Science X Newsletter Friday, Jul 17

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for July 17, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Probing the properties of a 2-D fermi gas

A platinum and yttrium iron garnet-based structure produces a new magnetoresistance effect

Using neural-network soundscapes to protect natural environments

Replacing lithium with sodium in batteries

Scientists achieve major breakthrough in preserving integrity of sound waves

When power is toxic: Dominance reduces influence in groups

Phantom-limb pain reduced through brain power

Chemical thermometers take temperature to the nanometric scale

Scientists uncover first atomic structure of Epstein-Bar virus nucleocapsid

'Erasing' drug-associated memories may help prevent addiction relapse

Runaway star might explain black hole's disappearing act

Sperm discovery reveals clue to genetic 'immortality'

Coronavirus is messing with the weather forecast too

Blood test detects positive COVID-19 result in 20 minutes

Atomtronic device could probe boundary between quantum, everyday worlds

Physics news

Probing the properties of a 2-D fermi gas

When a new physical system is created or uncovered, researchers generally study it in depth to unveil its distinctive properties and characteristics. For example, they might try to determine how the system reacts when it is disturbed, and in what ways this disturbance typically propagates through it.

Scientists achieve major breakthrough in preserving integrity of sound waves

In a breakthrough for physics and engineering, researchers from the Photonics Initiative at the Advanced Science Research Center at The Graduate Center, CUNY (CUNY ASRC) and from Georgia Tech have presented the first demonstration of topological order based on time modulations. This advancement allows the researchers to propagate sound waves along the boundaries of topological metamaterials without the risk of waves traveling backwards or being thwarted by material defects.

Atomtronic device could probe boundary between quantum, everyday worlds

A new device that relies on flowing clouds of ultracold atoms promises potential tests of the intersection between the weirdness of the quantum world and the familiarity of the macroscopic world we experience every day. The atomtronic Superconducting QUantum Interference Device (SQUID) is also potentially useful for ultrasensitive rotation measurements and as a component in quantum computers.

Study confirms hairpin vortices in supersonic turbulence

The turbulence that occurs in the low-pressure region behind a rocket traveling at supersonic speeds is complex and not well understood. In the first experimental study of its kind, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign helped close the knowledge gap for these flows by proving the existence of hairpin vortices in a supersonic separated flow.

New technology speeds up organic data transfer

Researchers are pushing the boundaries of data speed with a brand new type of organic LED.

Measuring drug-induced molecular changes within a cell at sub-wavelength scale

Synchrotron InfraRed Nanospectroscopy has been used for the first time to measure biomolecular changes induced by a drug (amiodarone) within human cells (macrophages) and localized at 100 nanometre scale, i.e. two orders of magnitude smaller than the IR wavelength used as probe. This was achieved at the Multimode InfraRed Imaging and Micro Spectroscopy (MIRIAM) beamline (B22) at Diamond Light Source, the UK's national synchrotron facility.

Fast and flexible computation of optical diffraction

Diffraction is a classic optical phenomenon accounting for light propagation. The efficient calculation of diffraction is of significant value towards the real-time prediction of light fields. The diffraction of electromagnetic (EM) waves can be cataloged into scalar diffraction and vector diffraction according to the validation of different approximation conditions. Although mathematical expressions for both optical diffraction have been presented authoritatively for ages, fundamental breakthroughs have rarely been achieved in computation algorithms. The direct integration method and fast Fourier transform (FFT) method have been developed and proved to suffer from the limits of either low efficiency or poor flexibility. Therefore, the versatile computation of optical diffraction in an efficient and flexible fashion is highly demanded.

Astronomy and Space news

Runaway star might explain black hole's disappearing act

At the center of a far-off galaxy, a black hole is slowly consuming a disk of gas that swirls around it like water circling a drain. As a steady trickle of gas is pulled into the gaping maw, ultrahot particles gather close to the black hole, above and below the disk, generating a brilliant X-ray glow that can be seen 300 million light-years away on Earth. These collections of ultrahot gas, called black hole coronas, have been known to exhibit noticeable changes in their luminosity, brightening or dimming by up to 100 times as a black hole feeds.

