Science X Newsletter Thursday, Oct 29

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

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Directly observing intracellular nanoparticle formation with nano-computed tomography

Study investigates symbiotic recurrent nova V3890 Sgr

Touch and taste? It's all in the tentacles: Researchers uncover how the sensors in octopus suction cups work

Spring-run and fall-run Chinook salmon aren't as different as they seem

Study of ancient dog DNA traces canine diversity to the Ice Age

Ancient marine predator had a built-in float

Red coating contaminates SpaceX rockets, delays crew launch

Black hole 'family portrait' is most detailed to date

Why people with dementia go missing

Graphene-based memory resistors show promise for brain-based computing

New 'epigenetic' clock provides insight into how the human brain ages

Face mask aims to deactivate virus to protect others

Brain imaging of tau protein in patients with various forms of dementia

4.5-bil­lion-year-old ice on comet 'fluffi­er than cap­puc­ci­no froth'

Stronger treatments could cure Chagas disease

Physics news

Bumper crop of black holes in new gravitational wave paper

Only a few years ago, scientists the world over celebrated as the first-ever gravitational waves were detected—confirming a long-held scientific theory and opening up an entirely new field of research.

Researchers find direction decided by rate of coin flip in quantum world

Flip a coin. Heads? Take a step to the left. Tails? Take a step to the right. In the quantum world? Go in both directions at once, like a wave spreading out. Called the 'walker analogy,' this random process can be applied in both classical and quantum algorithms used in state-of-the-art technologies such as artificial intelligence and data search processes. However, the randomness also makes the walk difficult to control, making it more difficult to precisely design systems.

World's record entanglement storage sets up a milestone for Quantum Internet Alliance

Researchers from Sorbonne University in Paris have achieved a highly efficient transfer of quantum entanglement into and out of two quantum memory devices. This achievement brings a key ingredient for the scalability of a future quantum internet.

Density fluctuations in amorphous silicon discovered

For the first time, a team at HZB has identified the atomic substructure of amorphous silicon with a resolution of 0.8 nanometres using X-ray and neutron scattering at BESSY II and BER II. Such a-Si:H thin films have been used for decades in solar cells, TFT displays, and detectors. The results show that three different phases form within the amorphous matrix, which dramatically influences the quality and lifetime of the semiconductor layer.

A new method to measure optical absorption in semiconductor crystals

Tohoku University researchers have revealed more details about omnidirectional photoluminescence (ODPL) spectroscopy—a method for probing semiconducting crystals with light to detect defects and impurities.

Identifying biomolecule fragments in ionising radiation

When living cells are bombarded with fast, heavy ions, their interactions with water molecules can produce randomly scattered 'secondary' electrons with a wide range of energies. These electrons can then go on to trigger potentially damaging reactions in nearby biological molecules, producing electrically charged fragments. So far, however, researchers have yet to determine the precise energies at which secondary electrons produce certain fragments. In a new study published in EPJ D, researchers in Japan led by Hidetsugu Tsuchida at Kyoto University define for the first time the precise exact ranges in which positively and negatively charged fragments can be produced.

Scientists launch quest to develop quantum sensors for probing quantum materials

When it comes to fully understanding the hidden secrets of quantum materials, it takes one to know one, scientists say: Only tools that also operate on quantum principles can get us there.

Researchers form ultra-strong coupling between photons and atoms

ITMO University researchers have demonstrated that individual atoms can be transformed into polaritons—quantum particles that are a mixture of matter and light, which are transmitted via optical fibers. In this new state of matter, photons and atoms form ultra-strong coupling for the first time. The results of this research can be used to control the properties of light and matter and to create quantum memory. The paper is published in Physical Review Letters.

Assessing the viability of small modular nuclear reactors

Small modular nuclear reactors could provide nuclear power to small communities and rural areas currently served by environmentally damaging fossil fuel energy-sources. Assessing the potential of these reactors means keeping one eye on the past, with another fixed firmly in thefuture.

Astronomy and Space news

Study investigates symbiotic recurrent nova V3890 Sgr

Using India's AstroSat space observatory and ESA's XMM-Newton spacecraft, astronomers have carried out X-ray observations of a symbiotic recurrent nova known as V3890 Sgr during its outburst in 2019. Results of this study, available in a paper published October 22 on arXiv.org, shed more light on the properties of this source.

