Science X Newsletter Monday, Jul 20

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for July 20, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Self-emitted surface corrugations in dynamic fracture of silicon single crystal

A strategy to modulate the magnetic anisotropy of ultra-thin ferromagnets

Scientists discover volcanoes on Venus are still active

Cacti and other iconic desert plants threatened by solar development

Study reveals strange magnetic behaviour 8-11 million years ago

Homes of wealthy Americans have carbon footprints 25% higher than lower-income residences

Returning to farming's roots in the battle against the 'billion-dollar beetle'

Astronomers discover the most X-ray luminous high-redshift quasar

Using drones to reduce disease-spreading mosquito populations

COVID-19: Viral shutdown of protein synthesis method found

Immune system adaptations in cavefish may provide autoimmune disease insight

Plant roots increase carbon emission from permafrost soils

Astrophysicists fill in 11 billion years of the universe's expansion history

Dogs may use Earth's magnetic field to navigate

Best of Last Week – Breakthrough in preserving sound waves, earliest North American occupiers, faster COVID-19 test

Physics news

Scientists strengthen quantum building blocks in milestone critical for scale-up

A group of international scientists have substantially lengthened the duration of time that a spin-orbit qubit in silicon can retain quantum information for, opening up a new pathway to make silicon quantum computers more scalable and functional.

Quantum exciton found in magnetic van der Waals material

Things can always be done faster, but can anything beat light? Computing with light instead of electricity is seen as a breakthrough to boost computer speeds. Transistors, the building blocks of data circuits, are required to switch electrical signals into light in order to transmit the information via a fiber-optic cable. Optical computing could potentially save the time and energy used for such conversion. In addition to the high-speed transmission, outstanding low-noise properties of photons make them ideal for exploring quantum mechanics. At the heart of such compelling applications is to secure a stable light source, especially in a quantum state.

Buried GitHub archival storage to last 1,000 years

If civilization ever succumbs to global warming, nuclear annihilation, an unrelenting pandemic or a martian invasion, some future civilization—or alien life form—might well still be able to reconstruct today's computers and compose advanced machine learning algorithms … and perhaps even play a round of Doom while they're at it.

Ultimate precision limit of multi-parameter quantum magnetometry

Quantum magnetometry, one of the most important applications in quantum metrology, aims to measure the magnetic field with the highest precision. Although estimation of one component of a magnetic field has been well studied over many decades, the highest precision that can be achieved with entangled probe states for the estimation of all three components of a magnetic field remains uncertain.

SLAC's upgraded X-ray laser facility produces first light

Just over a decade ago in April 2009, the world's first hard X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) produced its first light at the U.S. Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) generated X-ray pulses a billion times brighter than anything that had come before. Since then, its performance has enabled fundamental new insights in a number of scientific fields, from creating "molecular movies" of chemistry in action to studying the structure and motion of proteins for new generations of pharmaceuticals and replicating the processes that create "diamond rain" within giant planets in our solar system.

Ultracold mystery solved: Researchers crack a molecular disappearing act

In a famous parable, three blind men encounter an elephant for the first time. Each touches a part—the trunk, ear, or side—and concludes the creature is a thick snake, fan, or wall. This elephant, said Kang-Kuen Ni, is like the quantum world. Scientists can only explore a cell of this vast, unknown creature at a time. Now, Ni has revealed a few more to explore.

Astronomy and Space news

Scientists discover volcanoes on Venus are still active

A new study identified 37 recently active volcanic structures on Venus. The study provides some of the best evidence yet that Venus is still a geologically active planet. A research paper on the work, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland and the Institute of Geophysics at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, was published in the journal Nature Geoscience on July 20, 2020.

Study reveals strange magnetic behaviour 8-11 million years ago

Research by the University of Liverpool has revealed that strange behaviour of the magnetic field in the South Atlantic region existed as far back as eight to 11 million years ago, suggesting that today's South Atlantic Anomaly is a recurring feature and unlikely to represent an impending reversal of the Earth's magnetic field.

Astronomers discover the most X-ray luminous high-redshift quasar

Using the Spektr-RG (SRG) spacecraft, Russian astronomers have investigated a sample of distant quasi-stellar objects (QSOs), or quasars. They report the detection of strong X-ray emissions from such source designated CFHQSJ142952+544717, the most X-ray luminous high-redshift quasar known to date. The finding is reported in a paper published July 9 on arXiv.org.

