Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Jun 24

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for June 24, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A statistical model of cognitive status for natural language generation

Neptune-sized planet discovered orbiting young, nearby star

New research reveals how water in the deep Earth triggers earthquakes and tsunamis

One-time treatment generates new neurons, eliminates Parkinson's disease in mice

New remnant radio galaxy detected

Researchers find solar photovoltaics benefits outweigh costs

Brain exosomes from blood samples allow earlier diagnosis of ALS

Faulty brain processing of new information underlies psychotic delusions, finds new research

Environmental DNA detection could cut pathogens in pet trade

The Arctic is on fire: Siberian heat wave alarms scientists

Blocking a 'jamming signal' can unleash immune system to fight tumors

Cancer study shows how chemicals cause complex cell mutations

Genetic deletions associated with neurodevelopmental disorders also important for development elsewhere in the body

Analysis of rates of police-related fatalities finds significant race-related differences

New research highlights potential cardiovascular risk of novel anti-osteoporotic drug

Physics news

'Ironing' out the differences: Understanding superconductivity in ultrathin FeSe

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) elucidate the underlying cause behind the different critical transition temperatures reported for ultrathin iron selenide (FeSe) superconductors. Their results clarify why the interface between the first FeSe layer and its substrate play an essential role in superconductivity, giving new insights into a long-standing puzzle in this field.

Order out of disorder in ice

The glass structure of a material is often believed to mimic its corresponding liquid. Polyamorphism between ices has been used as a guide to elucidate the properties of liquid water. But how many forms of amorphous ices are there? Do we understand how metastable high-pressure crystalline ice evolves towards the thermally stable low-density form?

Imaging magnetic instabilities using laser accelerated protons

The magnetic structures resulting from a plasma instability predicted by the physicist Erich Weibel about 50 years ago have been evidenced at surprisingly large scales in a laser-driven plasma in the prestigious journal Nature Physics. This instability is also expected to operate in astrophysical settings where it is held responsible for the acceleration of cosmic rays and the emission of gamma photons in the famous "gamma-ray bursts."

New model helps to describe defects and errors in quantum computers

A summer internship in Bilbao, Spain, has led to a paper in the journal Physical Review Letters for Jack Mayo, a Master's student at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. He has helped to create a universal model that can predict the number distribution of topological defects in non-equilibrium systems. The results can be applied to quantum computing and to studies into the origin of structure in the early Universe.

Plug-and-play lens simplifies adaptive optics for microscopy

Researchers have developed a new plug-and-play device that can add adaptive optics correction to commercial optical microscopes. Adaptive optics can greatly improve the quality of images acquired deep into biological samples, but has, until now, been extremely complex to implement.

Improved understanding of the behavior of electrons in plasmas

Plasmas are strongly associated with thermonuclear reactions inside stars such as the sun, but in modern society, plasmas have found application in lithographic processes and decontamination techniques. High-temperature plasmas, like those in the sun, can be quite energy-inefficient for chemical applications and degrade materials in processes. One way to address such issues is to manipulate plasmas in a low-temperature environment. Ph.D. candidate Bart Platier has developed a new plasma-based production technique using low-temperature and atmospheric pressure plasmas for illumination diffusers, which are used in lighting technologies to improve the distribution of light. Platier defends his Ph.D. thesis on June 26th.

Astronomy and Space news

Neptune-sized planet discovered orbiting young, nearby star

For more than a decade, astronomers have searched for planets orbiting AU Microscopii, a nearby star still surrounded by a disk of debris left over from its formation. Now scientists using data from NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and retired Spitzer Space Telescope report the discovery of a planet about as large as Neptune that circles the young star in just over a week.

New remnant radio galaxy detected

Using the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), astronomers from South Africa and India have discovered a new remnant radio galaxy. The newly detected object, designated J1615+5452 has a size exceeding 300,000 light years and showcases a diffuse amorphous radio emission. The finding is detailed in a paper published June 17 on arXiv.org.

Rogue's gallery of dusty star systems reveals exoplanet nurseries

Astronomers this month released the largest collection of sharp, detailed images of debris disks around young stars, showcasing the great variety of shapes and sizes of stellar systems during their prime planet-forming years. Surprisingly, nearly all showed evidence of planets.