Red coating contaminates SpaceX rockets, delays crew launch

SpaceX's second astronaut flight is off until mid-November because red lacquer dripped into tiny vent holes in two rocket engines that now must be replaced.

Black hole 'family portrait' is most detailed to date

An international research collaboration including Northwestern University astronomers has produced the most detailed family portrait of black holes to date, offering new clues as to how black holes form. An intense analysis of the most recent gravitational-wave data available led to the rich portrait as well as multiple tests of Einstein's theory of general relativity. (The theory passed each test.)

4.5-bil­lion-year-old ice on comet 'fluffi­er than cap­puc­ci­no froth'

After years of detective work, scientists working on the European Space Agency (ESA) Rosetta mission have now been able to locate where the Philae lander made its second and penultimate contact with the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 12 November 2014, before finally coming to a halt 30 metres away. This landing was monitored from the German Aerospace Center Philae Control Center. Philae left traces behind; the lander pressed its top side and the housing of its sample drill into an icy crevice in a black rocky area covered with carbonaceous dust. As a result, Philae scratched open the surface, exposing ice from when the comet was formed that had been protected from the Sun's radiation ever since. The bare, bright icy surface, the outline of which is somewhat reminiscent of a skull, has now revealed the contact point, researchers write in the scientific publication Nature.

Study shows comets impacted start of life on earth

The Big Bang may have started the universe, but it's likely that littler bangs played a key role in life on Earth, say Albion College Physics Professor Nicolle Zellner and Chemistry Professor Vanessa McCaffrey. They (along with former student Jayden Butler, '17) share their fascinating findings on the interspace dispersal of glycolaldehyde (GLA) in an article recently published by the journal Astrobiology.

NASA's Webb to examine objects in the graveyard of the solar system

Beyond the orbit of Neptune, a diverse collection of thousands of dwarf planets and other relatively small objects dwells in a region called the Kuiper Belt. These often-pristine leftovers from our solar system's days of planet formation are called Kuiper Belt objects, or trans-Neptunian objects. NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope will examine an assortment of these icy bodies in a series of programs called Guaranteed Time Observations shortly after its launch in 2021. The goal is to learn more about how our solar system formed.

An Earth-sized rogue planet discovered in the Milky Way

Our galaxy may be teeming with rogue planets, gravitationally unbound to any star. An international team of scientists, led by Polish astronomers, has announced the discovery of the smallest Earth-sized free-floating planet found to date.

Where were Jupiter and Saturn born?

New work led by Carnegie's Matt Clement reveals the likely original locations of Saturn and Jupiter. These findings refine our understanding of the forces that determined our Solar System's unusual architecture, including the ejection of an additional planet between Saturn and Uranus, ensuring that only small, rocky planets, like Earth, formed inward of Jupiter.

Hubble finds 'Greater Pumpkin' galaxy pair

Sorry Charlie Brown, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is taking a peek at what might best be described as the "Greater Pumpkin," that looks like a Halloween decoration tucked away in a patch of sky cluttered with stars. What looks like two glowing eyes and a crooked carved smile is a snapshot of the early stages of a collision between two galaxies. The entire view is nearly 109,000 light-years across, approximately the diameter of our Milky Way.

An early dark energy model could solve an expanding cosmological conundrum

Much mystery surrounds dark energy and the cosmological constant, the proxies used to explain the accelerating expansion of the Universe. New research suggests that an early model of dark energy presents a competing theory that offers all the benefits of current models without the baggage that comes associated with the cosmological constant.

Measuring the expansion of the universe: The importance of measuring velocity

Ever since the astronomer Edwin Hubble demonstrated that the further apart two galaxies are, the faster they move away from each other, researchers have measured the expansion rate of the universe (the Hubble constant) and the history of this expansion. Recently, a new puzzle has emerged, as there seems to be a discrepancy between measurements of this expansion using radiation in the early universe and using nearby objects. Researchers from the Cosmic Dawn Center, at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, have now contributed to this debate by focusing on velocity measurements. The result has been published in Astrophysical Journal.

Violent cosmic explosion revealed by ALMA: The merging of massive protostars?

The phenomenon of molecular outflow was first discovered in the 1980's. Very high velocity motions were detected in the line wings of the carbon monoxide (CO) molecule, seen towards young forming stars. The high velocity motions obviously could not be gravitationally bound motions (such as infall or rotation) because of the required large gravitating masses. The first detections were in fact in the extremely bright CO lines in the center of the Orion nebulae, which were already seen when CO was first detected in the interstellar medium.

