Science X Newsletter Thursday, Jun 25

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for June 25, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A method to protect audio classifiers against adversarial attacks

The role of the hippocampus in how humans mentally travel in time and space

Quantum entanglement demonstrated aboard orbiting CubeSat

Black hole collision may have exploded with light

These muscle cells are guideposts to help regenerative flatworms grow back their eyes

Why are plants green? Research team's model reproduces photosynthesis

When two are better than one: Why some gene duplicates are retained while others perish

Marangoni flows drive the alignment of fibrillar cell-laden hydrogels

Google releases TensorFlow privacy testing module

Astronomers discover 'monster' quasar from early universe

Couples that spend the night in the same bed show increased REM sleep and synchronization of sleep architecture

A metabolic enzyme drives lymphoma and is a potential drug target

AI could help improve performance of lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells

Why bacterial toxins are 'fascinating machines of death'

Shelling out for dinner: Dolphins learn foraging skills from peers

Physics news

Quantum entanglement demonstrated aboard orbiting CubeSat

In a critical step toward creating a global quantum communications network, researchers have generated and detected quantum entanglement onboard a CubeSat nanosatellite weighing less than 2.6 kilograms and orbiting the Earth.

Black hole collision may have exploded with light

When two black holes spiral around each other and ultimately collide, they send out ripples in space and time called gravitational waves. Because black holes do not give off light, these events are not expected to shine with any light waves, or electromagnetic radiation. Graduate Center, CUNY astrophysicists K. E. Saavik Ford and Barry McKernan have posited ways in which a black hole merger might explode with light. Now, for the first time, astronomers have seen evidence of one of these light-producing scenarios. Their findings are available in the current issues of Physical Review Letters.

Crews create a blast to take the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment to the next stage

It started with a blast.

CNO fusion neutrinos from the sun observed for the first time

A team of researchers working on the Borexino project has announced that they have observed carbon/nitrogen/oxygen (CNO) fusion neutrinos from the sun for the first time. Co-spokesman for the group, Gioacchino Ranucci, a physicist at the University of Milan, announced the observation at this year's virtual Neutrino 2020 conference.

Measure squeezing in a novel way

'Squeezing' is used in physics, among other things, to improve the resolution of measuring instruments. It allows disturbing noise to be suppressed in a way that smaller signals can be detected more sensitively. The team led by physicist Professor Eva Weig at the University of Konstanz has now been able to show how such a squeezed state can be measured in a much simpler way than with the existing methods. Moreover, the new method allows examining squeezed states in systems where such measurements were not possible before. The results are published in the current issue of the journal Physical Review X.

Scientists develop new tool to design better fusion devices

One way that scientists seek to bring to Earth the fusion process that powers the sun and stars is trapping hot, charged plasma gas within a twisting magnetic coil device shaped like a breakfast cruller. But the device, called a stellarator, must be precisely engineered to prevent heat from escaping the plasma core where it stokes the fusion reactions. Now, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have demonstrated that an advanced computer code could help design stellarators that confine the essential heat more effectively.

High-Luminosity LHC: Electricity transmission reaches even higher intensities

Intensity is rising at CERN. In the superconducting equipment testing hall, an innovative transmission line has set a new record for the transport of electricity. The link, which is 60 meters long, has transported a total of 54,000 amperes (54 kA, or 27 kA in either direction). "It is the most powerful electrical transmission line built and operated to date," says Amalia Ballarino, the designer and project leader.

Astronomy and Space news

Astronomers discover 'monster' quasar from early universe

Astronomers have discovered the most massive quasar known in the early universe, containing a monster black hole with a mass equivalent to 1.5 billion suns. Formally designated as J1007+2115, the newly discovered quasar is one of only two known from the same cosmological period. Quasars are the most energetic objects in the universe, and since their discovery, astronomers have been keen to determine when they first appeared in our cosmic history.

Mapping the early universe with NASA's Webb Telescope

Astronomers and engineers have designed telescopes, in part, to be "time travelers." The farther away an object is, the longer its light takes to reach Earth. Peering back in time is one reason why NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope specializes in collecting infrared light: These longer wavelengths, which were initially emitted by stars and galaxies as ultraviolet light more than 13 billion years ago, have stretched, or redshifted, into infrared light as they traveled toward us through the expanding universe.

Motions in the sun reveal inner workings of sunspot cycle

The sun's magnetic activity follows an 11-year cycle. Over the course of a solar cycle, the sun's magnetic activity comes and goes. During solar maximum, large sunspots and active regions appear on the sun's surface. Spectacular loops of hot plasma stretch throughout the sun's atmosphere and eruptions of particles and radiation shoot into interplanetary space. During solar minimum, the sun calms down considerably. A striking regularity appears in the so-called butterfly diagram, which describes the position of sunspots in a time-latitude plot. At the beginning of a solar cycle, sunspots emerge at mid-latitudes. As the cycle progresses, they emerge closer and closer to the equator. To explain this "butterfly diagram," solar physicists suspect that the deep magnetic field is carried toward the equator by a large-scale flow.

