Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Aug 18

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for August 18, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A biomimetic robotic finger created using 3-D printing

Triangulation across data sources to understand COVID-19

Indian astronomers investigate open cluster Czernik 3

Exploding stars may have caused mass extinction on Earth, study shows

New findings could help scientists tame damaging heat bursts in fusion reactors

Swans reserve aggression for each other

Potential drug target revealed to help more children survive a lethal heart defect

First genome comparison gives insight into penguin origins, evolution

The tropics are expanding, and climate change is the primary culprit

Findings refute idea of monarchs' migration mortality as major cause of population decline

Desire to be in a group leads to harsher judgment of others: study

New tool helps interpret future searches for life on exoplanets

How turning back the clock in aging fat cells can be a remedy for lifestyle diseases

Unraveling the initial molecular events of respiration

New quantum paradox reveals contradiction between widely held beliefs

Physics news

New findings could help scientists tame damaging heat bursts in fusion reactors

Picture strong wind blowing against a tree until it's knocked down. Such action would mimic the process that causes damaging heat bursts called edge localized modes (ELMs) to flare up in fusion facilities called tokamaks, which scientists use to develop on Earth the fusion energy that powers the sun and stars. Such heat bursts normally occur when the pressure at the edge of the hot plasma gas that fuels fusion reactions reaches a peak, causing heat to erupt against the walls of the tokamak, much like a tree finally toppling in a growing wind.

New quantum paradox reveals contradiction between widely held beliefs

Quantum physicists at Griffith University have unveiled a new paradox that says, when it comes to certain long-held beliefs about nature, "something's gotta give."

Humid air can extend lifetime of virus-laden aerosol droplets

The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread through natural respiratory activities, such as breathing, talking and coughing, but little is known about how the virus is transported through the air.

A stepping stone for measuring quantum gravity

A group of theoretical physicists, including two physicists from the University of Groningen, have proposed a 'table-top' device that could measure gravity waves. However, their actual aim is to answer one of the biggest questions in physics: is gravity a quantum phenomenon? The key element for the device is the quantum superposition of large objects. Their design was published in New Journal of Physics on 6 August.

Using a public restroom? Mask up!

Think you don't need to worry about COVID-19 while using a public restroom? A group of researchers from Yangzhou University in China recently reported that flushing public restroom toilets can release clouds of virus-laden aerosols for you to potentially inhale.

Dynamic full-field optical coherence tomography: 3-D live-imaging of retinal organoids

Optical coherence tomography offers astounding opportunities to image the complex structure of living tissue but lacks functional information. We present dynamic full-field optical coherence tomography as a technique to noninvasively image living human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived retinal organoids. Colored images with an endogenous contrast linked to organelle motility are generated, with submicrometer spatial resolution and millisecond temporal resolution, creating a way to identify specific cell types in living tissue via their dynamic profile.

The MOF-based multicolor single-mode microlaser

Since different tissues, cells or biochemicals have different (such as optical, thermal and acoustic) responses to different wavelengths of light, a light source with visible to near-infrared (NIR) multi-color output provides the fundamentals for multi-modal/multi-dimensional sensing/imaging. On the other hand, the polarization properties of light provide an opportunity for the analysis and processing of scattered light signals and can also help to obtain rich structural information in biological materials. In addition, single-mode micro-nano lasers meet the application requirements of miniaturized photonic devices with high information accuracy, avoiding false signals and overlapping interference of different optical signals, which have the potential to achieve targeted sensing/imaging of various cells and molecules when combined with multi-color output characteristics. If a material can combine the advantages of broadband multi-color output, polarization and single-mode micro-nano lasing, it is very useful for multi-mode miniaturized biochemical sensing or imaging, but there is no report of corresponding materials to date.

Calculating hadrons using supercomputers

Hadrons are elusive superstars of the subatomic world, making up almost all visible matter, and British theoretical physicist Antoni Woss has worked diligently with colleagues at the U.S. Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility to get to know them better.

Astronomy and Space news

Indian astronomers investigate open cluster Czernik 3

A team of astronomers from India has performed deep near-infrared photometric observations of an open cluster known as Czernik 3. The study provides important information about the properties of Czernik 3, suggesting that it is a disintegrating old open cluster. The research is available in a paper published August 7 on arXiv.org.

Exploding stars may have caused mass extinction on Earth, study shows

Imagine reading by the light of an exploded star, brighter than a full moon—it might be fun to think about, but this scene is the prelude to a disaster when the radiation devastates life as we know it. Killer cosmic rays from nearby supernovae could be the culprit behind at least one mass extinction event, researchers said, and finding certain radioactive isotopes in Earth's rock record could confirm this scenario.

New tool helps interpret future searches for life on exoplanets

Is there life on a distant planet? One way astronomers are trying to find out is by analyzing the light that is scattered off a planet's atmosphere. Some of that light, which originates from the stars it orbits, has interacted with its atmosphere, and provides important clues to the gases it contains. If gases like oxygen, methane or ozone are detected, that could indicate the presence of living organisms. Such gases are known as biosignatures. A team of scientists from EPFL and Tor Vergata University of Rome has developed a statistical model that can help astronomers interpret the results of the search for these "signs of life." Their research has just been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Magnetized gas flows feed a young star cluster

Observations of magnetic fields in interstellar clouds made of gas and dust indicate that these clouds are strongly magnetized, and that magnetic fields influence the formation of stars within them. A key observation is that the orientation of their internal structure is closely related to that of the magnetic field.

