Science X Newsletter Monday, Jan 11

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for January 11, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

The demonstration of exchange bias switching in antiferromagnet/ferromagnet structure

Understanding origins of Arizona's Sunset Crater eruption of 1,000 years ago

Scientists discover bizarre new mode of snake locomotion

Self‐folding 3-D photosensitive graphene architectures

Eight binary millisecond pulsars examined by researchers

Galaxy mergers could limit star formation

Team creates hybrid chips with processors and memory to run AI on battery-powered devices

Inspired by kombucha tea, engineers create 'living materials'

New nanostructured alloy for anode is a big step toward revolutionizing energy storage

Robot displays a glimmer of empathy to a partner robot

'Galaxy-sized' observatory sees potential hints of gravitational waves

Neuroscientists identify brain circuit that encodes timing of events

Engineers' reactor converts gas directly into acetic acid

Megalodons gave birth to large newborns that likely grew by eating unhatched eggs in womb

Big differences in how coral reef fish larvae are dispersed

Physics news

Transition metal 'cocktail' helps make brand new superconductors

Researchers from Tokyo Metropolitan University mixed and designed a new, high-entropy alloy (HEA) superconductor, using extensive data on simple superconducting substances with a specific crystal structure. HEAs are known to preserve superconducting characteristics up to extremely high pressures. The new superconductor, Co0.2Ni0.1Cu0.1Rh0.3Ir0.3Zr2, has a superconducting transition at 8K, a relatively high temperature for an HEA. The team's approach may be applied to discovering new superconducting materials with specific desirable properties.

A charge-density-wave topological semimetal

Topological materials are characterized by unique electronic and physical properties that are determined by the underlying topology of their electronic systems. Scientists from the Max Planck Institutes for Microstructure Physics (Halle) and for Chemical Physics of Solids (Dresden) have now discovered that (TaSe4)2I is the first material in which a charge density wave induces a phase transition between the semimetal to insulator state.

Researchers acquire 3-D images with LED room lighting and a smartphone

As LEDs replace traditional lighting systems, they bring more smart capabilities to everyday lighting. While you might use your smartphone to dim LED lighting at home, researchers have taken this further by tapping into dynamically controlled LEDs to create a simple illumination system for 3-D imaging.

Researchers report quantum-limit-approaching chemical sensing chip

University at Buffalo researchers are reporting an advancement of a chemical sensing chip that could lead to handheld devices that detect trace chemicals—everything from illicit drugs to pollution—as quickly as a breathalyzer identifies alcohol.

There's no way to measure the speed of light in a single direction

Special relativity is one of the most strongly validated theories humanity has ever devised. It is central to everything from space travel and GPS to our electrical power grid. Central to relativity is the fact that the speed of light in a vacuum is an absolute constant. The problem is, that fact has never been proven.

Scientists synthesize an unusual superconducting barium superhydride

A group of scientists from Russia, China and the United States predicted and then experimentally obtained barium superhydrides, new unusual superconductors. The study was published in Nature Communications.

A new approach to film atoms and molecules vibrating inside solids

Theoretical and experimental scientists have come together to watch solids vibrate.

Unique study incorporates fluid dynamics and more to evaluate, enhance future implants

Rice University engineers hope to make life better for those with replacement joints by modeling how artificial hips are likely to rub them the wrong way.

Scientists unveil latest femtosecond laser

Would you like to capture a chemical transformation inside a cell live? Or maybe revolutionize microchips' production by printing paths in a layer that has a thickness of just 100 nanometers? These and many other goals can now be achieved with the latest femtosecond laser created by a team of scientists led by Dr. Yuriy Stepanenko.

Astronomy and Space news

Eight binary millisecond pulsars examined by researchers

Using the Arecibo 305-m radio telescope, an international team of astronomers has investigated eight binary millisecond pulsars (MSPs). Results of this study, presented in a paper published December 30 on the arXiv pre-print server, provide important information about the properties of these sources.