How NASA's Mars helicopter will reach the red planet's surface

NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter will travel with the Perseverance rover through 314 million miles (505 million kilometers) of interplanetary space to get to Mars. But for the team working on the first experimental flight test on another planet, engineering the final 5 inches (13 centimeters) of the journey has been among the most challenging of all. To safely navigate those 5 inches—the distance Ingenuity will travel from where it's stowed on the rover to the surface of Mars—they came up with the ingenious Mars Helicopter Delivery System.

Hubble sees a cosmic flapping 'Bat Shadow'

Sometimes nicknames turn out to be closer to reality than you might imagine.

Super-Earths discovered orbiting nearby red dwarf

The nearest exoplanets to us provide the best opportunities for detailed study, including searching for evidence of life outside the solar system. In research led by the University of Göttingen, the RedDots team of astronomers has detected a system of super-Earth planets orbiting the nearby star Gliese 887, the brightest red dwarf star in the sky. Super-Earths are planets which have a mass higher than the Earth's but substantially below those of our local ice giants, Uranus and Neptune. The newly discovered super-Earths lie close to the red dwarf's habitable zone, where water can exist in liquid form, and could be rocky worlds. The results were published in the journal Science.

Video: A 10-year time lapse of the sun from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory

As of June 2020, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory—SDO—has now been watching the sun nonstop for over a full decade. From its orbit in space around Earth, SDO has gathered 425 million high-resolution images of the sun, amassing 20 million gigabytes of data over the past 10 years. This information has enabled countless new discoveries about the workings of our closest star and how it influences the solar system.

Calculate the number of alien civilizations in the Milky Way for yourself

In recent years, the explosive nature of exoplanet discovery (over 4,164 confirmed so far) has led to renewed interest in the timeless question: "Are we alone in the universe?" Or, as famed Italian physicist Enrico Fermi put it, "Where is everybody?" With so many planets to choose from and the rate at which our instruments and methods are improving, the search for life beyond Earth is really kicking into high gear.

NASA developing a plan to fly personnel on suborbital spacecraft

For the first time in the agency's history, NASA has initiated a new effort to enable NASA personnel to fly on future commercial suborbital spaceflights. NASA's Flight Opportunities program has successfully worked with emerging commercial suborbital transportation systems to fly research payloads to space for short periods of microgravity time. In addition, the Flight Opportunities program recently released a call that allows those non-NASA researchers to propose accompanying their payloads in suborbital space.

Drones help calibrate radio telescope at Brookhaven Lab

Cosmologists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory are experimenting with a prototype radio telescope, called the Baryon Mapping Experiment (BMX). Built at the Lab in 2017, the prototype serves as a testbed for managing radio interference and developing calibration techniques. Lessons learned from the prototype could pave the way for Brookhaven to develop a much larger radio telescope in collaboration with other national Labs, universities, and international partners. Such a telescope would map neutral hydrogen over large swaths of the universe, enabling researchers to gain a better understanding of its accelerated expansion, as well as the nature of dark energy.

NASA takes first step to allow computers to decide what to tell us in search for life on Mars

NASA has stepped closer to allowing remote onboard computers to direct the search for life on other planets. Scientists from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center have announced first results from new intelligent systems, to be installed in space probes, capable of identifying geochemical signatures of life from rock samples. Allowing these intelligent systems to choose both what to analyze and what to tell us back on Earth will overcome severe limits on how information is transmitted over huge distances in the search for life from distant planets. The systems will debut on the 2022/23 ExoMars mission, before fuller implementation on more distant bodies in the Solar System.

Russia plans to take first tourist on space walk in 2023

Russia's Energia space corporation said Thursday it will take the first tourist on a space walk in 2023, under the terms of a new contract with a US partner.

NASA renames Washington HQ for 'Hidden Figures' trailblazer

NASA said Wednesday that it will rename its Washington headquarters after its first black female engineer, Mary Jackson, whose story was told in the hit film "Hidden Figures."

First detector array ready for GUSTO mission

The first detector array for NASA's GUSTO mission has passed its pre-shipment review and is now shipping to the University of Arizona for integration into the balloon observatory. SRON together with TU Delft develops GUSTO's three 8-pixel-arrays, for the frequencies 4.7, 1.9 and 1.4 terahertz. They have now finished the array for the 4.7 terahertz channel—the most challenging part. GUSTO is a balloon mission that will measure emissions from cosmic material between stars.

