Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Mar 25

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for March 25, 2020:

Due to an increasing volume of information and news about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we have split stories concerning the virus into a separate category in the MedicalXpress daily newsletter. As always, you may configure your email newsletter preferences in your ScienceX account.

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A framework for adaptive task allocation during multi-robot missions

Researchers discover giant cavity in key tuberculosis molecule

International ozone treaty stops changes in Southern Hemisphere winds

A clothing measurement app for the age of social distancing

Supernova remnant W49B investigated with XMM-Newton

Engineers find ankle exoskeleton aids running

Big brains or many babies: How birds can thrive in urban environments

Mapping the cannabis genome to improve crops and health

Teeth serve as 'archive of life,' new research finds

Brake on immune activity identified, raising new possibilities for anticancer therapy

Manipulating ligands: A new dimension for promoting electrocatalysis performance by noble metal aerogels

Is nonlocality inherent in all identical particles in the universe?

Repurposing a drug for blood clots: A stopgap measure to treat respiratory distress in COVID-19

Underwater avalanches are trapping microplastics in the deep ocean

New research on the sand lance, 'a quintessential forage fish' for seabirds and marine mammals

Physics news

Is nonlocality inherent in all identical particles in the universe?

What is interaction, and when does it occur? Intuition suggests that the necessary condition for the interaction of independently created particles is their direct touch or contact through physical force carriers. In quantum mechanics, the result of the interaction is entanglement—the appearance of non-classical correlations in the system. It seems that quantum theory allows entanglement of independent particles without any contact. The fundamental identity of particles of the same kind is responsible for this phenomenon.

Shifting dimensions: Exciting excitons in phosphorene

Since its discovery in 2014, phosphorene—a sheet of phosphorus atoms only a single atom thick—has intrigued scientists due to its unique optoelectronic anisotropy. In other words, electrons interact with light and move in one direction only. This anisotropy means that despite being two dimensional (2-D), phosphorene shows a mix of properties found in both one-dimensional (1-D) and 2-D materials. Scientists believe that the distinct quasi-1-D nature of phosphorene could be exploited to develop new, innovative optoelectronic devices, from LEDs to solar cells.

A new idea for rapid generation of strong magnetic fields using laser pulses

A combined team of researchers from the University of Ottawa and National Research Council Canada has developed a new way to generate rapid strong magnetic fields using laser pulses. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the researchers describe their new technique and the ways it might be used.

New technologies aim to make 3-D cameras easier to use

A 3-D camera should be as easy to use as one found on a smartphone.

Many buds to a blossom: A synchronization approach to sensing using many oscillators

Engineers at the Tokyo Tech have found a new approach to taking a measurement over an extended area. The technique is based on coupled chaotic oscillators, which are highly sensitive electronic circuits that can interact wirelessly through low-frequency, low-power electromagnetic coupling. By making each oscillator sensitive to a quantity of interest, such as light intensity, and scattering a number of them sufficiently closely, it is possible to read out useful measurement statistics from their collective activity.

Researchers propose a novel methodology for the characterization of light-matter interaction at atomic size

Photonic cavities are an essential part of many modern optical devices, from laser pointers to microwave ovens. Just as we can store water in a tank and create standing waves on the surface of the water, we can confine light in a photonic resonator whose walls are strongly reflective. Just as water surface waves depend on the geometry of the tank (shape, depth), specific optical modes can be created in a photonic cavity whose properties (colour and spatial distribution of intensity) can be tuned by changing the dimensions of the cavity. When the size of the cavity is very small—much smaller than the wavelength of the light confining it (nano-cavity in the case of visible light)—an intensification effect of the light is produced that is so strong that it influences the electrons on the walls of the cavity. A mixture between photons and electrons is then produced, giving rise to hybrid modes between light and matter known as plasmons.

Lab on a chip: Developing a tiny, super-resolution optical microscope

Imagine shrinking a microscope, integrating it with a chip and using it to observe inside living cells in real time. Wouldn't it be great if this tiny microscope could also be incorporated into electronic gadgets, in the same way that smartphone cameras are today? What if doctors manage to use such a tool for diagnosis in remote areas without the need for large, heavy and sensitive analysis devices? The EU-funded ChipScope project has made significant progress towards achieving these objectives.

Astronomy and Space news

Supernova remnant W49B investigated with XMM-Newton

Chinese astronomers using ESA's XMM-Newton spacecraft have investigated a luminous supernova remnant (SNR) known as W49B. Results of the new study, presented in a paper published March 16 on arXiv.org, shed more light on the properties of this SNR and on the nature of its progenitor.

Scientists develop inexpensive method to produce E-sail tethers

Thin metallic tethers for Coulomb drag devices that tow satellites and spacecraft can now be produced more easily than before. Scientists of the Finnish Meteorological Institute have developed a method to produce multi-wire tether by twisting hair-thin metal wires.

Technology news

A framework for adaptive task allocation during multi-robot missions

In recent years, robots have become increasingly sophisticated, hence they are now able to complete a wide variety of tasks. While some robots are designed to work individually, for instance providing basic assistance in people's homes, others might be more efficient when deployed in teams.

