Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Feb 17

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for February 17, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Lakes isolated beneath Antarctic ice could be more amenable to life than thought

A 'twisted elevator' could be key to understanding neurological diseases

Toward a disease-sniffing device that rivals a dog's nose

THYME project discovers a sub-Neptune exoplanet orbiting young star

World's oldest DNA reveals how mammoths evolved

Tactile avatar: Tactile sensing system mimicking human tactile cognition

Walking quadruped is controlled and powered by pressurized air

Researchers discover a new route to forming complex crystals

New Australian fossil lizard

CT scans of Egyptian mummy reveal new details about the death of a pivotal pharaoh

Electricity source determines benefits of electrifying China's vehicles

A new, clearer insight into Earth's hidden crystals

People with this muscle protein gene variant tolerate the cold better

Mentally ill kids become less healthy adults

Protein linked to Alzheimer's, strokes cleared from brain blood vessels

Physics news

Quantum collaboration gives new gravity to the mysteries of the universe

Scientists have used cutting-edge research in quantum computation and quantum technology to pioneer a radical new approach to determining how our Universe works at its most fundamental level.

Researchers develop tiny sensor for measuring subtle pressure changes inside the body

Researchers have developed an extremely sensitive miniaturized optical fiber sensor that could one day be used to measure small pressure changes in the body.

Astronomy and Space news

THYME project discovers a sub-Neptune exoplanet orbiting young star

Astronomers report the discovery of a new sub-Neptune exoplanet as part of the TESS Hunt for Young and Maturing Exoplanets (THYME) program. The newly found alien world, designated HD 110082 b, is about three times larger than the Earth and orbits a relatively young star. The finding is reported in a paper published February 11 on

Mars Relay Network connects Earth to NASA's robotic explorers

A tightly choreographed dance between NASA's Deep Space Network and Mars orbiters will keep the agency's Perseverance in touch with Earth during landing and beyond.

NASA's next Mars rover is ready for the most precise landing yet

What to expect when the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover arrives at the Red Planet on Feb. 18, 2021:

'7 minutes of terror': A look at the technology Perseverance will need to survive landing on Mars

This month has been a busy one for Mars exploration. Several countries sent missions to the red planet in June last year, taking advantage of a launch window. Most have now arrived after their eight-month voyage.

Evidence of Planet Nine diminishing as researchers find no evidence of clustering

An international team of researchers has found no evidence of trans-Neptunian object clustering as part of an effort to refute the idea of the existence of Planet Nine. The group has written a paper describing their findings and have uploaded it to the arXiv preprint server.

Russian cargo ship docks at International Space Station

An unmanned Russian cargo ship docked at the International Space Station Wednesday with a load of supplies.

This is what happens to spacecraft when they re-enter the Earth's atmosphere

When one of the Russian Progress resupply ships undocks from the International Space Station, timing is everything. The Progress needs to fire its engines at just the right time to instigate the deorbit burn in order for the ship to enter the atmosphere at just the right place so that its destructive re-entry occurs over the Pacific Ocean. That way, any potential surviving bits and pieces that might reach Earth will hit far away from any land masses—which are home to people, buildings, and other things we don't want to get bonked.

Life as we do not know it: Astrobiology and the Mars 2020 mission

Life as we know it has never been found anywhere in our solar system or universe, other than on Earth. But that does not necessarily mean it is not out there.

Europe is recruiting astronauts: Here's what it takes to become one

For the first time in 11 years, the European Space Agency (Esa) is recruiting new astronauts. Applications will open on the 31 March 2021 for eight weeks, followed by a six-stage selection process to identify the next generation of European astronauts.

Bosnia village with link to Mars enthralled by rover landing

Bosnian villagers are preparing to gather in front of a video screen in the yard of their community's only school to watch NASA's Mars rover attempt a difficult landing Thursday in a crater on the red planet named after their small village.

NASA rover attempting most difficult Martian touchdown yet

Spacecraft aiming to land on Mars have skipped past the planet, burned up on entry, smashed into the surface, and made it down amid a fierce dust storm only to spit out a single fuzzy gray picture before dying.

Falling to Earth takes a long time

Our planet's atmosphere reduces the energy of satellites in orbit (on Earth, this would be like reducing their speed, but in space, it's complex!). This then brings them back down to Earth.

