Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Jun 10

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for June 10, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A new approach to control the stiffness and position of inflatable robots

Ancient micrometeoroids carried specks of stardust, water to asteroid 4 Vesta

Researchers mimic nature for fast, colorful 3-D printing

Astronomers observe X-ray reactivation of the magnetar SGR 1935+2154

Signatures of fractional electronic charge observed in topological insulators

After a century of searching, scientists find new liquid phase

Human eggs prefer some men's sperm over others, research shows

Black hole's heart still beating

Simple way of 'listening' to chicks could dramatically improve welfare

Widespread facemask use could shrink the 'R' number and prevent a second COVID-19 wave: study

Study provides new explanation for neutrino anomalies in Antarctica

Aerosol-printed graphene unveiled as low cost, faster food toxin sensor

A rare heart bone is discovered in chimpanzees

Leonardo's 'Vitruvian Man' ideal isn't far off modern measures

Study investigates potential for gut microbiome to alter drug safety and efficacy

Physics news

Signatures of fractional electronic charge observed in topological insulators

The charge of a single electron, e, is defined as the basic unit of electric charge. Because electrons—the subatomic particles that carry electricity—are elementary particles and cannot be split, fractions of electronic charge are not normally encountered. Despite this, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have recently observed the signature of fractional charges ranging from e/4 to 2e/3 in exotic materials known as topological crystalline insulators.

Study provides new explanation for neutrino anomalies in Antarctica

A new research paper co-authored by a Virginia Tech assistant professor of physics provides a new explanation for two recent strange events that occurred in Antarctica—high-energy neutrinos appearing to come up out of the Earth on their own accord and head skyward.

What a bike moving at near the speed of light might look like to a human observer

A pair of researchers at Surrey University has attempted to show what a bicycle moving at near the speed of light might look like to a human observer. In their paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A, E. C. Cryer-Jenkins, and P. D. Stevenson expand on prior research that attempted to describe how a near-light-speed object would appear to a camera, this time focusing on its appearance to a binocular observer.

Team solves old mystery, paving way toward advances in medicine, industry, environmental science

An Oregon State University environmental engineering professor has solved a decades-old mystery regarding the behavior of fluids, a field of study with widespread medical, industrial and environmental applications.

First confirmation of new theory by metamaterial

Topological metamaterials are applied as a novel platform to explore and study extraordinary effects. Instead of using natural materials, researchers artificially arrange the constituents of a topological metamaterial in a regular structure. Such an arrangement is analogous to a solid state in which the atoms form a crystal lattice. Usually, these platforms are used to simulate particular properties of solids in order to make them amenable to experimental investigation.

Acoustics put a fresh spin on electron transitions

Electrons are very much at the mercy of magnetic fields, which scientists can manipulate to control the electrons and their angular momentum—i.e. their "spin."

Theon-Kepler bifocal telescope helps advance radial-shearing interferometry

Recently, researchers at Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have proposed a new kind of telescope structure, a Theon-Kepler bifocal telescope, to realize radial-shearing interferometry in common-path setup. This research has been published in Applied Optics.

Astronomy and Space news

Ancient micrometeoroids carried specks of stardust, water to asteroid 4 Vesta

The formation of our solar system was a messy affair. Most of the material that existed before its formation—material formed around other, long-dead stars—was vaporized, then recondensed into new materials. But some grains of that material, formed before the sun's birth, still persist.

Astronomers observe X-ray reactivation of the magnetar SGR 1935+2154

Using NASA's Swift and NuSTAR spacecraft, together with NICER instrument onboard the International Space Station, astronomers from Spain and Italy have performed an X-ray monitoring of a magnetar known as SGR 1935+2154. The new observations found that the source has once again became active, this time in the X-ray band. Results of the study were presented May 30 in a prepublished paper on arXiv.org.

Black hole's heart still beating

The first confirmed heartbeat of a supermassive black hole is still going strong more than ten years after first being observed.

Astronomers capture rare cosmic 'Jekyll and Hyde' behaviour in double star system 19,000 light-years away

The strange behavior of a duo of stars in a dense cluster called Terzan 5 located 19,000 light-years from Earth has caught the eye of an international team of astronomers.

Speed of space storms key to protecting astronauts and satellites from radiation

Space weather forecasters need to predict the speed of solar eruptions, as much as their size, to protect satellites and the health of astronauts, scientists have found.

Astrophysicists confirm cornerstone of Einstein's Theory of Relativity

An international collaboration of scientists has recorded the most accurate confirmation to date for one of the cornerstones of Einstein's theory of general relativity, 'the universality of free fall."

New 'sun clock' quantifies extreme space weather switch on/off

Extreme space weather events can significantly impact systems such as satellites, communications systems, power distribution and aviation. They are driven by solar activity which is known to have an irregular but roughly 11 year cycle. By devising a new, regular 'sun clock', researchers have found that the switch on and off of periods of high solar activity is quite sharp, and are able to determine the switch on/off times. Their analysis shows that whilst extreme events can happen at any time, they are much less likely to occur in the quiet interval.

Preparations complete in western Australia for construction of world's largest telescope

Following seven years of design and prototyping work, the Curtin University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) has completed its preparations for the construction of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in Western Australia, which will begin next year.

Method to study the "traces" of coronal mass ejections

Scientists at Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (skoltech), together with colleagues from the Karl-Franzens University of Graz and the Kanzelhoehe Observatory (Austria), have developed an automatic method for detecting coronal dimmings, or traces of coronal mass ejections from the sun; they have also proved that these are reliable indicators of the early diagnosis of powerful emissions of energy from the atmosphere of the sun traveling to Earth at great speed. The results of the study are published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Image: The foam-coarsening experiment on the ISS

The foam-coarsening experiment ran a new batch of cartridges in the Fluid Sciences Laboratory of the European Columbus module.

