Science X Newsletter Monday, Aug 31

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for August 31, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A new strategy for the electrochemical reduction of nitrate to ammonia

Elon Musk wants YOU to build a brain-computer interface

Prior exposure to powdery mildew makes plants more vulnerable to subsequent disease

Warmer, acidifying ocean brings extinction for reef-building corals, renewal for relatives

Being a selfish jerk doesn't get you ahead, research finds

Discovery of an ancient dog species may teach us about human vocalization

Molecular outflow identified in the galaxy NGC 1482

A new platform for controlled delivery of key nanoscale drugs and more

New evidence for quantum fluctuations near a quantum critical point in a superconductor

Study provides insight on how to build a better flu vaccine

Researchers discover a specific brain circuit damaged by social isolation during childhood

Imaging an estrogen related enzyme may help to predict obesity, self-control issues

Warning witnesses of the possibility of misinformation helps protect their memory accuracy

Scientists unlock crops' power to resist floods

'Jumping' DNA regulates human neurons

Physics news

New evidence for quantum fluctuations near a quantum critical point in a superconductor

Among all the curious states of matter that can coexist in a quantum material, jostling for preeminence as temperature, electron density and other factors change, some scientists think a particularly weird juxtaposition exists at a single intersection of factors, called the quantum critical point or QCP.

Slippery superfluids push jets to breaking point

A unique type of helium that can flow without being affected by friction has helped a KAUST team better understand the transformation of rapidly moving liquids into tiny droplets.

Tiny circuits, long distances: Smaller light processing devices for fiber-optic communication

Researchers at Michigan Tech have mapped a noise-reducing magneto-optical response that occurs in fiber-optic communications, opening the door for new materials technologies.

New theory hints at more efficient way to develop quantum algorithms

In 2019, Google claimed it was the first to demonstrate a quantum computer performing a calculation beyond the abilities of today's most powerful supercomputers.

True holographic movies are within grasp

Holographic movies, like the one R2D2 projected of Princess Leia in "Star Wars: A New Hope," have long been the province of science fiction, but for most of us, the extent of our experience with holograms may be the dime-sized stamps on our passports and credit cards. By using 'metasurface' materials that can manipulate light in ways that natural materials cannot, researchers reckon they have finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel for creating true holographic movies.

Demonstrating the dynamics of electron-light interaction originating from first principle

With the highest possible spatial resolution of less than a millionth of a millimeter, electron microscopes make it possible to study the properties of materials at the atomic level and thus demonstrate the realm of quantum mechanics. Quantum-physical fundamentals can be studied particularly well by the interactions between electrons and photons. Excited with laser light, for example, the energy, mass or velocity of the electrons changes.

Astronomy and Space news

Molecular outflow identified in the galaxy NGC 1482

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), astronomers from Japan have probed a nearby starburst galaxy known as NGC 1482. They detected a molecular gas outflow that could be essential to improving the understanding of the galactic wind in NGC 1482. The finding is detailed in a paper published August 20 on arXiv.org.

Scientists reveal complete physical scenario of sympathetic eruption of two solar filaments

Solar filaments are large magnetic structures confining cool and dense plasma suspended in the hot and tenuous corona.

Microlensing measurement of a quasar's accretion disk

An active galactic nucleus (AGN) is a supermassive black hole residing at the core of a galaxy that is accreting material. The accretion occurs in the vicinity of the hot torus around the nucleus, and it can generate rapidly moving jets of charged particles that emit bright, variable radiation as material ccelertes as it falls inward. Quasars are perhaps the best-known luminous AGN, and their nuclei are relatively unobscured by dust. Quasar nuclear regions and disks are too far away and much too small to be resolved with telescopes and astronomers trying to understand the behavior of quasars, AGN, and accretion disks are forced to infer the physics from indirect measurements. Flux variability measurements offer one such avenue.

Does a black hole fire up cold heart of the Phoenix?

