Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Apr 7

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for April 7, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

DNA Lego bricks enable fast rewritable data storage

What makes Saturn's atmosphere so hot

X-ray source 3XMM J000511.8+634018 is a polar, study suggests

Researchers devise treatment that relieved depression in 90% of participants in small study

Students who listened to Beethoven during lecture—and in dreamland—did better on test

Stream pollution from mountaintop mining doesn't stay put in the water

Coronavirus patients can benefit from blood of the recovered, new study shows

Successful MERS vaccine in mice may hold promise for COVID-19 vaccine

Bubble dynamics reveal how to empty bottles faster

Simulations show extreme opinions can lead to polarized groups

Boeing to redo test flight of uncrewed Starliner spaceship

COVID-19: On average, only 6% of actual infections detected worldwide

Bethe strings experimentally observed

How understanding the dynamics of yeast prions can shed light on neurodegenerative diseases

Celiac disease linked to increased risk of premature death

Physics news

Bubble dynamics reveal how to empty bottles faster

Bottle emptying is a phenomenon most of us have observed while pouring a beverage. Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee discovered how to make bottles empty faster, which has wide-ranging implications for many areas beyond the beverage industry.

Simulations show extreme opinions can lead to polarized groups

In recent years, chaos theory and other forms of computational modeling have sought to leverage findings in the social sciences to better describe—and maybe one day predict—how groups of people behave. One approach looks to update a widely used model to examine how changes in political opinions ripple through a group and how polarization can arise.

Bethe strings experimentally observed

Ninety years ago, the physicist Hans Bethe postulated that unusual patterns, so-called Bethe strings, appear in certain magnetic solids. Now, an international team has succeeded in experimentally detecting such Bethe strings for the first time. They used neutron scattering experiments at various neutron facilities, including the unique high-field magnet of BER II at HZB. The experimental data are in excellent agreement with the theoretical prediction of Bethe, and prove once again the power of quantum physics.

Belle II yields the first results: In search of the Z′ boson

The Belle II experiment has been collecting data from physical measurements for about one year. After several years of rebuilding work, both the SuperKEKB electron–positron accelerator and the Belle II detector have been improved compared with their predecessors in order to achieve a 40-fold higher data rate.

Bending microwaves and forbidding frequencies with simulated metamaterials

Using plasma to control microwaves for beaming direct energy toward a specific point is explored for their durability in high-energy electric fields and their reconfigurable structure. High power microwave beams, similar to lasers, can transmit energy at high speeds over long distances, unaffected by wind, gravity, or other forces. Aerospace engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign simulated a metamaterial formed from plasma structures to demonstrate its potential to tune microwave frequencies.

When Maxwell's demon takes its time: Measuring microparticle reaction time

Researchers at the Universities Vienna and Stuttgart have investigated a version of Maxwell's demon embodied by a delayed feedback force acting on a levitated microparticle. They confirmed new fundamental limits that time delay imposes on the demon's actions which are not covered by the standard laws of thermodynamics. The team of scientists published their new study in the journal Nature Communications.

Antibiotic matter waves: The quantum wave nature of a complex antibiotic polypeptide

One of the central tenets of quantum mechanics is the wave-particle duality. It tells us that even massive objects behave like both particles and waves. A number of previous experiments have shown this for electrons, neutrons, atoms and even large molecules. Quantum theory maintains that this is a universal property of matter. However, it had been notoriously difficult to extend this research to complex biomolecular systems. New experiments at the University of Vienna, supported by quantum chemical modeling at Stanford University, now demonstrate for the first time the quantum wave nature of a complex antibiotic polypeptide, here gramicidin. The results have been published in Nature Communications.

AI system that predicts movement of glass molecules transitioning between liquid and solid states

A team of researchers at Google's DeepMind has developed an AI system that is able to predict the movement of glass molecules as the material transitions between liquid and solid states. They have published a paper outlining their work on the DeepMind website.

Secure light-based communication through biological tissues

Visible light communications (VLC), and optical communications overall, caught professor Marcos Katz's interest when he and his team first demonstrated in 2017 a reconfigurable hybrid wireless network exploiting VLC and radio technologies. The network seamlessly switched from radio to optical, or vice versa, according to the condition of the channels, context information, local policies and others.

