Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Jul 29

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for July 29, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A method to predict the properties of complex quantum systems

A plunge in incoming sunlight may have triggered 'Snowball Earths'

'Quantum negativity' can power ultra-precise measurements

Discovered: Remnant of ancient globular cluster that's 'the last of its kind'

ENCODE consortium identifies RNA sequences that are involved in regulating gene expression

'Giant atoms' enable quantum processing and communication in one

New fabrication method brings single-crystal perovskite devices closer to viability

Extended X-ray emission detected from the radio galaxy 4C 63.20

Studying radioactive aluminum in stellar systems unlocks formation secrets

3-D touchless interactive display detects finger humidity to change color

Study sheds light on the evolution of the earliest dinosaurs

Gorilla relationships limited in large groups

Decline of bees, other pollinators threatens US crop yields

Researchers discover 'Marie Kondo' protein which aids in organizing fruit fly embryos

Using artificial intelligence to smell the roses

Physics news

A method to predict the properties of complex quantum systems

Predicting the properties of complex quantum systems is a crucial step in the development of advanced quantum technologies. While research teams worldwide have already devised a number of techniques to study the characteristics of quantum systems, most of these have only proved to be effective in some cases.

'Quantum negativity' can power ultra-precise measurements

Scientists have found that a physical property called 'quantum negativity' can be used to take more precise measurements of everything from molecular distances to gravitational waves.

'Giant atoms' enable quantum processing and communication in one

MIT researchers have introduced a quantum computing architecture that can perform low-error quantum computations while also rapidly sharing quantum information between processors. The work represents a key advance toward a complete quantum computing platform.

Scientists make quantum technology smaller

A way of shrinking the devices used in quantum sensing systems has been developed by researchers at the UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing, which is led by the University of Birmingham.

Steps toward room-temperature superconductivity

The possibility of achieving room temperature superconductivity took a tiny step forward with a recent discovery by a team of Penn State physicists and materials scientists.

Research team exactly solves experimental puzzle in high temperature superconductivity

Forty-five years after superconductivity was first discovered in metals, the physics giving rise to it was finally explained in 1957 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in the Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) theory of superconductivity.

Simulating quantum 'time travel' disproves butterfly effect in quantum realm

Using a quantum computer to simulate time travel, researchers have demonstrated that, in the quantum realm, there is no "butterfly effect." In the research, information—qubits, or quantum bits—'time travel' into the simulated past. One of them is then strongly damaged, like stepping on a butterfly, metaphorically speaking. Surprisingly, when all qubits return to the 'present,' they appear largely unaltered, as if reality is self-healing.

Healing an Achilles' heel of quantum entanglement

Louisiana State University Associate Professor of Physics Mark M. Wilde and his collaborator have solved a 20-year-old problem in quantum information theory on how to calculate entanglement cost—a way to measure entanglement—in a manner that's efficiently computable, useful, and broadly applicable in several quantum research areas.

Tailored meta-grid of nanoparticles boosting performance of light-emitting diodes

Introducing the newly designed 'meta-grid' of nanoparticles into the epoxy casing of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) offers a substantial improvement of their light output, besides increasing lifetime, according to the scientists who invented it. A 'meta-grid' is a specially designed, optimized two-dimensional array of metallic nanoparticles, which needs to be placed at a specific location within the epoxy casing of the LEDs.

Tailored light inspired by nature

Modern applications such as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during propagation. This represents an immense challenge since light typically broadens during propagation, a phenomenon known as diffraction. So-called propagation-invariant or non-diffracting light fields therefore do not seem possible at first glance. If it were possible to produce them, they would enable new applications such as light disk microscopy or laser-based cutting, milling or drilling with high aspect ratios.

First results of an upgraded device highlight lithium's value for producing fusion

Lithium, the silvery metal that powers smart phones and helps treat bipolar disorders, could also play a significant role in the worldwide effort to harvest on Earth the safe, clean and virtually limitless fusion energy that powers the sun and stars. First results of the extensively upgraded Lithium Tokamak Experiment-Beta (LTX-β) at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), demonstrate that the major enhancements operate as designed and improve the performance of the hot, charged plasma that will fuel future fusion reactors.

Astronomy and Space news

Discovered: Remnant of ancient globular cluster that's 'the last of its kind'

A team of astronomers including Carnegie's Ting Li and Alexander Ji discovered a stellar stream composed of the remnants of an ancient globular cluster that was torn apart by the Milky Way's gravity 2 billion years ago, when Earth's most-complex lifeforms were single-celled organisms. This surprising finding, published in Nature, upends conventional wisdom about how these celestial objects form.

Extended X-ray emission detected from the radio galaxy 4C 63.20

Using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, an international team of astronomers has conducted deep imaging observations of a high-redshift radio galaxy known as 4C 63.20. The observational campaign has revealed an extended X-ray emission from this source. The finding is reported in a paper published July 20 on the arXiv pre-print paper.

