Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Jun 3

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for June 3, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

An origami-based robotic structure inspired by ladybird wings

Researchers develop 'poisoned arrow' to defeat antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Largest, oldest Maya monument suggests importance of communal work

People try to do right by each other, no matter the motivation, study finds

Researchers document the first use of maize in Mesoamerica

Stellar 'snake' found in the cosmic neighborhood

Next-generation cockroach-inspired robot is small but mighty

Study in twins finds our sensitivity is partly in our genes

Two lefties make a right—if you are a one-in-a-million garden snail

Scientists discover what an armored dinosaur ate for its last meal

Swing voters, swing stocks, swing users

Scientific breakthrough toward treatment of Fragile X syndrome

How a fat cell's immune response makes obesity worse

Australian researchers set record for carbon dioxide capture

Study reveals continuous pathway to building blocks of life

Physics news

New research deepens understanding of Earth's interaction with the solar wind

As the Earth orbits the sun, it plows through a stream of fast-moving particles that can interfere with satellites and global positioning systems. Now, a team of scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and Princeton University has reproduced a process that occurs in space to deepen understanding of what happens when the Earth encounters this solar wind.

New method predicts spin dynamics of materials for quantum computing

Researchers at UC Santa Cruz have developed a theoretical foundation and new computational tools for predicting a material's spin dynamics, a key property for building solid-state quantum computing platforms and other applications of spintronics.

Light-based system lays foundation for continuous monitoring of ocean plastic particles

Researchers have developed a new light-based method for identifying plastic particles in large volumes of water. The new system could help scientists better understand how tiny particles get distributed deep in the ocean.

The nature of glass-forming liquids clarified

Glass is such a common material that you probably don't think about it much. It may surprise you to learn that researchers today still don't understand how glass forms. Figuring this out is important for glass industries and many other surprising applications of glasses.

New test of dark energy and expansion from cosmic structures

A new paper has shown how large structures in the distribution of galaxies in the Universe provide the most precise tests of dark energy and cosmic expansion yet.

Metasurface design methods can make LED light act more like lasers

UC Santa Barbara researchers continue to push the boundaries of LED design a little further with a new method that could pave the way toward more efficient and versatile LED display and lighting technology.

The broken mirror: Can parity violation in molecules finally be measured?

Scientists have long tried to experimentally demonstrate a certain symmetry property of the weak interaction—parity violation—in molecules. So far, this has not been possible. A new interdisciplinary effort led by a research group at the at the PRISMA+ Cluster of Excellence at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Helmholtz Institute Mainz (HIM) has now shown a realistic path to demonstrating this phenomenon. The approach includes aspects of nuclear, elementary particle, atomic and molecular physics as well as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). "Molecular parity nonconservation in nuclear spin couplings" is published in the current issue of the journal Physical Review Research.

Physicists hunt for room-temperature superconductors that could revolutionize the world's energy system

Waste heat is all around you. On a small scale, if your phone or laptop feels warm, that's because some of the energy powering the device is being transformed into unwanted heat.

Anisotropy of spin-lattice relaxations in molecular magnets

Scientists from IFJ PAN in cooperation with researchers from the Nara Women's University (Japan) and the Jagiellonian University (Poland) took another important step towards building a functional quantum computer. Using material containing terbium ions and dedicated experimental tools, they performed a detailed analysis of dynamic magnetic properties in individual molecular magnets concerning their orientation in a magnetic field. Discovered strong anisotropy of these properties is vital in the construction of molecular electronics components.

Astronomy and Space news

Stellar 'snake' found in the cosmic neighborhood

Using data from various astronomical surveys, Chinese researchers have unveiled the presence of a quasi-tidal tail, dubbed stellar "snake" due to its morphology, in our cosmic neighborhood. The newly found structure could have implications for our understanding of formation and evolution of tidal tails. The finding is detailed in a paper published May 23 on arXiv.org.

First optical measurements of Milky Way's Fermi Bubbles probe their origin

Using the Wisconsin H-Alpha Mapper telescope, astronomers have for the first time measured the Fermi Bubbles in the visible light spectrum. The Fermi Bubbles are two enormous outflows of high-energy gas that emanate from the Milky Way and the finding refines our understanding of the properties of these mysterious blobs.

Mysterious interstellar visitor was probably a 'dark hydrogen iceberg,' not aliens

The aliens came on Oct. 19, 2017.

Martian moon's orbit hints at an ancient ring of Mars

Scientists from the SETI Institute and Purdue University have found that the only way to produce Deimos's unusually tilted orbit is for Mars to have had a ring billions of years ago. While some of the more massive planets in our solar system have giant rings and numerous big moons, Mars only has two small, misshapen moons, Phobos and Deimos. Although these moons are small, their peculiar orbits hide important secrets about their past.

