Science X Newsletter Thursday, May 7

Dear ymilog,

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

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A new high-resolution, 3-D map of the whole mouse brain

International team sketches first large-scale genomic portrait of pre-Columbian Andean civilizations

Finite-temperature violation of the anomalous transverse Wiedemann-Franz law

Researchers discover a gene in honey bees that causes virgin birth

Study shows drug saves lives of kids fighting deadly immune disease

Artificial intelligence is energy-hungry—new hardware could curb its appetite

Clay layers and distant pumping trigger arsenic contamination in Bangladesh groundwater

Carbon footprint hotspots: Mapping China's export-driven emissions

Pure red LEDs fulfill a primary goal

Technique to make functional materials based on polymers of metal clusters

Tracking development of the brain's interface that controls bodily metabolism

A new online calculator estimates the true value of stock at venture-backed startups

The feeling a limb doesn't belong is linked to lack of brain structure and connection

A role reversal for the function of certain circadian network neurons

Which COVID-19 models should we use to make policy decisions?

Physics news

Finite-temperature violation of the anomalous transverse Wiedemann-Franz law

According to the Wiedemann-Franz (WF) law, the electrical conductivity of a metal is linked to its thermal counterpart, provided that the heat carried by the phonons is negligible and the electrons do not suffer inelastic scattering. In a type II Weyl semimetal also known as a fourth fermion, the thermal dependence of the ratio between electrical and thermal conductivity highlights deviations from the Wiedemann-Franz law. Physicists have tested the WF law in numerous solids but intend to understand the extent of its relevance during anomalous transverse transport and investigate the topological nature of the wave function. In a new report, Liangcai Xu and an international research team in condensed matter physics in China, France, Israel and Germany, presented a study of the anomalous transverse response in a noncollinear antiferromagnetic Weyl semimetal, Mn3Ge. They varied the experimental conditions from room temperature down to sub-Kelvin temperature and observed finite-temperature violation of the WF correlation. They credited the outcome to a mismatch between the thermal and electrical summations of the Berry curvature (a geometric phase acquired within the course of a cycle) and not due to inelastic scattering. The team backed their interpretation with theoretical calculations to reveal a competition between the temperature and Berry curvature distribution. The work is now published on Science Advances.

Pure red LEDs fulfill a primary goal

Making pure red LEDs from nitride crystals is a goal that has so far frustrated engineers. However, these LEDs are vital for building the next generation of energy-efficient micro-LED displays to follow OLED displays and for creating lighting with color tuning. Now, for the first time, a team of electrical engineers at KAUST has succeeded in making these LEDs.

Plasma medicine research highlights antibacterial effects and potential uses

As interest in the application of plasma medicine—the use of low-temperature plasma (LTP) created by an electrical discharge to address medical problems—continues to grow, so does the need for research advancements proving its capabilities and potential impacts on the health care industry. Across the world, many research groups are investigating plasma medicine for applications including cancer treatment and the accelerated healing of chronic wounds, among others.

State-of-the-art lasers at the micro level

Many emerging technologies rely on high-quality lasers. Laser-based LiDAR sensors can provide highly accurate scans of three-dimensional spaces, and as such are crucial in applications ranging from autonomous vehicles to geological mapping technologies and emergency response systems. High-quality lasers are also a key part of the high-speed, high-volume data centers that are the backbone of the internet.

Long-lived pionic helium: Exotic matter experimentally verified for the first time

Exotic atoms in which electrons are replaced by other subatomic particles of the same charge allow deep insights into the quantum world. After eight years of ongoing research, a group led by Masaki Hori, senior physicist at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany, has now succeeded in a challenging experiment: In a helium atom, they replaced an electron with a pion in a specific quantum state and verified the existence of this long-lived "pionic helium" for the very first time. The usually short-lived pion could thereby exist 1000 times longer than it normally would in other varieties of matter. Pions belong to an important family of particles that determine the stability and decay of atomic nuclei. The pionic helium atom enables scientists to study pions in an extremely precise manner using laser spectroscopy. The research is published in this week's edition of Nature.