Radio astronomers have detected jets of hot gas blasted out by a black hole in the galaxy at the heart of the Phoenix Galaxy Cluster, located 5.9 billion light-years away in the constellation Phoenix. This is an important result for understanding the coevolution of galaxies, gas, and black holes in galaxy clusters.

Researchers develop dustbuster for the moon

A team led by the University of Colorado Boulder is pioneering a new solution to the problem of spring cleaning on the moon: Why not zap away the grime using a beam of electrons?

Image: Hubble views edge of stellar blast

While appearing as a delicate and light veil draped across the sky, this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope actually depicts a small section of the Cygnus supernova blast wave, located around 2,400 light-years away. The name of the supernova remnant comes from its position in the northern constellation of Cygnus (the Swan), where it covers an area 36 times larger than the full moon.

NASA selects proposals for new space environment missions

NASA has selected five proposals for concept studies of missions to help improve understanding of the dynamics of the sun and the constantly changing space environment with which it interacts around Earth. The information will improve understanding about the universe as well as offer key information to help protect astronauts, satellites, and communications signals—such as GPS—in space.

Researchers design continuous-scanning sky brightness monitor in 2.5- to 5-μm band

A research group led by Prof. Wang Jian from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) proposed a continuous-scanning near-infrared sky brightness monitor (CNISBM). It can measure 2.5 to 5 μm infrared sky brightness based on an InSb detector and a linear variable filter.

Technology news

Elon Musk wants YOU to build a brain-computer interface

Elon Musk isn't content with electric cars, shooting people into orbit, populating Mars and building underground tunnels to solve traffic problems. He also wants to get inside your brain.

New AI approach investigates multiple gene regulatory mechanisms

A research team from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has developed a new Gene Expression Embedding frameworK (GEEK), which uses artificial intelligence technologies in machine learning and natural language processing to study the regulation of gene expression. In contrast to previous works that focused on one or a few regulatory mechanisms at a time, this new framework can study the joint effects of many mechanisms simultaneously. A research article describing this new study has been published in the renowned international science journal Nature Machine Intelligence. The framework may help study the causes of cancers and treatment methods.

Team's flexible micro-LEDs may reshape future of wearable technology

University of Texas at Dallas researchers and their international colleagues have developed a method to create micro LEDs that can be folded, twisted, cut and stuck to different surfaces.

Scientists create batteries that could make it easier to explore Mars

Electrifying research by Clemson University scientists could lead to the creation of lighter, faster-charging batteries suitable for powering a spacesuit, or even a Mars rover. The research, which was funded by NASA, was recently reported in an article titled "Three-Dimensional Si Anodes with Fast Diffusion, High Capacity, High Rate Capability, and Long Cycle Life" that appeared in the American Chemical Society journal Applied Materials and Interfaces. Its authors include Shailendra Chiluwal, Nawraj Sapkota, Apparao M. Rao and Ramakrishna Podila, all of whom are part of the Clemson Nanomaterials Institute (CNI).

New Zealand startup eyes global wireless electrical grid

A startup energy company in New Zealand believes it can power the world with a wireless electric transmission system that can bring power to hard-to-reach areas and do so at lower cost than with traditional power lines.

Tesla targeted in failed ransomware extortion scheme

In a tweet, Tesla CEO Elon Musk solved a mystery involving a 27-year-old Russian, an insider at an unnamed corporation and an alleged million-dollar payment offered to help trigger a ransomware extortion attack on the firm.

Apple blocks Fortnite maker from game developer tools

Apple said Friday it has followed through on its decision to block the maker of Fortnite from developer tools needed to update games on its mobile devices.

Virus lockdowns give major boost to e-commerce

While large traditional retailers announce big lay-offs because of the pandemic, sometimes shedding thousands of staff, coronavirus lockdowns have in contrast given e-commerce a major boost.

What does Walmart see in TikTok? Millions of young shoppers

Walmart may be the world's largest retailer but it has mostly failed in its efforts to break Amazon's online dominance.

