Science X Newsletter Thursday, May 14

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for May 14, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Hybrid multi-chip assembly of optical communication engines via 3-D nanolithography

Researchers discover potential targets for COVID-19 therapy

Ancient DNA unveils important missing piece of human history

Malaria parasite ticks to its own internal clock

Scientists develop tool to sequence circular DNA

A soft robotic finger fabricated using multi-material 3D printing

Topological waves may help in understanding plasma systems

Genetic origins of hybrid dysfunction

Minimum legal age for cannabis use should be 19, study suggests

Coffee linked to lower body fat in women

Signs of fetal alcohol syndrome detected in womb

Solid-ion conductors for safer batteries

Waveguide array transports light without distortion

COVID-19 may be linked to rare inflammatory disorder in young children

Virus 'eminently capable' of spreading through speech: study

Physics news

Hybrid multi-chip assembly of optical communication engines via 3-D nanolithography

Three-dimensional (3-D) nanoprinting of freeform optical waveguides also known as photonic wire bonding can efficiently couple between photonic chips to greatly simplify optical system assembly. The shape and trajectory of photonic wire bonds offers a key advantage as an alternative to conventional optical assembly techniques that rely on technically complex and expensive high-precision alignment. In a new study now published on Nature: Light, Science & Applications, Matthias Blaicher, Muhammed Rodlin Billah and a research team in photonics, quantum electronics and microstructure technology in Germany, demonstrated optical communication engines. The device relied on photonic wire bonding to connect arrays of silicon photonic modulators to lasers and single-mode fibers. They engineered the photonic wire bonds onto the chips in the lab using advanced 3-D lithography to efficiently connect a variety of photonic integration platforms. The scientists simplified the assembly of advanced photonic multistep modules to transform a variety of applications ranging from high-speed communications to ultra-fast signal processing, optical sensing, and quantum information processing.

Topological waves may help in understanding plasma systems

Nearly 50 years ago, Brown University physicist Michael Kosterlitz and his colleagues used the mathematics of topology—the study of how objects can be deformed by stretching or twisting but not tearing or breaking—to explain puzzling phase changes in certain types of matter. The work won Kosterlitz a share of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics and has led to the discovery of topological phenomena in all kinds of systems, from thin films that conduct electricity only around their edges, to strange waves that propagate in the oceans and atmosphere at the Earth's equator.

Waveguide array transports light without distortion

One of the challenges of optical microscopy is to continually increase the imaging power, or resolution. In the past three hundred odd years, scientists have been building ever-better microscopes. The limit, for a long time, was determined by only two factors: the contrast of the object being viewed, and the resolving power of the optics in the microscope. The last 50 years, in particular, have led to an explosion in techniques to improve both the contrast of object and the quality of the optics.

Collision experiments for understanding molecular interactions at the individual particle level

Collision experiments provide the means for a detailed understanding of molecular interactions at the individual particle level. Theoretical and experimental physicists within the Institute for Molecules and Materials have published a paper in Science in which they fully characterize molecular collisions at temperatures near absolute zero.

Unlocking the gate to the millisecond CT

Many will undergo a CT scan at some point in their lifetime—being slid in and out of a tunnel as a large machine rotates around. X-ray computed tomography, better known by its acronym CT, is a widely used method of obtaining cross-sectional images of objects.

Time travel into the future is totally possible

Believe it or not, time travel is possible.

Astronomy and Space news

TRAPPIST-1 planetary orbits not misaligned

Astronomers using the Subaru Telescope have determined that the Earth-like planets of the TRAPPIST-1 system are not significantly misaligned with the rotation of the star. This is an important result for understanding the evolution of planetary systems around very low-mass stars in general, and in particular the history of the TRAPPIST-1 planets including the ones near the habitable zone.

Seeing the universe through new lenses

Like crystal balls for the universe's deeper mysteries, galaxies and other massive space objects can serve as lenses to more distant objects and phenomena along the same path, bending light in revelatory ways.

SOFIA finds clues hidden in Pluto's haze

When the New Horizons spacecraft passed by Pluto in 2015, one of the many fascinating features its images revealed was that this small, frigid world in the distant solar system has a hazy atmosphere. Now, new data helps explain how Pluto's haze is formed from the faint light of the Sun 3.7 billion miles away as it moves through an unusual orbit.

Laser-powered rover to explore moon's dark shadows

A laser light shone through the dark could power robotic exploration of the most tantalizing locations in our solar system: the permanently-shadowed craters around the moon's poles, believed to be rich in water ice and other valuable materials.

First look: NASA's James Webb space telescope fully stowed

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has been successfully folded and stowed into the same configuration it will have when loaded onto an Ariane 5 rocket for launch next year.

Technology news

A soft robotic finger fabricated using multi-material 3D printing

Researchers at Zhejiang University of Technology, Tianjin University, Nanjing Institute of Technology and Ritsumeikan University have recently created a soft robotic finger that integrates a self-powered curvature sensor using multi-material 3-D printing technology. The new robotic finger, presented in a paper published in Elsevier's Nano Energy journal, is made of several materials, including a stretchable electrode, polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), AgilusBlack, VeroWhite and FLX9060.

Surrey unveils fast-charging super-capacitor technology

Experts from the University of Surrey believe their dream of clean energy storage is a step closer after they unveiled their ground-breaking super-capacitor technology that is able to store and deliver electricity at high power rates, particularly for mobile applications.

