Science X Newsletter Friday, Nov 6

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for November 6, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A molecular shift register that can be controlled by external charges

Large-area flexible organic photodiodes can compete with silicon devices

Past is key to predicting future climate, scientists say

Global-scale animal ecology reveals behavioral changes in response to climate change

Earliest example of a rapid-fire tongue found in 'weird and wonderful' extinct amphibians

Applying particle physics methods to quantum computing

'Electronic skin' promises cheap and recyclable alternative to wearable devices

Seeing dark matter in a new light

After election: making the endangered species act more effective

World's fastest open-source intrusion detection is here

Clay subsoil at Earth's driest place may signal life on Mars

Reducing global food system emissions key to meeting climate goals

New research on imposter stars may improve astronomical data

Dust travelled thousands of miles to enrich Hawaiian soils

Shifts in water temperatures affect eating habits of larval tuna at critical life stage

Physics news

Applying particle physics methods to quantum computing

Borrowing a page from high-energy physics and astronomy textbooks, a team of physicists and computer scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has successfully adapted and applied a common error-reduction technique to the field of quantum computing.

Scientists work to shed light on Standard Model of particle physics

As scientists await the highly anticipated initial results of the Muon g-2 experiment at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, collaborating scientists from DOE's Argonne National Laboratory continue to employ and maintain the unique system that maps the magnetic field in the experiment with unprecedented precision.

Scientists and students publish blueprints for a cheaper single-molecule microscope

A team of scientists and students from the University of Sheffield has designed and built a specialist microscope, and shared the build instructions to help make this equipment available to many labs across the world.

Anti-hacking based on the circular polarization direction of light

The Internet of Things (IoT) allowing smart phones, home appliances, drones and self-driving vehicles to exchange digital information in real time requires a powerful security solution, as it can have a direct impact on user safety and assets. A solution for IoT security that has been is a physical unclonable function (PUF) that can supplement software-based key security vulnerable to various attack or physical attack.

Researchers develop nonlinearity-induced topological insulator

Researchers from the University of Rostock have developed a novel type of nonlinear photonic circuitry in which intense light beams can define their own path and, in doing so, render themselves impervious to external perturbations. This discovery was recently published in the renowned journal Science.

Explaining gravity without string theory

For decades, most physicists have agreed that string theory is the missing link between Einstein's theory of general relativity, describing the laws of nature at the largest scale, and quantum mechanics, describing them at the smallest scale. However, an international collaboration headed by Radboud physicists has now provided compelling evidence that string theory is not the only theory that could form the link. They demonstrated that it is possible to construct a theory of quantum gravity that obeys all fundamental laws of physics, without strings. They described their findings in Physical Review Letters last week.

Researchers demonstrate a superconductor previously thought impossible

Superconductivity is a phenomenon in which an electric circuit loses its resistance and becomes extremely efficient under certain conditions. There are different ways in which this can happen, which were thought to be incompatible. For the first time, researchers have discovered a bridge between two of these methods to achieve superconductivity. This new knowledge could lead to a more general understanding of the phenomenon, and one day to applications.

A new candidate material for quantum spin liquids

In 1973, physicist and later Nobel laureate Philip W. Anderson proposed a bizarre state of matter: the quantum spin liquid (QSL). Unlike the everyday liquids we know, the QSL actually has to do with magnetism—and magnetism has to do with spin.

Investigating optical activity under an external magnetic field

Optical activity in chiral molecules has become a hot topic in physics and optics, representing the ability to manipulate the polarized state of light. Understanding how molecules rotate the plane of plane-polarized light has widespread applications, from analytic chemistry to biology and medicine—where it can, for example, be used to detect the amount of sugar in a substance. A new study published in EPJ B by Chengping Yin of the Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Quantum Engineering and Quantum Materials, South China, aims to derive an analytical model of optical activity in black phosphorous under an external magnetic field.

Astronomy and Space news

Seeing dark matter in a new light

A small team of astronomers have found a new way to 'see' the elusive dark matter haloes that surround galaxies, with a new technique 10 times more precise than the previous-best method. The work is published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Clay subsoil at Earth's driest place may signal life on Mars

Earth's most arid desert may hold a key to finding life on Mars.

New research on imposter stars may improve astronomical data

Quick flashes of light in the night sky have been linked to the growing mass of satellites and debris zipping around Earth's orbit.

Virgin Galactic plans 1st New Mexico space launch this month

Virgin Galactic said Thursday that it expects to launch its first manned test flight into space from New Mexico this month.