Beneath the surface of our galaxy's water worlds

Out beyond our solar system, visible only as the smallest dot in space with even the most powerful telescopes, other worlds exist. Many of these worlds, astronomers have discovered, may be much larger than Earth and completely covered in water—basically ocean planets with no protruding land masses. What kind of life could develop on such a world? Could a habitat like this even support life?

Physicist discusses eRosita mission

It may well mark a revolution in X-ray astronomy: The eRosita space telescope, which was launched last July, has completed its first complete survey of the sky. Over a million objects are visible on the map it has produced. Astronomers are excited about the results from the observatory. It was developed under the leadership of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and is intended to survey the entire sky with a previously unattained spectral and spatial resolution. We spoke with Peter Predehl, the scientific Director of eRosita, about the mission.

ESA listens in on black hole mission

European and Russian specialists recently worked together to catch signals from an astrophysical observatory mission, now mapping X-ray sources in our galaxy and beyond, discovering previously unknown supermassive black holes.

Ocean in Jupiter's moon Europa 'could be habitable'

A new model from NASA scientists supports the theory that the interior ocean in Jupiter's moon Europa would be able to sustain life. In addition they have calculated that this water, believed to be an ocean under the surface ice shell, could have been formed by breakdown of water-containing minerals due to either tidal forces or radioactive decay. This work, which is not yet peer-reviewed, is presented for the first time at the virtual Goldschmidt conference, and may have implications for other moons in the Solar System.

Video: SMOS monitoring droughts

In orbit for more than a decade, ESA's Earth Explorer satellite SMOS has not only exceeded its planned lifespan, but also surpassed its original scientific goals. Built to demonstrate new technology in space and address gaps in our scientific understanding of how Earth works as a system, this remarkable mission is now also being used for a number of practical applications.

Technology news

A statistical model of cognitive status for natural language generation

In order for robots to be used a wide variety of settings, they need to be able to communicate seamlessly with humans. In recent years, researchers have thus been developing increasingly advanced computational models that could allow robots to process human language and formulate adequate responses.

Researchers find solar photovoltaics benefits outweigh costs

Over the past decade, the cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays has fallen rapidly. But at the same time, the value of PV power has declined in areas that have installed significant PV generating capacity. Operators of utility-scale PV systems have seen electricity prices drop as more PV generators come online. Over the same time period, many coal-fired power plants were required to install emissions-control systems, resulting in declines in air pollution nationally and regionally. The result has been improved public health—but also a decrease in the potential health benefits from offsetting coal generation with PV generation.

Artificial skin heals wounds and makes robots sweat

Imagine a dressing that releases antibiotics on demand and absorbs excessive wound exudate at the same time. Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology hope to achieve just that, by developing a smart coating that actively releases and absorbs multiple fluids, triggered by a radio signal. This material is not only beneficial for the health care industry, it is also very promising in the field of robotics or even virtual reality.

Device turns wasted heat into clean electricity, scientists say

New matchbook-sized devices could convert wasted heat in our homes, offices and vehicles into an environmentally friendly source of electricity, according to a team of scientists.

Nvidia unveils PCIe 4.0 version of Ampere A100 GPU

Following on the heels of last month's display of its next generation, high end Ampere A100 GPU, Nvidia this week unveiled a PCIe 4.0 version of the graphics unit.

Innovation challenges regular touchscreens with new spray-on technique

A team at Bristol has challenged the idea that touchscreens are limited to 2-D and rectangular shapes by developing an interactive display that can be sprayed in any shape.

Brazil suspends WhatsApp digital payments

Brazil's central bank said Tuesday it had ordered Visa and Mastercard to suspend a joint project with WhatsApp to roll out digital payments within the popular messaging service, over fears it would be anti-competitive.

Dell, VMware shares rise on spinoff report

Share rose in Dell Technologies and VMware on Tuesday after a report that the onetime personal computing leader was exploring a sale of its stake in the software and cloud computing firm.

Huawei opens Shanghai flagship store as US pressure grows

Chinese telecom giant Huawei opened its second global flagship store in Shanghai on Wednesday, part of plans to strengthen its brand in its core Chinese consumer market as it faces headwinds overseas.