Powerful new magnet provides fresh insight into 'frozen' quantum materials

Researchers at the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have finished the preliminary commissioning of a new 14-tesla magnet at the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS). This new sample environment allows researchers to explore the fundamental physics behind complex behavior of quantum matter.

Successfully measuring infinitesimal change in mass of individual atoms for the first time

A new door to the quantum world has been opened: When an atom absorbs or releases energy via the quantum leap of an electron, it becomes heavier or lighter. This can be explained by Einstein's theory of relativity (E = mc2). However, the effect is minuscule for a single atom. Nevertheless, the team of Klaus Blaum and Sergey Eliseev at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics has successfully measured this infinitesimal change in the mass of individual atoms for the first time. In order to achieve this, they used the ultra-precise Pentatrap atomic balance at the Institute in Heidelberg. The team discovered a previously unobserved quantum state in rhenium, which could be interesting for future atomic clocks. Above all, this extremely sensitive atomic balance enables a better understanding of the complex quantum world of heavy atoms.

Quantum resonances near absolute zero

Recently, Prof. Yang Xueming from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Prof. Yang Tiangang from the Southern University of Science and Technology discussed significant advances in the study of quantum resonances in atomic and molecular collisions at near absolute zero temperature. Their article was published in Science on May 7.

Laser loop couples quantum systems over a distance

For the first time, researchers have succeeded in creating strong coupling between quantum systems over a great distance. They accomplished this with a novel method in which a laser loop connects the systems, enabling nearly lossless exchange of information and strong interaction between them. In the journal Science, physicists from the University of Basel and University of Hanover reported that the new method opens up new possibilities in quantum networks and quantum sensor technology.

New measuring method helps understand physics of high-temperature superconductivity

From sustainable energy to quantum computers: high-temperature superconductors have the potential to revolutionize today's technologies. Despite intensive research, however, we still lack the necessary basic understanding to develop these complex materials for widespread application. "Higgs spectroscopy" could bring about a watershed as it reveals the dynamics of paired electrons in superconductors. An international research consortium centered around the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research (MPI-FKF) is now presenting the new measuring method in the journal Nature Communications. Remarkably, the dynamics also reveal typical precursors of superconductivity even above the critical temperature at which the materials investigated attain superconductivity.

Light, sound, action: Extending the life of acoustic waves on microchips

Scientists in Australia and Europe have taken an important step towards removing 'hot' electrons from the data chips that are a driving force in global telecommunications.

Breaking the blur barrier: Working around super-resolution imaging's glitches

Medical researchers face a hurdle when studying cells under an optical microscope—the laws of physics. Obtaining an image of anything below a certain size is complicated; optical apertures and the wavelength of visible light play havoc with clarity. Known as the diffraction limit, it was first encountered by German physicist Ernst Abbe in 1873, and limits the resolution to 200 nanometers (nm) at best (or 200 billionths of a meter).

Optical imaging of tissue mechanics via laser speckle rheology

A majority of disease conditions from cancer and atherosclerosis to neurodegenerative and orthopedic disorders are accompanied by changes in tissue stiffness. Clinical medicine has long relied on manual palpation of suspected regions to detect tissue stiffness for diagnosis. Imaging modalities such as ultrasound, MRI and OCT can also effectively measure tissue stiffness. Laser speckle rheology (LSR) offers a new, noncontact optical approach. LSR uses an inexpensive laser similar to a common laser pointer to shine laser light on tissue—plus a camera to image speckle patterns reflected from light-scattering particles in the sample.

Researchers pave the way to designing omnidirectional invisible materials

Researchers at the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV), belonging to the Nanophotonics Technology Center, have taken a new step in designing omnidirectional invisible materials. At their laboratories, they have discovered a new fundamental symmetry in the laws of electromagnetism, acoustics and elasticity: A temporal supersymmetry. This finding has been published in Nature Communications.

Optical coherence tomography measures the mechanics of eyes in response to heartbeats

Life is measured in heartbeats, so they say—and heartbeats may soon help measure the health of our eyes. If doctors can measure pulse in the eye to diagnose corneal pathologies, the results may save vision and may also save lives.

