Science X Newsletter Thursday, May 28

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for May 28, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Research identifies neurons that control left and right movements in mammals

Executing low-power linear computations using nonlinear ferroelectric memristors

Genomic analysis shows long-term genetic mixing in West Asia before world's first cities

Sea snakes have been adapting to see underwater for 15 million years

Antarctic ice sheets capable of retreating up to 50 meters per day

New technology enables fast protein synthesis

Extremely intense radio burst detected from magnetar SGR 1935+2154

Topology control of human fibroblast cells monolayer by liquid crystal elastomer

Report: Most Chrome security bugs rooted in faulty memory code

In planet formation, it's location, location, location

4,000 years of contact, conflict and cultural change had little genetic impact in Near East

Study details molecular effects of exercise

New molecule stops drug cravings in mice, with fewer side effects

Who were the Canaanites? New insight from 73 ancient genomes

Revealing how flies make decisions on the fly to survive

Physics news

New 'whirling' state of matter discovered in an element of the periodic table

The strongest permanent magnets today contain a mix of the elements neodymium and iron. However, neodymium on its own does not behave like any known magnet, confounding researchers for more than a half-century. Physicists at Radboud University and Uppsala University have shown that neodymium behaves like a self-induced spin glass, meaning that it is composed of a rippled sea of many tiny whirling magnets circulating at different speeds and constantly evolving over time. Understanding this new type of magnetic behaviour refines our understanding of elements on the periodic table, and could eventually pave the way for new materials for artificial intelligence. The results will be published on 29th of May, in Science.

Topology sheds new light on synchronization in higher-order networks

Research led by Queen Mary University of London, proposes a novel 'higher-order' Kuramoto model that combines topology with dynamical systems and characterises synchronization in higher-order networks for the first time.

Fresh antimatter study will bolster future indirect dark matter searches

The ALICE collaboration has presented new results on the production rates of antideuterons based on data collected at the highest collision energy delivered so far at the Large Hadron Collider. The antideuteron is composed of an antiproton and an antineutron. The new measurements are important because the presence of antideuterons in space is a promising indirect signature of dark matter candidates. The results mark a step forward in the search for dark matter.

New technique offers higher resolution molecular imaging and analysis

A Northwestern University research team has developed a new method to conduct spectroscopic nanoscopy, an approach that could help researchers understand more complicated biomolecular interactions and characterize cells and diseases at the single-molecule level.

A single proton can make a world of difference

Scientists from the RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science and collaborators have shown that knocking out a single proton from a fluorine nucleus—transforming it into a neutron-rich isotope of oxygen—can have a major effect on the state of the nucleus. This work could help to explain a phenomenon known as the oxygen neutron dripline anomaly.

Configurable circuit technology poised to expand silicon photonic applications

Researchers have developed a new way to build power efficient and programmable integrated switching units on a silicon photonics chip. The new technology is poised to reduce production costs by allowing a generic optical circuit to be fabricated in bulk and then later programmed for specific applications such as communications systems, LIDAR circuits or computing applications.

'Bottom-heavy squirmers' adopt characteristic group behaviours

From starling aberrations to self-turbulent fluids, 'active systems' encompass a wide family of phenomena in which individual objects propel themselves forward, allowing them to display intriguing collective behaviors. On microscopic scales, they are found in groups of living organisms which move around by squirming, and are aligned with Earth's gravitational fields due to their bottom-heavy mass distributions. Through research published in EPJ E, Felix Rühle and Holger Stark at the Technical University of Berlin find that depending on their properties, these objects collectively spend most of their time in one of two states, between which some intriguing behaviors can emerge.

Convenient location of a near-threshold proton-emitting resonance in boron-11

Polish scientists working in Poland, France and the USA explained the mysterious β-delayed proton decay of the neutron halo ground state of 11Be. Studies within the SMEC model suggest the existence of collective resonance, carrying many characteristics of a nearby proton-decay channel, which explains this puzzling decay. It was argued that the appearance of such near-threshold resonant states is a generic phenomenon in any open quantum system, in which bound and unbound states strongly mix.

Astronomy and Space news

Extremely intense radio burst detected from magnetar SGR 1935+2154

Using the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) radio telescope, astronomers have detected a bright, millisecond-duration radio burst from a galactic magnetar known as SGR 1935+2154. The discovery of such an extremely intense event, reported in a paper published May 20, could be important for improving the understanding of the origin of fast radio bursts (FRBs).