Technology news

A method to protect audio classifiers against adversarial attacks

In recent years, machine learning algorithms have attained remarkable results in a variety of tasks, including the classification of both images and audio files. A class of algorithms that has proven to be particularly promising are deep neural networks (DNNs) that can automatically learn to solve specific problems by analyzing large quantities of data.

Google releases TensorFlow privacy testing module

Google released a toolset accessory this week that will allow developers working with machine learning models to better rein in leaks of private data.

AI could help improve performance of lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells

A new machine learning algorithm allows researchers to explore possible designs for the microstructure of fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries, before running 3-D simulations that help researchers make changes to improve performance.

Amorphous boron nitride shows excellent insulating properties for next generation of electronics

In the ongoing process of miniaturization of logic and memory devices in electronic circuits, reducing the dimensions of interconnects—metal wires that link different components on a chip—is crucial to guarantee fast response of the device and improve its performance. Research efforts have been focused on developing materials with excellent insulating properties to separate the interconnects from each other. A suitable material for this application is required to have a dielectric constant (parameter that defines its insulating properties) no higher than 2. Furthermore, it should serve as a diffusion barrier against migration of metals into semiconductors and be thermally, chemically and mechanically stable.

New automotive radar spots hazards around corners

Using radar commonly deployed to track speeders and fastballs, researchers have developed an automated system that will allow cars to peer around corners and spot oncoming traffic and pedestrians.

California considers 1st-in-US electric truck sales rule

California regulators are scheduled to approve new rules on Thursday that would force automakers to sell more electric work trucks and delivery vans, a first-of-its-kind rule aimed at helping the nation's most populous state clean up its worst-in-the-nation air quality.

Oz tech titans to build world's tallest 'hybrid timber' tower in Sydney

Global software giant Atlassian will build the world's tallest "hybrid timber" building for its new headquarters in Sydney, the company said Thursday.

Huawei loses out in Singapore 5G bid

Nokia and Ericsson have been chosen as Singapore's main 5G network providers, telecom operators said, leaving Huawei with only a minor role as the Chinese tech giant faces growing US pressure.

Google tightens privacy settings for new users

Google has begun auto-deleting new users' search data and location history on a rolling 18-month basis, CEO Sundar Pichai announced, as the tech giant moves to tighten privacy settings.

Under pressure, Google to pay some outlets for news content

Google announced plans Thursday to pay some news organizations for content in a departure from its past practice following pressure from governments and media groups around the world.

Artificial intelligence produces data synthetically to help treat diseases like COVID-19

Data driven technologies and "big data" are revolutionizing many industries. However, in many areas of research—including health and drug development—there is too little data available due to its sensitive nature and the strict protection of individuals. When data are scarce, the conclusions and predictions made by researchers remain uncertain, and the coronavirus outbreak is one of these situations.

Study: Online trackers follow health site visitors

Internet trackers are more likely to follow people who visit popular health sites, such as WebMD.com and mayoclinic.org, to other types of sites, a Cornell Tech study has found—suggesting that advertisers might be more likely to target people based on sensitive health information than previously understood.

Senate Republicans target encryption with bill aimed at Apple, Facebook, other tech giants

Several Senate Republicans are seeking to force tech companies to help government investigators break encryption to access material that could aid in probes of terrorists, child predators, drug traffickers and other criminals.

Samsung demonstrates new drone-based AI solution to optimize 5G network performance

Samsung Electronics today announced a successful demonstration of its new drone-based antenna configuration measurement solution for 4G and 5G networks in the company's campus. This automated solution will offer operators a simplified way to more efficiently manage cell sites, improve employee safety, and ultimately optimize network performance.

Wireless sensors for N95 masks could enable easier, more accurate decontamination

Tiny wireless sensors for recycled N95 masks could verify, in real time, whether the respirators are being exposed to proper decontamination conditions.

AI monitoring of laser welding processes: X-ray vision and eavesdropping ensure quality

Laser welding is a process suitable for joining metals and thermoplastics. It has become particularly well established in highly automated production, for example in the automotive industry, because a laser operates with virtually no wear, is very fast and offers high precision. But until now, the quality of a weld seam could only be documented retrospectively, either by means of X-rays, magnetic analysis methods or by dissecting individual samples from production. Real-time monitoring of the weld quality would be a major advantage.

Solar energy harvesting through biomimicking the wings of a butterfly

The color of butterflies is mainly attributed to structural color as a result of diffraction of natural light. However, black color denotes trapping of sunlight within the butterfly scales. In some extreme cases, a butterfly will be rapidly de-iced through light-heat conversion within black scales on wings. Inspired by such a natural light harvesting process, scientists in the NANOMO unit carefully examined nanostructures of black scales obtained from different butterflies and assessed their light trapping abilities when placed on Si-based solar panels.