Studying radioactive aluminum in stellar systems unlocks formation secrets

An international team of astronomers including Stella Offner of the University of Texas at Austin has proposed a new method for the formation of aluminum-26 in star systems that are forming planets. Because its radioactive decay is thought to provide a heat source for the building blocks of planets, called planetesimals, it's important for astronomers to know where aluminum-26 comes from. Their research is published in the current issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

New evidence for fragmentation of energy release in solar flares

Type III radio bursts from the sun are signatures of energetic (∼1–100 keV) electrons, accelerated at the reconnection sites, propagating upward through the corona into the interplanetary medium along open magnetic field lines. The emission mechanism of the bursts is widely believed to be due to coherent plasma processes. The bursts are observed typically in the frequency range ≈1GHz–10kHz, which corresponds to radial distance range between the low—upper corona; this implies that type III bursts can be used to trace the coronal magnetic field over the distance range.

New method determines planetary regolith thermal conductivity

A new analytic model for calculating the effective thermal conductivity of planetary regolith allows scientists to better understand the connections between the physical and thermal properties of planetary surfaces and the processes that depend on them, according to Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist Stephen E. Wood, author of "A Mechanistic Model for the Thermal Conductivity of Planetary Regolith 1: The Effects of Particle Shape, Composition, Cohesion and Compression at Depth," which appears in Icarus.

Researchers discover triple-layered leading-edge of solar coronal mass ejections

In a study published in The Astrophysical Journal, Dr. MEI Zhixing in Yunnan Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and his colleagues reported a Magnetohydrodynamical (MHD) numerical study on the coronal mass ejection (CME). They presented a high-resolution 3-D resistive MHD simulation to investigate the large-scale structure of the CME due to the eruptive solar prominence/filament, and discovered the triple-layered leading-edge of solar coronal mass ejections.

Plutonium-238 to help power Perseverance on Mars

After its long journey to Mars beginning this summer, NASA's Perseverance rover will be powered across the planet's surface in part by plutonium produced at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Astronomers pinpoint the best place on Earth for a telescope: High on a frigid Antarctic plateau

au, could offer the clearest view on Earth of the stars at night, according to new research by an international team from China, Australia and the University of British Columbia (UBC). The challenge? The location is one of the coldest and most remote places on Earth. The findings were published today in Nature.

Breakthrough method for predicting solar storms

Extensive power outages and satellite blackouts that affect air travel and the internet are some of the potential consequences of massive solar storms. These storms are believed to be caused by the release of enormous amounts of stored magnetic energy due to changes in the magnetic field of the sun's outer atmosphere—something that until now has eluded scientists' direct measurement. Researchers believe this recent discovery could lead to better "space weather" forecasts in the future.

With Perseverance and a little MOXIE, MIT is going to Mars

On July 30, a two-week window of opportunity opens for Perseverance—the newest Mars rover, forged in the spirit of human curiosity—to begin its journey toward the Red Planet with a launch from the Cape Canaveral Space Launch Center on the eastern Florida coast. With MIT's help, this latest NASA mission will build upon the legacy of its roving laboratory predecessors and dig deeper than ever before into questions about life on Mars.

Meet Perseverance, JPL's newest Mars rover

NASA's newest Mars rover is called Perseverance, and it has already lived up to the name.

2020's final Mars mission poised for blastoff from Florida

The summer's third and final mission to Mars—featuring NASA's most elaborate life-hunting rover—is on the verge of liftoff.

Miniature telescope demonstration focuses on sharpening view of distant objects in space

A recently deployed DARPA CubeSat seeks to demonstrate technology that could improve imaging of distant objects in space and allow powerful space telescopes to fit into small satellites. DARPA's Deformable Mirror (DeMi) CubeSat deployed from the International Space Station July 13, beginning the technology demonstration of a miniature space telescope with a small deformable mirror called a microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) mirror.

Technology news

Influx of electric vehicles accelerates need for grid planning

Electric vehicles are coming—en masse. How can local utilities, grid planners and cities prepare? That's the key question addressed with a new study led by researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory..

Thermal storage units that repair themselves

In the future, paraffin wax could help to make underground thermal storage units more durable. Such systems are used, for example, to store solar energy over a longer period of time. In a new study, geologists from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) investigated the extent to which paraffin wax can be incorporated into the shell of the storage tanks and whether this can prevent heat loss and close fissures. The research team reports on its findings in the journal PLOS ONE.

ARM support lets smartphone users help find COVID-19 cure

Scientists, biochemists and health experts have been working feverishly to find a cure for COVID-19, one of the most severe pandemics of our lifetimes.

How Salt Lake's buildings affect its climate future

Anyone who's lived or worked in old buildings knows that their heating and cooling systems can't compare to the efficiency, insulation and consistency of those in new buildings. But the quirks of old buildings' climate control systems aren't just seasonal annoyances—they could shape the future of cities' energy use in a warming climate.

