Science X Newsletter Thursday, Jul 30

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for July 30, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Study identifies neuronal populations that drive defensive behavior in zebrafish

Fooling deep neural networks for object detection with adversarial 3-D logos

Ancient mountain formation and monsoons helped create a modern biodiversity hotspot

New understanding of CRISPR-Cas9 tool could improve gene editing

Outburst of the X-ray transient MAXI J1727–203 investigated with NICER

'On our way to Mars': NASA rover will look for signs of life

Epitaxial antiperovskite/perovskite heterostructures for materials design

Origami microbots: Centuries-old artform guides cutting-edge advances in tiny machines

Transcranial stimulation to prevent fear memories from returning

Inflammation induced blood-brain barrier dysfunction studied in organoids

COVID-19 risk model uses hospital data to guide decisions on social distancing

Cosmic tango between the very small and the very large

New current that transports water to major 'waterfall' discovered in deep ocean

Nondestructive positron beams probe damage, support safety advances in radiation environments

Social distancing varies by income in US

Physics news

Cosmic tango between the very small and the very large

While Einstein's theory of general relativity can explain a large array of fascinating astrophysical and cosmological phenomena, some aspects of the properties of the universe at the largest-scales remain a mystery. A new study using loop quantum cosmology—a theory that uses quantum mechanics to extend gravitational physics beyond Einstein's theory of general relativity—accounts for two major mysteries. While the differences in the theories occur at the tiniest of scales—much smaller than even a proton—they have consequences at the largest of accessible scales in the universe. The study, which appears online July 29 in the journal Physical Review Letters, also provides new predictions about the universe that future satellite missions could test.

New imaging system creates pictures by measuring time

A radical new method of imaging that harnesses artificial intelligence to turn time into visions of 3-D space could help cars, mobile devices and health monitors develop 360-degree awareness.

Researchers enhance electron spin longevity

The electron is an elementary particle, a building block on which other systems evolve. With specific properties such as spin, or angular momentum, that can be manipulated to carry information, electrons are primed to advance modern information technology. An international collaboration of researchers has now developed a way to extend and stabilize the lifetime of the electron's spin to more effectively carry information.

Long-standing tension in the Standard Model addressed

The best-known particle in the lepton family is the electron, a key building block of matter and central to our understanding of electricity. But the electron is not an only child. It has two heavier siblings, the muon and the tau lepton, and together they are known as the three lepton flavors. According to the Standard Model of particle physics, the only difference between the siblings should be their mass: the muon is about 200 times heavier than the electron, and the tau-lepton is about 17 times heavier than the muon. It is a remarkable feature of the Standard Model that each flavor is equally likely to interact with a W boson, which results from the so-called lepton flavor universality. Lepton flavor universality has been probed in different processes and energy regimes to high precision.

ISOLDE reveals fundamental property of astatine, the rarest element on Earth

A team of researchers using the ISOLDE nuclear-physics facility at CERN has measured for the first time the so-called electron affinity of the chemical element astatine, the rarest naturally occurring element on Earth. The result, described in a paper just published in Nature Communications, is important for both fundamental and applied research. As well as giving access to hitherto unknown properties of this element and allowing theoretical models to be tested, the finding is of practical interest because astatine is a promising candidate for the creation of chemical compounds for cancer treatment by targeted alpha therapy.

Faster LEDs for wireless communications from invisible light

Researchers have solved a major problem for optical wireless communications—the process by which light carries information between cell phones and other devices. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) pulse their light in a coded message that recipient devices can understand.

Team proposes new integrated power-exhaust control solution for fusion reactor steady-state operation

The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) team has proposed a new integrated control solution to tackle key problems in divertor power exhaust for the steady state operation of tokamak fusion reactor.

Unusual electron sharing found in cool crystal

A team of scientists led by Nagoya University in Japan has detected a highly unusual atomic configuration in a tungsten-based material. Until now, the atomic configuration had only been seen in trihydrogen, an ion that exists in between star systems in space. The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, suggest further studies could reveal compounds with interesting electronic properties.

Quantum machines learn 'quantum data'

Skoltech scientists have shown that quantum enhanced machine learning can be used on quantum (as opposed to classical) data, overcoming a significant slowdown common to these applications and opening a "fertile ground to develop computational insights into quantum systems." The paper was published in the journal Physical Review A.

