Science X Newsletter Friday, Mar 5

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for March 5, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Study shows that the GW190521 event could be explained by primordial black holes

New tool finds and fingerprints previously undetected PFAS compounds in watersheds on Cape Cod

New study suggests humans evolved to run on less water than our closest primate relatives

Microsoft's new Power Fx offers developers an open source, low-code programming language

Learning hierarchical sequence representations across human cortex and hippocampus

Tantalizing signs of phase-change 'turbulence' in RHIC collisions

Comet Catalina suggests comets delivered carbon to rocky planets

The collapse of Northern California kelp forests will be hard to reverse

Antarctic seals reveal worrying threats to disappearing glaciers

Fine particulate matter from wildfire smoke more harmful than pollution from other sources

New quantum theory heats up thermodynamic research

Researchers discover new way to halt excessive inflammation

Putting a protein into overdrive to heal spinal cord injuries

Coastal changes worsen nuisance flooding on many US shorelines, study finds

'Fungal ghosts' protect skin, fabric from toxins, radiation

Physics news

Study shows that the GW190521 event could be explained by primordial black holes

In September 2020, the LIGO/Virgo collaboration, a large team of scientists working at different universities worldwide, announced that they had detected most massive gravitational wave binary signal observed to date, which they called GW190521. In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, they explored the hypothesis that this signal was produced by the merger of two black holes, with at least the primary component mass in the mass gap predicted by the pair-instability supernova theory.

Tantalizing signs of phase-change 'turbulence' in RHIC collisions

Physicists studying collisions of gold ions at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science user facility for nuclear physics research at DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory, are embarking on a journey through the phases of nuclear matter—the stuff that makes up the nuclei of all the visible matter in our universe. A new analysis of collisions conducted at different energies shows tantalizing signs of a critical point—a change in the way that quarks and gluons, the building blocks of protons and neutrons, transform from one phase to another. The findings, just published by RHIC's STAR Collaboration in the journal Physical Review Letters, will help physicists map out details of these nuclear phase changes to better understand the evolution of the universe and the conditions in the cores of neutron stars.

New quantum theory heats up thermodynamic research

Researchers have developed a new quantum version of a 150-year-old thermodynamical thought experiment that could pave the way for the development of quantum heat engines.

Particle detector at Fermilab plays crucial role in Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment

A century ago, physicists didn't know about the existence of neutrinos, the most abundant, elusive and ethereal subatomic particles of matter in the universe.

Researchers propose novel dichroic laser mirror design with mixture layers and sandwich-like-structure interfaces

Recently, a research team from the Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) proposed a new design with mixture layers and novel sandwich-like-structure interfaces to meet the challenging requirements of the ideal dichroic laser mirrors. The research article was published in Photonics Research on Jan. 27, 2021, and was highlighted as an Editor's Pick.

Taking 2-D materials for a spin

Scientists from the University of Tsukuba and a scientist from the Institute of High Pressure Physics detected and mapped the electronic spins moving in a working transistor made of molybdenum disulfide. This research may lead to much faster computers that take advantage of the natural magnetism of electrons, as opposed to just their charge.

An ultra-degree-of-freedom structured vector beam

Optics Express recently published research demonstrating a laser that is able to produce a new type of vector beam. This so-called vector-ray-wave beam with 5 degrees of freedom breaks the paradigm of the conventional vector vortex beam, which opens the way to manipulating new quantum-to-classical phenomena for high-capacity communications.

Astronomy and Space news

Comet Catalina suggests comets delivered carbon to rocky planets

In early 2016, an icy visitor from the edge of our solar system hurtled past Earth. It briefly became visible to stargazers as Comet Catalina before it slingshotted past the Sun to disappear forevermore out of the solar system.

Spacewalkers finish solar panel prep for station power boost

Spacewalking astronauts completed the first round of prep work Friday for new solar panels, part of a major power upgrade at the International Space Station.

Biden lauds NASA team for giving US 'dose of confidence'

President Joe Biden on Thursday congratulated the NASA team responsible for last month's successful landing of an six-wheeled rover on Mars and for giving the country a "dose of confidence" at a moment when the nation's reputation as a scientific leader has been tattered by the coronavirus pandemic.

SpaceX: more risks, better rockets?

A prototype of SpaceX's unmanned rocket Starship exploded on Wednesday, the third time a test flight ended in flames.

Planet-hunting eye of Plato

Key technology for ESA's exoplanet-hunting Plato spacecraft has passed a trial by vacuum to prove the mission will work as planned. This test replica of an 80-cm high, 12-cm aperture camera spent 17 days inside a thermal vacuum chamber.

Engineering marvel: Sixth mirror cast for Giant Magellan Telescope

The Giant Magellan Telescope announces fabrication of the sixth of seven of the world's largest monolithic mirrors. These mirrors will allow astronomers to see farther into the universe with more detail than any other optical telescope before. The sixth 8.4-meter (27.5 feet) mirror—about two stories high when standing on edge—is being fabricated at the University of Arizona's Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab and will take nearly four years to complete. The mirror casting is considered a marvel of modern engineering and is usually celebrated with a large in-person event with attendees from all over the world. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, work on the sixth mirror began behind closed doors to protect the health of the 10-person mirror casting team at the lab.

