Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Oct 13

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for October 13, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Hall error revelations raise aspirations for 2-D materials

Binge drinking may cause Alzheimer's disease—and it might strike younger and in a severe form

Radio observations detect new brown dwarf

A framework to increase the safety of robots operating in crowded environments

Advanced driver-assistance systems found to be susceptible to split-second flash phantoms

Crayfish 'trapping' fails to control invasive species

Covid-19 reinfection casts doubt on virus immunity: study

New research suggests innovative method to analyse the densest star systems in the Universe

Making disorder for an ideal battery

Sapphires show their true colors: Not water-loving

Damaged muscles don't just die, they regenerate themselves

Skeletal muscle development and regeneration mechanisms vary by gender

Surface waves can help nanostructured devices keep their cool

Using electric current to stabilize low-permeability soils

Scientists discover gene associated with slim inflorescence shape of barley

Physics news

Finding the right color to control magnets with laser pulses

Scientists have discovered a new way to manipulate magnets with laser light pulses shorter than a trillionth of a second.

Researchers are working on tech so machines can thermally 'breathe'

In the era of electric cars, machine learning and ultra-efficient vehicles for space travel, computers and hardware are operating faster and more efficiently. But this increase in power comes with a trade-off: They get superhot.

Well-formed disorder for versatile light technologies

From microscopes to data transfer via optical fibers all the way to modern quantum technologies, light plays an important role in science and industry. Particularly methods for changing the color—and hence the frequency and wavelength—of light are of great importance in modern applications. Those methods require the use of nonlinear crystals. In such crystals, two photons of a particular frequency can, for instance, be turned into one photon having twice that frequency—say, two red ones into a single blue one.

Physicists successfully carry out controlled transport of stored light

A team of physicists led by Professor Patrick Windpassinger at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has successfully transported light stored in a quantum memory over a distance of 1.2 millimeters. They have demonstrated that the controlled transport process and its dynamics has only little impact on the properties of the stored light. The researchers used ultra-cold rubidium-87 atoms as a storage medium for the light as to achieve a high level of storage efficiency and a long lifetime.

Ultrafast fiber laser produces record high power

Researchers have developed an ultrafast fiber laser that delivers an average power more than ten times what is available from today's high-power lasers. The technology is poised to improve industrial-scale materials processing and paves the way for visionary applications.

How to see what's on the other side of a wormhole without actually traveling through it

Wormholes are incredibly fascinating objects, but also completely hypothetical. We simply don't know if they can truly exist in our universe. But new theoretical insights are showing how we may be able to detect a wormhole—from a spray of high-energy particles emitted at the moment of its formation.

Imaging light waveforms in air plasma

An international team that includes physicists at LMU has developed a new method with which to characterize the ultrafast oscillation of the electrical fields associated with light.

New facility to revolutionize particle accelerators now in operation

A new facility that could pave the way for a future generation of particle colliders and powerful light sources has turned on at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Operating as a DOE user facility, FACET-II is the only facility in the world capable of providing high-energy electron and positron beams for researching a vast array of revolutionary accelerator technologies that could shrink future accelerators by factors of 100 to 1,000 and sharpen their capabilities.

Record high values of peak power with picosecond generators

Powerful picosecond generators are in demand in various fields of experimental electrophysics to produce ultrashort electron beams and X-ray pulses in vacuum diodes and to form runaway electron flows in gases.

New method uses noise to make spectrometers more accurate

Optical spectrometers are instruments with a wide variety of uses. By measuring the intensity of light across different wavelengths, they can be used to image tissues or measure the chemical composition of everything from a distant galaxy to a leaf. Now researchers at the UC Davis Department of Biomedical Engineering have come up a with a new, rapid method for characterizing and calibrating spectrometers, based on how they respond to "noise."

Astronomy and Space news

Radio observations detect new brown dwarf

Using the Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR) radio telescope, an international team of astronomers has discovered a new radio source that turns out to be a cold brown dwarf. The object, designated BDR 1750+3809, is so far the first radio-selected brown dwarf, which proves that such sources can be also directly identified by sensitive wide-area radio surveys. The finding is reported in a paper published October 5 on arXiv.org.

