Science X Newsletter Friday, May 15

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for May 15, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Watching the in situ hydrogen diffusion dynamics in magnesium on the nanoscale

Exploring public opinion on liability in surgical robotics

Mauna Kea has had more than a million deep long-period earthquakes over the past 20 years

Four species of Elvis worm identified on the deep sea floor

Bizarre new species discovered... on Twitter

DNA sequence symmetries from maximum entropy: The origin of the Chargaff's second parity rule

The carnivorous plant lifestyle is gene costly

Study identifies group of genes with altered expression in autism

Secure smart-home entry via earprint

Imaging structural changes in catalysts during reaction conditions

Observation of intervalley transitions can boost valleytronic science and technology

Probing glass-transition dynamics in liquid polymer using x-rays

Increased frequency of connected patterns from drought to heavy rain in regional hotspots

Purification of wastewater may lead to an imbalance between nitrogen and phosphorus

Countering the negative effects of a common antidepressant

Physics news

Observation of intervalley transitions can boost valleytronic science and technology

An international research team led by scientists at the University of California, Riverside, has observed light emission from a new type of transition between electronic valleys, known as intervalley transmissions.

'Hot and messy' entanglement of 15 trillion atoms

Quantum entanglement is a process by which microscopic objects like electrons or atoms lose their individuality to become better coordinated with each other. Entanglement is at the heart of quantum technologies that promise large advances in computing, communications and sensing, for example, detecting gravitational waves.

Light, fantastic: The path ahead for faster, smaller computer processors

Light is emerging as the leading vehicle for information processing in computers and telecommunications as our need for energy efficiency and bandwidth increases.

Scientists break the link between a quantum material's spin and orbital states

In designing electronic devices, scientists look for ways to manipulate and control three basic properties of electrons: their charge; their spin states, which give rise to magnetism; and the shapes of the fuzzy clouds they form around the nuclei of atoms, which are known as orbitals.

First identified nuclear fragments with a mass number up to 75 at Radioactive Ion Beam Line in Lanzou

Recently, the projectile fragmentation experiment of 78Kr at 300MeV/u was performed at the Heavy-Ion Research Facility in Lanzhou (HIRFL) at the Institute of Modern Physics.

Light-emitting silicon for photonic computing

If computers transmitted data using photons instead of electrons, they would perform better and use less power. European researchers are now studying a new light-emitting alloy of silicon and germanium to obtain photonic chips, which can revolutionize computing

Astronomy and Space news

Researchers reveal common origin of Fermi bubbles and galactic center X-ray outflows

A pair of gigantic gamma-ray bubbles centered on the core of the Milky Way galaxy were discovered by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope 10 years ago. But how these so-called "Fermi bubbles" arose was a mystery.

Black holes and neutron stars merge unseen in dense star clusters

Mergers between black holes and neutron stars in dense star clusters are quite unlike those that form in isolated regions where stars are few. Their associated features could be crucial to the study of gravitational waves and their source. Dr. Manuel Arca Sedda of the Institute for Astronomical Computing at Heidelberg University came to this conclusion in a study that used computer simulations. The research may offer critical insights into the fusion of two massive stellar objects that astronomers observed in 2019. The findings were published in the journal Communications Physics.

Image: Sculpted by nature on Mars

Nature is a powerful sculptor—as shown in this image from ESA's Mars Express, which portrays a heavily scarred, fractured Martian landscape. This terrain was formed by intense and prolonged forces that acted upon Mars' surface for hundreds of millions of years.

Technology, international bonds, and inspiration: Why astronomy matters in times of crisis

In an international emergency like the present one, you might expect the science of the stars to be the last thing on people's minds. The problems facing both individuals and governments are infinitely more pressing than events in the depths of space. People are suffering unprecedented hardships.