The sun may have started its life with a binary companion

A new theory published today in the Astrophysical Journal Letters by scientists from Harvard University suggests that the sun may once have had a binary companion of similar mass. If confirmed, the presence of an early stellar companion increases the likelihood that the Oort cloud was formed as observed and that Planet Nine was captured rather than formed within the solar system.

100 cool worlds found near the Sun

How complete is our census of the Sun's closest neighbors? Astronomers and a team of data-sleuthing volunteers participating in Backyard Worlds: Planet 9, a citizen science project, have discovered roughly 100 cool worlds near the Sun—objects more massive than planets but lighter than stars, known as brown dwarfs.

Technology news

A biomimetic robotic finger created using 3-D printing

Humans are innately capable of performing complex movements with their hands via the articulation of their endoskeletal structure. These movements are made possible by ligaments and tendons that are elastically connected to a fairly rigid bone structure.

Climate change impact on green energy production

As the climate of the planet is changing, as evidenced by record-setting hot summers and extreme weather events, many researchers are looking to more renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind farms.

Algorithm improves fairness of search results

When you search for something on the internet, do you scroll through page after page of suggestions—or pick from the first few choices?

Google Lens to let students snap pics of equations to get help

Google Inc. has announced that the company will soon be rolling out a new educational tool called Lens. Its purpose is to help students (and their home-teaching parents) solve and use math equations. The company made the announcement on a recent blog post outlining the wide variety of applications the company has been developing to help parents who have suddenly found themselves teaching their kids at home.

Low-cost home air quality monitors prove useful for wildfire smoke

Over the last few years of frequent and intense wildfire seasons, many parts of the U.S. have experienced hazardous air quality for days on end. At the same time a number of low-cost air quality monitors have come on the market, allowing consumers to check the pollutant levels in their own homes and neighborhoods. So, air quality scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) wanted to know: are these low-cost monitors any good?

This 'Cold Tube' can beat the summer heat without relying on air conditioning

Many people beat the summer heat by cranking the air conditioning. However, air conditioners guzzle power and spew out millions of tons of carbon dioxide daily. They're also not always good for your health—constant exposure to central A/C can increase risks of recirculating germs and causing breathing problems.

Want to teach an AI to deal with conditions it hasn't seen before? Start with Monopoly

Researchers from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering's Information Sciences Institute (ISI) have partnered with Purdue University to take part in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)-funded program that seeks to develop the science that will allow AI systems to adapt to novelty, or new conditions that haven't been seen before.

Bus emission target unreachable without immediate move to electric

New research from The University of Aberdeen has found that busses should be converted to electric and hydrogen in order to meet emission targets.

Study debunks robocall myths, lays groundwork for stopping them

New research from North Carolina State University finds that the number of robocalls isn't going up, and that answering a robocall doesn't make you more likely to get additional robocalls. However, stories you've heard about individuals getting hundreds of back-to-back unsolicited calls? Those are true.

Amazon to expand tech hubs, corporate offices, adding 3,500 jobs

Amazon unveiled plans Tuesday to hire 3,500 new employees as part of an expansion of its technology hubs and corporate offices across the United States.

New Flight Simulator game takes off with French studio in cockpit

Many aircraft are still grounded due to the coronavirus pandemic, but would-be and real pilots took to the virtual skies on Tuesday with a cutting-edge update of Microsoft's venerable Flight Simulator game.

Google rallies YouTubers against Australian news payment plan

Google has urged YouTubers around the world to complain to Australian authorities as it ratchets up its campaign against a plan to force digital giants to pay for news content.

Smart AI makes all kinds of shapes on its own

Plastic is light, cheap, and can be made into any shape if heated, making it a 'gift from the 20th-century god.' The key is to maintain its uniform quality but its sensitivity to process conditions makes processing autonomy difficult. It also takes a long time to change the process once it is set, and real-time optimization is deemed impossible due to the difference in actual outcomes.

The historical partnership that revolutionized battery research at Argonne

Researchers around the world are on the hunt to find cheaper, better lithium-ion battery materials to power large scale machines, such as electric vehicles. One of their goals is to find alternative lithium-metal-oxide electrodes to those containing cobalt, an element common within phone and laptop batteries but too expensive and short on capacity to propel electric vehicles over long distances.

High-altitude airships company picks New Mexico for base

A technology company aiming to send up high-altitude airships to monitor crops and bring broadband has chosen New Mexico for its U.S. production center, state Economic Development Secretary Alicia J. Keyes announced Tuesday.

New landmine detection method to reduce false alarm rates

Landmines pose a serious threat in conflict areas, yet modern detection systems struggle to discriminate between explosives and clutter. A project funded by the Army developed a new method for landmine identification that will greatly reduce false alarm rates.

LinkedIn offers tips for virtual job interviews. Here's what you need to know before turning webcam on

One of the hardest parts of looking for a job are the intangibles. What will they ask me? What should I say? How do I look? How should I look?

Playing in 'The Yard': A first look at the new game mode in 'Madden 21'

With "The Yard," the new game mode landing on "Madden NFL 21," developers are trying to take football to the backyard.

Boeing seeks more voluntary layoffs

Boeing is launching a second round of voluntary layoffs to trim its workforce, the company said Tuesday, as it navigates a brutal commercial aviation market and seeks to return the 737 MAX to service.


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