Science X Newsletter Monday, Dec 7

Dear ymilog,

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

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Triple threat: The first observation of three massive gauge bosons produced in proton-proton collisions

Using deep learning to infer the socioeconomic status of people in different urban areas

Introducing MitoCarta 3.0, the definitive guide to the elusive mitochondrial proteome

Two young planetary systems detected by TESS

Harnessing quantum properties to create single-molecule devices

New semiconductor detector shows promise for medical diagnostics and homeland security

Research provides tools for achieving the 'how' of well-being in daily life

This flexible and rechargeable battery is 10 times more powerful than state of the art

Scientists get the lowdown on sun's super-hot atmosphere

Researchers call for renewed focus on thermoelectric cooling

The world's first DNA 'tricorder' in your pocket

Giant vertical farm opens in Denmark

Chinese probe orbiting moon with Earth-bound samples

Last month the hottest November on record: EU

Researchers create framework to help determine timing of cancer mutations

Physics news

Triple threat: The first observation of three massive gauge bosons produced in proton-proton collisions

The Standard Model, the most exhaustive existing theory outlining fundamental particle interactions, predicts the existence of what are known as triboson interactions. These interactions are processes in which three-gauge bosons are simultaneously produced from one Large Hadron Collider event.

New semiconductor detector shows promise for medical diagnostics and homeland security

Security officials are tasked with preventing criminals from smuggling dangerous materials into a country, and detecting nuclear substances has been difficult and costly. Now Northwestern University researchers have developed new devices based on a low-cost material to aid in the detection and identification of radioactive isotopes.

A photonic curveball has real-world examples in soccer, baseball

Have you ever been amazed by a curveball goal scored by Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi or Christiano Ronaldo? Then you have—possibly without knowing it—been exposed to the Magnus effect: the fact that spinning objects tend to move along curved paths. In a new publication that appeared in Physical Review Letters this week, Robert Spreeuw shows that the same effect occurs to atoms moving through light—and that this effect has practical consequences.

The lightest light – the future of digital displays and brain science

A team of scientists from the University of St Andrews has developed a new way of making the most durable, lightweight and thinnest light source available so far, which could revolutionize the future of mobile technologies and pave the way for new advances in brain science.

Appearances can be deceiving: Display versus surface colors

The white of paper and the white of a monitor can be precisely the same color values, yet they appear fundamentally different. That disparity may not lie in the mode of display, but rather in how the colors are constructed, according to a research team at Yokohama National University in Japan.

Team develops component for neuromorphic computer

Neural networks are some of the most important tools in artificial intelligence (AI): they mimic the operation of the human brain and can reliably recognize texts, language and images, to name but a few. So far, they run on traditional processors in the form of adaptive software, but experts are working on an alternative concept, the 'neuromorphic computer.' In this case, the brain's switching points—the neurons—are not simulated by software but reconstructed in hardware components. A team of researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) has now demonstrated a new approach to such hardware—targeted magnetic waves that are generated and divided in micrometer-sized wafers. Looking to the future, this could mean that optimization tasks and pattern recognition could be completed faster and more energy efficiently. The researchers have presented their results in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Researchers develop unique process for producing light-matter mixture

In groundbreaking new research, an international team of researchers led by the University of Minnesota Twin Cities has developed a unique process for producing a quantum state that is part light and part matter.

A neglected mechanism in antiferromagnets may be key to spintronics

Enormous efforts are being made worldwide in a technological field that could far surpass the capabilities of conventional electronics: Spintronics. Instead of operating based on the collective movement of charged particles (electrons), spintronic devices could perform memory storage and data transmission by manipulating spin, an intrinsic property of elementary particles related to angular momentum and from which many magnetic characteristics in materials arise. Unfortunately, controlling spin has proven to be a challenging endeavor, leading physicists and engineers to look for efficient materials and techniques to do so.

To accelerate or decelerate in the light-emitting process of zinc-oxide crystals

Highly efficient electronic and optical devices are essential for reducing energy consumption and for the realization of an eco-friendly society.