In planet formation, it's location, location, location

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope are finding that planets have a tough time forming in the rough-and-tumble central region of the massive, crowded star cluster Westerlund 2. Located 20,000 light-years away, Westerlund 2 is a unique laboratory to study stellar evolutionary processes because it's relatively nearby, quite young, and contains a large stellar population.

Half the matter in the universe was missing—we found it hiding in the cosmos

In the late 1990s, cosmologists made a prediction about how much ordinary matter there should be in the universe. About 5%, they estimated, should be regular stuff with the rest a mixture of dark matter and dark energy. But when cosmologists counted up everything they could see or measure at the time, they came up short. By a lot.

ESPRESSO confirms the presence of an Earth-sized planet around the nearest star (Update)

The existence of a planet the size of Earth around the closest star to the Sun, Proxima Centauri, has been confirmed by an international team of scientists including researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE). The results, published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, reveal that the planet in question, Proxima b, has a mass of 1.17 Earth masses and is located in the habitable zone of its star, which it orbits in 11.2 days.

How Europe's CHEOPS satellite will improve the hunt for exoplanets

While the planet has been on lockdown the last two months, a new space telescope called CHEOPS opened its eyes, took its first pictures of the heavens and is now open for business.

Asteroids Ryugu and Bennu were formed by the destruction of a large asteroid

What is the origin of the asteroids Bennu and Ryugu, and of their spinning-top shape? An international research team led by Patrick Michel, a CNRS researcher at the Laboratoire Lagrange (CNRS/Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur/Université Côte d'Azur) and Ronald-Louis Ballouz from the University of Arizona, proposes an answer to this question in an article published in Nature Communications on May 27, 2020.

Nanosatellite with global mission tested for space

ESA's largest antenna test facility remains operational despite the COVID-19 pandemic, performing pre-flight testing for the latest satellite in a constellation to serve the internet of things.

Technology news

Executing low-power linear computations using nonlinear ferroelectric memristors

Researchers at Toshiba Corporate R&D Center and Kioxia Corporation in Japan have recently carried out a study exploring the feasibility of using nonlinear ferroelectric tunnel junction (FTJ) memristors to perform low-power linear computations. Their paper, published in Nature Electronics, could inform the development of hardware that can efficiently run artificial intelligence (AI) applications, such as artificial neural networks.

Report: Most Chrome security bugs rooted in faulty memory code

Google researchers have revealed that nearly three-quarters of all Chrome web browser security bugs stem from memory coding problems. They say their means of combatting memory management vulnerabilities through isolating browser components is reaching its maximum degree of effectiveness and will no longer be adequate to counter future assaults.

Hydropower plants to support solar and wind energy in West Africa

Hydropower plants can support solar and wind power, rather unpredictable by nature, in a climate-friendly manner. A new study in the scientific journal Nature Sustainability has now mapped the potential for such "solar-wind-water" strategies for West Africa: an important region where the power sector is still under development, and where generation capacity and power grids will be greatly expanded in the coming years. "Countries in West Africa therefore now have the opportunity to plan this expansion according to strategies that rely on modern, climate-friendly energy generation," says Sebastian Sterl, energy and climate scientist at Vrije Universiteit Brussel and KU Leuven and lead author of the study. "A completely different situation from Europe, where power supply has been dependent on polluting power plants for many decades—which many countries now want to rid themselves of."

EasyJet axes almost third of staff on virus fallout

EasyJet will axe up to 4,500 jobs, or almost one third of its staff, the British no-frills airline said Thursday, as the coronavirus ravages demand for air travel.

Evidence suggests that the U.S. loses hundreds of billions to cybercrime, possibly as much as 1% to 4% of GDP annually

Cybercrime puts America's competitive edge and economic future at risk; however, there is some debate as to the extent that this activity is impacting economic activity. Many have questioned the validity of estimates of cybercrime losses, concluding that "they are so compromised and biased that no faith whatever can be placed in their findings" (Florencio and Herley 2016). NIST AMS 100-32 addresses a number of issues and challenges by using a large dataset and taking a number of approaches to increase accuracy and reliability.

Don't be phish food! Tips to avoid sharing your personal information online

Data is the new oil, and online platforms will siphon it off at any opportunity. Platforms increasingly demand our personal information in exchange for a service.

COVID-19 offers lessons in how to build a more resilient electricity infrastructure

Alberto J. Lamadrid, an associate professor of economics, conducted an analysis of electricity use in several regions of the United States over the last several months. He found confirmation of what many have suspected: Demand for electricity has decreased.