Citizen astronomers reshape asteroids from their backyard

There are nearly one million catalogued asteroids, but we don't know much about many of them. Now Unistellar and its scientific partner, the SETI Institute, can count on a network of nearly 3,000 amateurs capable of observing thousands of asteroids and providing an estimate of their size and shape. With mobile stations located in Asia, North America and Europe, the Unistellar network, the largest network of citizen astronomers, participates in cutting-edge research and has delivered its first scientific results including the 3-D shape model of an asteroid and the size of another one.

Asteroid samples tucked into capsule for return to Earth

A NASA spacecraft more than 200 million miles away has tucked asteroid samples into a capsule for return to Earth, after losing some of its precious loot, scientists said Thursday.

How many habitable planets are out there?

Thanks to new research using data from the Kepler space telescope, it's estimated that there could be as many as 300 million potentially habitable planets in our galaxy. Some could even be pretty close, with several likely within 30 light-years of our Sun. The findings will be published in The Astronomical Journal, and research was a collaboration of scientists from NASA, the SETI Institute, and other organizations worldwide.

How star formation is 'quenched' in galaxies

Galaxies die quickly—that is the conclusion of a new study that examines the mechanism that switches galaxies from an active star-forming phase to one of quiescence.

LIGO and Virgo announce 39 new gravitational wave discoveries during first half of third observing run

The LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration released a catalog of results from the first half of its third observing run (O3a), and scientists have detected more than three times as many gravitational waves than the first two runs combined. Gravitational waves were first detected in 2015 and are ripples in time and space produced by merging black holes and/or neutron stars. Several researchers from Rochester Institute of Technology's Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation (CCRG) were heavily involved in analyzing the gravitational waves and understanding their significance.

Asteroid Ryugu shaken by Hayabusa2's impactor

Professor Arakawa Masahiko (Graduate School of Science, Kobe University, Japan) and members of the Hayabusa2 mission discovered more than 200 boulders ranging from 30 cm to 6m in size, which either newly appeared or moved as a result of the artificial impact crater created by Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2's Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI) on April 5th, 2019. Some boulders were disturbed even in areas as far as 40m from the crater center. The researchers also discovered that the seismic shaking area, in which the surface boulders were shaken and moved an order of centimeters by the impact, extended about 30m from the crater center. Hayabusa2 recovered a surface sample at the north point of the SCI crater (TD2), and the thickness of ejecta deposits at this site were estimated to be between 1.0mm to 1.8 cm using a Digital Elevation Map (DEM).

Impact craters reveal details of Titan's dynamic surface weathering

Scientists have used data from NASA's Cassini mission to delve into the impact craters on the surface of Titan, revealing more detail than ever before about how the craters evolve and how weather drives changes on the surface of Saturn's mammoth moon.

Researchers reveal the origins of merging black holes

Over the past five years, astronomy has been revolutionised as scientists have used ripples in the fabric of spacetime, called gravitational waves, to reveal the secrets of the previously hidden world of black holes. Gravitational waves are created when two black holes merge in a cataclysmic release of energy, but until now, there were few clues as to how and why black holes merge.

Technology news

Local commuter train helps nuclear arms control researchers

With a new crisis seeming to dominate every news cycle, for now the threat of nuclear war has faded into the background of public attention. Yet the arsenals themselves have not vanished, and researchers at Princeton University are working to develop new methods to verify compliance with arms limitations treaties to help reduce the possible risk of a nuclear exchange.

Loon balloon breaks record for stratospheric flight duration—stays aloft for 312 days

Google parent Alphabet has announced that its Loon team has broken the record for the longest stratospheric flight duration, staying aloft for 312 consecutive days. The announcement was posted on the Loon blog, where the team also outlined the history of the project and its goals for the future.

New tool simplifies data sharing, preserves privacy

Meet Company X. Company X makes a popular product that lots of people—millions, in fact—use on a daily basis. One day, Company X decides it would like to improve some of the hardware in its product, which is manufactured by Vendor Y. To make these improvements, the company would need to share data with Vendor Y about how its customers use the product.