Social media helps reveal people's racist views–so why don't tech firms do more to stop hate speech?

Twitter has finally permanently removed right-wing commentator Katie Hopkins from its platform for violating its "hateful conduct" policy. Many would ask why it took so long for Twitter to ban someone with such a long record of offensive comments.

Countries agree regulations for automated driving

More than 50 countries, including Japan, South Korea and the EU member states, have agreed common regulations for vehicles that can take over some driving functions, including having a mandatory black box, the UN announced Thursday.

Professor proposes guide for developing common data science approaches

The use of data science tools in research across campuses has exploded—from engineering and science to the humanities and social sciences. But there is no established data science discipline and no recognized way for various academic fields to develop and integrate accepted data science processes into research.

Smile! Photos converted into 3-D from any mobile device

It's not an exaggeration—many of us have seemingly turned into skilled photographers overnight. With the rapid advances in handheld devices and easy-to-use photo-editing applications, people have been accustomed to snapping their own photos from their phones or tablets for years now. Some of us also are getting savvier and more creative with how photos are shared or posted.

Facebook seeks to offer more 'context' on virus posts

Facebook said Thursday it was looking to add notifications about the source of coronavirus-related posts and will warn users when they share stories that are more than 90 days old.

Australia's Qantas airline to cut 6,000 jobs as virus hits

Qantas plans to cut at least 6,000 jobs and keep 15,000 more workers on extended furloughs as Australia's largest airline tries to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

EasyJet raises £419m via share placement

British low-cost airline EasyJet, blighted by the coronavirus fallout, said Thursday it has raised £419 million ($523 million, 463 million euros) via a share placing as it tries to cope with disappearing demand for air travel.

Italy's 5G stumbles after a shining start

Italy's 5G project, launched to great fanfare in October 2018 with frequencies going for top dollar at auction, has since fallen victim to sky-high costs and red tape.

SoftBank's Son leaves Alibaba board following Ma's departure

Masayoshi Son, the chief executive of Japanese technology company SoftBank Group Corp., said Thursday that he is stepping down from the board of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

Scandal-hit Wirecard files for insolvency

Stricken payments provider Wirecard said Thursday it is filing for insolvency, days after the high-profile German company admitted that 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion) were missing from its accounts.

Shareholders back bailout to rescue Lufthansa

Lufthansa shareholders on Thursday overwhelmingly backed a nine billion euro ($10 billion) bailout by the German government, saving Europe's largest airline group from bankruptcy after the coronavirus crushed travel demand.

Ryanair to challenge Lufthansa rescue in EU court

Low-cost carrier Ryanair will challenge the nine-billion euro rescue of Germany's Lufthansa, one of the world's biggest airlines, before an EU court, a top executive said on Thursday.

China tech giant Tencent expands into streaming in Asia

Chinese internet giant Tencent said Thursday it had bought some assets of struggling Asian streaming service iflix, in a major expansion of its online video presence in the region.

Q&A: Technology that serves all: a single step could pave the way

University of Michigan computer science and engineering associate professor Chad Jenkins is a roboticist who specializes in mobile manipulation, computer vision, interactive robot system and human-robot interaction. He recently contributed to an open letter published by the advocacy group Black in Computing and Our Allies, arguing for greater equality in the computing community.

Official: US might help others buy non-Huawei telecom gear

The United States is willing to help other countries finance purchases of next-generation telecom technology from Western providers so they can avoid Chinese tech giant Huawei, which Washington sees as a security threat, an American official said Thursday.

Sephora enables Instagram checkout for easy shopping without leaving the app

Sephora is the latest company to enable Instagram instant shopping feature, joining names such as Adidas, Zara, and Uniqlo in letting users buy products without leaving Instagram.

Plaintext ciphertext

Writing in the International Journal of Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, Yu-Chi Chen of the Department Computer Science and Engineering, at Yuan Ze University, in Tauyuan, Taiwan , has revisited the concept of plaintext checkable encryption with check delegation that could be utilized in the context of security and privacy in the realm of big data and cloud computing.

Huawei makes inroads in Britain with new R&D center

Huawei said Thursday it will invest $1.2 billion in a chip research and manufacturing centre in Britain that has been strongly opposed by the United States.

Billionaire investor a new force to reckon with at Lufthansa

Derided as a "caveman capitalist" by the unions and dubbed a "patriarch" by others, German billionaire Heinz Hermann Thiele, is also a force to be reckoned with at Lufthansa.


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