Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Nov 10

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for November 10, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Study finds that lovers perform better than random pairs in collaborative creative tasks

Bioinspired metagel with broadband tunable impedance matching

Making 3-D nanosuperconductors with DNA

New extremely variable quasar discovered

Gastrointestinal-resident, shape-changing microdevices for extended drug delivery

Mining rocks in orbit could aid deep space exploration

Researchers model source of eruption on Jupiter's moon Europa

Radioactive elements may be crucial to the habitability of rocky planets

Microbe 'rewiring' technique promises a boom in biomanufacturing

Researchers develop DNA approach to forecast ecosystem changes

Researchers isolate and decode brain signal patterns for specific behaviors

Large, delayed outbreaks of endemic diseases possible following COVID-19 controls

Analysis of Trump's tweets reveals systematic diversion of the media

New research identifies 'triple trouble' for mangrove coasts

Chemicals in your living room cause diabetes

Physics news

Bioinspired metagel with broadband tunable impedance matching

Impedance matching is a concept that can maximize energy transmission from a source through a media, and is established across electrical, acoustic and optical engineering. It is frequently necessary to match a load impedance to the source or internal impedance of a driving source. The existing design to facilitate acoustic impedance matching is fundamentally limited by narrowband transmission (data transfer with a slow or small transfer rate). In a new report now published on Science Advances, Erqian Dong and a research team in China and the U.S. detailed a previously unknown class of bioinspired metagel impedance transformers to bypass the existing limits, by developing a transformer embedded in a metamaterial matrix of steel cylinders within hydrogel. The team then theoretically analyzed broadband transmission after introducing bioinspired acoustic impedance (the product of the density of porous media through which a sound wave travels and the velocity of the sound wave) and conducted experiments with the device to show efficient implementation of the metagel during underwater ultrasound detection experiments. The experimental construct maintained a soft, tunable composition and will pave a new and unexpected way to design next-generation broadband impedance matching devices for diverse wave-engineering applications.

Improving high-energy lithium-ion batteries with carbon filler

Lithium-ion batteries are the major rechargeable power source for many portable devices as well as electric vehicles, but their use is limited, because they do not provide high power output while simultaneously allowing reversible energy storage. Research reported in Applied Physics Reviews aims to offer a solution by showing how the inclusion of conductive fillers improves battery performance.

New airflow videos show why masks with exhalation valves do not slow the spread of COVID

Many people wear masks in public to slow the spread of COVID-19, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, masks with exhalation valves do not slow the spread of the disease, and now, new videos from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) show why.

Plasma treatments quickly kill coronavirus on surfaces

Researchers from UCLA believe using plasma could promise a significant breakthrough in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

Blue whirl flame structure revealed with supercomputers

Lightning struck a bourbon warehouse, setting fire to a cache of 800,000 gallons of liquor in the Bardstown countryside of Kentucky in 2003. Some of it spilled into a nearby creek, spawning a massive fire tornado, or 'bourbonado,' as reported locally.

Sticky electrons: When repulsion turns into attraction

Materials can assume completely different properties depending on temperature, pressure, electrical voltage or other physical quantities. In theoretical solid-state physics, state-of-the-art computer models are used to understand these properties in detail. Sometimes this works well, but sometimes strange effects occur that still seem puzzling—such as phenomena linked to high-temperature superconductivity.

Physicists produce world's first neutron-rich, radioactive tantalum ions

An international team of scientists have unveiled the world's first production of a purified beam of neutron-rich, radioactive tantalum ions. This development could now allow for lab-based experiments on exploding stars helping scientists to answer long-held questions such as "where does gold come from?"

Black hole or no black hole: On the outcome of neutron star collisions

A new study lead by GSI scientists and international colleagues investigates black-hole formation in neutron star mergers. Computer simulations show that the properties of dense nuclear matter play a crucial role, which directly links the astrophysical merger event to heavy-ion collision experiments at GSI and FAIR. These properties will be studied more precisely at the future FAIR facility. The results have now been published in Physical Review Letters. With the award of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for the theoretical description of black holes and for the discovery of a supermassive object at the center of our galaxy, the topic currently also receives a lot of attention.

Scientists uncover secrets to designing brain-like devices

Even with decades of unprecedented development in computational power, the human brain still holds many advantages over modern computing technologies. Our brains are extremely efficient for many cognitive tasks and do not separate memory and computing, unlike standard computer chips.

