Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Jul 7

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for July 7, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

DIGIT: A high-resolution tactile sensor to enhance robot in-hand manipulation skills

Experiments confirm light-squeezing 2-D exciton-polaritons can exist

Emission from the blazar 1ES 1218+304 explored with NASA space telescopes

Mysterious spinning neutron star detected in the Milky Way proves to be an extremely rare discovery

'Light squeezer' reduces quantum noise in lasers, could enhance quantum computing and gravitational-wave detection

Chemists resolve origin of perovskite instability

Four-dimensional physiologically adaptive cardiac patch

Chrome tweak stems battery drain

New room-temperature liquid-metal battery could be the path to powering the future

Microplastic pollution harms lobster larvae, study finds

Multisample technique to analyze cell adhesion

Newer solar power equipment ages better than older units

Among older adults, statin use tied to decreased risk of death

A key gene modifies regulatory T cells to fine-tune the immune response

Protein linked to cancer acts as a viscous glue in cell division

Physics news

'Light squeezer' reduces quantum noise in lasers, could enhance quantum computing and gravitational-wave detection

Physicists at MIT have designed a quantum "light squeezer" that reduces quantum noise in an incoming laser beam by 15 percent. It is the first system of its kind to work at room temperature, making it amenable to a compact, portable setup that may be added to high-precision experiments to improve laser measurements where quantum noise is a limiting factor.

Cooling mechanism increases solar energy harvesting for self-powered outdoor sensors

Sensors placed in the environment spend long periods of time outdoors through all weather conditions, and they must continuously power themselves in order to collect data. Many, like photovoltaic cells, use the sun to produce electricity, but powering outdoor sensors at night is a challenge.

Scientists create new device to light up the way for quantum technologies

Researchers at CRANN and Trinity's School of Physics have created an innovative new device that will emit single particles of light, or photons, from quantum dots that are the key to practical quantum computers, quantum communications, and other quantum devices.

Physics team observes extremely fast electronic changes in real time in a special material class

In physics, they are currently the subject of intensive research; in electronics, they could enable completely new functions. So-called topological materials are characterized by special electronic properties, which are also very robust against external perturbations. This material group also includes tungsten ditelluride. In this material, such a topologically protected state can be "broken up" using special laser pulses within a few trillionths of a second ("picoseconds") and thus change its properties. This could be a key requirement for realizing extremely fast, optoelectronic switches.

Scientists introduce new method for machine learning classifications in quantum computing

Quantum information scientists have introduced a new method for machine-learning classifications in quantum computing. The non-linear quantum kernels in a quantum binary classifier provide new insights for improving the accuracy of quantum machine learning, deemed able to outperform the current AI technology.

Physicist optimizes DNA microscopy technique to improve imaging speed, add color

Super-resolution fluorescence microscopy can be used to visualize structures smaller than 200 nanometers, i.e., below the diffraction limit of light. One of the microscopy techniques, called DNA-PAINT, was developed by Ralf Jungmann, research group leader at the MPI of Biochemistry and Professor for Experimental Physics at LMU, together with colleagues. The technique uses short 'imagers', dye-labeled DNA strands that temporarily bind to their target molecules in a complementary manner to produce the necessary "blinking" for super-resolution reconstruction of the images.

Shock-dissipating fractal cubes could forge high-tech armor

Tiny, 3-D printed cubes of plastic, with intricate fractal voids built into them, have proven to be effective at dissipating shockwaves, potentially leading to new types of lightweight armor and structural materials effective against explosions and impacts.

Liquid crystal integrated metalens for versatile color focus

The development of metasurfaces opened a horizon for the advance of planar optics. Among metadevices, the metalens has attracted widespread attention for practical applications in imaging and spectroscopy, as it provides multifunctional wavefront manipulations for improved focus.

Microscopy images in a flash

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have built a novel microscope that provides a "chemical lens" for viewing biological systems including cell membranes and biofilms. The tool could advance the understanding of complex biological interactions, such as those between microbes and plants.

Contest between superconductivity and insulating states in 'magic angle' graphene

If you stack two layers of graphene one on top of the other, and rotate them at an angle of 1.1º (no more and no less) from each other—the so-called 'magic-angle,' experiments have proven that the material can behave like an insulator, where no electrical current can flow, and at the same can also behave like a superconductor, where electrical currents can flow without resistance.

Examining trapped ion technology for next generation quantum computers

Quantum computers (QC) are poised to drive important advances in several domains, including medicine, material science and internet security. While current QC systems are small, several industry and academic efforts are underway to build large systems with many hundred qubits.