Technology news

Tactile avatar: Tactile sensing system mimicking human tactile cognition

Tactile avatar is an artificial tactile perception and cognition system used as a surrogate for human tactile cognition with potential to produce smooth or soft and rough tactile sensations by its user. In a new report now published on Advanced Science, researchers used a piezoelectric tactile sensor to record varying physical information including pressure, temperature, hardness, sliding velocity and surface topography. In this work, Kyungsoo Kim and a team of scientists in information and communication engineering, neurology, brain and cognitive sciences in Korea engineered artificial tactile cognition by testing the tactile feelings of human participants to a variety of materials ranging from smooth or soft to rough. To account for the response variation among humans, Kim et al. designed a deep learning structure for personalization through training based on individualized histograms of tactile cognition while recording physical tactile information. The decision error of each avatar system was less than 2% for 42 different types of materials, where tactile data could be measured with 100 trials for each material. The tactile avatar machine categorized new experiences of materials based on the knowledge of the tactile training data to show a high correlation with the specific user's approach. The scientists intend to propose an advanced method with tactile emotional exchange capabilities for advanced digital experiences in electronic devices.

Walking quadruped is controlled and powered by pressurized air

Engineers at the University of California San Diego have created a four-legged soft robot that doesn't need any electronics to work. The robot only needs a constant source of pressurized air for all its functions, including its controls and locomotion systems.

Power outages across the Plains: 4 questions answered about weather-driven blackouts

Editor's note: Amid record cold temperatures and skyrocketing energy demand, utilities across the central U.S. have ordered rolling blackouts to ration electricity, leaving millions of people without power. Energy expert Michael E. Webber explains why weather extremes can require such extreme steps.

Underwater soft robot inspired by the brittle star

Soft robots are better suited to certain situations than traditional robots. When interacting with an environment, humans or other living things, the inherent softness built into the structure of a robot made of rubber, for example, is safer than metal. Soft robots are also better at interacting with an unstable or uncertain environment—if a robot contacts an unpredicted object, it can simply deform to the object rather than crashing.

Underwater robots are key to understanding and protecting deep-water species

A new study shows that the combined use of fixed acoustic reception stations and underwater robots for the study of deep-sea species allows for a better understanding of their ecology. These technological advances could improve the recovery of deep-sea demersal populations.

Credit card-sized soft pumps power wearable artificial muscles

Robotic clothing that is entirely soft and could help people to move more easily is a step closer to reality thanks to the development of a new flexible and lightweight power system for soft robotics.

Australia news media 'large and small' discuss Google deals

Google is quickly negotiating generous deals with big and small Australian media companies to pay for news as lawmakers consider forcing digital giants into such agreements, Australia's treasurer said Wednesday.

Airbus looks to A321 XLR to exit virus crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit aircraft manufacturers hard but Airbus is already looking towards a new plane to help drive its recovery and get a leg up on rival Boeing.

Ford to go all electric in Europe by 2030

Ford is vowing to convert its entire passenger vehicle lineup in Europe to electric power by 2030 in just the latest sign of the seismic technological changes sweeping the auto industry.

Italy fines Facebook 7 mn euros over data protection

Italy's antitrust regulator announced Wednesday a new fine of 7.0 million euros ($8.45 million) against Facebook for misleading conduct on data protection.

Daimler partners with Amazon on self-driving trucks

German automobile giant Daimler, the world leader in heavy-goods vehicles, said Wednesday that it had enlisted Amazon to help with its testing of Level 4 self-driving trucks.

Epic Games files EU antitrust complaint against Apple

Epic Games said Wednesday it filed an antitrust complaint against Apple with European Union regulators, opening a new front in its war with the tech giant over app store payments.

Training artificial intelligence to track greenhouses in Antarctica and Mars

Scientists from the Skoltech Center for Computational and Data-Intensive Science and Engineering (CDISE) and the Skoltech Digital Agriculture Laboratory and their collaborators from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) system that enables processing images from autonomous greenhouses, monitoring plant growth and automating the cultivation process. Their research was published in the journal IEEE Sensors.

Blockchain-based copyright protection

Blockchain is a decentralized technology used to protect the security and privacy of online transactions and is usually associated with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. However, it can be applied to all kinds of digital exchanges. In a new study, Amna Qureshi and professor David MegĂ­as, director of the IN3, analyzed existing blockchain-based multimedia content protection systems and established a taxonomy to classify them according to their technical features, the protection techniques they use and their performance. The study is the first detailed analysis of this type of application and looks at the technological and scientific challenges for their improvement and implementation.

Detecting planted structures in random graphs

Many complex systems can be modeled as irregular networks, with hubs and communities. Researcher Kay Martin Bogerd of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science has investigated how existing community detection methods can be extended to a setting of inhomogeneous random graphs. The results offer new insights in the working of extremely large networks, such as the internet, social media or the brain. Bogerd defended his thesis on 17 February 2021.