Astronomy and Space news

Outburst of the X-ray transient MAXI J1727–203 investigated with NICER

Using the NICER instrument, astronomers have conducted a detailed X-ray spectral and variability study of an outburst from an X-ray transient source known as MAXI J1727-203. Results of this investigation could shed more light on the true nature of this source. The study is detailed in a paper published July 22 on arXiv.org.

'On our way to Mars': NASA rover will look for signs of life

The biggest, most sophisticated Mars rover ever built—a car-size vehicle bristling with cameras, microphones, drills and lasers—blasted off for the red planet Thursday as part of an ambitious, long-range project to bring the first Martian rock samples back to Earth to be analyzed for evidence of ancient life.

Mars-bound: NASA's life-seeking rover Perseverance set for launch

NASA's latest Mars rover Perseverance launches Thursday on an astrobiology mission to look for signs of ancient microbial life—and to fly a helicopter-drone on another world for the first time.

Return of the extremely elongated cloud on Mars

A mysteriously long, thin cloud has again appeared over the 20-km-high Arsia Mons volcano on Mars.

Stunning space butterfly captured by telescope

Resembling a butterfly with its symmetrical structure, beautiful colors, and intricate patterns, this striking bubble of gas—known as NGC 2899—appears to float and flutter across the sky in this new picture from ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT). This object has never before been imaged in such striking detail, with even the faint outer edges of the planetary nebula glowing over the background stars.

ALMA finds possible sign of neutron star in supernova 1987A

Two teams of astronomers have made a compelling case in the 33-year-old mystery surrounding Supernova 1987A. Based on observations of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and a theoretical follow-up study, the scientists provide new insight for the argument that a neutron star is hiding deep inside the remains of the exploded star. This would be the youngest neutron star known to date.

Mars-bound spaceship experiencing technical issues: NASA

Mars 2020, the spaceship carrying NASA's new rover Perseverance to the Red Planet, is experiencing technical difficulties and is running on essential systems only, the agency said Thursday.

Astrophysicists observe long-theorized quantum phenomena

At the heart of every white dwarf star—the dense stellar object that remains after a star has burned away its fuel reserve of gases as it nears the end of its life cycle—lies a quantum conundrum: as white dwarfs add mass, they shrink in size, until they become so small and tightly compacted that they cannot sustain themselves, collapsing into a neutron star.

Tropical storm may delay 1st SpaceX crew's return to Earth

Tropical weather barreling toward Florida could delay this weekend's planned return of the first SpaceX crew.

Sticking the landing on Mars: High-powered computing aims to reduce guesswork

Future spacecrafts bound for the moon or beyond will benefit from high-powered computer simulations underway at the University of Michigan that model the particulate mayhem set in motion by rocket thruster-powered landings.

Researchers conduct first simultaneous imaging and spectral study on a solar fan-spine

Fan-spine magnetic topology is favorable for the occurrence of solar flares through null-point reconnection.

Desert Fireball Network scientists find two meteorites in two weeks

Curtin University researchers have discovered two meteorites in a two week period on the Nullarbor Plain—one freshly fallen and the other from November 2019.

For hundreds of years, the mysteries of Mars have fascinated humans

Mars seems so far away, even though it's been close to people for so long.

Technology news

Fooling deep neural networks for object detection with adversarial 3-D logos

Over the past decade, researchers have developed a growing number of deep neural networks that can be trained to complete a variety of tasks, including recognizing people or objects in images. While many of these computational techniques have achieved remarkable results, they can sometimes be fooled into misclassifying data.

Origami microbots: Centuries-old artform guides cutting-edge advances in tiny machines

Origami principles can unlock the potential of the smallest robots, enhancing speed, agility and control in machines no more than a centimeter in size.

Algorithm finds hidden connections between paintings at the Met

Art is often heralded as the greatest journey into the past, solidifying a moment in time and space; the beautiful vehicle that lets us momentarily escape the present.

Oral device is a digital joystick

When someone refers to a people born into wealth and privilege, they might use the expression "born with a silver spoon in their mouth."

'Drawn-on-skin' electronics offer breakthrough in wearable monitors

A team of researchers led by Cunjiang Yu, Bill D. Cook Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston, has developed a new form of electronics known as "drawn-on-skin electronics," allowing multifunctional sensors and circuits to be drawn on the skin with an ink pen.