Galaxy mergers could limit star formation

Astronomers have looked nine billion years into the past to find evidence that galaxy mergers in the early universe could shut down star formation and affect galaxy growth.

'Galaxy-sized' observatory sees potential hints of gravitational waves

Scientists have used a "galaxy-sized" space observatory to find possible hints of a unique signal from gravitational waves, or the powerful ripples that course through the universe and warp the fabric of space and time itself.

Coronal holes during the solar maximum

Sunspots were first seen by Galileo, and in the eighteenth century Rudolf Wolf concluded from his study of previous observations that there was a roughly eleven-year solar cycle of activity. In 1919 the astronomer George Ellery Hale found a new solar periodicity, the twenty-two year solar magnetic cycle which is composed of two eleven-year cycles and today is referred to as the Hale cycle. The eleven-year cycle is a complex dynamo process in which the sun's twisted magnetic fields flip to the opposite direction as the result of the combinatin of the sun's differential rotation and the convection in its atmosphere. Then, after a second cycle, the original polarity is recovered.

Researchers perform largest-ever supersonic turbulence simulation

Early astronomers painstakingly studied the subtle movements of stars in the night sky to try and determine how our planet moves in relation to other celestial bodies. As technology has increased, so has the understanding of how the universe works and our relative position within it.

Unveiling the double origin of cosmic dust in the distant Universe

Two billion years after the Big Bang, the Universe was still very young. However, thousands of huge galaxies, rich in stars and dust, were already formed. An international study, led by SISSA—Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati, now explains how this was possible. Scientists combined observational and theoretical methods to identify the physical processes behind their evolution and, for the first time, found evidence for a rapid growth of dust due to a high concentration of metals in the distant Universe. The study, published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, offers a new approach to investigate the evolutionary phase of massive objects.

Researchers find Mars has a Chandler wobble

A combined team of researchers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology and the Royal Observatory of Belgium, has found evidence that Mars has a Chandler wobble. In their paper published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the group describes their study of decades of data from Mars probes and what it showed them.

Measurements of pulsar acceleration reveal Milky Way's dark side

It is well known that the expansion of the universe is accelerating due to a mysterious dark energy. Within galaxies, stars also experience an acceleration, though this is due to some combination of dark matter and the stellar density. In a new study to be published in Astrophysical Journal Letters researchers have now obtained the first direct measurement of the average acceleration taking place within our home galaxy, the Milky Way. Led by Sukanya Chakrabarti at the Institute for Advanced Study with collaborators from Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Rochester, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the team used pulsar data to clock the radial and vertical accelerations of stars within and outside of the galactic plane. Based on these new high-precision measurements and the known amount of visible matter in the galaxy, researchers were then able to calculate the Milky Way's dark matter density without making the usual assumption that the galaxy is in a steady-state.

Image: Hubble views a dazzling 'fireworks galaxy'

The galaxy NGC 6946 is nothing short of spectacular. In the last century alone, NGC 6946 has experienced 10 observed supernovae, earning its nickname as the Fireworks Galaxy. In comparison, our Milky Way averages just one to two supernova events per century. This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows the stars, spiral arms, and various stellar environments of NGC 6946 in phenomenal detail.

NASA extends exploration for two planetary science missions

As NASA prepares to send astronauts back to the Moon and on to Mars, the agency's quest to seek answers about our solar system and beyond continues to inform those efforts and generate new discoveries. The agency has extended the missions of two spacecraft, following an external review of their scientific productivity.

Image: Cosmic neon lights

This image shows a new type of star that has never been seen before in X-ray light. This strange star formed after two white dwarfs—remnants of stars like our sun—collided and merged. But instead of destroying each other in the event, the white dwarfs formed a new object that shines bright in X-ray light.