Astronomy and Space news

What makes Saturn's atmosphere so hot

The upper layers in the atmospheres of gas giants—Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune—are hot, just like Earth's. But unlike Earth, the Sun is too far from these outer planets to account for the high temperatures. Their heat source has been one of the great mysteries of planetary science.

X-ray source 3XMM J000511.8+634018 is a polar, study suggests

Astronomers from Germany and France have investigated a newly discovered variable X-ray source known as 3XMM J000511.8+634018. Results of the new study suggest that the source is a polar. The finding is detailed in a paper published March 30 on the arXiv pre-print server.

Boeing to redo test flight of uncrewed Starliner spaceship

Boeing will relaunch an uncrewed test flight of its Starliner spaceship, the company said Monday, after an earlier mission failed due to multiple glitches.

Are gamma-ray bursts powered by a star's collapsing magnetic fields?

When a massive star in a distant galaxy collapses, forming a black hole, two giant jets of light-emitting plasma shoot from its core. These extremely bright gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are the most powerful explosions in the universe, and when a jet points towards Earth, the afterglow can be detected from ground and space-borne telescopes. Material does not simply catapult from an exploding star, it accelerates to ultra-high speeds along the narrow beam of the gamma-ray jet, leaving astrophysics puzzled over the power source driving these extraordinary explosions. Now a new international study led by the University of Bath promises to shed light on this mysterious phenomenon.

Something is lurking in the heart of Quasar 3C 279

One year ago, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration published the first image of a black hole in the nearby radio galaxy M 87. Now the collaboration has extracted new information from the EHT data on the distant quasar 3C 279: they observed the finest detail ever seen in a jet produced by a supermassive black hole. New analyses, led by Jae-Young Kim from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) in Bonn, enabled the collaboration to trace the jet back to its launch point, close to where violently variable radiation from across the electromagnetic spectrum arises.

First-ever photo proof of powerful jet emerging from colliding galaxies

A team of Clemson University College of Science researchers, in collaboration with international colleagues, has reported the first definitive detection of a relativistic jet emerging from two colliding galaxies—in essence, the first photographic proof that merging galaxies can produce jets of charged particles that travel at nearly the speed of light.

Innovative technologies for satellites

Some satellites are only slightly larger than a milk carton. This type of construction is now to be given a further simplified architecture and thus become even lighter and more cost-effective: This is the goal of the teams of Professors Sergio Montenegro of the University of W├╝rzburg and Enrico Stoll of the Technical University of Braunschweig, both in Germany.

Technology news

Analytical model predicts exactly how much a piece of hardware will speed up data centers

Large-scale software services fight the efficiency battle on two fronts—efficient software that is flexible to changing consumer demands, and efficient hardware that can keep these massive services running quickly even in the face of diminishing returns from CPUs. Together, these factors determine both the quality of the user experience and the performance, cost, and energy efficiency of modern data centers.

Intel to unveil 10-core 5.3GHz processor

Two comets are headed our way later this month: One is the celestial kind, C/2019 Y4, expected to provide a spectacular nighttime light show as it comes closest to Earth late in May.

Hackers' new target during pandemic: video conference calls

Ceri Weber had just begun to defend her dissertation when the chaos began: Echoes and voices interrupted her. Someone parroted her words. Then Britney Spears music came on, and someone told Weber to shut up. Someone threatened to rape her.

Samsung Electronics expects profit rise on coronavirus demand

Samsung Electronics expects higher first-quarter profits, it said Tuesday, as millions of people working from home in coronavirus lockdowns turn to cloud data services, pushing up demand for its chips.

Airbnb gets $1bn investment for post-virus recovery

Airbnb on Monday announced it was taking a billion dollars in new investment to endure and, it hopes, thrive in a travel world transformed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Boeing shutters last commercial plane production

Boeing announced Monday it is suspending production of its 787 Dreamliner aircraft "until further notice" due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on workers and suppliers.

Facebook draws on user data to help battle coronavirus

Facebook on Monday said it is providing anonymous data about users' movements and relationships to help researchers better anticipate where the coronavirus might spread.

