Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Sep 30

Dear ymilog,

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

Spotlight Stories Headlines

RoomShift: A room-scale haptic and dynamic environment for VR applications

New gas giant exoplanet discovered by NGTS survey

3-D printed 'invisible' fibers can sense breath, sound, and biological cells

Greenland is on track to lose ice faster than in any century over 12,000 years: study

Achieving invisibility: Cross-wavelength invisibility integrated with invisibility tactics

Planet collision simulations give clues to atmospheric loss from moon's origin

Mutations that affect aging: More common than we thought?

Wasp egg-laying organ inspires new tool to reduce trauma in minimally invasive surgery

Two pesticides approved for use in US harmful to bees

Mosquitos lost an essential gene with no ill effects

Dinosaur feather study debunked: Overwhelming evidence supports Jurassic fossil does belong to Archaeopteryx

Care home workers suffer COVID trauma, anxiety: study

300 million delta dwellers vulnerable to cyclones, flooding

Venus might be habitable today, if not for Jupiter

Delocalized states within the superconducting gap

Physics news

Achieving invisibility: Cross-wavelength invisibility integrated with invisibility tactics

Invisibility is a superior self-protection strategy of long-standing interest in academia and industry, although the concept is thus far most popularly encountered in science fiction. In a new report on Science Advances, Su Xu and colleagues in engineering, nanotechnology, nanobionics and quantum information in China were inspired by the natural ecological relationship between transparent oceanic animals and their predators that employ a cross-wavelength detection strategy. The scientists proposed a new concept of cross-wavelength invisibility that integrated a variety of invisibility tactics. They presented a Boolean metamaterial design strategy to balance divergent material requirements across cross-scale wavelengths. As proof of concept, they simultaneously demonstrated longwave cloaking and shortwave transparency using a nanoimprinting technique. The work extended stealth techniques from individual strategies of invisibility targeting a single-wavelength spectrum to integrated invisibility targeting cross-wavelength applications. These experiments will pave the way to develop cross-wavelength integrated metadevices.

Breaking new ground in the search for dark matter

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is renowned for the hunt for and discovery of the Higgs boson, but in the 10 years since the machine collided protons at an energy higher than previously achieved at a particle accelerator, researchers have been using it to try to hunt down an equally exciting particle: the hypothetical particle that may make up an invisible form of matter called dark matter, which is five times more prevalent than ordinary matter and without which there would be no universe as we know it. The LHC dark-matter searches have so far come up empty handed, as have non-collider searches, but the incredible work and skill put by the LHC researchers into finding it has led them to narrow down many of the regions where the particle may lie hidden—necessary milestones on the path to a discovery.

New detector breakthrough pushes boundaries of quantum computing

Physicists at Aalto University and VTT Technical Research Center of Finland have developed a new detector for measuring energy quanta at unprecedented resolution. This discovery could help bring quantum computing out of the laboratory and into real-world applications. The results have been published today in Nature.

D-Wave announces launch of new Advantage quantum computer for business use

Canadian based D-Wave has announced on its blog that it has developed a new quantum computer for use by businesses. Called Advantage, the new system has 5,000 qubits and 15-way qubit connectivity. The new machine will be made available to business customers over the Internet via the Leap quantum cloud service.

Stellar explosion in Earth's proximity

When the brightness of the star Betelgeuse dropped dramatically a few months ago, some observers suspected an impending supernova—a stellar explosion that could also cause damage on Earth. While Betelgeuse has returned to normal, physicists from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have found evidence of a supernova that exploded near the Earth around 2.5 million years ago.

Researchers develop dual-wavelength ocean lidar for ocean detection

Ocean water column information profiles are essential for ocean research. Currently, water column profiles are typically obtained by ocean lidar instruments, including spaceborne, airborne and shipborne lidar.

Colloidal quantum dot light emitters go broadband in the infrared

Broadband light emission in the infrared has proven to be of paramount importance for a large range of applications that include food quality and product/process monitoring, recycling, environmental sensing and monitoring, multispectral imaging in automotive as well as safety and security. With the advent of IoT and the increasing demand in adding more functionalities to portable devices (such as smart watches, mobile phones etc.) the introduction of on-chip spectrometers for health monitoring, allergen detection food quality inspection, to name a few, is expected to happen soon. But in order to have such functionalities easily integrated and implemented in mass production consumer electronics, several prerequisites need to be met. More specifically, the light source needs to be compact, highly efficient and ideally CMOS integrated to guarantee low-cost and high volume manufacturing.

Astronomy and Space news

New gas giant exoplanet discovered by NGTS survey

An international team of astronomers has discovered a new gas giant alien world as part of the Next Generation Transit Survey (NGTS). The newly found exoplanet, designated NGTS-12b, is about the size of Jupiter, but more than four times less massive than the solar system's biggest planet. The finding is reported in a paper published September 22 on

Planet collision simulations give clues to atmospheric loss from moon's origin

Earth could have lost anywhere between ten and 60 percent of its atmosphere in the collision that is thought to have formed the Moon.