Has the hidden matter of the universe been discovered?

Astrophysicists consider that around 40% of the ordinary matter that makes up stars, planets and galaxies remains undetected, concealed in the form of a hot gas in the complex cosmic web. Today, scientists at the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale (CNRS/Université Paris-Saclay) may have detected, for the first time, this hidden matter through an innovative statistical analysis of 20-year-old data. Their findings are published on November 6, 2020 in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Astronomers discover clues that unveil the mystery of fast radio bursts

Fast radio bursts, or FRBs—powerful, millisecond-duration radio waves coming from deep space outside the Milky Way Galaxy—have been among the most mysterious astronomical phenomena ever observed. Since FRBs were first discovered in 2007, astronomers from around the world have used radio telescopes to trace the bursts and look for clues on where they come from and how they're produced. 

Feeding a galaxy's nuclear black hole

A galactic bar is the approximately linear structure of stars and gas that stretches across the inner regions of some galaxies. The bar stretches from one inner spiral arm, across the nuclear region, to an arm on the other side. Found in about half of spiral galaxies, including the Milky Way, bars are thought to funnel large amounts of gas into the nuclear regions, with profound consequences for the region including bursts of star formation and the rapid growth of the supermassive black hole at the center. Quasars, for example, have been suggested as one result of this kind of activity. Eventually, however, feedback from such energetic events (supernovae, for example) terminates the inflow and stalls the black hole's growth. How bars and gas inflows form and evolve are not well understood—galaxy mergers are thought to play a role—nor are the physical properties of galactic nuclei that are still actively accumulating gas. A serious difficulty is that dust in the dense material around the nucleus is opaque to optical radiation and, depending in part on the geometry, can obscure observations. Infrared and submillimeter wavelength measurements that can peer through the dust offer the best way forward.

Final dance of unequal black hole partners

Solving the equations of general relativity for colliding black holes is no simple matter.

Hubble launches large ultraviolet-light survey of nearby stars

Stars are not created equal. They span a broad range of sizes, ages, and temperatures from diminutive red, cool, low-mass stars to opulent blue, hot, massive stars. Our Sun is roughly midway between these populations. Because stars are the universe's LEGO blocks for building immense galaxies, astronomers are always seeking a much better understanding of their birth and death. Stars' behavior over their lifespan relates to everything from planets to the formation and evolution of galaxies.

Playing detective on a galactic scale: Huge new dataset will solve multiple Milky Way mysteries

How do stars destroy lithium? Was a drastic change in the shape of the Milky Way caused by the sudden arrival of millions of stellar stowaways?

Sol 2931: Mars Hand Lens Imager instrument acquires image

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity acquired this image using its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on the turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm, on November 3, 2020, Sol 2931 of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission, at 15:21:13 UTC.

Time transfer performance of BDS-3 satellites improved

Time transfer technology based on navigation satellites started in the 1980s. The conventional common view (CV), all-in-view (AV) and precise point positioning (PPP) time comparison methods based on global navigation satellite system (GNSS) satellites have been widely used in remote and high-precision time comparison activities.

Technology news

A molecular shift register that can be controlled by external charges

In recent years, electronics engineers have been trying to create molecular-scale electronics, new types of devices that use single molecules. In order for these devices to work, however, scientists first need to identify effective methods to tune the electronic properties of molecular arrays, which has so far proved to be fairly challenging.

Large-area flexible organic photodiodes can compete with silicon devices

The performance of flexible large-area organic photodiodes has advanced to the point that they can now offer advantages over conventional silicon photodiode technology, particularly for applications such as biomedical imaging and biometric monitoring that require detecting low levels of light across large areas.

'Electronic skin' promises cheap and recyclable alternative to wearable devices

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder are developing a wearable electronic device that's "really wearable"—a stretchy and fully-recyclable circuit board that's inspired by, and sticks onto, human skin.

World's fastest open-source intrusion detection is here

Intrusion detection systems are the invisible intelligence agencies in computer networks. They scan every packet of data that is passed through the network, looking for signs of any one of the tens of thousands of different types of cyberattacks they're aware of.

When algorithmic fairness fixes fail: The case for keeping humans in the loop

Attempts to fix clinical prediction algorithms to make them fair also make them less accurate.