Astronomy and Space news

New extremely variable quasar discovered

By analyzing data from astronomical surveys, Japanese astronomers have detected a new, extremely variable quasi-stellar object (QSO), or quasar. The newly found object, designated SDSS J125809.31+351943.0, brightened in optical band for 4.0 mag over three decades, which means that it was one of the largest quasar brightening events so far recorded. The finding is reported in a paper published November 3 on arXiv.org.

Mining rocks in orbit could aid deep space exploration

The first mining experiments conducted in space could pave the way for new technologies to help humans explore and establish settlements on distant worlds, a study suggests.

Researchers model source of eruption on Jupiter's moon Europa

On Jupiter's icy moon Europa, powerful eruptions may spew into space, raising questions among hopeful astrobiologists on Earth: What would blast out from miles-high plumes? Could they contain signs of extraterrestrial life? And where in Europa would they originate? A new explanation now points to a source closer to the frozen surface than might be expected.

Radioactive elements may be crucial to the habitability of rocky planets

The amount of long-lived radioactive elements incorporated into a rocky planet as it forms may be a crucial factor in determining its future habitability, according to a new study by an interdisciplinary team of scientists at UC Santa Cruz.

Physicists propose using atomic clocks of GPS network to detect exotic ultralight fields

A team of physicists from the U.S., Poland and Germany proposes to use quantum sensor networks such as atomic clocks of the GPS network or sensors from the Gnome collaboration (a network of shielded atomic magnetometers made up of 13 stations placed strategically on four continents—each of which is equipped with a magnetometer that has sub-picotesla sensitivity) to detect exotic ultralight fields (ELDs). In their paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy, the group describes theoretical calculations to predict the types of signals that might make up ELDs and how they might be detected.

Perseverance rover is 100 days out

Mark your calendars: The agency's latest rover has only about 8,640,000 seconds to go before it touches down on the Red Planet, becoming history's next Mars car.

The universe is getting hot, hot, hot, a new study suggests

The universe is getting hotter, a new study has found.

SEOSAT-Ingenio sealed from view

As preparations for the launch of SEOSAT-Ingenio continue on schedule, the team at Europe's spaceport in Kourou have bid farewell to the satellite as it was sealed inside the rocket fairing. The spacecraft is currently scheduled to launch on the evening of Monday 16 November/morning of Tuesday 17 November.

Independent review indicates NASA prepared for Mars sample return campaign

NASA released an independent review report Tuesday indicating the agency is well positioned for its Mars Sample Return (MSR) campaign to bring pristine samples from Mars to Earth for scientific study. The agency established the MSR Independent Review Board (IRB) to evaluate its early concepts for a groundbreaking, international partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) to return the first samples from another planet.

Transmitting data from space to earth with laser filaments

Could light be used to transmit information between satellites and Earth? Atmospheric water vapor scatters and absorbs light energy, but overcome that obstacle, and light will carry far more information and move it faster than the radio waves we currently rely on. A new research project, supported by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, proposes to use the properties of light itself to punch a pathway for data through the clouds.

Technology news

Machine learning advances materials for separations, adsorption and catalysis

An artificial intelligence technique—machine learning—is helping accelerate the development of highly tunable materials known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) that have important applications in chemical separations, adsorption, catalysis, and sensing.

Smart devices to schedule electricity use may prevent blackouts

Power plants generate electricity and send it into power lines that distribute energy to nodes, or sites, where it can be used. But if the electricity load is more than the system's capacity, transmission can fail, leading to a cascade of failures throughout the electric grid.

Skills development in Physical AI could give birth to lifelike intelligent robots

The research suggests that teaching materials science, mechanical engineering, computer science, biology and chemistry as a combined discipline could help students develop the skills they need to create lifelike artificially intelligent (AI) robots as researchers.

Researchers speed power grid simulations using AI

Most modern phones and cars are programmed to "learn" from their environment—sounds, facial features, and even common driving routes. Patterns of recognition allow these systems to accurately predict and suggest preferred options in the blink of an eye.

Concurrent sharing of an avatar body by two individuals in virtual reality

The COVID-19 crisis has led to a significant increase in the use of cyberspace, enabling people to work together at distant places and interact with remote environments and individuals by embodying virtual avatars or real avatars such as robots. However, the limits of avatar embodiment are not clear. Furthermore, it is not clear how these embodiments affect the behaviors of humans.

Magnetic FreeBOT balls make giant leap for robotics

A unique type of modular self-reconfiguring robotic system has been unveiled. The term is a mouthful, but it basically refers to a robotic enterprise that can construct itself out of modules that connect to one another to achieve a certain task.