SILVER2 aquatic robot walks around on the seabed

A team of Italian researchers from the BioRobotics Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna and Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn has developed a new and improved version of its Seabed Interaction Legged Vehicle for Exploration and Research (SILVER) with the SILVER2—a robot that can walk around on the seafloor taking video as it goes. In their paper published in the journal Science Robotics, the group describes the robot, its capabilities and how it might be used in research efforts.

Electrolysis: Chemists have discovered how to produce better electrodes

Another step forward for renewable energies: The production of green hydrogen could be even more efficient in the future. By applying an unusual process step, chemists at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) have found a way to treat inexpensive electrode materials and considerably improve their properties during electrolysis. The group published their research results in the journal ACS Catalysis.

Battery electrolyte made with skin cream ingredients enables stable and non-flammable aqueous li-ion batteries

A research team led by Prof. Yi-Chun LU from the Faculty of Engineering at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has taken a critical step forward in improving high-energy batteries by introducing a novel electrolyte to the aqueous lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery. This electrolyte is commonly used in skin cream. It is inexpensive, inflammable, less toxic and is eco-friendly, yet can create stable voltage for common usage. The breakthrough was recently published in Nature Materials.

Sony unveils first built-in AI image sensors

Sony is bringing machine intelligence to its image sensors. The electronics and entertainment giant announced this week a sensor that applies artificial intelligence while processing imagery without the need for extrema hardware or assistance.

Australia media group wants tech giants to pay $400m a year

A leading publisher called Thursday for Google and other tech giants to pay Australian news outlets some US$400 million a year under a mandatory code of conduct ordered by the government.

Why open a store? Chinese merchants go livestreaming instead

At the height of China's coronavirus outbreak, the skincare-products maker Forest Cabin closed more than half of its 300 stores across the nation as shoppers stayed home. With sales plunging, founder Sun Laichun decided it was time to reach his customers more directly.

Amazon launches 3 upgraded tablets: 'All new' Fire HD 8, Fire HD 8 Plus and Kids Edition

Amazon announced new versions of its Fire HD 8 tablets on Wednesday with prices starting $10 higher than the previous generation but still much cheaper than an iPad.

What can your dishwasher tell you about your health?

For many of us, our microwaves and dishwashers aren't the first thing that come to mind when trying to glean health information, beyond that we should (maybe) lay off the Hot Pockets and empty the dishes in a timely way.

The virtual made real: New technology for the media of the future

Moving images in the newspaper as in Harry Potter, or digital weather forecasts in the Bern dialect? New media technology is transforming journalism. The Media Technology Center at ETH Zurich supports media companies on their path to the future.

3-D simulations of sneezing, coughing help motivate social distancing

Not convinced yet that keeping your distance and wearing a mask is worth the trouble? Perhaps scientific evidence to the contrary will help.

COVID-19 facts or fiction: 1 in 4 YouTube videos misleads viewers

(HealthDay)—More than one-quarter of popular English-language COVID-19 information videos posted to YouTube are misleading, researchers warn.

Patients prefer their consent to share their data and to manage it digitally

Patients with diabetes often have to see many different stakeholders who each specialize in different aspects of their treatment. Researchers from WMG, University of Warwick surveyed patients on their understanding of how their data was shared, and found they would prefer to have it shared digitally using the Dovetail Digital consent application.

Senate may have the votes to limit surveillance of browser history

A bipartisan effort to block warrantless surveillance of web browser search history came up one vote short of adoption in the Senate on Wednesday, but the supporters might still have sufficient support to adopt it.

Apple-Google virus-tracking rules put apps in a privacy bind

From France to Australia to North Dakota, government apps designed to help authorities track and slow the spread of COVID-19 are struggling to accomplish their goals because of restrictions on data collection built into smartphones by Apple Inc. and Google.

Privacy groups: TikTok app violating children's privacy

Privacy watchdogs say that the popular TikTok video app is violating a children's privacy law and putting kids at risk.

Return to work at the office? Energy workers say 'not so fast'

As Texas and other states begin to reopen retail and other businesses, workers who have been working from home—for some, for seven weeks or longer—face the prospect of returning to corporate offices and business workplaces. A study of the energy workforce released Thursday found that more than 70% of workers prefer to continue working remotely.

'Lean lab' approach enables quick research ramp down

When MIT announced in March that most research labs on campus would need to ramp down to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, Canan Dagdeviren's lab was ready.

Tiny pop-up devices work relentlessly, even under extreme pressure

Miniature devices, notably those that bulge out from 2-D surfaces like pop-up greeting cards, have seamlessly found their way into pressure-sensing and energy-harvesting technologies because of their ability to be frequently stretched, compressed or twisted. Despite their force-bearing abilities, it is still unclear if repeated physical stress can damage the working of these miniature devices, particularly if there is already a defect in their construction.

Buzzfeed closes news operations in Britain, Australia

Groundbreaking website Buzzfeed said on Thursday that it would be shuttering part of its loss-making news operations in Britain and Australia, as it scales back global ambitions to cut costs.

Airports are testing thermal cameras and other technology to screen travelers for COVID-19

Airports equipped with full-body scanners, metal detectors and face-recognition technology to identify potential terrorists are starting to make room for devices to target the latest global threat: travelers infected with the novel coronavirus.

Trump extends order that curbs Huawei's access to US market

President Donald Trump extended his effort to curb Huawei Technologies Co.'s access to the U.S. market and American suppliers.

Tesla, California appear to end standoff over restarting factory

California authorities have agreed to allow the reopening of the Tesla's US auto assembly plant in an apparent end to a politically charged standoff.

Massive cable project set to give Africa internet boost

Telecoms and internet giants unveiled Thursday a mammoth project to lay a subsea cable around Africa to boost internet access to the underserved continent.


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