Technology news

The demonstration of exchange bias switching in antiferromagnet/ferromagnet structure

The identification of effective methods to manipulate both magnetization and exchange bias in thin antiferromagnet/ferromagnet films could facilitate the development of new types of spintronic devices. Magnetization switching could be achieved by inducing a phenomenon called spin-orbit torque (SOT) in a heavy metal layer adjacent to these films. However, so far, this design strategy has proved difficult to combine with both exchange bias switching and tunneling magnetoresistance measurements.

Team creates hybrid chips with processors and memory to run AI on battery-powered devices

Smartwatches and other battery-powered electronics would be even smarter if they could run AI algorithms. But efforts to build AI-capable chips for mobile devices have so far hit a wall—the so-called "memory wall" that separates data processing and memory chips that must work together to meet the massive and continually growing computational demands imposed by AI.

Robot displays a glimmer of empathy to a partner robot

Like a longtime couple who can predict each other's every move, a Columbia Engineering robot has learned to predict its partner robot's future actions and goals based on just a few initial video frames.

Accelerating AI computing to the speed of light

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are already an integral part of our everyday lives online. For example, search engines such as Google use intelligent ranking algorithms, and video streaming services such as Netflix use machine learning to personalize movie recommendations.

We wouldn't be able to control superintelligent machines

We are fascinated by machines that can control cars, compose symphonies, or defeat people at chess, Go, or Jeopardy! While more progress is being made all the time in Artificial Intelligence (AI), some scientists and philosophers warn of the dangers of an uncontrollable superintelligent AI. Using theoretical calculations, an international team of researchers, including scientists from the Center for Humans and Machines at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, shows that it would not be possible to control a superintelligent AI.

Diffractive networks improve optical image classification accuracy

Recently, there has been a reemergence of interest in optical computing platforms for artificial intelligence-related applications. Optics is ideally suited for realizing neural network models because of the high speed, large bandwidth and high interconnectivity of optical information processing. Introduced by UCLA researchers, Diffractive Deep Neural Networks (D2NNs) constitute such an optical computing framework, comprising successive transmissive and/or reflective diffractive surfaces that can process input information through light-matter interaction. These surfaces are designed using standard deep learning techniques in a computer, which are then fabricated and assembled to build a physical optical network. Through experiments performed at terahertz wavelengths, the capability of D2NNs in classifying objects all-optically was demonstrated. In addition to object classification, the success of D2NNs in performing miscellaneous optical design and computation tasks, including e.g., spectral filtering, spectral information encoding, and optical pulse shaping have also been demonstrated.

Team expands power grid planning to improve system resilience

In most animal species, if a major artery is cut off from the heart, the animal will struggle to survive. The same can be said for many of our critical infrastructure systems, such as electric power, water and communications. They are networked systems with vulnerable connections.

Analytical measurements can predict organic solar cell stability

North Carolina State University-led researchers have developed an analytical measurement "framework" which could allow organic solar cell researchers and manufacturers to determine which materials will produce the most stable solar cells prior to manufacture.

Massive US tech show becomes a digital event

A digital version of the Consumer Electronics Show kicked off Monday, showcasing technology innovations from around the world as the pandemic has people relying on gadgets and the internet in their daily lives.

China's Geely, Baidu announce electric car ventures

Chinese automaker Geely says it will form an electric car venture with tech giant Baidu, adding to a flurry of corporate tie-ups in the industry to share soaring technology development costs.

Building a testing-free future

It's common sense: when you write software, you check your work. Testing is a carryover solution from all the other tools we've engineered throughout history, and it's a cornerstone of quality software design. And yet, as a standalone approach, testing is lacking: it's time consuming, it's labor and resource intensive, and most importantly it's extremely difficult to do exhaustively, leaving deployed software susceptible to unexpected inputs and behaviors.