Observing the ultrafast motion of atoms and electrons

Photo-induced electron transfer is central to numerous physical processes, for instance in the magnetization of materials. The quest to understand and control this ultrafast process has long been pursued in vain, with no answer to the question of whether electrons induce atomic motion, or vice versa.

Imitation mosquito ears help identify mosquito species and sex

Using an imitation "ear" modeled on the organs that mosquitos use to hear, researchers have identified a mosquito's species and sex using sound—just like mosquitos do themselves.

Astronomy and Space news

Two young planetary systems detected by TESS

Using NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), astronomers have discovered two new young planetary systems. They found that two stars not older than 320 million years, namely TOI-251 and TOI-942, are orbited by a mini-Neptune planet and two Neptune-sized exoplanets. The finding is reported in a paper published November 26 on arXiv.org.

Scientists get the lowdown on sun's super-hot atmosphere

A phenomenon first detected in the solar wind may help solve a long-standing mystery about the sun: why the solar atmosphere is millions of degrees hotter than the surface.

Chinese probe orbiting moon with Earth-bound samples

A Chinese probe was orbiting the moon on Monday in preparation for the returning of samples of the lunar surface to Earth for the first time in almost 45 years.

Carbon emission from star-forming clouds

The carbon atom can be easily ionized, more easily than hydrogen atoms for example. In star forming regions, where massive young stars emit ultraviolet light capable of ionizing atoms, all the neutral carbon nearby becomes ionized. The singly-ionized carbon atom (abbreviated CII) emits a strong line in the far infrared that is both very intense and consequently a reliable proxy for the ultraviolet flux from star formation activity. In some extreme star forming galaxies, the energy in this one infrared CII line alone can be as much as one percent of the entire energy budget of the galaxy. The extreme brightness of the line makes it a very powerful tool for studying cosmically remote galaxies in the early universe because it is one of the easiest lines to detect and its measured wavelength, shifted by expansion of the universe, provides a precise measure of the galaxy's distance. All this means that astronomers are working towards a more precise understanding of how and where carbon is ionized by young stars. One major outstanding puzzle is that in some bright star-forming galaxies the strength of the CII emission is as much as one hundred or more times weaker than it is in the strongest cases, and the reason is not well understood.

New sunspot cycle could be one of the strongest on record, new research predicts

In direct contradiction to the official forecast, a team of scientists led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is predicting that the Sunspot Cycle that started this fall could be one of the strongest since record-keeping began.

Image-based navigation could help spacecraft safely land on the moon

In order for future lunar exploration missions to be successful and land more precisely, engineers must equip spacecraft with technologies that allow them to "see" where they are and travel to where they need to be. Finding specific locations amid the moon's complicated topography is not a simple task.

SpaceX capsules parked side-by-side at station for 1st time

A SpaceX supply ship bearing Christmas goodies arrived at the International Space Station on Monday, parking alongside another Dragon capsule that carried up astronauts three weeks ago.

Asteroid Ryugu dust delivered to Earth; NASA astrobiologists prepare to probe it

On Dec. 6 local time (Dec. 5 in the United States), Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 dropped a capsule to the ground of the Australian Outback from about 120 miles (or 200 kilometers) above Earth's surface. Inside that capsule is some of the most precious cargo in the solar system: dust that the spacecraft collected earlier this year from the surface of asteroid Ryugu.

Japan space agency hails return of asteroid dust on Earth

Japan space agency officials on Sunday hailed the arrival of rare asteroid samples on Earth after they were collected by space probe Hayabusa-2 during an unprecedented mission.

EXPLAINER: What has Japanese space mission accomplished?

A small capsule containing asteroid soil samples that was dropped from 136,700 miles (220,000 kilometers) in space by Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft landed as planned in the Australian Outback on Sunday. After a preliminary inspection, it will be flown to Japan for research. The extremely high precision required to carry out the mission thrilled many in Japan, who said they took pride in its success. The project's manager, Yuichi Tsuda of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, called the capsule a "treasure box." The AP explains the significance of the project and what comes next.

