Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Nov 4

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for November 4, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Teaching AI agents to communicate and act in fantasy worlds

Detection of a short, intense radio burst in Milky Way

Early big-game hunters of the Americas were female, researchers suggest

Using quantum properties of light to transmit information

Supersonic winds, rocky rains forecasted on lava planet

Crown-of-thorns eat themselves out of house and home

New species of ancient cynodont, 220 million years old, discovered

Gentoo penguins are four species, not one, say scientists

Death from below: the first video of a parasitic wasp attacking caterpillar underwater

3-D print experts discover how to make tomorrow's technology using ink-jet printed graphene

Lion genetics study uncovers major consequences of habitat fragmentation

Scientists develop method to detect charge traps in organic semiconductors

'Monster tumors' could offer new glimpse at human development

New technique extends next-generation lithium metal batteries

Psychedelic treatment with psilocybin relieves major depression, study shows

Physics news

Using quantum properties of light to transmit information

Researchers at the University of Rochester and Cornell University have taken an important step toward developing a communications network that exchanges information across long distances by using photons, mass-less measures of light that are key elements of quantum computing and quantum communications systems.

Scientists develop method to detect charge traps in organic semiconductors

Scientists at Swansea University have developed a very sensitive method to detect the tiny signatures of so called 'charge traps' in organic semiconductors.

Moiré lattices used to induce formation of optical solitons

A team of researchers from China, Spain, Russia and Portugal has developed a way to use Moiré lattices to optically induce and highlight the formation of optical solitons under different geometrical conditions. In their paper published in the journal Nature Photonics, the group describes their work, which involved using photorefractive nonlinear media as a means of localizing laser light into tight spots.

Scientists generate realistic storm turbulence in the laboratory

Turbulence is an omnipresent phenomenon—and one of the great mysteries of physics. A research team from the University of Oldenburg in Germany has now succeeded in generating realistic storm turbulence in the wind tunnel of the Center for Wind Energy Research (ForWind).

Scientists manipulate the properties of quantum dots

Scientists at the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI (MEPhI) have demonstrated an increase in the intensity and emission rate of quantum dots. According to the authors of the study, the development could help to solve one of the key problems in creating a quantum computer and elevate biomedical monitoring to a new level. The research results were published in Optics Express.

A transportable antiproton trap to unlock the secrets of antimatter

The BASE collaboration at CERN has bagged more than one first in antimatter research. For example, it made the first ever more precise measurement for antimatter than for matter, it kept antimatter stored for a record time of more than a year, and it conducted the first laboratory-based search for an interaction between antimatter and a candidate particle for dark matter called the axion. Now, the BASE team is developing a device that could take antimatter research to new heights—a transportable antiproton trap to carry antimatter produced at CERN's Antimatter Decelerator (AD) to another facility at CERN or elsewhere, for higher-precision antimatter measurements. These measurements could uncover differences between matter and antimatter.

Astronomy and Space news

Detection of a short, intense radio burst in Milky Way

New data from a Canadian-led team of astronomers, including researchers from the McGill Space Institute and McGill University Department of Physics, strongly suggest that magnetars—a type of neutron star believed to have an extremely powerful magnetic field—could be the source of some fast radio bursts (FRBs). Though much research has been done to explain the mysterious phenomenon, their source has thus far remained elusive and the subject of some debate.

Supersonic winds, rocky rains forecasted on lava planet

Among the most extreme planets discovered beyond the edges of our solar system are lava planets: fiery hot worlds that circle so close to their host star that some regions are likely oceans of molten lava. According to scientists from McGill University, York University, and the Indian Institute of Science Education, the atmosphere and weather cycle of at least one such exoplanet is even stranger, featuring the evaporation and precipitation of rocks, supersonic winds that rage over 5000 km/hr, and a magma ocean 100 km deep.