On-chip spin-Hall nanograting for simultaneously detecting phase and polarization singularities

A plasmonic spin-Hall nanograting structure that simultaneously detects both the polarization and phase singularities of the incident beam is reported. The nanograting is symmetry-breaking with different periods for the upper and lower parts, which enables the unidirectional excitation of the SPP depending on the topological charge of the incident beam. Additionally, spin-Hall meta-slits are integrated onto the grating so that the structure has a chiral response for polarization detection.

Astronomy and Space news

Emission from the blazar 1ES 1218+304 explored with NASA space telescopes

Using three NASA space observatories, astronomers have conducted a multiwavelength study of emission from a blazar known as 1ES 1218+304. Results of the investigation, presented in a paper published June 29 on arXiv.org, deliver more insights into the properties of this high-energy source.

Mysterious spinning neutron star detected in the Milky Way proves to be an extremely rare discovery

On March 12th 2020 a space telescope called Swift detected a burst of radiation from halfway across the Milky Way. Within a week, the newly discovered X-ray source, named Swift J1818.0–1607, was found to be a magnetar, a rare type of slowly rotating neutron star with one of the most powerful magnetic fields in the universe.

The collective power of the solar system's dark, icy bodies

The outermost reaches of our solar system are a strange place—filled with dark and icy bodies with nicknames like Sedna, Biden and The Goblin, each of which span several hundred miles across.

The cosmic commute towards star and planet formation

The molecular gas in galaxies is organized into a hierarchy of structures. The molecular material in giant molecular gas clouds travels along intricate networks of filamentary gas lanes towards the congested centers of gas and dust where it is compressed into stars and planets, much like the millions of people commuting to cities for work around the world.

New collection of stars, not born in our galaxy, discovered in Milky Way

Astronomers can go their whole career without finding a new object in the sky. But for Lina Necib, a postdoctoral scholar in theoretical physics at Caltech, the discovery of a cluster of stars in the Milky Way, but not born of the Milky Way, came early—with a little help from supercomputers, the Gaia space observatory, and new deep learning methods.

Curiosity Mars rover's summer road trip has begun

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has started a road trip that will continue through the summer across roughly a mile (1.6 kilometers) of terrain. By trip's end, the rover will be able to ascend to the next section of the 3-mile-tall Martian (5-kilometer-tall) mountain it's been exploring since 2014, searching for conditions that may have supported ancient microbial life.

Building NASA's Psyche: design done, now full speed ahead on hardware

Psyche, the NASA mission to explore a metal-rock asteroid of the same name, recently passed a crucial milestone that brings it closer to its August 2022 launch date. Now the mission is moving from planning and designing to high-gear manufacturing of the spacecraft hardware that will fly to its target in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

NASA's InSight flexes its arm while its 'mole' hits pause

NASA's InSight lander has been using its robotic arm to help the heat probe known as the "mole" burrow into Mars. The mission is providing the first look at the Red Planet's deep interior to reveal details about the formation of Mars and, ultimately, all rocky planets, including Earth.

5000 eyes on the skies: Scientists choreograph robots to observe distant galaxies

Since 2005, scientists have been scanning the night sky to create a three-dimensional map of our universe with the purpose of shedding light on one of the biggest mysteries in physics: the nature and identity of dark energy and dark matter. That effort is about to get a massive upgrade with the successful installation and testing of the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument, or DESI.

Technology news

DIGIT: A high-resolution tactile sensor to enhance robot in-hand manipulation skills

To assist humans in completing manual chores or tasks, robots must efficiently grasp and manipulate objects in their surroundings. While in recent years robotics researchers have developed a growing number of techniques that allow robots to pick up and handle objects, most of these only proved to be effective when tackling very basic tasks, such as picking up an object or moving it from one place to another.

Chrome tweak stems battery drain

Google's Chromium browser team has come up with a simple fix to address heavy battery drain.

New room-temperature liquid-metal battery could be the path to powering the future

Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have built a new type of battery that combines the many benefits of existing options while eliminating their key shortcomings and saving energy.

Newer solar power equipment ages better than older units

Utility-scale photovoltaics, ground-mounted projects larger than 5 megawatts of alternating current, are the largest sector of the overall solar market within the U.S. and the fastest-growing form of renewable power generation.

Samsung Electronics forecasts profits jump despite virus

Samsung Electronics forecast a 23-percent rise in second-quarter operating profit Tuesday, with strong demand for memory chips and displays overcoming the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on smartphone sales.