New research suggests innovative method to analyse the densest star systems in the Universe

In a recently published study, a team of researchers led by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav) at Monash university suggests an innovative method to analyse gravitational waves from neutron star mergers, where two stars are distinguished by type (rather than mass), depending on how fast they're spinning.

Modeling temperature variation on distant stars

New research is helping to explain one of the big questions that has perplexed astrophysicists for the past 30 years—what causes the changing brightness of distant stars called magnetars.

Simulations reveal that rocky super-Earths with thin atmospheres are often protected by a Jupiter-like planet

An international group of astronomers, led by Martin Schlecker of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, has found that the arrangement of rocky, gaseous and icy planets in planetary systems is apparently not random and depends on only a few initial conditions. The study, which will appear in the scientific journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, is based on a new simulation that tracks the evolution of planetary systems over several billion years. Planetary systems around sun-like stars, which produce in their inner regions super-Earths with low water and gas content, very often form a planet comparable to our Jupiter on an outer orbit. Such planets help to keep potentially dangerous objects away from the inner regions.

The mountains of Pluto are snowcapped, but not for the same reasons as on Earth

In 2015, the New Horizons space probe discovered spectacular snowcapped mountains on Pluto, which are strikingly similar to mountains on Earth. Such a landscape had never before been observed elsewhere in the Solar System. However, as atmospheric temperatures on our planet decrease at altitude, on Pluto they heat up at altitude as a result of solar radiation.

The puzzle of the strange galaxy made of 99.9% dark matter is solved

At present, the formation of galaxies is difficult to understand without the presence of a ubiquitous, but mysterious component, termed dark matter. Astronomers have measure how much dark matter there is around galaxies, and have found that it varies between 10 and 300 times the quantity of visible matter. However, a few years ago, the discovery of a very diffuse object, named Dragonfly 44, changed this view. It was found that this galaxy has 10,000 times more dark matter than the stars. Taken back by this finding, astronomers have made efforts to see whether this object is really anomalous, or whether something went wrong in the analysis of the observations. Now we have the answer.

This mysterious 'exotic stellar peacock' may open the door to a realm of physics only ever glimpsed

An astronomical discovery is shedding new light on an exquisitely formed star system in our own Milky Way galaxy, featuring two Wolf-Rayet stars. These stars are short-lived and consequently very rare, with only a few hundred confirmed among our galaxy's one hundred billion or so stars.

Demonstrator masters flight sequences for reusable rocket stages

A crucial part of rocket reusability is a smooth return and landing. ESA has helped Romania's National Institute for Aerospace Research, INCAS, to demonstrate vertical takeoff, short hovering and landing maneuvers using a small-scale flight demonstrator.

Scientists develop detector for investigating the Sun

Researchers from MIPT have developed a prototype detector of solar particles. The device is capable of picking up protons at kinetic energies between 10 and 100 megaelectronvolts, and electrons at 1-10 MeV. This covers most of the high-energy particle flux coming from the Sun. The new detector can improve radiation protection for astronauts and spaceships, as well as advancing our understanding of solar flares. The research findings are reported in the Journal of Instrumentation.

Two SwRI experiments fly aboard Blue Origin's new Shepard suborbital rocket

Two Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) experi-ments were aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard suborbital rocket today, which launched from Van Horn, Texas. The Box of Rocks Experiment II (BORE II) tested a new technology for magnetically attaching to and sampling asteroids. The second experi-ment evaluated a tapered liquid acquisition device (LAD) designed to safely deliver liquid propellant to a rocket engine from fuel tanks.

Bezos' Blue Origin conducts successful test flight for tourism rocket

Blue Origin, the US space company founded by billionaire Jeff Bezos, succeeded Tuesday in its latest test flight of its rocket aimed at one day taking tourists to space, even as the date of the first crewed launch remains unclear.

NASA announces eight-nation space coalition under 'Artemis Accords'

NASA announced on Tuesday that eight countries have signed an international agreement called the Artemis Accords that outlines the principles of future exploration of the Moon and beyond.

