a role in efforts to track down people who may have come in contact with those diagnosed with COVID-19.

Amazon workers tally virus cases, voice alarms about risks

With each new case of COVID-19 reported at an Amazon warehouse, workers receive a text or voicemail alert assuring them that the best safety procedures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are being put in place.

Comcast profit slides as pandemic hits movies, theme parks

Comcast's net income slid in the first three months of the year as the coronavirus pandemic forced it to shut down its theme parks and its movies were kept out of shuttered theaters.

American Airlines posts $2.2 billion loss during pandemic

American Airlines lost $2.24 billion in the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic triggered a sharp drop in air travel, and the airline is taking steps to survive but as a smaller carrier.

New technology revolutionizes 3-D metal printing

Selective LED-based melting (SLEDM)—the targeted melting of metal powder using high-power LED light sources—is the name of the new technology that a team led by Franz Haas, head of the Institute of Production Engineering at TU Graz, has developed for 3-D metal printing and has now applied for a patent. The technology is similar to selective laser melting (SLM) and electron beam melting (EBM), in which metal powder is melted by means of a laser or electron beam and built up into a component layer by layer. However, SLEDM solves two central problems of these powder bed-based manufacturing processes: the time-consuming production of large-volume metal components and the time-consuming manual post-processing.

Workers to protest conditions at Amazon, Instacart and other retailers Friday

Workers are uniting and striking May 1, International Worker's Day, to protest working conditions at Amazon, Instacart, Shipt, Whole Foods, Walmart, Target and FedEx.

Twitter stock slips amid pandemic-caused revenue uncertainty

Twitter's stock tumbled Thursday after the company failed to show that it's weathering the pandemic-borne digital advertising slump the same way its bigger rivals Facebook and Google are.


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