TikTok to leave Hong Kong as security law raises questions

TikTok said Tuesday it will stop operations in Hong Kong, joining other social media companies in warily eyeing ramifications of a sweeping national security law that took effect last week.

Will the Facebook advertising boycott force the social media giant to change? Not likely

Hundreds of advertisers say they won't spend money on Facebook in July or beyond over concerns the social media company isn't doing enough to stop hate speech. But the exodus of spenders may not be enough to push CEO Mark Zuckerberg to make the level of change that critics are demanding.

Apple would like to store your passport and other IDs in an iPhone

In the next edition of Apple's iOS operating system, Apple is enticing us with the possibility of using the iPhone to turn on and off cars.

Deutsche Bank teams up with Google in cloud services

Deutsche Bank said Tuesday it is planning a partnership with Google where the US technology giant will provide cloud computing capabilities to Germany's largest lender, a market in which Europe is struggling to establish a foothold.

New method helps keep an eye on electromagnetic coils degradation

Electromagnetic coils are widely used components in many applications and systems, including solenoids, motors and transformers. However, coil insulation systems are failure-prone, especially under excessive thermal stresses, leading to unexpected machine shutdown.

Researcher: New Zealand needs to prepare for the arrival of medical AI

Robotic doctors and other artificial intelligence tools are coming to New Zealand's healthcare system and we need to be ready for the ethical and legal challenges they will bring, warns a University of Canterbury (UC) Ph.D. student.

Digital contact tracing's mixed record abroad spells trouble for US efforts to rein in COVID-19

Two public health measures—testing, to identify those infected, and contact tracing, to identify those who may have encountered an infected person—have become essential as countries around the world reopen their economies and fresh surges of COVID-19 infections appear.

How drones and aerial vehicles could change cities

Drones, personal flying vehicles and air taxis may be part of our everyday life in the very near future. Drones and air taxis will create new means of mobility and transport routes. Drones will be used for surveillance, delivery and in the construction sector as it moves towards automation.

Electrons in the fast lane: Microscopic structures could improve perovskite solar cells

Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these electron highways could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.

Uber launches grocery delivery, starting in Canada, Latin America

Uber unveiled plans Tuesday to launch grocery delivery through its recently acquired subsidiary Cornershop.

Context reduces racial bias in hate speech detection algorithms

Understanding what makes something harmful or offensive can be hard enough for humans, never mind artificial intelligence systems.

Data-mining firm Palantir files for stealth public offering

The Silicon Valley data-mining firm Palantir Technologies confidentially filed to go public, setting up what could be the biggest stock offering from a technology company since Uber's debut last year.

Facebook ad boycott organizers cite no progress on hate speech

Organizers of the Facebook ad boycott vowed Tuesday to continue their campaign, saying the social network's top executives had failed to offer meaningful action on curbing hateful content.

China censors Hong Kong internet, US tech giants resist

China has unveiled new powers to censor Hong Kong's internet and access user data using its feared national security law—but US tech giants have put up some resistance citing rights concerns.

Split the fee with a friend or switch to Sling: Readers respond to YouTube TV's price hike

Last week, YouTube announced a 30% price hike for its cable TV alternative service, going from $35—when first announced in 2017—to $65 monthly beginning July 31.

Need access to Wi-Fi? There are more options than ever

Julin Jean parks her car in front of the local library in Port O'Connor, Texas, every day and gets out to work.

New process enables lithium mining in Germany

Whether grid energy storage, electromobility or wearable electronics—lithium-ion batteries have become an integral part of our lives. Millions of tons of lithium are mined in places far away from Germany to produce them every year. However, an invention made by scientists at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) might now also enable economic mining in this country. The plan is to extract lithium using a minimally invasive process from the deep waters in geothermal plants of the Upper Rhine Trench.

Facebook pledges more action on toxic content ahead of meeting

Facebook on Tuesday pledged to take further steps to remove toxic and hateful content from the leading social network as its top executives were set to meet with organizers of a mushrooming ad boycott.

How Europe's city façades and pavements are being used to harvest clean energy

Building façades and pavements in Dutch and Italian cities are being turned into smart, energy-harvesting surfaces and equipped with sensors to power, heat and cool spaces and even monitor roads.

US nuclear lab investigates breach at plutonium facility

Officials at one of the nation's premier nuclear labs are investigating the potential exposure of employees to plutonium.

Amazon plans to open more grocery stores across U.S.

Amazon is preparing to open its second automated-checkout grocery store in a Seattle suburb and is hiring managers for a third store in the nation's capitol.


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