Astrophysicists fill in 11 billion years of the universe's expansion history

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) released today a comprehensive analysis of the largest three-dimensional map of the universe ever created, filling in the most significant gaps in our possible exploration of its history.

Global hunt to detect collisions in space

The results of a long-term observation campaign to detect the collision of compact objects in the universe has been announced by a global collaboration including The University of Western Australia.

Two US astronauts to come home on SpaceX ship on August 2

The two US astronauts who reached the International Space Station (ISS) on board the first crewed US spacecraft in nearly a decade will leave for Earth on August 1, NASA's chief said Friday.

Japan rocket carrying UAE Mars probe ready for Monday launch

A Japanese H-IIA rocket carrying a United Arab Emirates Mars spacecraft has been placed on the launch pad for Monday's scheduled liftoff for the Arab world's first interplanetary mission, officials said Sunday.

UAE's Amal spacecraft rockets toward Mars in Arab world 1st

A United Arab Emirates spacecraft rocketed into blue skies from a Japanese launch center Monday at the start of a seven-month journey to Mars on the Arab world's first interplanetary mission.

NASA's next laser communications demo installed, integrated

On July 16, 2020, the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) payload was installed and integrated on the U.S. Department of Defense Space Test Program Satellite 6 (STPSat-6) in preparation for a 2021 launch. As an experimental payload, LCRD will demonstrate the robust capabilities of laser communications, which can provide significant benefits to missions, including bandwidth increases of 10 to 100 times more than radio frequency systems.

Continuous gravitational waves in X-ray star systems—the search continues

Gravitational waves are ripples in space-time that come in many forms. So far, short-duration gravitational wave signals have been observed from colliding black holes and colliding neutron stars, but scientists expect to find other kinds of gravitational waves. Recently published research led by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav)studied continuous waves: long-lasting gravitational waves, in this particular case, waves from neutron stars—old dead stars—in specific star systems called low-mass X-ray binaries. Gravitational-wave detectors LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) and Virgo provide excellent data to search for continuous waves as their signals are likely to be present in the detector data all the time (compared to gravitational waves from colliding black holes, which last only a second or so).

NASA scientist over the moon with homegrown radish research

While others have perfected sourdough starter or whipped up chocolate chip cookies during the pandemic, NASA scientist Max Coleman has been toiling in his kitchen over containers of baby radishes—all in the name of science.

'Disk Detective' needs your help finding disks where planets form

Planets form from gas and dust particles swirling around baby stars in enormous spinning disks. But because this process takes millions of years, scientists can only learn about these disks by finding and studying a lot of different examples.

Could mini-Neptunes be irradiated ocean planets?

Many exoplanets known today are 'super-Earths,' with a radius 1.3 times that of Earth, and 'mini-Neptunes,' with 2.4 Earth radii. Mini-Neptunes, which are less dense, were long thought to be gas planets, made up of hydrogen and helium. Now, scientists at the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille (CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université/Cnes) have examined a new possibility, namely that the low density of mini-Neptunes could be explained simply by the presence of a thick layer of water that experiences an intense greenhouse effect caused by the irradiation from their host star.

Technology news

A strategy to modulate the magnetic anisotropy of ultra-thin ferromagnets

Electrical control of the magnetism of novel two-dimensional ferromagnetic semiconductors could enable the development of new types of spintronic devices—electronic devices that leverage the intrinsic magnetic properties of electrons to transmit, store and process information.

Using drones to reduce disease-spreading mosquito populations

Vector-borne diseases are illnesses that can be transmitted to humans by blood-feeding insects, such as mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. Mosquitoes are known to contribute to the spread of a number of vector-borne diseases, including malaria, dengue, yellow fever and Zika.

Which way to the fridge? Common sense helps robots navigate

A robot travelling from point A to point B is more efficient if it understands that point A is the living room couch and point B is a refrigerator, even if it's in an unfamiliar place. That's the common sense idea behind a "semantic" navigation system developed by Carnegie Mellon University and Facebook AI Research (FAIR).