Venus might be habitable today, if not for Jupiter

Venus might not be a sweltering, waterless hellscape today, if Jupiter hadn't altered its orbit around the sun, according to new UC Riverside research.

Fast-rotating stars at the centre of the Milky Way could have migrated from the outskirts of the galaxy

In a research paper published by The Astrophysical Journal Letters, an international team of astrophysicists, including scientists from the University of Surrey, detail how they discovered a group of stars with different characteristics than their neighbors found in the Milky Way's Nuclear Star Cluster (NSC).

Solar orbiter's first science data shows the sun at its quietest

Three of the Solar Orbiter spacecraft's instruments, including Imperial's magnetometer, have released their first data.

We might have a new mini-moon soon

Is it a new asteroid mini–moon or a human-made mini-moon? That's the question about a small object approaching Earth, called 2020 SO. NASA's Small Body Database predicts the object will captured by Earth's gravity in October 2020 and temporarily be trapped in orbit.

Flash in dark sky was probably random meteor, expert says

A flash that lit up the skies over parts of Pennsylvania and Ohio in the wee hours of Wednesday was probably a random meteor, an expert said.

Technology news

RoomShift: A room-scale haptic and dynamic environment for VR applications

Researchers at University of Colorado Boulder's ATLAS Institute have recently created RoomShift, a haptic and dynamic environment that could be used to support a variety of virtual reality (VR) experiences. This new haptic environment, introduced in a paper pre-published on arXiv and presented at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2020 (CHI '20), uses a team of small robots that can rearrange furniture inside a room.

3-D printed 'invisible' fibers can sense breath, sound, and biological cells

From capturing your breath to guiding biological cell movements, 3-D printing of tiny, transparent conducting fibers could be used to make devices which can 'smell, hear and touch'—making it particularly useful for health monitoring, Internet of Things and biosensing applications.

Professor's artificial crowd noise research more applicable now than ever

Glenn Cummins wrote two papers on how TV might use artificial crowd noise during sports broadcasting years before the COVID-19 pandemic made it a reality.

Brain activity reveals individual attitudes toward humanoid robots

The way humans interpret the behavior of AI-endowed artificial agents, such as humanoid robots, depends on specific individual attitudes that can be detected from neural activity. Researchers at IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italian Institute of Technology) demonstrated that people's bias toward robots—that is, attributing intentionality or considering them as "mindless things"—can be correlated with distinct brain activity patterns. The research results have been published in Science Robotics and are important for understanding the way humans engage with robots, while also considering their acceptance in healthcare applications and daily life.

'Liking' an article online may mean less time spent reading it

When people have the option to click "like" on a media article they encounter online, they spend less time actually reading the text, a new study suggests.

How green hydrogen can become cheap enough to compete with fossil fuels

Engineers from UNSW Sydney have crunched the numbers on green hydrogen production costs to reveal that Australia is in prime position to take advantage of the green hydrogen revolution, with its great solar resource and potential for export.

Google unveils latest Pixel phone, rolls out new TV service

Google will try to make a bigger splash in the smartphone market with a cheaper high-end model while it also aims to expand its presence on bigger screens with a new TV service.

Artificial intelligence in art: A simple tool or creative genius?

Intelligent algorithms are used to create paintings, write poems, and compose music. According to a study by an international team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the Center of Humans and Machines at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, whether people perceive artificial intelligence (AI) as the ingenious creator of art or simply another tool used by artists depends on how information about AI art is presented. The results were published in the journal iScience.

Secretive, never profitable Palantir makes its market debut

Seventeen years after it was born with the help of CIA seed money, the data-mining outfit Palantir Technologies is finally going public in the biggest Wall Street tech offering since last year's debut of Slack and Uber.

Safe flight: New method detects onset of destructive oscillations in aircraft turbines

Despite humanity's remarkable engineering prowess, sometimes completely unexpected or poorly understood physical phenomena can rapidly lead to catastrophic failures. Such was the case in Braniff International Airways Flight 542 in 1959 and Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 710 in 1960, where both aircrafts spontaneously disintegrated in mid-air due to a mechanical phenomenon known as 'flutter.'

Our actual attention is now measurable

We want to make sure our phones no longer disturb us at the wrong moment. To achieve this, we first have to better understand where our attention lies when using smartphones. Computer scientists at ETH have now developed a system that records eye contact with the display in everyday situations for the first time. Sociologists and medical experts could also benefit from this.

AI taught to rapidly assess disaster damage so humans know where help is needed most

Researchers at Hiroshima University have taught an AI to look at post-disaster aerial images and accurately determine how battered the buildings are—a technology that crisis responders can use to map damage and identify extremely devastated areas where help is needed the most.