Mining water and metal from the moon at the same time

In-situ resource utilization (ISRU) is becoming an increasingly popular topic as space exploration begins to focus on landing on the surface of other bodies in the solar system. ISRU focuses on making things that are needed to support an exploration mission out of materials that are easily accessible at the site being explored, like European explorers in the New World building canoes out of the wood they found there.

Technology news

Microsoft's new Power Fx offers developers an open source, low-code programming language

During its 2021 Ignite conference, Microsoft announced the launch of Power Fx, a low-code and completely open source programming language.

Beauty is in the brain: AI reads brain data, generates personally attractive images

Researchers have succeeded in making an AI understand our subjective notions of what makes faces attractive. The device demonstrated this knowledge by its ability to create new portraits that were tailored to be found personally attractive to individuals. The results can be used, for example, in modeling preferences and decision-making as well as potentially identifying unconscious attitudes.

Key task in computer vision and graphics gets a boost

Non-rigid point set registration is the process of finding a spatial transformation that aligns two shapes represented as a set of data points. It has extensive applications in areas such as autonomous driving, medical imaging, and robotic manipulation. Now, a method has been developed to speed up this procedure.

Simple tools reveal high-fidelity truth in lithium-ion batteries

Acceleration due to gravity here on Earth is about 9.8m/s2, but if you're trying to build a rocket that will escape Earth's pull, you're going to have to do better than that. You would need to factor in wind resistance, heat and other factors. In the real world, forces affect each other and sometimes you can't understand how until you watch a rocket in motion.

Honda launches advanced self-driving cars in Japan

Honda launched the world's most advanced self-driving car licensed for the road on Friday, releasing an initial batch of 100 models in Japan.

Germany faces tough questions as nuclear exit nears

The Bavarian village of Gundremmingen is so proud of its nuclear power station that its coat of arms is graced with a giant golden atom.

The Chrome browser leans in with more personal profiles

Space: It is a final frontier for astronauts and astronomers to search and explore other worlds, but for many of us, it is about personal space—a place where you have the freedom to be yourself, form an identity, and extend yourself into public areas in unique, creative and memorable ways.

The science behind frozen wind turbines and how to keep them spinning through the winter

Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power—the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.

Speeding up commercialization of electric vehicles

Researchers in Korea have developed a high-capacity cathode material that can be stably charged and discharged for hundreds of cycles without using expensive cobalt (Co). The day is fast approaching when electric vehicles can drive long distances with Li- ion batteries.

A new and non-intrusive method for preventing cyber attacks on Android devices

Cyber attacks on mobile devices are on the rise, with over 100 million attacks reported per year since 2018.

VW brand doubles sales targets for electric vehicles

The flagship VW brand of German automobile giant Volkswagen said Friday it hoped electric vehicles would account for 70 percent of its European sales by 2030, doubling its previous target in the face of ever stricter legislation.

How the world ran out of semiconductors

There's a global shortage in semiconductors, and it's becoming increasingly serious. The US is currently reviewing of its supply of the technology, following a landmark executive order from President Joe Biden.

Google flags higher ad rates in France, Spain after digital tax

Google has told customers that it will raise the rates for advertisements on its French and Spanish platforms by two percent from May to help offset the impact of a digital tax on profits.

Twitter working on a way to 'undo' fresh tweets

Twitter on Friday confirmed that it is working on a button that would give people a chance to take back freshly fired-off tweets before they are posted.

Hackers thwart F1 team Williams' innovative car launch

Formula One team Williams scrapped an "augmented reality" launch of its new car on Friday after its smartphone app was hacked.

Defending smart systems on the machine learning framework level

While smart cities and smart homes have become mainstream buzzwords, few people outside the IT and machine learning communities know about TensorFlow, PyTorch, or Theano. These are the open-source machine learning (ML) frameworks on which smart systems are built to integrate Internet of Things (IoT) devices among other things.

Bringing AI into the real world

Even before countries began rolling out their vaccination campaigns, Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca's announcements had already proved fortifying shots. Stocks rallied and healthcare workers celebrated in the wake of the vaccine news late last year. But months on, that early euphoria has evaporated, replaced by uncertainty and debate over vaccine safety, possible side effects and varying degrees of citizen reluctance.

The complexity of artificial intelligence

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, makes us look better in selfies, obediently tells us the weather when we ask Alexa for it, and rolls out self-drive cars. It is the technology that enables machines to learn from experience and perform human-like tasks.

Switzerland's energy transition

Can Switzerland, as planned, cut its CO2 emissions to zero by 2050? In a study, researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have investigated what measures would be necessary to achieve this reduction and how much it might cost per person.

Antivirus software creator charged with cheating investors

Antivirus software entrepreneur John McAfee was indicted on fraud and money laundering conspiracy charges alleging that he and cohorts made over $13 million by fooling investors zealous over the emerging cryptocurrency market, authorities said Friday.

US, EU hail 'fresh start' with truce in planemaker feud

Washington and Brussels hailed an opportunity to restore frayed ties as US President Joe Biden and EU leader Ursula von der Leyen on Friday suspended tit-for-tat trade tariffs in a longstanding aircraft dispute.


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