Oxygen breathes new life into solar cell research

Scientists in Australia and the United States have been able to 'upconvert' low energy light into high energy light, which can be captured by solar cells, in a new way, with oxygen the surprise secret ingredient. The results are published in Nature Photonics today.

Machine learning helps robot swarms coordinate

Engineers at Caltech have designed a new data-driven method to control the movement of multiple robots through cluttered, unmapped spaces, so they do not run into one another.

Scientists boost stability and efficiency of next-gen solar tech

Researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have created next-generation solar modules with high efficiency and good stability. Made using perovskites, these solar modules can maintain high performance for over 2000 hours. Their findings, reported 20 July 2020 in Nature Energy, have brightened prospects of commercialization.

Battery breakthrough gives boost to electric flight and long-range electric cars

In the pursuit of a rechargeable battery that can power electric vehicles (EVs) for hundreds of miles on a single charge, scientists have endeavored to replace the graphite anodes currently used in EV batteries with lithium metal anodes.

States set goals to jump-start transition to electric trucks

A coalition of states is following California's lead in setting goals to jump-start a transition to electric-powered trucks, vans and buses in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality for communities choked by diesel fumes.

It's World Emoji Day: Apple reveals what upcoming characters will look like

Friday is World Emoji Day (yes, it's actually a thing), and Apple used the annual unofficial holiday to unveil some of the little characters coming to iOS devices later this year.

Watch out, TikTok: Facebook launching rival video editing app called Instagram Reels

Facebook is set to launch its own version of TikTok next month.

Solar energy technologies could meet industrial process heating demands

Solar energy technologies could meet process heating demands, reduce carbon emissions, and improve heating efficiency in the U.S. industrial sector—providing up to 15–50% energy savings.

Open-source renewable energy potential (reV) model offers endless potential

What can the Renewable Energy Potential (reV) model calculate when it comes to renewable energy potential? Just about everything.

Enabling fairer data clusters for machine learning

Research published recently by CSE investigators can make training machine learning (ML) models fairer and faster. With a tool called AlloX, Prof. Mosharaf Chowdhury and a team from Stony Brook University developed a new way to fairly schedule high volumes of ML jobs in data centers that make use of multiple different types of computing hardware, like CPUs, GPUs, and specialized accelerators. As these so-called heterogeneous clusters grow to be the norm, fair scheduling systems like AlloX will become essential to their efficient operation.

Expert: COVID-19 is giving cyberattackers an opportunity to hack universities

In July, the University of California, San Francisco paid $1 million to hackers who stole data from the university's School of Medicine and threatened to publish it. Michigan State University and Columbia College Chicago were also recently attacked. This past January, Regis University in Denver paid a ransom to hackers. Are colleges and universities being specifically targeted by cyberattackers? We asked Joseph Murdock, cybersecurity expert and faculty in the Business School, for answers.

Blueprint for the perfect coronavirus app

Many countries are turning to digital aids to help manage the COVID-19 pandemic. ETH researchers are now pointing out the ethical challenges, that need to be taken into account and the issues that need careful consideration when planning, developing and implementing such tools.

Floating wind farms: How to make them the future of green electricity

Since 2010, wind energy has seen sustained growth worldwide, with the amount of energy generated by offshore wind increasing by nearly 30% each year. Countries around the world need to ramp up renewable energy supply quickly to meet growing demand and rapidly reduce emissions. Despite this urgency, offshore wind currently provides less than 1% of the world's electricity supply.

Can't get off of Snapchat or Facebook? Research reveals differences between platforms

You might think social media is addictive, but how do certain platforms measure against one another? Researchers from Michigan State University and California State University-Fullerton conducted the first study comparing problematic use between Facebook and Snapchat—while also uncovering surprising findings about users' personality traits.

A look inside a battery

What happens inside a battery at the microscopic level during charging and discharging processes? A team of scientists led by Prof. Dr. Gunther Wittstock of the University of Oldenburg's Chemistry Department recently presented a new technique for live observation of processes that until now have been largely unobservable in the scientific journal ChemElectroChem.

Powerful human-like hands create safer human-robotics interactions

Need a robot with a soft touch? A team of Michigan State University engineers has designed and developed a novel humanoid hand that may be able to help.


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