New programming language and tool ensures code will compute as intended

Not long ago, people using Microsoft Word would check for spelling errors by specifically telling the software to run "Spell Check." The check took a few seconds to do, and users could then go in and fix their typos. Nowadays, Spell Check runs automatically as users write—as I write this story.

4 Big Tech CEOs take congressional heat on competition

Fending off accusations of stifling competition, four Big Tech CEOs—Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Sundar Pichai of Google and Tim Cook of Apple—are answering for their companies' practices before Congress as a House panel caps its yearlong investigation of market dominance in the industry.

Huawei overtakes Samsung as top smartphone seller: industry tracker

China's Huawei has overtaken Samsung to become the number-one smartphone seller worldwide in the second quarter on the back of strong domestic demand, industry tracker Canalys said Thursday.

E-bike revolution tempts Ferrari owners

What better partner for a Cowboy than a Prancing Horse?

Samsung Electronics defies pandemic with profit rise

South Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics defied the coronavirus to report higher net profits in the second quarter Thursday, with strong demand for memory chips overcoming the pandemic's impact on smartphone sales.

Keep safe and cool in the pool: Novel chip sensor makes swimming pools safer

A new microchip that enables continuous monitoring of pH and chlorine levels in swimming pools will vastly improve water safety and hygiene for more than 2.7 million Australians as new research shows it can deliver consistent and accurate pool chemistry for reliable pool management.

Private browsing: What it does – and doesn't do – to shield you from prying eyes on the web

Many people look for more privacy when they browse the web by using their browsers in privacy-protecting modes, called "Private Browsing" in Mozilla Firefox, Opera and Apple Safari; "Incognito" in Google Chrome; and "InPrivate" in Microsoft Edge.

Advocates want child detection technology mandatory on US vehicles to stop hot car deaths

Aug. 22, 2010, was the worst day of Jenny Stanley's life, and she wants to make sure other families don't experience the loss of a child like her family has.

Researchers harness wind data to help meet energy needs in Florida

Florida is one of several states in the Southeast where wind energy is virtually nonexistent, which is one reason wind farms have not been an economically viable energy source in the region. But a new study from the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering shows how upcoming technological advances could make wind energy a hot commodity in the Sunshine State.

Coronavirus sales slump plunges VW into loss

German carmaker Volkswagen on Thursday reported a pre-tax loss of 1.4 billion euros ($1.6 billion) for the first half of 2020 after the coronavirus pandemic sent sales plummeting.

Airbus posts net loss on plunging deliveries during pandemic

Airbus announced Thursday net losses of 1.9 billion euros ($2.2 bn) in the first six months after aircraft delivery halved as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Uber keeps Asia HQ in Singapore, ditching Hong Kong move

Uber will keep its Asian headquarters in Singapore for now, the ride-hailing giant said Thursday, blaming regulatory uncertainty for thwarting a mooted shift to Hong Kong.

Panasonic warns of annual profit dive over virus woes

Japan's Panasonic said Thursday its full-year net profit would plunge more than 50 percent as the coronavirus pandemic battered its businesses at home and overseas.

Researchers improving assistive technology for the visually impaired

For the 285 million visually impaired people worldwide, assistive technology has come a long way since the white cane was popularized in the 1920s. Yet high-tech solutions to help these individuals navigate the world around them can often be intrusive, unintuitive, and expensive.

Pandemic hits Comcast 2Q; Peacock service has 10M sign-ups

The coronavirus pandemic took a toll on Comcast in the second quarter as movie theaters closed, theme parks shut down and advertisers cut back.

Charter Spectrum brings a new mobile platform to local news

Charter Spectrum, best known for its broadband and pay-TV services, is championing local news with a new mobile app.

2.6-billion euro loss for Air France-KLM in virus-hit 2nd quarter

Air France-KLM on Thursday announced a second-quarter loss of 2.6 billion euros ($3.1 billion), thanks to grounded flights during the virus pandemic, adding that the twin airlines must "significantly reduce" the workforce.

United Airlines now planning for bigger pilot layoffs

United Airlines is now planning for even deeper furloughs of pilots following the latest weakening of air travel demand due to the coronavirus, a company official said Thursday.


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