Researchers exploit weaknesses of master game bots

If you've ever played an online video game, you've likely competed with a bot—an AI-driven program that plays on behalf of a human.

Innovative model improves Army human-agent teaming

Army researchers developed a novel computational model for gathering cognitive data that may be a game changer in the fields of neuroscience and econometrics, and has broad relevance to networked and multi-agent systems.

Housing prices decline within mile of solar energy arrays

A study of the impact of utility scale solar power installations on nearby housing prices by University of Rhode Island economists found that house prices within a mile of a Rhode Island or Massachusetts solar array declined by an average of 1.7%. Homes within a tenth of a mile of the installations declined by 7%.

Finnish researchers claim quantum computing breakthrough

Scientists have created a device which could make it easier to harness super-fast quantum computers for real-world applications, a team at Finland's Aalto University said on Wednesday.

France to test 'flying taxis' from next year: operators

"Flying taxis" will start taking off from an aerodrome north of Paris as soon as next June, operators said, in a trial ahead of a vast tourist influx for the 2024 Olympics.

Electric truck startup Nikola postpones December event

Electric truck startup Nikola said Wednesday it was postponing a December launch event due to Covid-19 as it seeks to reset expectations following recent controversies.

Facebook is adding more tools to Instagram DMs, some of which are from Messenger

Your Instagram direct messages are getting a refresh if you opt-in.

Google expected to launch new Pixel phones, Chromecast and smart speakers at event

Following recent product reveals from Roku, Amazon, Samsung and Apple, it's Google's turn on Wednesday, beginning at 2 p.m. ET.

Microsoft demonstrates how to increase green energy one rooftop at a time

Solar panels being installed on the roofs of dozens of schools throughout Dublin, Ireland, reflect a novel front in the fight against global climate change, according to a senior software engineer and a sustainability lead at Microsoft.

Microsoft says ransomware is fastest growing scam attempt

Hack attempts are on the rise—as always—with ransomware the most common now, according to Microsoft.

Germany puts first auto boss on trial over 'dieselgate'

Former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler on Wednesday became the first auto boss to go on trial in Germany over the "dieselgate" emissions scandal, five years after parent company Volkswagen admitted to the scam.

Oil giant Shell axes thousands of jobs on virus fallout

Royal Dutch Shell will axe up to 9,000 jobs or more than 10 percent of its global workforce, the energy giant said Wednesday as the coronavirus pandemic slams oil demand and prices.

Walmart looks to airports as inspiration of new store layout

Walmart is getting inspiration from the airport terminal as it revamps the layout and signage of its stores to speed up shopping and better cater to smartphone-armed customers.

US Treasury says loan deal reached with seven airlines amid crisis

The US Treasury on Tuesday announced it had reached a deal with seven major US airlines including American and United to offer them loans in a bid to stave off job cuts amid the coronavirus crisis.

Amazon defends warehouse safety following report on injuries

Amazon on Tuesday defended its warehouse safety record after a news investigation pointed to a higher-than-average injury rate in the company's massive logistics operations.

Development of highly compact radar sensors for industry

Radar systems have long been used on aircraft or ships. Now, they are increasingly applied in cars for the 'short range' in particular. Thanks to the great progress achieved in semiconductor technology in the past years, another miniaturization step is now possible. For this, researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics (IAF) in Freiburg and the industry partner VEGA Grieshaber KG, develop highly compact radar sensors of modular design that are excellently suited for various applications in industry.

Opinion mining

Public opinion on microblogging sites, such as Twitter, is randomly distributed, so data mining such information offers many technical challenges. Writing in the International Journal of Autonomous and Adaptive Communications Systems, a team from China has now used a multi-visual clustering model to underpin a new algorithm to help them extract opinion from microblogging sites.

E-commerce startup ShipBob gets $68 million to fund expansion

ShipBob, a Chicago-based e-commerce logistics company, raised $68 million to fund an expansion amid a pandemic-fueled boom in online shopping.

Polaris makes deal to bring EV to core ATV products

Polaris Inc. has signed a 10-year partnership agreement with Zero Motorcycles to help develop an electric vehicle option for each of its core product segments by 2025.

Upgrading to an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5? What to do with your old video game console

For video game fans, one of the most exciting times is when long-awaited next-generation consoles launch.

Clock running out before some airlines begin furloughs

Airline employees and executives made 11th-hour appeals Wednesday for Congress to approve billions more in federal aid to avert thousands of layoffs that are scheduled to start Thursday.

FAA chief pleased with Boeing 737 MAX test flight

A top US air safety regulator said Wednesday he was pleased with a 737 MAX test flight he piloted, but that more work was needed to recertify the jet.

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