Problem at US telecoms giant causes global internet outages

A bug involving US-based telecoms giant CenturyLink briefly interrupted internet service in several global markets Sunday, affecting popular streaming services, gaming platforms and webcasts of European soccer, the company and specialized media reported.

Robot takes contact-free measurements of patients' vital signs

During the current coronavirus pandemic, one of the riskiest parts of a health care worker's job is assessing people who have symptoms of COVID-19. Researchers from MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital hope to reduce that risk by using robots to remotely measure patients' vital signs.

Scientists develop low-temperature resisting aqueous zinc-based batteries

Aqueous zinc-based batteries (ZBBs) are widely used for portable and grid-scale applications due to their high safety, low cost and high energy density.

Amazon gets US approval to fly delivery drones

Amazon on Monday said a freshly-issued Federal Aviation Administration certificate has cleared the launch pad for drone deliveries in the US.

Google finds a new way to serve ads to kids on upcoming Lenovo tablets

Google announced a new kids initiative with videos, books and apps on upcoming Lenovo tablets, but parents beware—the content will be full of ads.

Chinese airlines' losses mitigated by domestic travel

China's biggest airline on Saturday reported less severe losses in the second quarter as domestic travel picks up with the coronavirus outbreak brought largely under control.

Zoom alternatives: More suggestions for videoconferencing apps

This was the week when millions of people all screamed in horror: "I can't connect to Zoom."

United says it will drop widely scorned ticket-change fees

United Airlines says it listened to customers and is dropping an unpopular $200 fee for most people who change a ticket for travel within the United States.

Forget $1,000 smartphones—here's three great ones for under $400 from Apple, Google and Samsung

The most recent top of the line smartphone release from Samsung has an opening list price of $1,300 and most reviews, mine included, could be summed up in a few words. Great phone, but so expensive? Now, during a pandemic, when millions have been thrown out of work?

Chinese govt complicates TikTok sale ordered by US govt

The Chinese government is complicating the U.S.-government-ordered sale of U.S. TikTok assets.

With many federal employees working from home, cybersecurity experts look to beef up defenses

In the age of social distancing, many employees have found their workplace shift from an office cubicle to a living room couch.


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Science X Newsletter Week 35

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for week 35:

Japan's 'flying car' gets off ground, with a person aboard (Video)

The decades-old dream of zipping around in the sky as simply as driving on highways may be becoming less illusory.

How cold was the ice age? Researchers now know

A University of Arizona-led team has nailed down the temperature of the last ice age—the Last Glacial Maximum of 20,000 years ago—to about 46 degrees Fahrenheit (7.8 C).

Effectiveness of cloth masks depends on type of covering

Months into the COVID-19 pandemic, wearing a mask while out in public has become the recommended practice. However, many still question the effectiveness of this.

First complete dinosaur skeleton ever found is ready for its closeup at last

The first complete dinosaur skeleton ever identified has finally been studied in detail and found its place in the dinosaur family tree, completing a project that began more than a century and a half ago.

Energy firm says its nuclear-waste fueled diamond batteries could last thousands of years

A cellphone power source that lasts nine years. An auto-battery pack that lasts nearly a century. A pacemaker that is powered to last 28,000 years.

Could Planet 9 be a primordial black hole?

For several years, astronomers and cosmologists have theorized about the existence of an additional planet with a mass 10 times greater than that of Earth, situated in the outermost regions of the solar system. This hypothetical planet, dubbed Planet 9, could be the source of gravitational effects that would explain the unusual patterns in the orbits of trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) highlighted by existing cosmological data. TNOs are celestial bodies that orbit the sun and are located beyond Neptune.

Fossil evidence of 'hibernation-like' state in 250-million-year-old Antarctic animal

Hibernation is a familiar feature on Earth today. Many animals—especially those that live close to or within polar regions—hibernate to get through the tough winter months when food is scarce, temperatures drop and days are dark.

Cosmic rays may soon stymie quantum computing

The practicality of quantum computing hangs on the integrity of the quantum bit, or qubit.