A clothing measurement app for the age of social distancing

Our world has been shaken by a deadly microscopic virus that has forced us to change the routines of our lives in major ways, routines that may never completely return to normal.

Engineers find ankle exoskeleton aids running

Running is great exercise but not everyone feels great doing it. In hopes of boosting physical activity—and possibly creating a new mode of transportation—engineers at Stanford University are studying devices that people could strap to their legs to make running easier.

Changing the rules of computing could lighten Big Data's impact on the internet

At a time when we're relying on the internet to an unprecedented degree in our daily lives, a team of U-M researchers led by Mosharaf Chowdhury and Harsha Madhyastha has found a way for tech companies, banks and health systems to squeeze more capacity out of our existing infrastructure.

How robots can help combat COVID-19

Can robots be effective tools in combating the COVID-19 pandemic? A group of leaders in the field of robotics, including Henrik Christensen, director of UC San Diego's Contextual Robotics Institute, say yes, and outline a number of examples in an editorial in the March 25 issue of Science Robotics. They say robots can be used for clinical care such as telemedicine and decontamination; logistics such as delivery and handling of contaminated waste; and reconnaissance such as monitoring compliance with voluntary quarantines.

Samsung brings cutting-edge ultraviolet light technology to DRAM production

Samsung Electronics today announced it will be introducing the first DRAM memory modules in the industry designed with cutting-edge Extreme Ultraviolet Technology (EUV).

Solving a 50-year-old puzzle in signal processing, part two

Iowa State University's Alexander Stoytchev says it's one of the "most popular and useful" algorithms around—even though most of us have never heard of it.

Online gaming booms as virus lockdowns keep millions at home

When two Spanish footballers took to the controls of "FIFA 20" after the coronavirus pandemic saw their La Liga match cancelled, a stadium-sized virtual audience watched online.

Coronavirus calls into question PSA-Fiat Chrysler merger

Will they or won't they? On top of massive economic damage, the coronavirus pandemic now is casting doubt over the pending merger of PSA Group and Fiat Chrysler (FCA), financial sources told AFP.

Facebook revenue slips as usage leaps during pandemic

Facebook on Tuesday said the coronavirus pandemic has users flocking to its services while it undermines ad revenue on which the world's biggest social network depends.

Hypersonic flight test conducted by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army

Sandia National Laboratories employees and contractors saw their work culminate in a hypersonic flight test conducted by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army on March 19 at the Kauai Test Facility in Hawaii.

High-frequency transistors achieve record efficiency at 100 volts

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF have succeeded in significantly increasing the output power of their GaN‑based high‑frequency transistors for the frequency range from 1–2 GHz: They were able to double the operating voltage of the devices from 50 volts to 100 volts, thus achieving a power-added efficiency of 77.3 percent. This technology allows the development of highly efficient amplifiers with even higher power, as required for applications in the fields of plasma generation, industrial heating, communications and radar technologies.

Designing lightweight glass for efficient cars and wind turbines

A new machine-learning algorithm for exploring lightweight, very stiff glass compositions can help design next-gen materials for more efficient vehicles and wind turbines. Glasses can reinforce polymers to generate composite materials that provide similar strengths as metals but with less weight.

Harnessing marine energy at all scales, from a village microgrid to a vast tidal inlet

The nation's largest yet least densely populated state, Alaska is a land of superlatives and contradictions. For centuries, its remote communities, rugged terrain, extreme weather, natural wonders, and abundant wildlife have sparked the imaginations of intrepid explorers from around the world.

Shift from public transport to private cars as COVID-19 spreads

Public transport use in Adelaide has plummeted with the increase in COVID-19 cases as commuters shun buses, trains and trams in favor of private cars.

Wondering if you have coronavirus symptoms? Siri can help

Now your iPhone or other Apple device can help you determine if you have symptoms associated with the coronavirus.

Coronavirus home lesson plans coming for free in 'Minecraft'

Microsoft wants to help students keep flexing their mental muscles even if they aren't in the classroom, with many schools closed during the coronavirus crisis.

Why 'Animal Crossing: New Horizons' is the ideal video game escape right now

My biggest worry so far in "Animal Crossing: New Horizons?" Whether I remembered to water my newly-planted pear trees.

Edmunds: Five high-tech vehicles for less than $36,000

Every year brings new technology features in vehicles. Most of them undeniably enhance a vehicle's modern appeal and safety, such as widescreen infotainment displays and safety systems that can automatically help prevent or mitigate accidents.

Social media sees virus solidarity bloom in UK

Help groups on social media are connecting people with those most in need during the coronavirus lockdown, fostering a community spirit often neglected in the capital's fast-paced life.

Power-generating material for organic photovoltaics

Toyobo Co., Ltd. and the French government research institute CEA have succeeded in making trial organic photovoltaic (OPV) small cells on a glass substrate with the world's best conversion efficiency in a dim room. The team tested OPV modules on a thin, lightweight PET (polyethylene terephthalate) film substrate during their joint research project. The trial products use a power-generating material for OPV that Toyobo has been developing.


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