How fake accounts constantly manipulate what you see on social media – and what you can do about it

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram started out as a way to connect with friends, family and people of interest. But anyone on social media these days knows it's increasingly a divisive landscape.

Photo finish: end of an era as Olympus sells camera division

It's the end of an era: Japan's Olympus said Wednesday it is selling its struggling camera division to focus on medical equipment—now the major portion of the storied firm's business.

Google tweaks privacy settings to keep less user data

Google is tweaking its privacy settings to keep less data on new users by default.

WWDC: Apple Watch help with handwashing and a few other things you need to know

Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, which kicked off with a keynote by CEO Tim Cook on Monday, had a different vibe.

Pence to reveal electric truck at former GM plant in Ohio

Vice President Mike Pence heads to Ohio on Thursday for the unveiling of a new all-electric pickup truck built by the startup that took over the General Motors assembly plant shuttered last year.

Indonesia's GoJek latest app to cut jobs as virus takes toll

Indonesian app giant GoJek said it will cut hundreds of jobs and ditch at-home massage and cleaning services as the global pandemic slashes demand for face-to-face businesses, after Singapore-based rival Grab also announced layoffs.

COVID-19 has changed the future of retail: there's plenty more automation in store

Australian supermarket giant Woolworths has announced its single biggest investment in logistics infrastructure, spending A$780 million to replace up to 1,300 workers with robots.

Why we need to know more about the UK government's COVID-19 data project – and the companies working on it

The UK's coronavirus contact tracing app has been kicked into the long grass, with the government now saying it isn't a priority and may not be ready until winter. The app—which has so far cost nearly £12 million – was supposed to be a key part of plans to identify and isolate anyone who had come into contact with someone reporting COVID-19 symptoms.

Philippines to probe links to German Wirecard scandal

The Philippines said Wednesday it will investigate links to the 1.9 billion-euro ($2.1-billion) Wirecard scandal, adding the European payment provider's ex-chief operating officer may be in the country.

Swissport says to axe over 4,000 UK jobs

Airport services group Swissport said on Wednesday it plans to axe more than 4,000 jobs, or about half its UK workforce, as the coronavirus pandemic keeps planes grounded.

AI supports assembly specialists

Artificial intelligence (AI) enables machines to recognize objects. For this purpose, large amounts of high-quality image data are required to manually train the algorithms. Kimoknow, a startup established at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), has now developed a technology to automate this training. The first use case: A digital assembly assistant for contact-free cooperation of humans and machines. It is tested in cooperation with Elabo GmbH at the Center for Artificial Intelligence Talents (CAIT).

Developing technologies to ensure profitable environmental protection

Faced with the urgent need to tackle climate change, governments, companies and institutions have been focusing on a possible transition towards a sustainable future. However, some believe that the adoption of more ambitious environmental and energy policies requires drastic financial or behavioral sacrifices. This isn't necessarily the case, as innovative products and new clean and energy-efficient processes can help create worldwide change, according to the Solar Impulse Foundation (SIF).

Toyota recalls gas-electric hybrids for engine stall problem

Toyota is recalling about 752,000 gas-electric hybrid vehicles worldwide because the engines can lose power and stall.

Wirecard scandal puts spotlight on German company regulation

An accounting scandal at one of Germany's fastest-growing blue-chip companies has raised doubts about the national financial watchdog and, coming on top of other high-profile cases of fraud, led to questions about the country's ability to oversee its corporate titans.

Relief for Lufthansa after top shareholder backs rescue deal

Lufthansa's top shareholder on Wednesday said he would back a nine billion euro government rescue package, removing the threat of a last-minute veto that could have plunged the German airline into bankruptcy.

Italy approves guarantee for 6.3-bn-euro Fiat Chrysler loan

Italy gave the green light Wednesday to providing a state guarantee for a 6.3-billion-euro ($7.1 billion) loan to Fiat Chrysler as the automaker struggles with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.


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Safari ups its new anti-tracking protections

Plus, you'll want to check out these five new features in MacOS Big Sur, and the world of video games faces a reckoning as sexual abuse allegations flood in.
                                                                                                                                                                               
Safari joins browsers that tell you who's trying to track you
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