With new tech, DARPA aims for night-vision goggles the size and weight of regular eyeglasses

For decades U.S. warfighters have benefitted from advanced night-vision technology, allowing pilots to fly low-level missions on pitch-black nights and ground forces to conduct operations against adversaries in the dark. But current night-vision goggle (NVG) technology requires cumbersome binocular-like optics mounted on a helmet, offering limited field of view (FOV) and putting unhealthy strain on the wearer's neck. Building on recent scientific advances in photonics and optical materials pioneered in DARPA's Defense Sciences Office (DSO), a new effort seeks to develop next-generation NVGs that are as lightweight and compact as a pair of regular eyeglasses or sunglasses.

Solar technology with the beauty of butterfly wings

Photovoltaic and solar thermal systems are not always considered aesthetically enhancing to a building. The colored modules, however, being developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE are refreshingly challenging this perspective. Inspired by the phenomen that causes the shimmerings shades of blue or green of the wings of the morpho butterfly, the underlying mechanism of spectrally selective reflectance allows the finished modules to be a homogenously uniform color. Whether you want gorgeous bright tones or more subdued grays it is possible to design the solar module color to enhance or blend with the building to which the module will be mounted. These colorful modules will be exhibited at the next BAU trade fair.

CES 2021: Hologram technology inspired by 'Star Wars' could bring 'new dimension' to smartphones

The original "Star Wars," a movie later subtitled "A New Hope," inspired generations of filmmakers and other creators.

Five ways to manage your screen time in a lockdown, according to tech experts

The average daily time spent online by adults increased by nearly an hour during the UK's spring lockdown when compared to the previous year, according to communications regulator Ofcom. With numerous countries back under severe pandemic restrictions, many of us once again find ourselves questioning whether our heavy reliance on technology is impacting our wellbeing.

Core design strategy for fire-resistant batteries

All-solid-state batteries are next-generation batteries that can simultaneously improve the stability and capacity of existing lithium batteries. The use of non-flammable solid cathodes and electrolytes in such batteries considerably reduces the risk of exploding or catching fire under high temperatures or external impact and facilitates high energy density, which is twice that of lithium batteries. All-solid-state batteries are expected to become a game changer in the electric vehicle and energy storage device markets. Despite these advantages, the low ionic conductivity of solid electrolytes combined with their high interfacial resistance and rapid deterioration reduce battery performance and life, thus limiting their commercialization.

Ford takes 2 of 3 North American vehicle of the year awards

Ford Motor Co.'s new electric Mustang Mach E is the North American Utility Vehicle of the Year, and the company's F-150 pickup won truck honors from a group of auto journalists.

Ford, Toyota face US production slowdown over semiconductor shortage

Toyota and Ford said on Monday they will slow down or even stop production at US factories as the auto industry grapples with a shortage of vital computer chips.

Turkey probes WhatsApp-Facebook data sharing

Turkey's competition authority on Monday opened an investigation into WhatsApp's decision to share more of its user data with its parent company Facebook.

Ready for smart bathrooms? Kohler unveils app-controlled bathtub

In a Kohler future, you step into a bathtub controlled by an app and use a toilet or sink without ever touching it with your hands.

Conservative website Parler forced offline: web trackers

The conservative social network Parler was forced offline Monday, tracking websites showed, after Amazon warned the company would lose access to its servers for its failure to properly police violent content.

This year's CES show: Still must-see technology, but done virtually

Bigger TVs, mobile electronics, automobile technology, digital health, privacy—and, of course—robots.

Toilet paper, patio heaters and surgical gloves: Amazon vendors hiked prices on pandemic items, report says

Amazon vendors doubled prices last year on 136 products considered essential for consumers, health providers and small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report.

What is Gab, the social network gaining popularity among conservatives?

As Apple and Google crack down on the social media app Parler, conservatives appear to be flocking to another app that claims to "champion free speech."

Ford says to close its factories in Brazil

Carmaker Ford said Monday it would close its factories in Brazil this year as the impacts of the coronavirus epidemic hammered sales in Latin America.

Conservative social network Parler sues Amazon over web shutdown

The social platform Parler sued Amazon on Monday after the tech giant's web division forced the conservative-friendly network offline for failing to rein in incitements to violence.

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