Solar Orbiter returns first data, snaps closest pictures of the Sun

The first images from ESA/NASA's Solar Orbiter are now available to the public, including the closest pictures ever taken of the Sun.

Separating gamma-ray bursts

By applying a machine-learning algorithm, scientists at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, have developed a method to classify all gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), rapid highly energetic explosions in distant galaxies, without needing to find an afterglow—by which GRBs are presently categorized. This breakthrough, initiated by first-year B.Sc. students, may prove key in finally discovering the origins of these mysterious bursts. The result is now published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

NASA's Hubble successor delayed again by virus, other issues

The launch of NASA's successor to the Hubble Space Telescope faces seven more months of delay, this time because of the pandemic and technical issues.

NASA announces new James Webb Space Telescope target launch date

NASA now is targeting Oct. 31, 2021, for the launch of the agency's James Webb Space Telescope from French Guiana, due to impacts from the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as well as technical challenges.

Do the TRAPPIST-1 planets have atmospheres?

In February of 2017, the scientific community rejoiced as NASA announced that a nearby star (TRAPPIST-1) had a system of no less than seven rocky planets. Since that time, astronomers have conducted all kinds of follow-up observations and studies in the hopes of learning more about these exoplanets. In particular, they have been attempting to learn if any of the planets located in the stars' habitable zones (HZ) could actually be habitable.

Video: Solar Orbiter first images revealed

ESA's Solar Orbiter spacecraft has sent back its first images of the sun. At 77 million kilometres from the surface, this is the closest a camera has ever flown to our nearest star. The pictures reveal features on the sun's exterior that have never been seen in detail before.

Image: Hubble spies sparkling galaxy

As beautiful as the surrounding space may be, the sparkling galaxy in the foreground of this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope undeniably steals the show.

China moves rocket into place for upcoming Mars mission

China has moved a rocket into position to launch a rover to Mars in one of three upcoming missions to the red planet, one from the U.S. and another by the United Arab Emirates.

UAE Mars mission liftoff on Japan rocket reset for Monday

The liftoff of a United Arab Emirates' Mars orbiter, postponed due to bad weather at the launch site in southern Japan, is now set for Monday.

Technology news

A platinum and yttrium iron garnet-based structure produces a new magnetoresistance effect

In recent years, several research teams worldwide have been trying to develop a new class of devices known as spintronics or spin transport electronics. These devices can encode, store, process and transmit data using the spin of electrons in certain materials.

Device found able to reduce noise in simulated neonatal intensive care unit

A team of researchers at Invictus Medical has found via simulated testing that their Neoasis active noise control device is able to reduce the noise level in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). They have written a paper outlining their testing methods and results, and have uploaded it to the PLOS ONE open access site.

New learning algorithm should significantly expand the possible applications of AI

The high energy consumption of artificial neural networks' learning activities is one of the biggest hurdles for the broad use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), especially in mobile applications. One approach to solving this problem can be gleaned from knowledge about the human brain.

Researchers create a roadmap to better multivalent batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are recognized for their high energy density in everything from mobile phones to laptop computers and electric vehicles, but as the need for grid-scale energy storage and other applications becomes more pressing, researchers have sought less expensive and more readily available alternatives to lithium.

Google Cloud announces enhanced Confidential Computing

Amid ever-increasing demands for privacy and security for highly sensitive data stored in the cloud, Google Cloud announced this week the creation of Confidential Computing.

Practical and versatile micro-patterning for organic electronics and photonics

Scientists have managed to draw at high resolution and speed, local patterns in organic semiconductor films used in optoelectronic and photonic applications. The new method enables the patterning of material characteristics and concomitant final properties, including molecular conformation, orientation, crystallinity and composition. The technique, published with open access in Nature Communications, has also been patented and industrial partners are sought for further co-development.

