Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Aug 12

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for August 12, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Researchers develop a selective chemogenetic actuator to rapidly control neuronal activity and behavior

A memristor-based Hopfield neural architecture to solve combinatorial optimization problems

Quantum materials quest could benefit from graphene that buckles

Researchers identify human influence as key agent of ocean warming patterns in the future

ALMA sees most distant Milky Way look-alike

Coffee stains inspire optimal printing technique for electronics

Astronomers investigate an ultraluminous X-ray source in NGC 5055

Enhanced liquid repellence through flexible microstructures

New advance in superconductors with 'twist' in rhombohedral graphite

Molecular additives enhance mechanical properties of organic solar cell material

New species of dinosaur discovered on Isle of Wight

Nanocrystals from recycled wood waste make carbon-fiber composites tougher

New research identifies business travel as driver of economic growth

New microrobot with in situ, in vivo bioprinting offers promise for gastric wounds

Yoga shown to improve anxiety: study

Physics news

Scientists propose method for eliminating damaging heat bursts in fusion device

Picture an airplane that can only climb to one or two altitudes after taking off. That limitation would be similar to the plight facing scientists who seek to avoid instabilities that restrict the path to clean, safe and abundant fusion energy in doughnut-shaped tokamak facilities. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and General Atomics (GA) have now published a breakthrough explanation of this tokamak restriction and how it may be overcome.

Glass blowing inspires new class of quantum sensors

When Adelaide glass blower Karen Cunningham made art using diamond and glass she had no idea it would inspire a new kind of hybrid material. Now a consortium of scientists, including from RMIT University and University of Adelaide, is using the technology to make a new class of quantum sensors.

Efficient valves for electron spins

Researchers at the University of Basel in collaboration with colleagues from Pisa have developed a new concept that uses electron spin to switch an electrical current. In addition to fundamental research, such spin valves are also the key elements in spintronics—a type of electronics that exploits the spin instead of the charge of electrons. The results were published in the scientific journal Communications Physics.

Quantum researchers create an error-correcting cat

Yale physicists have developed an error-correcting cat—a new device that combines the Schrödinger's cat concept of superposition (a physical system existing in two states at once) with the ability to fix some of the trickiest errors in a quantum computation.

Researchers develop a tool for characterizing frequency-entangled photon pairs

Frequency-entangled photon pairs, an easily accessible type of entanglement, have been widely applied in fields like quantum-enhanced positioning and clock synchronization, and quantum spectroscopy.

Astronomy and Space news

ALMA sees most distant Milky Way look-alike

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), in which the European Southern Observatory (ESO) is a partner, have revealed an extremely distant and therefore very young galaxy that looks surprisingly like our Milky Way. The galaxy is so far away its light has taken more than 12 billion years to reach us: we see it as it was when the Universe was just 1.4 billion years old. It is also surprisingly unchaotic, contradicting theories that all galaxies in the early Universe were turbulent and unstable. This unexpected discovery challenges our understanding of how galaxies form, giving new insights into the past of our Universe.

Astronomers investigate an ultraluminous X-ray source in NGC 5055

Using the Chandra and XMM-Newton spacecraft, astronomers from the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center in Warsaw, Poland, have investigated an ultraluminous X-ray source (ULX) in the galaxy NGC 5055. The study, detailed in a paper published August 5 on the arXiv preprint server, provides more insight into the properties of this source.

New insights into star formation in the smallest galaxies

The question of how small, dwarf galaxies have sustained the formation of new stars over the course of the Universe has long confounded the world's astronomers. Now, an international research team has found that dormant small galaxies can slowly accumulate gas over many billions of years. When this gas suddenly collapses under its own weight, new stars are able to arise. The new work is published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Technology news

A memristor-based Hopfield neural architecture to solve combinatorial optimization problems

Over the past few years, many researchers have tried to develop techniques and technologies that can solve combinatorial optimization problems, which entail identifying an optimal item or solution within a set number of possibilities. Past studies have tackled these problems using annealing-inspired computing accelerators based on a variety of technological tools, including quantum, optical and electronic devices.

Coffee stains inspire optimal printing technique for electronics

Have you ever spilled your coffee on your desk? You may then have observed one of the most puzzling phenomena of fluid mechanics—the coffee ring effect. This effect has hindered the industrial deployment of functional inks with graphene, 2-D materials, and nanoparticles because it makes printed electronic devices behave irregularly.

Countries transitioning to zero carbon should look at more than technology cost

A 'one-size-fits-all' approach to producing cleaner energy based on cost alone could create social inequalities, finds a new study.

Perovskite and organic solar cells rocketed into space

For the first time, researchers in Germany sent perovskite and organic solar cells on a rocket into space. The solar cells withstood the extreme conditions in space, producing power from direct sunlight and reflective light from the Earth's surface. The work, published August 12 in the journal Joule, sets the foundation for future near-Earth application as well as potential deep space missions.

A novel strategy for quickly identifying twitter trolls

Two algorithms that account for distinctive use of repeated words and word pairs require as few as 50 tweets to accurately distinguish deceptive "troll" messages from those posted by public figures. Sergei Monakhov of Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany, presents these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on August 12, 2020.

