Science X Newsletter Tuesday, May 19

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for May 19, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Reviewing progress in the development of machine learning-enhanced e-skins

Detecting individual nuclear spins with single rare-earth ions hosted in crystals

Three-dimensional self-assembly using dipolar interaction

New study estimates the odds of life and intelligence emerging beyond our planet

Scientists use pressure to make liquid magnetism breakthrough

Astronomers study flaring activity of the giant star KIC 2852961

Ocean circulation may hold the key to finding life on exoplanets

IBM sees AI benefits in phase-change memory

Curiosity rover finds clues to chilly ancient Mars buried in rocks

Pretty as a peacock: The gemstone for the next generation of smart sensors

Urban heat waves imperil LA's most vulnerable communities

Researchers find aluminum in water could affect lead's solubility—in certain cases

Location, location, location: The cell membrane facilitates RAS protein interactions

Scientists in China believe new drug can stop pandemic 'without vaccine'

Presymptomatic virus patients can contaminate environments: study

Physics news

Detecting individual nuclear spins with single rare-earth ions hosted in crystals

Rare-earth minerals are a class of materials with similar properties that are currently used to build a variety of devices, including LEDs, rechargeable batteries, magnets, lasers, and much more. These materials' electron spins can be hosted in crystals, creating systems with unique characteristics that could serve as interfaces between telecom-band photons and long-lived spin quantum bits.

Scientists use pressure to make liquid magnetism breakthrough

It sounds like a riddle: What do you get if you take two small diamonds, put a small magnetic crystal between them and squeeze them together very slowly?

Image analysis technique provides better understanding of heart cell defects

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and other industrialized nations, and many patients face limited treatment options. Fortunately, stem cell biology has enabled researchers to produce large numbers of cardiomyocytes, the cells that make up the heart or cardiac muscle and have the potential to be used in advanced drug screens and cell-based therapies.

Longstanding mystery of matter and antimatter may be solved

An element which could hold the key to the long-standing mystery around why there is much more matter than antimatter in our Universe has been discovered by a University of the West of Scotland (UWS)-led team of physicists.

Team in Germany observes Pauli crystals for the first time

A team of researchers at Heidelberg University has succeeded in building an apparatus that allowed them to observe Pauli crystals for the first time. They have written a paper describing their efforts and have uploaded it to the arXiv preprint server.

Electrons break rotational symmetry in exotic low-temp superconductor

Scientists have discovered that the transport of electronic charge in a metallic superconductor containing strontium, ruthenium, and oxygen breaks the rotational symmetry of the underlying crystal lattice. The strontium ruthenate crystal has fourfold rotational symmetry like a square, meaning that it looks identical when turned by 90 degrees (four times to equal a complete 360-degree rotation). However, the electrical resistivity has twofold (180-degree) rotational symmetry like a rectangle.

Scientists use light to accelerate supercurrents, access forbidden light, quantum world

Scientists are using light waves to accelerate supercurrents and access the unique properties of the quantum world, including forbidden light emissions that one day could be applied to high-speed, quantum computers, communications and other technologies.

Seeing the invisible: Polarizer adjustments increase visibility of transparent objects

In biological microscopy and X-ray imaging, many transparent objects or structures are difficult to observe. Due to their low absorption of light, the usual intensity measurements don't work. Instead, the structural information is mainly conveyed by the different phase changes of light as it propagates through different parts of an object.

Researchers propose a perfect novel optical vortex with controllable impulse ring profile

An optical vortex is identified as a phase singularity encircled with helical wavefront, and thanks to its unique properties, including carried orbital angular momentum (OAM) associated with donut-shaped profiles, it has found exciting applications in stimulated emission depletion (STED) nanoscopy, optical manipulation, both quantum and classical OAM-multiplexing optical communications, enhanced optical imaging, and recently in high-intense vortex physics, etc. However, the size of the donut-shaped patterns generated by conventional vortices is strongly dependent on the carried topological charge.

A vacuum ultraviolet photoionization time-of-flight mass spectrometer to analyze gas-phase radical reaction

The research group led by Prof. Zhang Weijun at Anhui Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics under Hefei Institutes of Physical Science has made new progress on the vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) photoionization mass spectrometry for gas-phase radical reactions.