Google publishes movement data to bolster war against coronavirus

Google on Friday disclosed it is publishing the information it harvests from smartphones to help inform government officials how people's movements are changing in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Online grocery services struggle to meet spike in demand

A pandemic forcing everyone to stay home could be the perfect moment for online grocery services. In practice, they've been struggling to keep up with a surge in orders, highlighting their limited ability to respond to an unprecedented onslaught of demand.

A deep dive into subsea monitoring: Keeping an eye on the ocean floor

The coastline of Norway is peppered with more than a thousand oil wells, most of which will be plugged once they're no longer profitable. They have to be monitored in case they leak—but keeping an eye on them isn't easy. A new company offers a different approach that could help.

Wave of coronavirus misinformation as social media users focus on popularity, not accuracy

Over the past few weeks, misinformation about the new coronavirus pandemic has been spreading across social media at an alarming rate. One video that went viral claimed breathing hot air from a hair dryer could treat COVID-19. A Twitter post touted injecting vitamin C to the bloodstream to treat the viral disease. Other threads hyped unfounded claims that vaping organic oregano oil is effective against the virus, as is using colloidal silver.

Switzerland's COVID-19 lockdown: 'Some networks are more crisis-resilient than others'

Matthias Finger, an EPFL professor of network industry management, does not foresee water and power supply problems in Switzerland, even with the country in lockdown. But internet access could prove more challenging.

Researchers devise a way to perform legal functions with blockchain technology

In a move to save time, money and effort, economics researchers utilized existing blockchain methodologies to create what they call a digital court. This would provide enforcement of contracts wherever a traditional legal court would currently settle disputes. Examples of areas which could make use of this would be auctions, business contracts and sales. As it is based on existing technology, it could be implemented right now.

Coronavirus: As culture moves online, regional organizations need help bridging the digital divide

Museums, galleries and artist collectives around the world are shutting their doors and moving online in response to coronavirus. But engaging with audiences online requires access, skills and investment.

Microsoft exec says coronavirus could spark big shift for AI in health care

Microsoft chief technology officer Kevin Scott grew up fascinated by the 1960s Apollo space program and then-President John F. Kennedy's vision of a moon shot. Now, he envisions just as ambitious a project taking shape as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic.

WhatsApp tightens sharing limits to curb virus misinformation

WhatsApp on Tuesday placed new limits on message forwarding as part of an effort to curb the spread of misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic.

WeWork sues Japan's SoftBank for backing out of deal

Office-sharing giant WeWork on Tuesday sued SoftBank claiming the Japan-based technology investment group breached its contractual obligations by backing out of a $3 billion rescue plan.

China becomes world's top patent filer: UN

China last year became the world leader in international patent filings, unseating the United States which had held the top spot for more than four decades, the UN said Tuesday.

Game developers level up as COVID pushes people home

With many stuck in their homes as cities around the world try to reduce transmission of COVID-19, people are turning to games as a way to communicate, create a sense of community in the virtual world, and stave off boredom.

How does Twitter shape the conversation around COVID-19?

Researchers at the George Washington University are part of a multi-institutional initiative to create an open database tracking online attitudes toward COVID-19, an essential tool for researchers and public health professionals working to slow the pandemic.

US airlines desperate for cash but fear government involvement

US airlines have been all but paralyzed by the coronavirus, and as they face an uncertain future they have turned to Washington for financial help, but that might mean ceding part of their companies to the federal government.

Lufthansa to cut fleet size, close Germanwings as virus hits

German airline group Lufthansa on Tuesday said it was shutting down its low-cost Germanwings unit and getting rid of dozens of planes to survive the impact of the coronavirus on its business.

Internet overseers seek crackdown on coronavirus website scams

The agency that oversees online addresses on Tuesday called for those issuing website address to vigilantly thwart cyber scams exploiting coronavirus fears.

Africa's biggest airline takes $550m hit due to coronavirus: CEO

Ethiopian Airlines is already bracing for income loss of half a billion dollars and has axed most of its scheduled passenger flights, but is turning to cargo and charter operations to soften the blow, its CEO said Tuesday.


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