Tech titans to defend American success stories

Leaders of the world's four most powerful companies will defend the Internet giants, painting them as US success stories in a fiercely competitive world during a major antitrust hearing Wednesday.

Carbon emissions, energy flow charts for all U.S. states

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has updated its energy flow charts to include state-by-state energy use for 2015-2018. It also has released carbon emissions charts that depict a breakdown of all 50 states' carbon emissions from 2014-2017.

'Hiding' network latency for fast memory in data centers

Sharing server memory between applications in large computer clusters is still a major goal for cloud and high-performance computing communities. Through fast networking technology, the memory available throughout the center's server racks could be managed by schedulers as though it were a single resource, providing a major boost to speed and performance.

Green roofs or green buildings?

Imagine flying over Denver and spotting a cluster of downtown skyscrapers with vast swaths of green roofs visible at different heights. It would be enchanting, and it would be green—figuratively and literally.

Visual analytics tool plucks elusive patterns from elaborate datasets

From materials science and earth system modeling to quantum information science and cybersecurity, experts in many fields run simulations and conduct experiments to collect the abundance of data necessary for scientific progress. But gleaning useful insights from those data can be a challenge, especially when multiple complex variables influence research results.

The privacy paradox: We claim we care about our data, so why don't our actions match?

Imagine how you'd feel if you discovered footage from your private home security camera had been broadcast over the internet. This is exactly what happened to several unsuspecting Australians last month, when the website Insecam streamed their personal lives online.

Image processing algorithm allows indoor drones to fly autonomously

A research team from Japan has developed a single-camera machine vision algorithm, making it possible for lightweight hovering indoor robots to guide themselves by identifying and interpreting reference points on a tiled floor. The technology opens the door to a new breed of functional, low-cost drones with potentially wide-ranging uses.

Hybrid inverter integrates distributed energy resources, supports smart grid function

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have developed an intelligent power electronic inverter platform that can connect locally sited energy resources such as solar panels, energy storage and electric vehicles and smoothly interact with the utility power grid.

US tech giants too powerful, antitrust panel chair warns

Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook are too powerful and will likely emerge from the coronavirus pandemic even stronger, the head of a US congressional antitrust committee said Wednesday at a high-stakes hearing featuring the CEOs of the four US tech giants.

After a historic run, it's game over for pioneering Boeing 747

The Boeing 747 is an iconic jumbo jet that revolutionized air travel and tourism, allowing affordable flights for millions of people eager to see the world.

Turkey tightens grip on social media with new law

Turkey's parliament on Wednesday passed a controversial bill giving the government greater control of social media and criticised by human rights advocates as an attempt to increase online censorship.

General Electric reports loss amid weakness in aviation

General Electric reported a bigger-than-expected loss Wednesday, due in part to sagging sales from its aviation business in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Heathrow calls for UK airport virus tests after £1-bn loss

London's Heathrow airport on Wednesday urged the government to create a coronavirus testing programme for travellers to replace quarantines, as it announced more than a billion pounds in losses in 2020.

Author questions assumptions about smart cities

Some 40 years after thinking began in earnest and 20 years after implementation did likewise, a University of Kansas professor believes it's time to take a critical look at the golden child of urban planning, the internet-enabled smart city. For while its capabilities might lend themselves to contact tracing for coronavirus or a future pandemic, they also allow governments to monitor and arrest righteous street protesters.

Virus-hit Singapore Airlines suffers $800 mln Q1 loss

Singapore Airlines (SIA) reported a first-quarter net loss of more than US$800 million Wednesday, the latest carrier to take a massive hit as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Boeing reports big loss, signals more job cuts

Boeing suffered a bigger-than-expected loss in the latest quarter, the company announced Wednesday, and signaled additional job cuts are likely as it contends with a protracted air travel downturn amid the coronavirus pandemic.

TikTok faces US national security review

A US government national security review of the social media app TikTok is nearly complete and will deliver a recommendation to the White House this week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday.

Girding for grilling, Big Tech CEOs stress American roots, values

Big Tech's top executives underscored their firms' American roots and values Wednesday as they faced a grilling in Congress over their extraordinary economic power and influence.

TikTok calls out Facebook in a blog post urging 'fair competition'

TikTok took a jab at Facebook for launching "copycat" apps in a blog post about "fair competition" and transparency hours before Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to speak before Congress.

Facetune maker launches new app that brings facial retouching to video

The makers of the photo editing app Facetune have launched a new version that's focused solely on retouching faces in videos.

What to except from Samsung Unpacked 2020 event

Samsung is kicking off the 2020 phone season next Wednesday with what's expected to be a slew of new Galaxy Note models, an updated Fold phone, and several other products.

Walmart rolls out new 'Ask Sam' tool to store employees to help shoppers find products, prices

Walmart employees have a new tool to help shoppers find what they're looking for, whether it's a product or price.


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