Australia constructing giant 300-megawatt battery

Australia is poised to construct one of the world's largest batteries, using Tesla's technology for lithium-ion batteries. The football-field sized battery will provide up to 300 megawatts of power output and 450 megawatts-hours of storage in a country that has been struggling to meet energy demands during skyrocketing power usage triggered by record-breaking temperatures. Last year, Australia suffered its hottest and driest year ever, with temperatures topping 121 degrees Fahrenheit last December.

Policy, not tech, spurred Danish dominance in wind energy: study

In emerging renewable energy industries, are producers' decisions to shut down or upgrade aging equipment influenced more by technology improvements or government policies?

US seizes $1 bn in bitcoin connected to Silk Road

The US has seized more than $1 billion worth of bitcoin connected to the Silk Road criminal syndicate, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

Video games breakout to record-setting levels as a perfect stay-at-home pastime amid coronavirus pandemic

Video games are playing a big part in helping people cope during the coronavirus pandemic.

Wait, more iPhone 12s are coming? Get ready for iPhone 12 Pro Max, plus the Xbox, PS5 and HomePod Mini

The world's largest iPhone goes on sale Friday for pre-order customers, and if you're thinking, wait a minute, didn't the new iPhones go on sale in October, you didn't read the fine print.

Toyota ramps up full-year forecasts as sales recover

Toyota on Friday almost doubled its full-year forecasts, saying sales and production were recovering quickly from the coronavirus pandemic, which has shredded the global auto market this year.

Uber's food delivery business outshines core rides service

Uber's food delivery business brought in more money during the third quarter than its signature rides business, showing just how much consumer behavior has changed—and how far the company has adapted—since the pandemic struck.

Diversity, streaming reshape video games for a new generation

In the quarter of a century since Sony launched the groundbreaking PlayStation, video games have exploded into the biggest form of entertainment in the world, and analysts say the growing diversity of billions of players is reshaping the industry.

WhatsApp takes on Google, Alibaba in India's phone payment battle

WhatsApp on Friday entered an increasingly tense battle between multinational giants such as Google and Alibaba for a chunk of India's fast growing digital payments market.

Could PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X be swansong for consoles?

The upcoming release of a ninth generation of video game consoles by Sony and Microsoft is set to be a sales slam dunk with consumers seeking entertainment during pandemic confinement, but could it also be their swansong as the habits of gamers change?

TikTok owner ByteDance eyes asset listings in Hong Kong: report

ByteDance, the Chinese parent of viral video platform TikTok, is in talks to raise $2 billion from investors before a possible listing of some of its businesses in Hong Kong, according to a report.

The heat transport ability of lithium-ion battery cathodes is much lower than previously determined

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers proved that the heat transport ability of lithium-ion battery cathodes is much lower than previously determined, a finding that could help explain barriers to increasing energy storage capacity and boosting performance.

New insights into 3-D printing of spacers and membranes for water treatment

3-D printing has seen great advancements in various aspects over the past few decades, and many industries have witnessed innovative breakthroughs in their respective fields. Amongst them, the water treatment industry in particular has reaped the benefits of 3-D printing. High performance spacers and membranes can be fabricated by 3-D printing technologies, and they help increase production while minimizing energy consumption in purification processes.

Fortnite could soon return to Apple iPhones: report

The popular Fortnite videogame could be restored to Apple mobile devices through a gaming program that runs on a browser, allowing it to evade a ban by Apple amid a dispute over fees, the BBC reported.

EasyJet in talks with German govt for virus aid

British budget carrier EasyJet is in talks with the German government for aid to manage the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, its CEO said Thursday in an interview with a German business magazine.

DJI's new Mini II drone is light and cute

The DJI Mini was the best-selling drone ever for DJI, which dominates drone sales.

Singapore Airlines suffers record loss as virus hits aviation

Singapore Airlines on Friday reported a record net loss for its fiscal second quarter as the carrier continued to reel from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on global air travel.

Rolls-Royce UK staff strike over possible Singapore switch

Staff at a factory in northwest England run by engines maker Rolls-Royce on Friday began a three-week strike over the possible relocation of operations to Singapore, the British aerospace giant confirmed.

The problem of selling Quibi: How marketing exposed division at the streamer

Shortly after Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman launched Quibi on April 6, it was clear something needed to change. The company had sold itself as the next big media brand but consumers were not taking the bait. App downloads were dropping fast and the name Quibi—which stands for "quick bites"—had become a running joke online.

Video platforms tested as election misinformation runs rampant

Amid an intense effort by social media platforms to curb misinformation around the US election, political operatives were finding loopholes in YouTube and other video platforms.


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