Image: Hubble views galaxy host to two supernovae

Approximately 85 million light-years from Earth, in the constellation of Libra, is the beautiful galaxy NGC 5861, captured here by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

ExoMars rover upgrades and parachute tests

The second ExoMars mission, scheduled for launch to the Red Planet in 2022, is taking advantage of the extra time to upgrade some of the rover's instruments and get ready for the next parachute high-altitude drop tests.

K2-25: An eccentric hot Neptune with the mass of seven Earths

Of the roughly 4,300 exoplanets confirmed to date, about ten percent of them are classified as "hot Jupiters." These are planets with masses between about 0.4 and 12 Jupiter-masses and orbital periods less than about 110 days (implying that they orbit close to their star—usually much closer than Mercury is to the Sun—and have hot surface temperatures). A "hot Neptune" has a smaller mass, closer to that of Neptune which is about twenty times less than Jupiter, and which also orbits close to its star. Astronomers study not only the properties of exoplanets but also how they evolved within their planetary systems. Hot Jupiters and hot Neptunes are puzzles. They are expected to have formed much farther out in the cold reaches of their systems as did the giant planets in our Solar System and then to have migrated inward to their current, close locations. Evidence supporting this evolutionary history should be found in the planets' orbital eccentricities and other clues, but is difficult to obtain.

Technology news

Exploring public opinion on liability in surgical robotics

Imagine a time in the future when all operations are performed by robots acting independently of people: You fall one day and break your ankle, and are told by your doctor that you need surgery. A robot carries out the operation. At first, it seems to have gone well. But when you visit the doctor two weeks after the operation for a follow-up appointment, X-rays show that the bone is in the wrong place and you will need another operation. Who should be held responsible for this?

Secure smart-home entry via earprint

Fingerprints and DNA are widely known forms of biometrics, thanks to crime dramas on television. But as technology advances the Internet of Things, the interconnection of computer devices in common objects, other forms of biometrics are sought for security. For example, distinctive physical characteristics of users are increasingly used in computer science as forms of identification and access restriction. Smartphones use fingerprints, iris scans and face recognition in this way. Other biometrics that are likely to come into use include retinas, veins and palm prints.

Could blockchain technology be used to protect researchers working together in a pandemic?

A small team of researchers from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Triall Foundatio, the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment and FutureLab has published a Policy Forum piece in the journal Science suggesting that blockchain technology could be used to protect the interests of researchers working on a cure for a pandemic. In their paper, the team suggests that blockchain technology could be used to disseminate research information in a way that protects property rights and other interests of researchers and their employers.

New Tesla battery poised to reshape auto economics

Tesla will introduce a new battery later this year that promises longer performance and lower cost that will position the auto manufacturer to bring vehicle prices in line with gasoline-powered competitors.

A soft touch for robotic hardware

Robots can be made from soft materials, but the flexibility of such robots is limited by the inclusion of rigid sensors necessary for their control. Researchers created embedded sensors, to replace rigid sensors, that offer the same functionality but afford the robot greater flexibility. Soft robots can be more adaptable and resilient than more traditional rigid designs. The team used cutting-edge machine learning techniques to create their design.

Life cycle assessment of cars: New web tool helps consumers and researchers

Decision support for car buyers: Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute have developed a web tool called the Carculator that can be used to compare the environmental performance of passenger cars in detail. The program determines the environmental balance of vehicles with different size classes and powertrains, and presents the results in comparative graphics. The entire life cycle of the passenger cars is taken into account, including the manufacture of the vehicles and the environmentally relevant emissions from driving.

Carbon emissions fell during COVID-19, but it's the shift away from coal that really matters

Much has been made of the COVID-19 lockdown cutting global carbon emissions. Energy use has fallen over recent months as the pandemic keeps millions of people confined to their homes, and businesses closed in many countries. Projections suggest global emissions could be around 5% lower in 2020 than last year.

Scientist propose new virtual network functions algorithms

Network function virtualization (NFV) is an emerging technology in which network functions are executed on generic-purpose servers instead of proprietary software appliances. Such replacement makes it easier for Internet service providers to employ various virtual network functions (VNFs).