Technology news

A framework to increase the safety of robots operating in crowded environments

Humans are innately able to adapt their behavior and actions according to the movements of other humans in their surroundings. For instance, human drivers may suddenly stop, slow down, steer or start their car based on the actions of other drivers, pedestrians or cyclists, as they have a sense of which maneuvers are risky in specific scenarios.

Advanced driver-assistance systems found to be susceptible to split-second flash phantoms

A team of researchers at Ben Gurion University of the Negev has found that at least two advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) are susceptible to responding to split-second flash phantoms. The group has written a paper describing their research and posted it on their blog. They are also scheduled to give a presentation at this year's virtual ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security.

Making disorder for an ideal battery

The lithium batteries that power electronic devices and electric vehicles have a number of drawbacks. The electrolyte—the medium that enables electrons and positive charges to move between the electrodes—is a flammable liquid. What's more, lithium is a limited resource that has become the focus of major geopolitical issues. Specialists in crystallography at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) have developed a non-flammable, solid electrolyte that operates at room temperature. It transports sodium, which is found everywhere on Earth, instead of lithium. It's a winning combination that also means it is possible to manufacture batteries that are more powerful. The properties of these ideal batteries would be based on the crystalline structure of the electrolyte, a hydroborate consisting of boron and hydrogen. The UNIGE research team has published a study in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science containing the strategy for manufacturing solid electrolytes intended for battery developers.

Researcher explains benefits of using geotagged content in research

In a recent commentary published in the journal Nature Human Behavior, UB geographic information science expert Yingjie Hu and colleague Ruo-Qian Wang wrote about how Twitter's decision to remove users' ability to tag the precise locations of tweets might affect research in disaster response, public health and other areas.

Alphabet's X lab announces "Mineral" project to increase sustainable food production

Alphabet's X lab, formerly a Google division, has announced via blog post that it has formally named its newest "moonshot" project Mineral. The project will be geared toward using new and novel methods to increase sustainable food production. Alphabet X has also set up a web page outlining the goals of the project.

Easy-to-make, ultra-low power electronics could charge out of thin air

Researchers have developed a new approach to printed electronics which allows ultra-low power electronic devices that could recharge from ambient light or radiofrequency noise. The approach paves the way for low-cost printed electronics that could be seamlessly embedded in everyday objects and environments.

New deep learning models: Fewer neurons, more intelligence

Artificial intelligence has arrived in our everyday lives—from search engines to self-driving cars. This has to do with the enormous computing power that has become available in recent years. But new results from AI research now show that simpler, smaller neural networks can be used to solve certain tasks even better, more efficiently, and more reliably than ever before.

Microsoft targets malware vendor Trickbot amid US election fears

Microsoft said Monday it had taken down malware vendor Trickbot in an effort to thwart attempts to meddle with the upcoming US presidential election.

Earphone tracks facial expressions, even with a face mask

Cornell researchers have invented an earphone that can continuously track full facial expressions by observing the contour of the cheeks—and can then translate expressions into emojis or silent speech commands.

The distance local energy goes to bring power to the people

,When you go to the grocery store, you can look at an apple and know if it was grown in Chile, Washington or somewhere closer to you by a quick glance at its sticker. But consumers have largely been in the dark when it comes to energy, and how far it has traveled to reach them.

Want to wait less at the bus stop? Beware real-time updates

Smartphone apps that tell commuters when a bus will arrive at a stop don't result in less time waiting than reliance on an official bus route schedule, a new study suggests.

Winners and losers of energy transition

Accounting for multiple social aims other than costs is critical for transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable electricity. A new study by UNIGE proposes a viable compromise.

TetGen 1.6 Release: new version of the successful mesh generator

Electromagnetic fields in magnetic resonance imaging, groundwater flows, charge carriers in semiconductors and numerous further spatially distributed physical processes have one thing in common: they can be modeled by means of partial differential equations. The solution for such complex mathematical equations can usually not be obtained as a mathematical formula. Therefore, computer-based approximation methods are applied. In order to calculate these, the respective spatial domain must be divided in an intelligent way into a finite number of simple subdomains (e.g. tetrahedra).

