Science X Newsletter Week 17

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for week 17:

New species of turtle discovered

Together with an international team, Senckenberg scientist Uwe Fritz described a new species of mata mata turtle based on genetic analyses. Until now, it had been assumed that the genus Chelus only contained a single species. The new description also necessitates a reassessment of the conservation status of these species, which are frequently sold in the illegal animal trade. The study was recently published in the scientific journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.

USGS releases first-ever comprehensive geologic map of the Moon

Have you ever wondered what kind of rocks make up those bright and dark splotches on the moon? Well, the USGS has just released a new authoritative map to help explain the 4.5-billion-year-old history of our nearest neighbor in space.

Sunlight destroys coronavirus quickly, say US scientists

The new coronavirus is quickly destroyed by sunlight, according to new research announced by a senior US official on Thursday, though the study has not yet been made public and awaits external evaluation.

The best material for homemade face masks may be a combination of two fabrics

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people wear masks in public. Because N95 and surgical masks are scarce and should be reserved for health care workers, many people are making their own coverings. Now, researchers report in ACS Nano that a combination of cotton with natural silk or chiffon can effectively filter out aerosol particles—if the fit is good.

Researchers discover ferroelectricity at the atomic scale

As electronic devices become progressively smaller, the technology that powers them needs to get smaller and thinner.

COVID-19: New model predicts its course, resolution and eventual good news

COVID-19 has infected millions and killed hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, but a new predictor model devised at QUT offers glimmers of hope, suggesting the worst has passed and indicating well under 1000 deaths for Australia.

Archaeologists verify Florida's Mound Key as location of elusive Spanish fort

Florida and Georgia archaeologists have discovered the location of Fort San Antón de Carlos, home of one of the first Jesuit missions in North America. The Spanish fort was built in 1566 in the capital of the Calusa, the most powerful Native American tribe in the region, on present-day Mound Key in the center of Estero Bay on Florida's Gulf Coast.

DNA may not be life's instruction book—just a jumbled list of ingredients

The common view of heredity is that all information passed down from one generation to the next is stored in an organism's DNA. But Antony Jose, associate professor of cell biology and molecular genetics at the University of Maryland, disagrees.

Neandertals had older mothers and younger fathers

When the ancestors of modern humans left Africa 50,000 years ago they met the Neandertals. In this encounter, the Neandertal population contributed around two percent of the genome to present day non-African populations. A collaboration of scientists from Aarhus University in Denmark, deCODE Genetics in Iceland, and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have conducted the most comprehensive study to date using data obtained from 27,566 Icelanders, to figure out which parts of our genomes contain Neandertal DNA and what role it plays in modern humans.

Researchers unveil electronics that mimic the human brain in efficient learning

Only 10 years ago, scientists working on what they hoped would open a new frontier of neuromorphic computing could only dream of a device using miniature tools called memristors that would function/operate like real brain synapses.

Scientists uncover principles of universal self-assembly

For years, researchers have searched for the working principles of self-assembly that can build a cell (a complex biological organism) as well as a crystal (a far simpler inorganic material) in the same way.

Dramatic double discovery of a fish on the brink of extinction

Within the space of less than a month, two specimens of a vanishingly rare fish have been plucked from the waters of the Rioni River in Georgia.

Tectonic plates started shifting earlier than previously thought

An enduring question in geology is when Earth's tectonic plates began pushing and pulling in a process that helped the planet evolve and shaped its continents into the ones that exist today. Some researchers theorize it happened around four billion years ago, while others think it was closer to one billion.

ALMA reveals unusual composition of interstellar comet 2I/Borisov

A galactic visitor entered our solar system last year—interstellar comet 2I/Borisov. When astronomers pointed the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) toward the comet on 15 and 16 December 2019, for the first time they directly observed the chemicals stored inside an object from a planetary system other than our own. This research is published online on 20 April 2020 in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Mazda files patent for hybrid rotary engine (Update)

Rotary engines that once powered the gorgeous Mazda RX-7 two-seater, rear-wheel drive coupe—a five-time winner of a coveted spot on Car and Driver's Ten Best autos list—were phased out by 2012. Their popularity in the Seventies and Eighties was boosted by their compact design and low weight, but they lost favor due to poor fuel efficiency in an increasingly environmentally conscious era.

Satellite data show 'highest emissions ever measured' from U.S. oil and gas operations

Findings published today in the journal Science Advances show that oil and gas operations in America's sprawling Permian Basin are releasing methane at twice the average rate found in previous studies of 11 other major U.S. oil and gas regions. The new study was authored by scientists from Environmental Defense Fund, Harvard University, Georgia Tech and the SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research.

Tiny sensors fit 30,000 to a penny, transmit data from living tissue

Theologians once pondered how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. Not to be outdone, Cornell researchers who build nanoscale electronics have developed microsensors so tiny, they can fit 30,000 on one side of a penny.