New setup for high-throughput electrical measurements of quantum materials and devices

QuTech, a collaboration between TU Delft and TNO, has demonstrated a novel setup for fast turnaround testing and validation of quantum materials and devices. The setup uses ordinary electronic chip components that can operate at extreme cryogenic temperatures, and can be readily integrated in any type of cryostat. The scientists published the details of their setup in an open-access journal npj Quantum Information, allowing research groups worldwide to modify their cryostat and greatly enhance its throughput.

New material acts as an efficient frequency multiplier

Higher frequencies mean faster data transfer and more powerful processors—the formula that has been driving the IT industry for years. Technically, however, it is anything but easy to keep increasing clock rates and radio frequencies. New materials could solve the problem. Experiments at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have now produced a promising result: An international team of researchers was able to get a novel material to increase the frequency of a terahertz radiation flash by a factor of seven: a first step for potential IT applications, as the group reports in the journal Nature Communications.

Astronomy and Space news

New study estimates the odds of life and intelligence emerging beyond our planet

Humans have been wondering whether we alone in the universe since antiquity.

Astronomers study flaring activity of the giant star KIC 2852961

Using data from NASA's TESS and Kepler spacecraft, as well as from the Konkoly Observatory, astronomers have inspected flares and superflares of a late-type giant star known as KIC 2852961. Results of the study, presented in a paper published May 11 on arXiv.org, could help astronomers to better understand the mechanism behind flaring events in giant stars.

Ocean circulation may hold the key to finding life on exoplanets

Researchers across the globe have long tackled the question: Is there life on other planets, and if so, how do we find it? Faced with thousands of planets to explore beyond our solar system, scientists need a way to predict which exoplanets are most likely to host life. To complicate matters, their predictions have to be based on observations that can be made from light-years away—like the exoplanet's size, mass and the makeup of its atmosphere.

Curiosity rover finds clues to chilly ancient Mars buried in rocks

By studying the chemical elements on Mars today—including carbon and oxygen—scientists can work backwards to piece together the history of a planet that once had the conditions necessary to support life.

NASA's Perseverance rover goes through trials by fire, ice, light and sound

,While auto manufacturers built over 92 million motor vehicles for this world in 2019, NASA built just one for Mars. The Perseverance Mars rover is one of a kind, and the testing required to get it ready to roll on the mean (and unpaved) streets of the Red Planet is one of a kind as well.

Do increased extraterrestrial ambitions threaten the future of space?

As the number of nations and businesses across sectors look outward to space for new opportunities—and commercial space activities grow—the sustainability of space exploration is more important than ever.

Binary-driven hypernova model gains observational support

The change of paradigm in gamma-ray burst (GRBs) physics and astrophysics introduced by the binary driven hypernova (BdHN) model, proposed and applied by the ICRA-ICRANet-INAF members in collaboration with the University of Ferrara and the University of Côte d'Azur, has gained further observational support from the X-ray emission in long GRBs. These novel results are presented in the new article, published on April 20, 2020, in the Astrophysical Journal, co-authored by J. A. Rueda, Remo Ruffini, Mile Karlica, Rahim Moradi, and Yu Wang.

US seeks to change the rules for mining the moon

Private industries have helped drop the cost of launching rockets, satellites and other equipment into space to historic lows. That has boosted interest in developing space—both for mining raw materials such as silicon for solar panels and oxygen for rocket fuel, as well as potentially relocating polluting industries off the Earth. But the rules are not clear about who would profit if, for instance, a U.S. company like SpaceX colonized Mars or established a moon base.

Space exploration's next frontier: Remote-controlled robonauts

As Japan's second female astronaut to fly up in the Space Shuttle Discovery, Naoko Yamazaki didn't expect to spend a quarter of her time dusting, feeding mice and doing other menial jobs.

Ultra-thin sail could speed journey to other star systems

A tiny sail made of the thinnest material known—one carbon-atom-thick graphene—has passed initial tests designed to show that it could be a viable material to make solar sails for spacecraft.

UAE to launch first Arab probe to Mars

After sending its first astronaut to space last year, the United Arab Emirates is to launch a probe to Mars in July, state news agency WAM announced Tuesday.

The food and water systems astronauts will need to travel to places like Mars

If humans are to travel to distant destinations in space like the moon or Mars, they'll need ways to live for long periods of time. And one of the key challenges of that includes how to have safe food and water to eat and drink when far from Earth.