NASA contacts Voyager 2 using upgraded Deep Space Network dish

On Oct. 29, mission operators sent a series of commands to NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft for the first time since mid-March. The spacecraft has been flying solo while the 70-meter-wide (230-foot-wide) radio antenna used to talk to it has been offline for repairs and upgrades. Voyager 2 returned a signal confirming it had received the "call" and executed the commands without issue.

Flash of luck: Astronomers find cosmic radio burst source

A flash of luck helped astronomers solve a cosmic mystery: What causes powerful but fleeting radio bursts that zip and zigzag through the universe?

Ripples in the pond of magnetic field reconnection

The majority of the visible matter in the Universe consists of charged particles or plasmas which may develop magnetic field reconnection (MR) at the places where the magnetic field direction exhibits abrupt change. Through the MR the magnetic field energy may effectively be transferred into the kinetic and thermal energies of plasmas, resulting in many explosive plasma phenomena occurring on the Sun, planetary and pulsar magnetospheres, and even blackholes.

FAST helps reveal the origin of fast radio bursts

Researchers from Beijing Normal University, Peking University and National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) found that there is weak correlation between fast radio bursts (FRBs) and soft gamma-ray repeater J1935+2145 (SGRs). The study was published in Nature on Nov. 4.

How will Starlink's packet routing work?

SpaceX's Starlink satellite cluster has been receiving much headline space recently as it continues adding satellites at a breathtaking pace. Much of this news coverage has focused on how it's impacting amateur skygazers and how it could benefit people in far-flung regions. But technical details do matter, and over on Casey Handmer's blog, there was a recent discussion of one of the most important aspects of how Starlink actually operates—what will it do with its data?

A 4G network on the moon is bad news for radio astronomy

As you drive down the road leading to Jodrell Bank Observatory, a sign asks visitors to turn off their mobile phones, stating that the Lovell telescope is so powerful it could detect a phone signal on Mars.

Tel Aviv University builds and plans to launch a small satellite into orbit

The TAU-SAT1 nanosatellite, approximately the size of a shoebox, is currently undergoing pre-flight testing at the Japanese space agency JAXA prior to a planned launch by NASA in the first quarter of 2021. TAU-SAT1 was entirely devised, developed, assembled, and tested at Tel Aviv University's Nanosatellite Center, an interdisciplinary endeavor of the University's Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering, Raymond & Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences, and Porter School of Environmental Studies.

Astronauts and explorers on Mars could eat lab-grown steaks

Growing meat without the need to grow a whole animal has been the dream of agriculturalists and foodies everywhere for decades. More and more companies are jumping on the bandwagon to recreate the experience of eating meat without the downsides so often associated with its creation. One of those companies is Aleph Farms, based in Israel, which just announced its newest program—Aleph Zero, an effort to grow meat in industrial quantities in space.

Technology news

Teaching AI agents to communicate and act in fantasy worlds

In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) tools, including natural language processing (NLP) techniques, have become increasingly sophisticated, achieving exceptional results in a variety of tasks. NLP techniques are specifically designed to understand human language and produce suitable responses, thus enabling communication between humans and artificial agents.

New technique extends next-generation lithium metal batteries

Electric vehicles (EVs) hold great promise for our energy-efficient, sustainable future but among their limitations is the lack of a long-lasting, high energy density battery that reduces the need to fuel up on long-haul trips. The same is true for houses during blackouts and power grid failures—small, efficient batteries able to power a home for more than one night without electricity don't yet exist. Next-generation lithium batteries that offer lightweight, long-lasting, and low-cost energy storage could revolutionize the industry but there have been a host of challenges that have prevented successful commercialization.

Computer scientist researches interpretable machine learning, develops AI to explain its discoveries

Artificial intelligence helps scientists make discoveries, but not everyone can understand how it reaches its conclusions. One UMaine computer scientist is developing deep neural networks that explain their findings in ways users can comprehend, applying his work to biology, medicine and other fields.