Security gap allows eavesdropping on mobile phone calls

Calls via the LTE mobile network, also known as 4G, are encrypted and should therefore be tap-proof. However, researchers from the Horst Görtz Institute for IT Security (HGI) at Ruhr-Universität Bochum have shown that this is not always the case. They were able to decrypt the contents of telephone calls if they were in the same radio cell as their target, whose mobile phone they then called immediately following the call they wanted to intercept. They exploit a flaw that some manufacturers had made in implementing the base stations.

Upcycling plastic waste toward sustainable energy storage

What if you could solve two of Earth's biggest problems in one stroke? UC Riverside engineers have developed a way to recycle plastic waste, such as soda or water bottles, into a nanomaterial useful for energy storage.

Microsoft back in the smartphone business with its new Duo

Microsoft is back to selling smartphones for the first time since it abandoned its mobile business more than four years ago.

Google improves document, food scanning on app for visually impaired

Google announced a boost to its Lookout app that will further assist visually impaired or blind users. Lookout allows users to point their camera at objects and then tell them what it sees. And it lets users scan text and have it read back to them.

Tesla boosts turbocharged stock with plan for 5-for-1 split

Tesla will split its stock for the first time in its history so more investors can afford to buy a stake in the electric car pioneer following a meteoric rise in its market value.

Court tells Uber, Lyft to classify drivers as employees

A California court has given Uber and Lyft until the middle of next week to reclassify drivers as employees in compliance with a new state law.

Apple on cusp of $2 trillion milestone, defying pandemic

Apple is on the verge of becoming the first $2 trillion American company following a gravity-defying surge that has highlighted the value of its iPhone ecosystem during the global pandemic.

Apple must pay $500 million over patent violations, US court rules

A Texas court has ordered Apple to pay more than $500 million in damages and interest for 4G patent infringements held by intellectual property company PanOptis.

Release of next Halo video game pushed back to 2021

Halo Infinite, the next instalment of celebrated video game franchise, is being delayed until next year, its developer said, meaning the blockbuster title will not be available when Microsoft launches its new console later this year.

GPS, watch out. Here comes China's system

COVID-19 may have left roads around the globe barren of cars, but it hasn't stopped China from claiming leadership over the world of navigation and digital mapping. Watch out, GPS.

Children think robots can help the elderly—but not their own grandparents

A study of children's interactions with robots was carried out at the Norwegian research fair held in every major city. It is an annual national event where children gain insight into science and what researchers do.

Soldiers could teach future robots how to outperform humans

In the future, a soldier and a game controller may be all that's needed to teach robots how to outdrive humans.

Uber chief: law could idle operations in California

Being forced to classify drivers as employees could temporarily idle Uber operations in its home state of California, the ride-sharing firm's chief said Wednesday.

New robotic system remotely controls ventilators in COVID-19 patient rooms

A new robotic system allows medical staff to remotely operate ventilators and other bedside machines from outside intensive care rooms of patients suffering from infectious diseases.

Cathay Pacific reports first-half loss of US$1.27 billion

Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific said Wednesday it lost HK$9.9 billion (US$1.27 billion) in the first half of this year as the coronavirus pandemic sent passenger numbers tumbling, eviscerating its business.

Murdoch's Fox unveils global streaming for news channels

Rupert Murdoch's Fox Corp said Tuesday it was launching a stand-alone streaming service for its news and business channels that would be available in 20 countries by year's end.

Top picks for road trip vehicles with maximum range

Many Americans are wary of flying because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Driving is one alternative to minimize your exposure to large crowds and still get an opportunity to see some sights this summer. You can also further reduce your social contact on a road trip by driving a vehicle with an exceptionally long range.

TikTok rivals do battle for hearts of teen video producers

Triller, Byte, Dubsmash and now Instagram—there's no shortage of rivals circling to grab a slice of troubled TikTok's teen-centric platform for short-form videos, but can any of them come out on top?

Tencent profits up as gamers stay home but WeChat ban looms

Chinese tech firm Tencent, the parent company of social media giant WeChat, said Wednesday its revenue jumped 28 percent in the first half of this year as the coronavirus pandemic kept people glued to their screens.

World's biggest container ships take shape in South Korea

On the bridge of one of the world's biggest container ships, a worker in a grey protective suit installs the compass that will guide the leviathan across the world.

WeChat is a lifeline for the Chinese diaspora. What happens now that Trump banned it?

Cindy Wang's whole life is on WeChat.

The pandemic is putting a strain on internet speeds. Here's what you can do for the best connection

Nothing kills work-from-home motivation like slow internet. It's an issue some are facing for the first time as the COVID-19 pandemic sent them out of the office and into remote workspaces at home.

Facebook says it removed over 7 million pieces of 'harmful' COVID-19 content in quarter

Facebook says it removed over 7 million pieces misleading or "harmful" COVID-19 related posts from its social network and the company-owned Instagram in the second quarter.

Tribune closing 5 newsrooms including NY Daily News

Tribune Publishing Company, which owns some of the most storied newspapers in American journalism, said Wednesday that it is closing the newsrooms at five of them, including New York's Daily News and The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland.


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