HBO Max debuts without the two most popular streaming platforms, Roku or Amazon

The latest new streaming service HBO Max bowed with unlimited access to every episode of "Friends," "The Big Bang Theory" and "Game of Thrones." But if all you've got is a streaming player from Roku or Amazon, you won't be able to watch.

HBO Max: An impressive library with some issues to fix

The latest streaming service, HBO Max, is out and I've been checking it out.

No more Wi-Fi dead zones: Tips for improving your signal at home

I've had a few reader queries about how to get better Wi-Fi signals at home.

CVS Health tests self-driving vehicle prescription delivery

CVS Health will try delivering prescriptions with self-driving vehicles in a test that begins next month.

Spain says Nissan closing Barcelona factory

Japanese carmaker Nissan has decided to shut its factory in Barcelona where 3,000 people are employed after four decades of operations, the Spanish government said on Thursday.

Smart window technology that automatically changes color by sunlight

Smart window technology that can automatically adjust the amount of sunlight entering the room by changing the color of the window depending on the intensity of sunlight has been developed by a domestic research team.

High tech printing makes checking banknotes possible in the blink of an eye

New '3-D micro-optic' security features in banknotes enable the general public to detect counterfeits reliably within a fraction of a second, according to new research at the University of Birmingham.

Amazon offers permanent jobs to 125K temp hires

Amazon on Thursday said it is offering permanent jobs to 125,000 of the temporary workers hired to handle surging use of its online shopping service due to the pandemic.

Google cautions EU on AI rule-making

Google warned on Thursday that the EU's definition of artificial intelligence was too broad and that Brussels must refrain from over-regulating a crucial technology.

Most Australian News Corp small papers to go digital-only

Australia's largest newspaper publisher, News Corp., announced on Thursday that most of its suburban and regional mastheads across the country will become digital-only next month due to the pandemic and digital platforms sharing their content.

Norwegian enters 'hibernation' to ride out virus crisis

Norwegian Air Shuttle said on Thursday it was now in "hibernation", hoping to ride out the devastation inflicted on aviation by the coronavirus pandemic which pushed the low-cost carrier deeper into loss.

Facebook denies sidelining research on site's 'divisiveness'

Facebook on Wednesday defended itself against a report that it shelved internal research indicating that it was dividing people instead of bringing them together.

AT&T to credit DirecTV with MLB Extra Innings and MLS Direct Kick subscriptions

AT&T is giving credits to DirecTV customers who paid for sports subscriptions, according to a statement by the network provider.

Tech Q&A: How being online renews Office 365 PC apps

Q: In your column about Microsoft Office 365, you said the user "must go online at least once every 30 days or your PC-based software will stop working." What do you mean by go online? Just connect to the internet? Use the Microsoft Edge browser? Update my Office 365 software?

EasyJet, American Airlines to slash workforce amid pandemic

European budget carrier easyJet and American Airlines both plan to cut large parts of their workforces as the global aviation industry struggles to cope with a near total halt to travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Israeli cyber chief: Major attack on water systems thwarted

Israel's national cyber chief Thursday officially acknowledged the country had thwarted a major cyber attack last month against its water systems, an assault widely attributed to arch-enemy Iran, calling it a "synchronized and organized attack" aimed at disrupting key national infrastructure.

Austrian Airlines to resume flights on June 15

Austrian Airlines said Thursday that it would resume flights from June 15 after almost three months of being grounded due to the new coronavirus pandemic, which has heavily restricted international travel.

Kuwait Airways to lay off 1,500 foreign employees

State-owned Kuwait Airways said Thursday it will lay off 1,500 expatriate employees due to "significant difficulties" caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Electric pulses precisely shape 3-D-printed metal parts

Professor Dirk Bähre and his research team at Saarland University have developed a non-contact method of transforming metal parts fabricated by a 3-D printer into high-precision technical components for specialist applications. The novel method enables them to process parts made from strong, lightweight metals to produce precision-finished components with complex geometries and dimensional tolerances of a few thousandths of a millimeter. The team of manufacturing technologists combine metal 3-D printing and electrochemical machining (ECM).

The effectiveness of a heating system is validated: Heating air from solar radiation

Heating and air conditioning in buildings make up almost half of the total energy consumption in the European Union. What is more, nearly 75% relies on fossil fuels, according to data from the European Commission. Hence, reducing this consumption and integrating renewable energy in heating and air conditioning processes in buildings is one of today's priorities for scientific research.

Iberia to resume domestic, medium-haul flights in July

Spanish airline Iberia said Thursday it plans to resume some short- and medium-haul services in July for the first time since the country grounded air services in March as part of its coronavirus lockdown.


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