Ultra-long-working-distance spectroscopy with 3-D-printed aspherical microlenses

Additive manufacturing is a technique in which a three-dimensional object is produced by successively adding new layers of building material to those that have already been deposited. Recently, commercially available 3-D printers have been experiencing rapid development and so have 3-D-printing materials, including transparent media of high optical quality. These advancements open up new possibilities in many fields of science and technology including biology, medicine, metamaterials studies, robotics and micro-optics.

New invisibility concept and miniaturization of photonic circuits using ultrafast laser

From compact biosensors and spectrometers to invisible devices and quantum computers, applications related to integrated photonics are increasingly sought after. As in optical fibres, guiding light in integrated photonic circuits is achieved by a local increase of the refractive index (RI) of the material. Ultrafast laser writing is the only technology that allows three-dimensional RI modification in transparent materials, thus the direct fabrication of 3-D photonic devices. Following the first laser writing of photonic channels in glass in the late 90s, it was believed that the technology would quickly become the tool of choice for the manufacture of integrated photonics. However, despite numerous efforts, the magnitude of the laser-induced RI change remains limited, preventing the fabrication of compact devices with bendy optical channels which require high RI changes.

Astronomy and Space news

Carbon emissions on the moon put theory of moon birth in doubt

A team of researchers affiliated with multiple institutions in Japan has found evidence of embedded carbon emissions on the moon. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes their study of carbon data from the KAGUYA lunar orbiter and what they learned from it.

China says experimental spaceship operating normally

A Chinese spaceship is working normally in orbit, with its solar panels in position and a communication link established, the government said Thursday.

Ready, set, go for COVID-conscious astronaut training

After nearly two months of confinement, it is not only school students who are progressively returning to class. ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer also returned to training at ESA's European Astronaut Centre (EAC), starting with a slightly unusual robotics refresher.

SpaceX describes exactly how they're planning to make Starlink satellites less visible from Earth

In 2015, Elon Musk announced that his company, SpaceX, would be deploying satellites to orbit that would provide high-speed broadband internet access to the entire world. Known as Starlink, SpaceX began deploying this constellation in May of 2019 with the launch of the first 60 satellites. As of April 22, a total of 422 satellites have been added to the Starlink constellation, and the response hasn't been entirely positive.

In the far future, the universe will be mostly invisible

If you look out on the sky on a nice clear dark night, you'll see thousands of intense points of light. Those stars are incredibly far away, but bright enough to be seen with the naked eye from that great distance—a considerable feat. But what you don't see are all the small stars, the red dwarfs, too small and dim to be seen at those same distances.

NASA CubeSat mission to gather vital space weather data

NASA has selected a new pathfinding CubeSat mission to gather data not collected since the agency flew the Dynamics Explorer in the early 1980s.

Technology news

Artificial intelligence is energy-hungry—new hardware could curb its appetite

To just solve a puzzle or play a game, artificial intelligence can require software running on thousands of computers. That could be the energy that three nuclear plants produce in one hour.

Training AI to generate varied poses and colors of objects and animals in photos

Most firetrucks come in red, but it's not hard to picture one in blue. Computers aren't nearly as creative.

Shape-shifting carbon fiber could replace mechanical systems for aerodynamics, robotics and more

Imagine wind turbine blades that change shape to achieve the most efficiency in varying wind speeds, or airplane wings that bend and alter their own form without hydraulic rudders and ailerons. These are two potential uses for a carbon fiber material unveiled by researchers in Sweden.

Simple method for measuring the state of lithium-ion batteries

Rechargeable batteries are at the heart of many new technologies involving, for example, the increased use of renewable energies. More specifically, they are employed to power electric vehicles, cell phones, and laptops. Scientists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Helmholtz Institute Mainz (HIM) in Germany have now presented a non-contact method for detecting the state of charge and any defects in lithium-ion batteries. For this purpose, atomic magnetometers are used to measure the magnetic field around battery cells. Professor Dmitry Budker and his team usually use atomic magnetometry to explore fundamental questions of physics, such as the search for new particles. Magnetometry is the term used to describe the measurement of magnetic fields. One simple example of its application is the compass, which the Earth's magnetic field causes to point north.