Imec showcases world's first sub-5mw, IEEE 802.15.4z ultra-wideband transmitter chip

At this week's International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC), imec—a world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies—showcases the first IEEE 802.15.4z impulse-radio ultra-wideband (IR-UWB) transmitter chip striking a balance between UWB's accurate and secure ranging capabilities for indoor localization and the need for increased energy efficiency.

Ransomware gangs are running riot and paying them off doesn't help

In the past five years, ransomware attacks have evolved from rare misfortunes into common and disruptive threats. Hijacking the IT systems of organizations and forcing them to pay a ransom in order to reclaim them, cybercriminals are freely extorting millions of pounds from companies—and they're enjoying a remarkably low risk of arrest as they do it.

News Corp latest to make deal with Google in Australia push

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp said it has struck a deal for Google to pay it for news as the digital giant rushes to negotiate generous deals with big and small Australian media companies.

AI-based software tool for automated diagnosis of COVID-19 lung infection

A new software tool that reveals the severity of lung infections in COVID-19 patients has been developed by researchers from the Departments of Computational and Data Science (CDS) and Instrumentation and Applied Physics at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), in collaboration with colleagues from the Oslo University Hospital and the University of Agder in Norway. It has been described in a recent study published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Neural Networks and Learning Systems.

Facebook to block news content in Australia, defying regulators

Facebook said Wednesday it would block news content sharing in Australia, refusing to bend to a regulatory push that would force the social giant to share revenue with media outlets.

In Australia, Google makes publisher deals, Facebook walks

Google is striking deals in Australia to pay for journalism but Facebook is vowing to restrict news sharing as Australian lawmakers consider forcing digital giants into payment agreements.

New highly radioactive particles found in Fukushima

The 10 year anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident occurs in March. Work just published in the Journal Science of the Total Environment documents new, large (> 300 micrometers), highly radioactive particles that were released from one of the damaged Fukushima reactors.

Wearable microfluidic sensor to measure lactate concentration in real time

With the seemingly unstoppable advancement in the fields of miniaturization and materials science, all sorts of electronic devices have emerged to help us lead easier and healthier lives. Wearable sensors fall in this category, and they have received much attention lately as useful tools to monitor a person's health in real time. Many such sensors operate by quantifying biomarkers, that is, measurable indicators that reflect one's health condition. Widely used biomarkers are heartrate and body temperature, which can be monitored continuously with relative ease. On the contrary, chemical biomarkers in bodily fluids, such as blood, saliva, and sweat, are more challenging to quantify with wearable sensors.

Amazon program lets consumers decide which device the company builds next

Amazon is ready to make its next gadget, and it's letting consumers help choose.

Google Maps will let you pay for parking or transit fares within the app

If you own an Android smartphone, paying for parking or mass transit is about to get much easier.

US still unraveling 'sophisticated' hack of 9 gov't agencies

U.S. authorities are still working to unravel the full scope of the likely Russian hack that gave the "sophisticated" actor behind the breach complete access to files and email from at least nine government agencies and about 100 private companies, the top White House cybersecurity official said Wednesday.

Jaguar Land Rover to cut 2,000 jobs globally: company

Jaguar Land Rover on Wednesday said that it planned to lay off around 2,000 staff in the next financial year.

China steps up online controls with new rule for bloggers

Ma Xiaolin frequently wrote about current affairs on one of China's leading microblogging sites, where he has 2 million followers. But recently, he said in a post, the Weibo site called and asked him not to post original content on topics ranging from politics to economic and military issues.

Cambodia sets up China-style internet firewall

Cambodia's government moved to exert near-total control over the country's online life Wednesday, setting up a national internet gateway which activists say will stifle freedom of expression and block content via a China-style firewall.

In a blow to Ryanair, EU court approves state help measures

A top court has ruled that measures introduced by France and Sweden to help some airlines weather the fallout of coronavirus restrictions are compatible with European Union law, dealing a major blow to low-cost carrier Ryanair which challenged them as unfair.

New York state sues Amazon over pandemic safety

New York state sued Amazon Wednesday, claiming the e-commerce giant failed to adequately protect its warehouse workers during the Covid-19 pandemic and then punished them if they complained.

Hedge fund strikes deal for Tribune Publishing newspaper group

A hedge fund has struck a deal to acquire the publisher of the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News and other regional dailies, stoking fears of fresh job cuts in the battered US newspaper sector.

Motorola is consolidating operations in updated Texas facility as it focuses on AI video analytics

Motorola Solutions has consolidated its video security and analytics production into a newly renovated manufacturing facility in Richardson, Texas, with plans to expand staffing in the coming year.

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