Biomining study could unlock future settlements on other worlds

Experiments on the International Space Station have shown that the process of "biomining" will work in microgravity; a discovery that could help the first space settlers gather the minerals they need to build a long-term presence beyond Earth.

Human muscle cells hitch a ride as SpaceX launches supply mission to space station

A SpaceX capsule full of science experiments studying everything from asteroid mining to in-flight medical treatment launched from Florida to the International Space Station on Sunday, in hopes the research will further humans' quest to return to the moon and reach Mars.

In their closest alignment in 800 years, Jupiter and Saturn will create a wonder: A Christmas Star

The lousiest year in living memory will end with an offering of heavenly wonder: a Christmas Star.

Technology news

Using deep learning to infer the socioeconomic status of people in different urban areas

Deep learning algorithms have proved to be promising tools to tackle a variety of real-world problems, especially those that require the analysis of vast amounts of data. In contrast with other computational techniques, in fact, these algorithms can learn to make highly accurate predictions simply by processing data related to the task they are designed to complete.

This flexible and rechargeable battery is 10 times more powerful than state of the art

A team of researchers has developed a flexible, rechargeable silver oxide-zinc battery with a five to 10 times greater areal energy density than state of the art. The battery also is easier to manufacture; while most flexible batteries need to be manufactured in sterile conditions, under vacuum, this one can be screen printed in normal lab conditions. The device can be used in flexible, stretchable electronics for wearables as well as soft robotics.

Giant vertical farm opens in Denmark

A purple glow illuminates stacked boxes where lettuce, herbs and kale will soon be sprouting at one of Europe's biggest "vertical farms" which has just opened in a warehouse in an industrial zone in Copenhagen.

Safe space: Improving 'clean' methanol fuel cells using a protective carbon shell

Because of environmental problems caused by the use of fossil fuels, many scientists worldwide are focused on finding efficient alternatives. Though high hopes have been placed on hydrogen fuel cells, the reality is that transporting, storing and using pure hydrogen comes with a huge cost, making this process challenging with current technology. In contrast, methanol (CH3O3), a type of alcohol, does not require cold storage, has a higher energy density and is easier and safer to transport. Thus, a transition to a methanol-based economy is a more realistic goal.

Better learning with shape-shifting objects

Have you ever seen a fancy ergonomic chair that seems to magically mold to a person's body? Such products got researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) thinking about other everyday objects that could be made to shape-shift to help their users—not only to get things done, but to actually improve their skills in particular areas.

Study outlines what creates racial bias in facial recognition technology

As facial recognition technology comes into wider use worldwide, more attention has fallen on the imbalance in the technology's performance across races.

The ever-elusive riddle: What's the best way to cut Christmas cookies?

At some point in life, most people have stood over a rolled-out slab of cookie dough and pondered just how to best cut out cookies with as little waste as possible. Now, even math experts have given up on finding a computer algorithm to answer this type of geometric problem.

New transistor design disguises key computer chip hardware from hackers

A hacker can reproduce a circuit on a chip by discovering what key transistors are doing in a circuit—but not if the transistor "type" is undetectable.

Drones and AI detect soybean maturity with high accuracy

Walking rows of soybeans in the mid-summer heat is an exhausting but essential chore in breeding new cultivars. Researchers brave the heat daily during crucial parts of the growing season to look for plants showing desirable traits, such as early pod maturity. But without a way to automate detection of these traits, breeders can't test as many plots as they'd like in a given year, elongating the time it takes to bring new cultivars to market.

Twilio CEO discusses why pandemic lifted tech to new heights

Twilio has emerged as a technological backbone for thousands of companies during the pandemic. Its users rely on its digital tools to connect with customers through mobile apps, call centers and messaging services as the shift to online commerce and curbside pickup accelerates.