Ultra-bright X-ray source awakens near a galaxy not so far away

A new ultra-bright source of X-rays has awakened in between our galactic neighbors the Magellanic Clouds, after a 26-year slumber. This is the second-closest such object known to date, with a brightness greater than a million Suns. The discovery is published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Astronomers discover 30 degree arc of ultraviolet emission centered on the Big Dipper

Astronomers announced the discovery of a ghostly, almost perfectly circular, arc of ultraviolet emission centered on the handle of the Big Dipper and stretching 30 degrees across the Northern sky. If the arc were extended, it would completely encircle the Big Dipper with a diameter of 60 degrees.

Scientists conduct topographic analysis and mineral retrieval based on Chang'e-4 data

China's Chang'e-4 probe achieved the first soft landing within the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) basin, which is the oldest, largest and deepest basin on the lunar farside. Technologies and software have been used in the Chang'e-4 mission for studies like lander localization, 3-D terrain reconstruction, hazard recognition, and visual localization of the rover.

Discovery of long-sought tiny explosions that super-heat the sun's corona

The sun is the brightest object in the sky and has been studied for hundreds of years, but it continues to hide some secrets. The visible sun is extremely hot, at a temperature of about 5500 degrees. Surprisingly, on top of this sits a layer of gas, called the corona, which has a temperature of almost 2 million degrees, over 300 times hotter than the actual surface of the sun. What heats up the corona to 2 million degrees has been an enduring mystery with no satisfactory answer.

Scientist captures new images of Martian moon Phobos to help determine its origins

Christopher Edwards, assistant professor in NAU's Department of Astronomy and Planetary Science, just processed new images of the Martian moon Phobos that give scientists insight into the physical properties of the moon and its composition. The images of the small moon, which is about 25 kilometers (15 miles) in diameter, were captured by NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter. When reviewed in combination with three previously released images, these new images could ultimately help settle the debate over whether the planetary body is a "captured asteroid"—pulled into perpetual orbit around Mars—or an ancient chunk of Mars blasted off the surface by a meteorite impact.

Technology news

An origami-based robotic structure inspired by ladybird wings

Researchers at Seoul National University have recently developed a compact and lightweight origami structure inspired by ladybird beetles. In a paper published in Science Robotics they show how this structure can be used to build a winged jump-gliding robot. Jump-gliding is a specific locomotion style that combines gliding and jumping movements.

Next-generation cockroach-inspired robot is small but mighty

This itsy-bitsy robot can't climb up the waterspout yet but it can run, jump, carry heavy payloads and turn on a dime. Dubbed HAMR-JR, this microrobot developed by researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Harvard Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, is a half-scale version of the cockroach-inspired Harvard Ambulatory Microrobot or HAMR.

Double-sided solar panels that follow the sun prove most cost effective

Solar power systems with double-sided (bifacial) solar panels—which collect sunlight from two sides instead of one—and single-axis tracking technology that tilts the panels so they can follow the sun are the most cost effective to date, researchers report June 3rd in the journal Joule. They determined that this combination of technologies produces almost 35% more energy, on average, than immobile single-panel photovoltaic systems, while reducing the cost of electricity by an average of 16%.

Battery components recycled into fertilizer

Lithium Australia's Envirostream Australia has announced that they have been extracting manganese and zinc from used batteries to use as a fertilizer supplement. In their press release, the company reported that they have already used the supplement on potted wheat plants in their lab with positive results.

New research leads to lighter and greener bridges

The past 60 years have not seen any fundamental change to the design of bridge decks for suspensions bridges—best known in Denmark from the Great Belt Link. To accommodate the request for ever longer bridges, the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and COWI studied how to optimize structures to reduce the weight of the bridge deck, in particular increasing the span. Recently published in Nature Communications, the results of that research project indicate vast potential.

Raspberry unveils new 8GB Pi 4 and 64-bit OS

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has finally released the 8GB version of the Pi 4.

Precision spray coating could enable solar cells with better performance and stability

Although perovskites are a promising alternative to the silicon used to make most of today's solar cells, new manufacturing processes are needed to make them practical for commercial production. To help fill this gap, researchers have developed a new precision spray-coating method that enables more complex perovskite solar cell designs and could be scaled up for mass production.

