Science X Newsletter Monday, Apr 13

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for April 13, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Quantum computation solves an old enigma: Finding the vibrational states of magnesium dimer

Research identifies detection constraints for dark photons

Researchers achieve remote control of hormone release using magnetic nanoparticles

Scientists discover supernova that outshines all others

New formation theory explains the mysterious interstellar object 'Oumuamua

Seeing the light: Study finds new way novae light up the sky

New handle for controlling electromagnetic properties could enable spintronic computing

Flare detected from the galaxy NGC 3516

Team designs carbon nanostructure stronger than diamonds

Computer model predicts how drugs affect heart rhythm

Researchers describe possible mechanism for link between obesity and breast cancer

Mathematical modeling draws more accurate picture of coronavirus cases

International collaboration on green innovation increases the wealth of OECD cities, a new study finds

Beyond Lotus effect: Taro leaf provides clues to design large hysteresis superhydrophobic surfaces

Simple method for ceramic-based flexible electrolyte sheets for lithium metal batteries

Physics news

Quantum computation solves an old enigma: Finding the vibrational states of magnesium dimer

High vibrational states of the Magnesium dimer (Mg2) are an important system in studies of fundamental physics, although they have eluded experimental characterization for half a century. Experimental physicists have so far resolved the first 14 vibrational states of Mg2, despite reports that the ground-state may support five additional levels. In a new report, Stephen H. Yuwono and a research team in the departments of physics and chemistry at the Michigan State University, U.S., presented highly accurate initial potential energy curves for the ground and excited electron states of Mg2. They centered the experimental investigations on calculations of state-of-the-art coupled-cluster (CC) and full configuration interaction computations of the Mg2 dimer. The ground-state potential confirmed the existence of 19 vibrational states with minimal deviation between previously calculated rovibrational values and experimentally derived data. The computations are now published on Science Advances and provide guidance to experimentally detect previously unresolved vibrational levels.

Research identifies detection constraints for dark photons

Past cosmological and astrophysical observations suggest that over one quarter of the universe's energy density is made up of a non-conventional type of matter known as dark matter. This type of matter is believed to be composed of particles that do not absorb, emit or reflect light, and thus cannot be observed directly using conventional detection methods.

New handle for controlling electromagnetic properties could enable spintronic computing

Materials scientists at Duke University have shown the first clear example that a material's transition into a magnet can control instabilities in its crystalline structure that cause it to change from a conductor to an insulator.

How lasers can help with nuclear nonproliferation monitoring

Mountains. Shipping containers. The surface of Mars.

Graphene heterostructures with black phosphorus, arsenic layers enable new infrared detectors

MIPT scientists and their colleagues from Japan and the U.S. have calculated the parameters of photodetectors comprised of layers of graphene and a combination of black phosphorus and black arsenic. These sensors are able to detect radiation with energy less than the band gap of the constituent layers without graphene. It is also easy to modify them in order to increase their sensitivity to the required wavelength of light. Such sensors could replace far-infrared and terahertz radiation detectors. The research findings were published in the journal Optics Express.

Astronomy and Space news

Scientists discover supernova that outshines all others

A supernova at least twice as bright and energetic, and likely much more massive than any yet recorded has been identified by an international team of astronomers, led by the University of Birmingham.

New formation theory explains the mysterious interstellar object 'Oumuamua

Since its discovery in 2017, an air of mystery has surrounded the first known interstellar object to visit our solar system, an elongated, cigar-shaped body named 'Oumuamua (Hawaiian for "a messenger from afar arriving first").

Seeing the light: Study finds new way novae light up the sky

A nova, or stella nova, the Latin word for "new star," is an explosion on the surface of a star that can produce enough energy to increase the star's brightness by millions of times. Sometimes a nova, which occur in stars called white dwarfs, is so bright it appears as a new star to the naked eye.

Flare detected from the galaxy NGC 3516

Astronomers have conducted photometric and spectroscopic observation of a changing-look Seyfert galaxy known as NGC 3516. During this monitoring campaign, the researchers detected a flare from this galaxy that may provide important information about its nature. The finding is reported in a paper published April 2 on arXiv.org.

Image: Hubble spots spirals within a spiral

At first glance, the subject of this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image looks to be a simple spiral galaxy, with two pinwheeling arms emerging from a central bar of stars and material that cuts through the galactic center. In fact, there are rings within these spiral arms, too: spirals within a spiral. 

Russia space chief spars with Elon Musk over launch pricing

The head of Russia's space agency on Saturday accused Elon Musk's SpaceX of predatory pricing for space launches, which is pushing Russia to cut its own prices.

VLASS: A survey of the radio sky

Technological advances in recent years have increased the sensitivity of radio interferometers like the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) to the radio emission from astronomical sources in their continuum (not only in their lines) by factors of several, enabling them to see fainter and more distant objects. Radio interferometers obtain high spatial resolution details of astronomical sources, and the new VLA, in addition to its sensitivity and high resolution, can provide information about the polarization of the emission, enable more reliable large-scale mosaic images, and with repeating observations monitor temporal variations. Not least, a series of recent sensitive sky surveys at optical and infrared wavelengths justify completing a corresponding radio survey. When combined, these multi-wavelength all-sky surveys will permit astronomers to characterize stellar and galaxy populations in unprecedented detail.