Researchers recover 75,000 'deleted' files from pre-owned USB drives

Highly sensitive tax returns, contracts and bank statements were among 75,000 "deleted" files recovered by cybersecurity researchers as part of an Abertay University investigation into the risks of selling used USB drives over the internet.

Researchers discover a new way to produce hydrogen using microwaves

A team of researchers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) has discovered a new method that makes it possible to transform electricity into hydrogen or chemical products solely using microwaves—without cables and without any type of contact with electrodes. This represents a revolution in the field of energy research and a key development for the process of industrial decarbonisation, as well as for the future of the automotive sector and the chemical industry, among many others. The study has been published in the latest edition of Nature Energy, where the discovery is explained.

Divide and conquer: Modular controller design strategy makes upgrading power grids easier

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) develop a novel approach for the modular design of controllers for large-scale network systems. Their strategy, which provides a completely decentralized method to design controllers for subsystems of a larger whole, could be readily applied in power grids, greatly simplifying the task of sequentially upgrading individual subdivisions while ensuring stability and performance.

Ant Group's shock IPO suspension hammers Alibaba shares

China's shock, last–minute decision to suspend the record-breaking IPO of fintech giant Ant Group hammered shares of founder Jack Ma's e-commerce titan Alibaba on Wednesday and left investors reeling.

Where are our self-driving cars?

Tesla recently made headlines with the beta launch of its Full Self-Driving system. That system comes with a disclaimer saying, "It may do the wrong thing at the worst time, so you must always keep your hands on the wheel and pay extra attention to the road."

Sensor technology aims to help US cities extend the life of aging pipelines

Like most major U.S. cities, Detroit has a problem lurking beneath its streets—an outdated water and sewer pipeline system in need of replacement or a safe means of extending its lifespan.

Gig economy lives on after California passes Uber-led referendum

The so-called "gig economy" survived a key test in Tuesday's election as California voters approved a referendum backed by ride-hailing giants such as Uber which preserves the use of contractor-drivers and potentially opens the door to wider adoption of that model.

Survey finds poor internet service a deterrent to rural living

When the COVID-19 pandemic settled in for the long haul, and people were no longer tethered to an office building, or even a town, some of them looked to the hills.

Water-energy nanogrid provides solution for rural communities lacking basic amenities

Researchers at Texas A&M University have come up with an economical, green solution that can help underprivileged communities with their water and electricity needs.

Could your smartwatch help detect the next COVID-19 outbreak? Scientists think so

A new study by scientists at Scripps Research describes a tool that could help public health officials spot and contain COVID-19 outbreaks.

Dutch government backs KLM bailout after pilots agree to pay cut

The Dutch government on Tuesday approved a multi-billion-euro coronavirus bailout for struggling airline KLM after pilots agreed a five-year pay cut deal.

Uber-backed gig worker initiative wins in California: US media

California voters have put the brakes on a state law that threatened to disrupt the "gig economy", or the use of smartphone apps to connect people with paying tasks such as providing rides or fetching take-away meals.

Jack Ma: ebullient billionaire and totem of China's rise

Jack Ma, the ebullient and unconventional billionaire founder of tech giant Alibaba, now finds himself battling the ignominy of having the world's biggest-ever IPO halted days before its launch by Chinese regulators.

'Mom and pop' investors dismayed by China's scrapping of Ant IPO

Hong Kong's "mom and pop" investors had been looking forward to an instant jackpot via Ant Group's record-busting $34 billion IPO. Instead, China's shock suspension of the listing has left them baffled and angry.

Turkey fines social media giants for breaching online law

Turkey has issued fines against global social media companies for failing to appoint a representative to ensure they conform to Turkish law, a senior official said Wednesday.

AI system predicts election results via analysis of Twitter posts

Scientists from the University of Granada have applied artificial intelligence techniques to the analysis of huge volumes of data from Twitter, during the previous U.S. election campaign to create a political forecasting system


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