Machine learning model predicts mortality in COVID-19 patients

Machine learning tools selected three biomarkers—lactic dehydrogenase, lymphocyte and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels—that can predict the mortality of COVID-19 patients from blood samples from 485 infected individuals in Wuhan, China, according to paper published in Nature Machine Intelligence. These tools predicted the mortality of individual patients more than ten days in advance of their outcomes with more than 90% accuracy.

Cell phone data helps track mobility patterns during social distancing

A new modeling report released today by Colorado public health scientists estimates just how much Coloradans have changed their behaviors since the start of the pandemic—and how those behaviors may now be shifting with the state's new Safer at Home orders.

Researchers demonstrate feasibility of collaborative energy transactions via blockchain

A common vision for the future of the nation's energy grid involves homeowners selling unused power generated from rooftop solar panels to others in their communities, and working together to help ensure the reliability, resiliency, and security of the power grid everyone uses. Sounds great in theory. But how can the grid manage such complex energy transactions at scale?

Does your AI discriminate? You might be surprised

Women leaders like New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and San Francisco Mayor London Breed are receiving recognition for their quick action in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Survey reveals what the public wants from a contact-tracing app

The UK government is currently trialling a contact tracing app among residents of the Isle of Wight ahead of a plan to roll it out across England. The app is designed to alert users if they have been in contact with someone who has reported COVID-19 symptoms and encourage them to self-isolate. But success will depend on the number of people who are willing to actually use it.

State texting bans are saving teen drivers' lives

In a finding that illustrates how distracted driving laws are saving lives, researchers report that car crash deaths among teens plunged by one-third during a period when the number of U.S. states with such laws on the books tripled.

New deep learning research breaks records in image recognition ability of self-driving cars

People, bicycles, cars or road, sky, grass: Which pixels of an image represent distinct foreground persons or objects in front of a self-driving car, and which pixels represent background classes? This task, known as panoptic segmentation, is a fundamental problem that has applications in numerous fields such as self-driving cars, robotics, augmented reality and even in biomedical image analysis. At the Department of Computer Science at the University of Freiburg Dr. Abhinav Valada, Assistant Professor for Robot Learning and member of BrainLinks-BrainTools focuses on this research question. Valada and his team have developed the state-of-the-art "EfficientPS" artificial intelligence (AI) model that enables coherent recognition of visual scenes more quickly and effectively.

Robo-boot concept promises 50% faster running

No matter how well designed, there are no running shoes that allow runners to keep up with cyclists. The bicycle was a key invention that doubled human-powered speed. But what if a new kind of shoe could allow people to run faster by mimicking cycling mechanics?

E-commerce startup banks on robotics, AI to win consumers

Robots will do the shopping at a US startup which is banking on fully automated warehouses for groceries and other merchandise at a time when the pandemic has made workplace safety a key concern.

Facebook buys animated graphics startup GIPHY

Facebook said Friday it had acquired the animated graphics startup GIPHY and would integrate the company in its Instagram visual social network.

How coronavirus is changing the retail industry

Social distancing has fundamentally changed shopping behaviors and thereby the retail industry—but what will happen next? What opportunities may arise as the dust settles and we move toward a new normal?

Taiwan chip giant TSMC to build $12bn US plant

Taiwanese computer chip giant TSMC announced Friday it will spend $12 billion on a state-of-the-art semiconductor foundry in the United States, creating thousands of jobs.

Awful data show US economy is in deep trouble

Newly released economic data showed the US economy is in a terrible state and may not rebound quickly even when the devastating lockdowns imposed to stop the coronavirus pandemic are lifted.

US adds new sanction on Chinese tech giant Huawei

The U.S. government imposed new restrictions on Chinese tech giant Huawei on Friday, limiting its ability to use American technology to design and manufacture semiconductors produced for it abroad.


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