Google conducts largest chemical simulation on a quantum computer to date

A team of researchers with Google's AI Quantum team (working with unspecified collaborators) has conducted the largest chemical simulation on a quantum computer to date. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes their work and why they believe it was a step forward in quantum computing. Xiao Yuan of Stanford University has written a Perspective piece outlining the potential benefits of quantum computer use to conduct chemical simulations and the work by the team at AI Quantum, published in the same journal issue.

Wireless device makes clean fuel from sunlight, carbon dioxide and water

Researchers have developed a standalone device that converts sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into a carbon-neutral fuel, without requiring any additional components or electricity.

A new quantum paradox throws the foundations of observed reality into question

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Perhaps not, some say.

Researchers on a path to build powerful and practical quantum computer

For the first time, researchers have designed a fully connected 32-qubit trapped-ion quantum computer register operating at cryogenic temperatures. The new system represents an important step toward developing practical quantum computers.

World's biggest rooftop greenhouse opens in Montreal

Building on a new hanging garden trend, a greenhouse atop a Montreal warehouse growing eggplants and tomatoes to meet demand for locally sourced foods has set a record as the largest in the world.

Antiviral used to treat cat coronavirus also works against SARS-CoV-2

Researchers at the University of Alberta are preparing to launch clinical trials of a drug used to cure a deadly disease caused by a coronavirus in cats that they expect will also be effective as a treatment for humans against COVID-19.

50 new planets confirmed in machine learning first

Fifty potential planets have been confirmed by a new machine learning algorithm developed by University of Warwick scientists.

Hubble maps giant halo around Andromeda Galaxy

In a landmark study, scientists using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have mapped the immense envelope of gas, called a halo, surrounding the Andromeda galaxy, our nearest large galactic neighbor. Scientists were surprised to find that this tenuous, nearly invisible halo of diffuse plasma extends 1.3 million light-years from the galaxy—about halfway to our Milky Way—and as far as 2 million light-years in some directions. This means that Andromeda's halo is already bumping into the halo of our own galaxy.

Physicists pin down the pay off between speed and entropy

"You have to work harder to get the job done faster," explains Gianmaria Falasco, a researcher at the University of Luxembourg as he sums up the results of his latest work with Massimiliano Esposito. This will come as no surprise to anyone with any experience of racing around trying to meet appointments and deadlines, but by defining specific parameters for the relation between work expended in terms of dissipation and the rate at which a system changes state, Falasco and Esposito provide a valuable tool for those developing ways of manipulating non-equilibrium systems, be that the behavior of living cells or an electronic circuit. Additionally, the "dissipation-time uncertainty relation" they developed to define this behavior is tantalizingly suggestive of other uncertainty relations in quantum physics.

Researchers develop flat lens a thousand times thinner than a human hair

A lens that is a thousand times thinner than a human hair has been developed in Brazil by researchers at the University of São Paulo's São Carlos School of Engineering (EESC-USP). It can serve as a camera lens in smartphones or be used in other devices that depend on sensors.

Penis bones, echolocation calls, and genes reveal new kinds of bats

If you've ever seen a bat flying around at sunset, chances are good it was a vesper bat. They're the biggest bat family, made up of 500 species, found on every continent except Antarctica. And most of them look a lot alike—they're little, with fuzzy grayish-brown fur, sort of the sparrows of the bat world. That can make it hard to tell the different species apart. But scientists just discovered three new species and two new genera of vesper bats in Africa by comparing the bats' genes, their teeth and skulls, the high-frequency calls they make when echolocating, and the tiny bones in their penises.

Fuel cells for hydrogen vehicles are becoming longer lasting

Roughly 1 billion cars and trucks zoom about the world's roadways. Only a few run on hydrogen. This could change after a breakthrough achieved by researchers at the University of Copenhagen. The breakthrough? A new catalyst that can be used to produce cheaper and far more sustainable hydrogen powered vehicles.


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