Scientists rewire photosynthesis to fuel our future

Hydrogen is an essential commodity with over 60 million tons produced globally every year. However over 95 percent of it is made by steam reformation of fossil fuels, a process that is energy intensive and produces carbon dioxide. If we could replace even a part of that with algal biohydrogen that is made via light and water, it would have a substantial impact.

Nintendo marks profit jump as people stay home amid pandemic

Japanese video-game maker Nintendo Co. scored a 33% jump in annual profit, as people stuck at home turn to playing games.

Bitcoin world faces 'halving': what's happening?

Bitcoin miners, whose computer processors enable the running of the world's most popular virtual currency, will soon face an event that takes place every four years and alters the profitability of the hi-tech industry.

Trump administration divided over new 5G network

The Trump administration is divided over the deployment of a new 5G cellular network, with the Pentagon, NASA and others at odds with other government agencies.

Online plagues, protein folding and spotting fake news: What games can teach us during the pandemic

Most of us don't take games too seriously. They are a way to unwind, or these days to maybe escape from the world of COVID-19 for a little while.

How safe is COVIDSafe? What you should know about the app's issues, and Bluetooth-related risks

The Australian government's COVIDSafe app has been up and running for almost a fortnight, with more than five million downloads.

How coronavirus set the stage for a techno-future with robots and AI

Not so long ago, the concept of a fully automated store seemed something of a curiosity. Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of relying on computers and robotics, and checking out groceries by simply picking them off the shelf doesn't seem so peculiar after all.

Uber investment deepens ties with scooter startup Lime

Uber is leading a $170 million investment in scooter- and bike-sharing startup Lime, in a move that deepens the ties between the two "sharing economy" platforms, the companies said Thursday.

Zoom buys security firm Keybase

Zoom Video Communications is buying security firm Keybase in an effort to shore up security for its video meetings. Terms of the deal were undisclosed. Zoom has been working to improve the security of its video meetings after some lapses in privacy and security as Zoom meetings grew more popular during the pandemic.

Google affiliate abandons futuristic neighborhood project

A Google affiliate on Thursday abandoned plans to build a futuristic neighborhood on Toronto's lakefront that was to include robots for delivering mail and collecting garbage, citing economic uncertainty.

Zoom agrees to step up security after New York probe

New York state's top prosecutor on Thursday announced that the company Zoom would improve security measures, after flaws were detected as the video conferencing platform soared in popularity amid the coronavirus pandemic.

'Assassin's Creed' stars as Xbox teases new games

Microsoft on Thursday offered the first glimpse at games for its new Xbox console coming this year, playing to fans hungry for escape in a time of pandemic.

O2, Virgin Media to merge into £38-bn UK telco giant

Telefonica and Liberty Global on Thursday said they would merge their UK units O2 and Virgin Media to create a £38-billion telecoms giant that could shake up the British market.

British Airways parent dives into huge quarterly loss

British Airways owner IAG said Thursday it plunged into the red in the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic grounded planes, adding that pre-crisis passenger demand would not return until 2023.

Air France-KLM plunges into 1.8 bn eur loss as virus bites

Air France-KLM on Thursday announced a first-quarter loss of 1.8 billion euros and warned of more woe to come as the coronavirus pandemic decimates international travel.

Twitter—not just pointless babble

It started life as the concept drawing for a mobile 'status update' tool only geeks could love. Now we cannot imagine a world without Twitter, its hashtags, and the worldwide movements it has helped create.

Lufthansa in talks for partial German nationalisation

German airline giant Lufthansa confirmed Thursday that it is in talks for Berlin to offer support worth nine billion euros ($9.7 billion) in exchange for a 25-percent stake in the company, as the coronavirus batters the world's carriers.

Italy to pour three billion euros into Alitalia

Italy announced plans Thursday to inject at least three billion euros ($3.2 billion) into Alitalia to help save the former flag carrier from collapse in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.


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