Technology news

A new approach to control the stiffness and position of inflatable robots

Robots that are made of flexible materials that can be inflated have a number of desirable properties, including their light weight and high levels of compliance (i.e. the ability to undergo elastic deformation). These qualities make them ideal for completing tasks in unstructured environments or in settings where they are bound to operate very close to humans.

A robot to track and film flying insects

Flying insects have developed effective strategies for navigating in natural environments. However, the experimental study of these strategies remains challenging due to the small size of insects and their high speed of motion: Today, it is only possible to study insects that are "tethered" or in stationary flight.

Noise-cancellation comes to Google Meet

Google is making noise this week—or should we say it's making no noise—with its rollout of a new feature for its video-conferencing app Meet.

Face masks, health checks and long check-ins: the future of flying

Cabin crew in protective suits, health certifications for passengers, mandatory face masks, and longer check-in times.

Nintendo says 300,000 accounts breached after hack

Japanese gaming giant Nintendo has admitted that hackers have breached 300,000 accounts since early April, gaining access to personal information such as birthdays and email addresses but not credit-card details.

CyberGraph: mapping cyber threats to prevent the next attack

Although nearly every aspect of our lives relies on technology, our current cybersecurity infrastructure is not prepared to effectively defend our social, economic and political organizations from advancing cyberattacks, said Howie Huang, a professor of electrical and computer engineering in the George Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Science.

We need safe transport alternatives after COVID-19, experts say

More restrictions are being lifted, kids have returned to the classroom, and employers start to think about welcoming staff back to the office. But with continuing social distancing measures on public transport, how do we get around safely?

Closer to a heat battery: Understanding the atomistic processes

Salts are cheap and sustainable materials that can be used to store energy (heat) over periods ranging from hours to years without loss. This works via so-called hydration-dehydration processes. Energy release (discharge) occurs when a salt incorporates water molecules in its crystal structure (hydration). Energy is stored in the reverse process (dehydration), when water molecules are driven out of the crystal lattice with help of available heat. Power input and output are important characteristics of an energy storage device. Therefore, the kinetics of the hydration and dehydration process needs to be understood.

Ford, VW to collaborate on vans, pickup, electric vehicle

Ford and Volkswagen will each offer a small city van, a larger cargo van, a small pickup truck and an electric vehicle as part of their global alliance announced last year.

Renewables booming but not enough to meet climate targets: UN

The world added 12 percent more clean power capacity in 2019 than the year before, but new renewable energy planned over the next decade falls far short of what is needed to forestall dangerous global warming, the UN warned on Wednesday.

US investigating hacker ring paid to target corporate critics

U.S. authorities are investigating a vast hacking-for-hire operation that involves attempts to pilfer confidential communications from investigative journalists, short sellers and advocacy groups fighting climate change, according to law enforcement officials, court documents and cybersecurity officials who have tracked the scheme for years.

Bogus 'contact tracing' apps deployed to steal data: researchers

At least a dozen bogus "contact tracing" apps designed to look like official software to track coronavirus infections have been deployed globally to spread malware and steal user data, security researchers said Wednesday.

Airlines improvise gradual liftoff as lockdowns ease

Cabin crews on standby with destinations revealed only hours before the flight, pilots put on simulators to keep up to date—an airline restarting after the pandemic is a far cry from the clockwork precision of the pre-coronavirus world.

Cathay Pacific shares end down after surge at open

Shares in Cathay Pacific ended lower Wednesday, having soared nearly 19 percent at the open, a day after the airline announced a multibillion-dollar government-led bailout plan.

Virus slows Dubai airport, world's busiest for global travel

Perhaps nowhere is the world's lack of flights due to the coronavirus pandemic more clearly felt than at Dubai International Airport, for years the world's busiest for international travel.

Scientists create a neural network for adaptive shock absorbers

Scientists at South Ural State University have proposed an effective low-level controller based on an artificial neural network with a time delay for an adaptive shock absorber. Yuri Rozhdestvensky, DSc, and his research team described the use of an active shock absorber control algorithm based on an artificial neural network. Their article, titled "Active Shock Absorber Control Based on Time-Delay Neural Network," is published in a special issue of Energies dedicated to intelligent transport systems.

EU wants tech giants to report monthly on virus fake news

A senior European Union official warned online platforms like Google and Facebook on Wednesday to step up the fight against fake news, coming notably from countries like China and Russia, but she praised the approach of Twitter for fact-checking a tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Airlines hit wall of debt after COVID grounding

Their fleets grounded for months owing to the coronavirus, airlines have sought with varying degrees of success state assistance to avoid going under altogether.

New control technique could improve accuracy of industrial robots

The brains of humans and other animals often practice feedforward control, as they are very good at whole-system modeling. But for machines, such modeling is computationally hard. However, researchers with Huazhong University of Science and Technology and the University of California at Berkeley have developed a new feedforward method that improves on conventional feedforward techniques.

Just Eat Takeaway.com nears deal for meal delivery firm Grubhub

Anglo-Dutch meal delivery firm Just Eat Takeaway.com said Wednesday it is in "advanced discussions" for a deal to buy US company Grubhub, which Uber has also made an offer for.

Review: These three gadgets can help you work from home

I'm getting a lot of pitches these days for products and gadgets aimed at the work-from-home crowd.

Optimism abounds on cryptocurrency ETFs despite lack of action

The financial technology industry is predicting that regulators will allow investments in virtual currencies through exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, despite rejections of past efforts and with no indication by officials that a reversal is imminent.


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