Airbnb to increase IPO price: report

Home-sharing giant Airbnb, which is scheduled to go public this week, will significantly raise its IPO price, valuing the group at more than $40 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

No strings attached: Maximizing wireless charging efficiency with multiple transmitters

Wireless power transfer has proven to be quite useful in electronic devices such as medical implants and smartphones. In most cases, this is done by aligning or "coupling" two separate coils of wire (transmitter Tx and receiver Rx). The electrical current circulating in the Tx coil then creates a magnetic field that transfers energy to the Rx coil. Recently, researchers have explored the use of multiple Txs covering a wide charging area.

Nothing like the mafia: Cybercriminals are much like the everyday, poorly paid business worker

New research is questioning the popular notion that cybercriminals can make millions of dollars from the comfort of home—and without much effort.

Cybercrime costs to top $1 trillion this year: researchers

Cybercrime is expected to cost the global economy more than $1 trillion this year, up more than 50 percent since 2018, a research report said Monday.

Japan boosts AI funding to match lonely hearts

Japan is seeking to boost its flagging birthrate by funding the use of artificial intelligence to help match lonely hearts, an official said Monday.

Airbus bets on hydrogen to deliver zero-emission jets

There are plenty of obstacles standing in the way of developing the first zero-emission, hydrogen-powered plane. It's tricky to safely store and use the highly combustible fuel. There aren't any airports equipped to refuel jets with it. And the cost of hydrogen itself is prohibitive, at least if you want to avoid producing greenhouse gases.

Bend, don't break: New tool enables economic glass design

Curved glass fa├žades can be stunningly beautiful, but traditional construction methods are extremely expensive. Panes are usually made with 'hot bending,' where glass is heated and formed using a mold or specialized machines, an energy-intensive process that generates excess waste in the form of individual molds. Cold-bent glass is a cheaper alternative in which flat panes of glass are bent and fixed to frames at the construction site. However, given the fragility of the material, coming up with a form that is both aesthetically pleasing and manufacturable is extremely challenging. Now, an interactive, data-driven design tool allows architects to do just that.

Wind tunnel tests will help design future Army tiltrotor aircraft

After more than three years in development, a team of U.S. Army researchers and industry partners completed the construction of a testbed that will help to inform the design of future Army rotorcraft.

Smarter traffic signs ahead?

Ever get caught up in a pileup or have a near miss with one during bad weather? Researchers in Poland have created smart road signs that use built-in Doppler radar, video, and acoustic radar and weather stations to monitor road traffic and conditions to warn drivers in real-time of hazards and prevent collisions on highways.

Apple preps next Mac chips with aim to outclass highest-end PCs

Apple Inc. is planning a series of new Mac processors for introduction as early as 2021 that are aimed at outperforming Intel Corp.'s fastest.

Aurora to buy Uber's self-driving vehicles arm

Uber is selling off its autonomous vehicles development arm to Aurora as the ride-hailing company slims down after its revenues were pummeled by the coronavirus pandemic.

EU tells online platforms to better explain search rankings

Internet companies such as Google and Amazon should be more transparent in explaining how the search rankings work on their platforms, the European Commission said in guidelines released Monday.

Moroccan geeks flock to 'paradise for hackers'

With its rows of sleek computers and ultra-modern study methods, Morocco's 1337 campus is a dream come true for budding geeks, in a country where IT skills are in high demand.

US probe finds no 'misconduct' in Kodak loan: report

A US watchdog report has found no "evidence of misconduct" in the processing of a government loan to Kodak that was subsequently suspended pending investigations into the deal, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

2021 edition of Paris Air Show cancelled due to COVID

Organisers of the Paris Air Show said on Monday that they have cancelled next year's edition of the event because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lufthansa ground staff agree deal to avoid layoffs

Ground crew at Germany's beleaguered airline giant Lufthansa have agreed to a 200-million-euro ($240 million) cut in personnel costs in exchange for avoiding forced redundancies until March 2022, trade union Verdi said Monday.

#Covid19, #BlackLivesMatter top Twitter themes in 2020

The coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement topped the list of conversation topics on Twitter in a tumultuous year, the messaging platform said Monday.


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