Xbox cloud gaming service to debut in September

Microsoft said Thursday its cloud video game service will debut in September as a feature available to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers.

Germany's top court reins in state access to online data

Germany's highest court on Friday said security services had too much unfettered access to people's online data and ordered legislation to be revised to set higher hurdles.

Argonne conducts largest-ever simulation of flow inside an internal combustion engine

Imagine more efficient internal combustion engines with lower emissions, sparked by computer simulation. Scientists across the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have recently joined forces to conduct the largest-ever simulation of flow inside an internal combustion engine. The new insights could be used by auto manufacturers to design greener engines.

Study shows freeway median cable barriers stop vehicles from crashing into oncoming traffic

As America slowly reopens and people resume hitting the open road, travelers through the Buckeye State can rest assured median cable barriers are doing their job. A University of Dayton Transportation Engineering Lab study of 2,209 highway crashes where a vehicle hit or crossed median cable barriers shows only 1.7% of vehicles involved breached the barriers and crashed into oncoming traffic.

Navigating 'information pollution' with the help of artificial intelligence

There's still a lot that's not known about the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, the disease it causes. What leads some people to have mild symptoms and others to end up in the hospital? Do masks help stop the spread? What are the economic and political implications of the pandemic?

Clearing the way for alternative fuels

That pizza box that was too cheesy to be recycled may still have a shot at a second life outside of a landfill—and in the fuel tank of your next flight.

New metric quantifies productivity of freight mobility systems

Trends such as the rise in e-commerce, increased vehicle electrification, connected mobility, automation, and new forms of delivery are poised to bring a paradigm shift in freight movement. In addition to modeling and forecasting emerging freight trends, it is critical to have a metric to quantify their impacts on freight mobility. The new Freight Mobility Energy Productivity (F-MEP) metric does just that.

Energy price comparison sites are bad news for consumers – here's how to fix them

When it comes to electricity and gas, consumers in many countries choose between a wide range of tariffs. In the UK there are hundreds of options from scores of suppliers, varying up to 30% in price. This is a difference of hundreds of pounds a year, so consumers' ability to move between tariffs is an important welfare issue.

BluBLE: Estimating your COVID-19 risk with accurate contact tracing

Motivated by the prospect of creating protective, social-distancing "bubbles" around members of the public, researchers in the UC San Diego Wireless Communications Sensing and Networking Laboratory are developing BluBLE, a new app for contact tracing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Congress wants Apple, Google to warn users about apps posing 'national security risks'

Congress is asking Apple and Google to warn users about apps that pose "national security risks" days after the government showed interest in banning TikTok.

EU Green Deal target requires doubling of effort

Graham Weale, honorary professor at the Faculty of Economic Sciences and at the Centre for Environmental Management, Resources and Energy (Cure) at Ruhr-Universit├Ąt Bochum (RUB) has undertaken an independent study "EU 2030 Emissions Target—A Reality Check." "The results are very disturbing," said Weale, "and show how great is the challenge to achieve even the current goal."

How do you solve a problem like Pereira?

How do you solve problems in the face of adversity? The question is perhaps oxymoronic or tautological given that a problem equates to adversity. So, we might as well ask how do you solve problems?

Baseless Wayfair child-trafficking theory spreads online

The baseless conspiracy theory took off after an anonymous user posed a bizarre question in an internet chatroom: What if retail giant Wayfair is using pricey storage cabinets to traffic children?

India's richest man takes on Amazon, Walmart in e-commerce gamble

Backed by multi-billion-dollar investments from global tech giants, India's richest man is ready to rumble with Amazon and Walmart for the country's huge e-commerce market through his conglomerate Reliance.

Bitcoin scam shows Twitter needs better internal controls, expert says

In what appears to be a "coordinated social engineering attack," Bitcoin hackers July 15 took control of dozens of high-profile Twitter accounts, including those of Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Mike Bloomberg, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Kanye West, and used them to post messages urging people to send thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency.

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