Lufthansa reports net loss of 2.1 bn euros in Q1

German airline giant Lufthansa said Wednesday it will undergo "far-reaching" restructuring as it posted a first-quarter net loss of 2.1 billion euros ($2.3 billion) on Wednesday, hammered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Bell, Telus give 5G contracts to Europeans, Huawei shut out

Two of Canada's three major telecommunication companies announced Tuesday they've decided not to use Chinese tech giant Huawei for their next-generation 5G wireless network.

Zoom booms as pandemic drives millions to its video service

Zoom Video Communications is rapidly emerging as the latest internet gold mine as millions of people flock to its conferencing service to see colleagues, friends and family while tethered to their homes during the pandemic.

S. Korea's self-driving upstarts take on tech giants

In a workshop that blends a corporate office with a tool-packed garage, around 20 South Koreans are looking to take on the multi-billion-dollar giants of Uber, Tesla and Google parent Alphabet with a self-driving car of their own.

Smart cities can help us manage post-COVID life, but they'll need trust as well as tech

"This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities and this virus may never go away." – WHO executive director Mike Ryan, May 13

What will it take for us to trust a robot?

A robotic vacuum cleaner is easy to trust. We really need a lot more confidence in a robot that might be performing vital surgery on our body.

Smart devices should space out vibrations to maximize user alert benefits

A research team led by Yale-NUS College Assistant Professor of Social Sciences (Psychology) Christopher Asplund and Singapore University of Technology and Design's Assistant Professor Simon Perrault has found that haptic feedback (such as vibration feedback) causes distraction, but this loss of focus lasts only for about one second. The findings can help designers improve the usability of notification features in devices.

Wisconsin's COVID-19 stay-at-home order drove changes in state's traffic volume

Traffic along Wisconsin's highways had an unprecedented drop and remained well below normal in the weeks since Gov. Tony Evers' Safer at Home order took effect March 25, giving traffic engineers an unusual perspective on highway travel.

Satellite images, phone data help guide pandemic aid in at-risk developing countries

For some of the poorest countries on Earth, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a life-or-death quandary: If people continue to work, the virus might spread unchecked. But if they have to stay at home to limit the contagion, hunger and malnutrition could soar.

Facebook and PayPal invest in Indonesian start-up Gojek

Facebook and PayPal have invested in the Indonesian ride-hailing and digital payment start-up Gojek, joining other tech giants Tencent and Google, the Jakarta-based company said Wednesday.

Qualcomm rolls out next generation Wi-Fi technology to improve remote work, online schooling

One thing that remote work and online schooling made clear over the last several weeks of coronavirus shutdowns is the importance of good quality Wi-Fi.

Hydrogen cars won't overtake electric vehicles because they're hampered by the laws of science

Hydrogen has long been touted as the future for passenger cars. The hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), which simply runs on pressurised hydrogen from a fuelling station, produces zero carbon emissions from its exhaust. It can be filled as quickly as a fossil-fuel equivalent and offers a similar driving distance to petrol. It has some heavyweight backing, with Toyota for instance launching the second-generation Mirai later in 2020.

CES global gadget fest on track despite pandemic

Consumer Electronics Show organizers said Wednesday that they are going ahead with plans to bring together people from around the world at a massive annual gathering in Las Vegas.

How to avoid disinformation and misinformation on Facebook and Twitter

George Floyd is not really dead. Billionaire philanthropist George Soros is supplying bricks to protesters.

Warner Music to premiere on Nasdaq after IPO raises $1.9 bln

Warner Music Group, one of the globe's "big three" recording companies, jumped in opening trading Wednesday after raising more than $1.9 billion in an initial public offering that underscores how streaming has reinvigorated the industry.

For Citigroup, new backup site could be employees' living rooms

As Citigroup Inc.'s Asia chief started his January COVID-19 briefing for the bank's top executives, it quickly became apparent: The firm's normal backup plans weren't going to work.

Review: Eggtronic Power Bar can charge all your devices

Back in September of 2017, Apple showed off a new product called AirPower, which was a wireless charger that could power three devices at once. Apple showed the AirPower charging an iPhone, some AirPods and an Apple Watch all at the same time.

Bike routing app uses space for cyclists

A navigation app that guides people on safer, more enjoyable bike journeys will be launched later this summer as social-distancing measures encourage more cyclists to take to the road.

Lockdown helps fuel rise in cybercrime

Take extra care before buying face masks or testing kits online, or responding to texts apparently sent to you by the UK government or the NHS. Because while lockdown has helped reduce the spread of the coronavirus, it is also helping fuel a rise in cybercrime.

Nissan warns again on no-deal threat to UK car plant

Nissan warned Wednesday that a no-deal Brexit would threaten its vast UK car factory, the Japanese carmaker's largest plant in Europe.


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