Electrifying growth of renewables despite pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic may have dealt a blow to energy demand but growth of renewables in the electric power sector has continued at a record pace, an IEA report said Tuesday.

Chinese shoppers splurge in world's largest shopping fest

Chinese consumers are expected to spend tens of billions on everything from fresh food to luxury goods during this year's Singles' Day online shopping festival, as the country recovers from the pandemic.

New Xbox hits stores, launching holiday season console war

Microsoft's new Xbox console hit stores worldwide Tuesday, kicking off a holiday season battle with Sony's latest PlayStation model, as the coronavirus pandemic creates unprecedented gaming demand around the world.

Catching the number 1: Aberdeen trials hydrogen buses

The Scottish city of Aberdeen enjoyed a boom after the discovery of oil in the North Sea in the 1960s, propelling it to a central role in the industry.

EU files antitrust charges against Amazon over use of data

European Union regulators filed antitrust charges Tuesday against Amazon, accusing the e-commerce giant of using its access to data from companies that sell products on its platform to gain an unfair advantage over them.

Solar perovskite production on a roll

High-performance perovskite solar cells are made using a manufacturing-friendly liquid-based process suitable for roll to roll production.

Ford adding 350 jobs at 2 plants to make electric vehicles

Ford plans to add 350 jobs at two factories to meet expected demand for electric vehicles that haven't gone on sale yet.

Taiwan processor chip maker to set up $3.5 billion U.S. arm

A Taiwanese maker of processor chips for Apple Inc. and other customers plans to invest $3.5 billion to set up its second U.S. manufacturing site amid American concern about relying too heavily on sources in Asia for high-tech components.

Creating 3-D virtual replicas of all-solid-state batteries

We live in a battery-powered world, and as electronics steadily permeate its every corner, the need to find robust batteries grows increasingly important. Today, most devices run on lithium-ion batteries; and while these are generally safe, sometimes they have been known to catch fire or explode.

Double patterns could advance Android device security

Researchers have found that using multiple patterns to unlock an Android phone provides significantly more security than the current single-pattern method, and, in some cases, may be more secure than the four- and six-digit PIN unlocking method commonly used on Apple devices.

Researchers develop open-source tool to check for data leakage from AI systems

Many smartphone applications, such as speech-to-text program and Google Assistant, are powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Companies also use AI to improve marketing strategies, recommend products and services to users, or even generate predictions about possible health risks for patients.

Walmart teams with GM to test autonomous deliveries

Walmart is teaming up with the General Motors' autonomous vehicle unit to test driverless delivery in Arizona.

Apple unveils first Macs built to run more like iPhones

Apple is rolling out new Mac computers powered by the same kind of chips that run iPhones and iPads, a move aimed at making it easier for its most popular products to work together.

EU agrees on tighter rules for surveillance tech exports

The European Union on Monday agreed to tighten up rules for the sale and export of cybersurveillance technology.

Big Tech welcomes Biden presidency, but battles loom

Silicon Valley is welcoming the election of Joe Biden as US president even as it girds for a series of battles over tech policy in Washington.

How hybrid electric and fuel aircraft could green air travel

With air traffic set to increase 5% every year until 2030, scientists are looking at how to make aeroplanes more sustainable. But with current batteries making electric aircraft far too heavy, hybrid fuel and electric models could point the way forward for greener air travel—and could become airborne within 15 years.

India anti-trust watchdog probes Google's payment app

India's anti-trust watchdog has ordered a probe into Google's payments app over allegations the tech giant is abusing its market dominance.

Accurate, faster hydraulics models for safer drilling for oil and gas

Ph.D. candidate Mohammad Hossein Abbasi of the TU/e Department of Mathematics and Computer Science has developed numerical tools to support the safer, cheaper and more efficient drilling of deep wells for exploitation of natural resources. His models are accurate enough for virtual drilling scenario testing and drilling automation, and speed up simulations up to 70 times.

Boeing sees more cancelled orders as MAX nears return

Boeing said Tuesday it was hit with another 12 cancelled orders for the 737 MAX, as the flagship aircraft is close to returning to the skies after being grounded since March 2019 following two deadly crashes.

EU move vs Amazon is latest in string of tech crackdowns

The European Union's move to charge Amazon over alleged antitrust behavior is the bloc's latest crackdown on U.S. tech giants. Here's a look at enforcement actions taken by the EU's competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, in recent years.


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