Technology news

Reviewing progress in the development of machine learning-enhanced e-skins

Researchers at University of California, Yale University, Stanford University, University of Cambridge and Seoul National University have recently carried out a study reviewing recent efforts in the development of machine-learning-enhanced electronic skins. Their review paper, published in Science Robotics, outlines how these e-skins could aid the creation of soft robots with touch-like capabilities, while also delineating challenges that are currently preventing their large-scale deployment.

IBM sees AI benefits in phase-change memory

In a development that holds promise of more sophisticated programming of mobile devices, drones and robots that rely on artificial intelligence, IBM researchers say they have devised a programming approach that achieves greater accuracy and reduced energy consumption.

Comedy club performances provide insights on how robots, humans connect via humor

Standup comedian Jon the Robot likes to tell his audiences that he does lots of auditions but has a hard time getting bookings.

Video app TikTok names top Disney streaming exec as new CEO

TikTok, the popular short-video app that has also drawn national-security and privacy concerns, has a new high-profile CEO from Disney, Kevin Mayer.

Players dig into building game Minecraft amid pandemic

Some 126 million people are playing "Minecraft" monthly and more than 200 million copies of the building and exploration game have been sold as online play surges during the pandemic.

Researcher examines if AIs have a mind of their own

Most people encounter artificial intelligence (AI) every day in their personal and professional lives. Without giving it a second thought, people ask Alexa to add soda to a shopping list, drive with Google Maps and add filters to their Snapchat—all examples of AI use. But a Missouri University of Science and Technology researcher is examining what is considered evidence of AIs having a "mind," which will show when a person perceives AI actions as morally wrong.

Blockchains can trace foods from farm to plate, but the industry is still behind the curve

Food supply chains were vulnerable long before the coronavirus pandemic. Recent scandals have ranged from modern slavery in Vietnamese fisheries to the persistent problem of child labor in the cocoa industry. Perhaps the most well known fraud was the UK's horsemeat scandal of 2013, where up to 60% of products labeled as beef were actually horse.

Australia watchdog suggests news boycott of Google, Facebook

Australia's competition watchdog suggested Tuesday that local media could organise a "collective boycott" of Google and Facebook to force the tech giants to pay for news they put on their platforms.

Google says it won't build AI tools for oil and gas drillers (Update)

Google says it will no longer build custom artificial intelligence tools for speeding up oil and gas extraction, separating itself from cloud computing rivals Microsoft and Amazon.

Facebook to help struggling retailers create online stores

Facebook on Tuesday unveiled free tools for retailers hit by the pandemic to create online storefronts at the social network and Instagram.

EasyJet reveals cyber attack on nine million clients

British airline EasyJet on Tuesday said it had suffered a "sophisticated" cyber attack, uncovering names and travel details of about nine million customers, amid raised concerns over coronavirus-fuelled Internet hacking.

Research on connected and automated vehicles yields promising results

Imagine merging into busy traffic without ever looking over your shoulder nor accelerating or braking too hard, irritating the driver in the next lane over. Connected and automated vehicles that communicate to coordinate optimal traffic patterns could enable this pleasant driving scenario sooner than you think.

European auto market hit by record sales plunge

Europe's auto market suffered a record plunge in April according to sector data released on Tuesday, and is unlikely to make up the loss this year, an analyst said.

Cash-strapped Thai Airways to seek restructuring

Thailand's cash-strapped national carrier will look to undergo a restructuring through the kingdom's bankruptcy court, premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha said Tuesday, as the stricken company is battered by the crash in tourism caused by the coronavirus.

Physicists identify light sources using artificial intelligence

A smart quantum technology for identification of light sources with fewer measurements.

A scalable method of diagnosing HVAC sensor faults in smart buildings

Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems are the biggest consumers of energy in a building. For smart buildings, technologies have evolved to improve energy efficiency of HVAC systems, but faults often occur. Due to the complex nature of large-scale HVAC systems used in buildings, diagnosing these faults can be challenging.

France: Amazon back in business after virus deal with unions

Amazon is gradually reopening its warehouses in France after working out virus safety measures with unions, in an effort to end weeks of legal troubles that had sharply curtailed the company's French business and drawn worldwide attention.


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Apple has smart glasses; Microsoft has new software

Plus, is a Wi-Fi range extender or mesh router better for your home network woes, and your face mask selfies could be training the next facial recognition tool.
                                                                                                                                                                               
Apple Glass rumored to start at $499, feature gesture control
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