Machine learning predicts how long museum visitors will engage with exhibits

In a proof-of-concept study, education and artificial intelligence researchers have demonstrated the use of a machine-learning model to predict how long individual museum visitors will engage with a given exhibit. The finding opens the door to a host of new work on improving user engagement with informal learning tools.

Modeling organic-field effect transistors with a molecular resolution

Field-effect transistors are key components of sensors, electrical circuits, and data storage devices. The transistors used to date have been mainly based on inorganic semiconductors such as silicon. More recently, organic materials have emerged, with semiconducting properties that have allowed the fabrication of organic field-effect transistors (OFETs). The use of organic components as the device active layer brings promising features such as easy processing and low cost. In addition to their device functionalities, OFETs have also developed into an important platform in the basic characterization of organic semiconductors, as they are now established as a useful tool to measure charge-carrier mobilities. Thus, providing a comprehensive description of OFET device performance becomes a key step in furthering the development of these devices and designing more efficient organic semiconductors. At the core of these investigations lie the device models, which provide the relationships between the measured current densities and the semiconducting properties of the organic materials. Needless to say, it is imperative that these OFET device models be accurate and reliable.

Measuring the elusive qualities of flame to inform hypersonic engine design

An "air-breathing" hypersonic engine is elegant in its simplicity.

Wearable IT devices: Dyeing process gives textiles electronic properties

"Our goal was to integrate interactive functionalities directly into the fibers of textiles instead of just attaching electronic components to them," says J├╝rgen Steimle, computer science professor at Saarland University. In his research group on human-computer interaction at Saarland Informatics Campus, he and his colleagues are investigating how computers and their operation can be integrated as seamlessly as possible into the physical world. This includes the use of electro-interactive materials.

China's quiet experiment to let millions roam the real internet

In a quiet experiment of just two weeks, China provided millions of people access to long-forbidden foreign websites like YouTube and Instagram. The trial appears to signal the Communist government is moving toward giving the country's citizens greater access to the global internet - while still attempting to control who sees what.

Developing intelligent cameras that can learn

Intelligent cameras could be one step closer thanks to a research collaboration between the Universities of Bristol and Manchester who have developed cameras that can learn and understand what they are seeing.

Disney revamps itself to emphasize streaming

Disney announced Monday a reorganization of its media and entertainment business that aims to further boost its streaming service, which has boomed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hunting for unicorns: Japan start-ups see hope on horizon

Hampered by cautious investors and a rigid corporate culture, Japan has produced just a handful of major start-ups. But there are signs that could be changing, industry insiders say.

Stir-crazy 'passengers' gobble up tickets to dine on parked Singapore jets

Tarmac meals have become an unlikely hit for coronavirus-battered Singapore Airlines, with hundreds of "passengers" paying the equivalent of a budget ticket just to dine inside grounded A380 jumbos.

US investigates fire reports in Chevy Bolt electric vehicles

The U.S. government's road safety agency is investigating complaints that the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle can catch fire.

Lightweight, bendy, cheaper – the promise of organic solar panels

Today's silicon solar panels are an industry standard, but these rigid, heavy blocks may be shunted aside by plastic rivals—lightweight, flexible solar panels that could be printed and stuck onto buildings or placed in windows or cars, turning light into electricity in locations inaccessible to their heavier cousins.

Apple joins 5G revolution with four new iPhones for fast networks

Apple joined the move to 5G on Tuesday, unveiling four new iPhones which use the new standard in what could be a turning point for the high-speed wireless technology.

Boeing's struggles continue: No jetliner sales in September

Boeing failed to sell any airline planes last month and suffered more cancellations of a grounded jetliner, further evidence of the company's battle to overcome a drop in air travel during the pandemic and crashes involving the 737 Max.

Ikea to buy back used furniture to reduce waste

Ikea, the world's largest furniture chain, said Tuesday it would begin buying back used furniture from customers to resell—and pay up to 50 percent of the original price.

Holiday shopping gets early start with October Prime Day

Halloween is still weeks away, but retailers are hoping you'll start your holiday shopping now.


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