Trump signs an executive order allowing mining the moon and asteroids

In 2015, the Obama administration signed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (CSLCA, or H.R. 2262) into law. This bill was intended to "facilitate a pro-growth environment for the developing commercial space industry" by making it legal for American companies and citizens to own and sell resources that they extract from asteroids and off-world locations (like the moon, Mars or beyond).

PUNCH mission achieves milestone

On April 8, 2020, the Polarimeter to UNify the Corona and Heliosphere (PUNCH) mission achieved an important milestone, passing NASA's critical System Requirements Review/Mission Definition Review (SRR/MDR). Southwest Research Institute is leading PUNCH, a NASA Small Explorer (SMEX) mission that will integrate understanding of the Sun's corona, the outer atmosphere visible during eclipses, with the tenuous "solar wind" filling the solar system.

Technology news

Safe Paths: A privacy-first approach to contact tracing

Fast containment is key to halting the progression of pandemics, and rapid determination of a diagnosed patient's locations and contact history is a vital step for communities and cities. This process is labor-intensive, susceptible to human memory errors, and fraught with privacy concerns.

AI advice as influential as humans', but positive crowd opinion still overpowers

Advice from artificial intelligence (AI) experts may be just as influential as from human experts, according to a team of Penn State researchers. However, both human and robotic bearers of bad news may find that they lose influence when their negative opinions run contrary to a positive crowd.

Google introduces braille keyboard for Android

Google released a built-in virtual Braille keyboard for blind and visually impaired users last week. The new TalkBack keyboard was enabled Thursday on devices running Android 5.0 or later. Distribution will continue throughout this week.

'I saw you were online': How online status indicators shape our behavior

Some apps highlight when a person is online—and then share that information with their followers. When a user logs in to a website or app that uses online status indicators, a little green (or orange or blue) dot pops up to alert their followers that they're currently online.

China auto sales sink 48.4% in March as virus hurts demand

China's auto sales sank 48.4% in March from a year ago as the economy reeled from the coronavirus, according to an industry group, adding to strains for the struggling industry in its biggest global market.

Traditional Japanese seal system hampers telework for some

Some Japanese office workers are facing a small, but insurmountable hurdle to staying home under the state of emergency declared in parts of the country over the virus: personal signature stamps.

Data analytics in a time of crisis: How businesses can navigate the coming months

Analytics have been front and center of the COVID-19 outbreak. A majority of the public policy decisions have been based on models developed by epidemiologists to forecast the spread of viral infections amongst populations. Donnie Hale, a lecturer in Poole College of Management's department of business management, shares the critical role analytics has played in this pandemic—and will play in the coming months.

Spacecraft is designed to survive fire, surfs its own wave

Patrick Rodi's new idea for surfing is far out, fast and white hot.

Videoconferencing privacy and security are far from perfect

If, before COVID-19, you were concerned about all the data that technology companies had about you, just wait. As stay-at-home orders push more professional and social activities online, it's becoming harder to remain in control.

Coronavirus tracking app that puts privacy first

By now, it's no surprise that contact tracing— identifying a sick person's recent interactions to determine who else they might have infected—could be an effective way of controlling the coronavirus outbreak.

3 things to consider before you let your child play chess online

The school closures forced by COVID-19 have parents and students searching for ways to make the best of their time indoors. Here, Alexey Root, a former U.S. Women's Chess Champion who teaches online courses about chess in education, offers tips for parents and caregivers of children who are interested in playing chess online.

Your iPhone won't recognize you in a face mask—but a Samsung Galaxy might

You're wearing a mask, as encouraged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and possibly by your local government during this coronavirus outbreak, and you want to use FaceID to open your iPhone or Android phone. Is there a way?

Cybersecurity requires international cooperation, trust

Most experts agree that state-sponsored hackers in Russia are trying to use the internet to infiltrate the U.S. electrical grid and sabotage elections.

New eBay CEO to come from Walmart

Struggling online retail giant eBay named a new top executive on Monday, bringing in the former head of e-commerce at Walmart, Jamie Iannone.

Terrible or merely bad? Investors brace for ugly Q1 earnings

The month of March opened with US unemployment near a 50-year low and concluded with countless companies turning to Washington for help as the coronavirus ravaged the economy.

Tech startups can apply for US relief funds—but should they?

Should startups take money from the government? Silicon Valley is puzzling over the answer right now.

Six tips for looking great in a Zoom meeting

We all want the same things in life.


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Cloud sharing may have you kissing Dropbox goodbye

Plus, Fitbit Charge 4 with GPS is the perfect fitness watch for runners, and why your MacBook webcam looks bad in Zoom meetings and how to fix it.
                                                                                                                                                                               
With the new iCloud Folder Sharing feature in the latest software updates to iPhone, iPad and Mac, people with Apple devices finally have a decent alternative to Dropbox and Google Drive.
Jason Hiner Jason Hiner
Editorial Director, CNET
iCloud  now makes sharing files a breeze with an iPhone or Mac
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