Breakthrough quantum-dot transistors create a flexible alternative to conventional electronics

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their collaborators from the University of California, Irvine have created fundamental electronic building blocks out of tiny structures known as quantum dots and used them to assemble functional logic circuits. The innovation promises a cheaper and manufacturing-friendly approach to complex electronic devices that can be fabricated in a chemistry laboratory via simple, solution-based techniques, and offer long-sought components for a host of innovative devices.

Samsung Electronics Q3 net profit leaps after Huawei boost

Samsung Electronics' net profit jumped by almost half in the third quarter, it reported Thursday, as the South Korean giant's mobile and chip businesses were boosted by US sanctions against Chinese rival Huawei.

US authorities warn of 'imminent' cyber threat to hospitals

US security authorities warned Wednesday of an "imminent cybercrime threat" to hospitals and healthcare providers, urging them to increase their protection.

Pumped hydro isn't our energy future, it's our past

It's now beyond dispute that—for new electricity generation—solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy are cheaper than anything else: cheaper than new coal fired power stations, cheaper than new gas-fired stations and cheaper than new nuclear power plants.

Australians have low trust in artificial intelligence and want it to be better regulated

Every day we are likely to interact with some form of artificial intelligence (AI). It works behind the scenes in everything from social media and traffic navigation apps to product recommendations and virtual assistants.

Researchers take a stand on algorithm design for job centers: Landing a job isn't always the right goal

Imagine that you are a job consultant. You are sitting across from your client, an unemployed individual.

New study shows trust levels in artificial intelligence predicted, boosted by people's relationship style

How likely you are to trust a self-driving car or advice from Siri?

Advanced facade material for urban heat island mitigation

A joint research team led by Asst. Prof. Jihui Yuan at the Dept. of Architecture and Civil Eng. of Toyohashi University of Technology, in collaboration with Osaka City University, has proposed two analytical models to evaluate the reflection directional characteristics of retro-reflective (RR) materials applied to building envelopes for urban heat island (UHI) mitigation, based on the measured data of optical experiments. It was shown that the predication result of the anisotropic body of rotation of the normal distribution function (AND) model is more accurate than that of the original analytical model.

Nokia doubles profit, pledges 'to win' at 5G

Finnish telecoms equipment maker Nokia more than doubled its profits in the third quarter as its new chief executive promised on Thursday to do "whatever it takes" to become the 5G market leader.

EU digital boss: New rules to curb big tech aim for fairness

The European Union is set to propose new laws to rein in the power of big tech companies, including measures to ensure customers are protected, smaller rivals are treated fairly, and illegal content is dealt with, the bloc's digital and antitrust chief said on Thursday.

Predictive model reveals function of promising energy harvester device

A small energy harvesting device that can transform subtle mechanical vibrations into electrical energy could be used to power wireless sensors and actuators for use in anything from temperature and occupancy monitoring in smart environments, to biosensing within the human body.

With robotaxis still a distant dream, lidar makes itself useful

The promise of self-driving cars and robotaxi fleets once seemed just around the corner, but reality is setting in. Makers of the underlying technology are pivoting to more realistic ways of making money in the here and now.

LinkedIn's new tool helps users make a career change through overlapping skills

LinkedIn launched a new tool aimed towards helping recently unemployed Americans make a career change.

Netflix shares rise as it lifts prices on US subscriptions

Shares of Netflix jumped Thursday after the streaming service raised prices in the US for two of its subscription offerings.

Amazon quarterly profit triples to $6.3 bn

Amazon said Thursday third-quarter profits tripled from a year ago on strong retail sales during the pandemic and growth in cloud computing.

Ford shares jump after strong 3Q profits

Ford reported a big jump in third-quarter profits Wednesday, pointing to strong sales in North America where large vehicles commanded generous prices amid tight inventories.

Marvell snags Inphi in yet another semiconductor tie-up

The pace of consolidation in the semiconductor industry continues to accelerate with Marvell Technology saying Thursday that it will pay $10.63 billion for Inphi in a cash-and-stock deal.

TikTok countersues rival video app Triller in patent defense

TikTok and its parent firm ByteDance have fired back in court against a patent lawsuit by rival video-sharing app Triller, in a move aimed at heading off infringement claims.

Tech giants report higher profits—some more than others

Five technology giants are reporting earnings Thursday, providing the latest indication of whether they are rebounding from an economic slowdown earlier this year.


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