Cyberattack can steal data via cooling fan vibrations

Israeli researchers uncovered a novel way that hackers could steal sensitive data from a highly secured computer: by tapping into the vibrations from a cooling system fan.

LIGO and Virgo detectors catch first gravitational wave from binary black hole merger with unequal masses

The expectations of the gravitational-wave research community have been fulfilled: gravitational-wave discoveries are now part of their daily work as they have identified in the past observing run, O3, new gravitational-wave candidates about once a week. But now, the researchers have published a remarkable signal unlike any of those seen before: GW190412 is the first observation of a binary black hole merger where the two black holes have distinctly different masses of about 8 and 30 times that of our Sun. This not only has allowed more precise measurements of the system's astrophysical properties, but it has also enabled the LIGO/Virgo scientists to verify a so far untested prediction of Einstein's theory of general relativity.

Rising CO2 causes more than a climate crisis—it may directly harm our ability to think

As the 21st century progresses, rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations will cause urban and indoor levels of the gas to increase, and that may significantly reduce our basic decision-making ability and complex strategic thinking, according to a new CU Boulder-led study. By the end of the century, people could be exposed to indoor CO2 levels up to 1400 parts per million—more than three times today's outdoor levels, and well beyond what humans have ever experienced.


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Science X Newsletter Sunday, Apr 26

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for April 26, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Anxious about public speaking? Your smart speaker could help

'No evidence' people with coronavirus are immunised: WHO

Apple, Google say users to control virus 'tracing' tool

Do privacy controls lead to more trust in Alexa? Not necessarily, research finds

Privacy worries prevent use of social media account for signing up for apps

Web of psychological cues may tempt people to reveal more online

Virus toll nears 200,000 as UN pushes for global vaccine effort

Court approves record $5 bn fine of Facebook over privacy

Russian cargo ship docks with space station

WHO warns over virus immunity as global death toll nears 200,000

Boeing scraps $4.2bln deal to buy Embraer commercial division

Perfect storm: Lombardy's virus disaster is lesson for world

Australia launches app to trace coronavirus contacts

German start-up in global demand with anti-virus escalators

As earnings loom, Big Tech to highlight pandemic efforts

Astronomy and Space news

Russian cargo ship docks with space station

An unmanned Russian cargo capsule docked with the International Space Station, bringing more than 2 tons of supplies to the three-person crew.

Technology news

Anxious about public speaking? Your smart speaker could help

Individuals who fear talking in front of a crowd could soon have a new tool to ease public speaking anxiety: their smart speaker.

Apple, Google say users to control virus 'tracing' tool

Apple and Google said Friday their coronavirus "contact tracing" technology would enable smartphone users to control their own data, and that the system would likely be shut down after the pandemic ends.

Do privacy controls lead to more trust in Alexa? Not necessarily, research finds

Giving users of smart assistants the option to adjust settings for privacy or content delivery, or both, doesn't necessarily increase their trust in the platform, according to a team of Penn State researchers. In fact, for some users, it could have an unfavorable effect.

Privacy worries prevent use of social media account for signing up for apps

People find it convenient to use Facebook or other social media accounts to sign up for most new apps and services, but they prefer to use their e-mail address or open a new account if they feel the information in the app is too sensitive, according to a team of researchers.

Web of psychological cues may tempt people to reveal more online

While most people will say they are extremely concerned with their online privacy, previous experiments have shown that, in practice, users readily divulge privacy information online.

Court approves record $5 bn fine of Facebook over privacy

US regulators on Friday welcomed a "historic" $5 billion settlement with Facebook over data privacy as the social network said it was already implementing the provisions of the deal.

Boeing scraps $4.2bln deal to buy Embraer commercial division

Boeing announced Saturday it was pulling out of a $4.2 billion deal to acquire the commercial plane division of its Brazilian rival Embraer, the latest in a string of setbacks for the troubled US aviation giant.

As earnings loom, Big Tech to highlight pandemic efforts

Big Tech firms set to report quarterly results in the coming days are facing the challenge of spotlighting their roles battling the coronavirus pandemic without seeming as though they are cashing in on upheaval from the health crisis.

In U-turn, Germany backs Google and Apple on virus app

The German government on Sunday switched to backing a coronavirus-tracing app using technology supported by Google and Apple, ditching a German-led alternative that had come under fire over privacy concerns.

Low-tech Japan challenged in working from home amid pandemic

When the Japanese government declared an emergency to curb the spread of the coronavirus earlier this month and asked people to work from home, crowds rushed to electronics stores.

New York plans how to return to business amid pandemic

Banks are considering letting some employees keep working from home indefinitely, and staggering the shifts of those who do come into the office.

German minister backs creating legal right to work from home

Germany's labor minister wants to enshrine into law the right to work from home if it is feasible to do so, even after the coronavirus pandemic subsides.


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