Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Mar 2

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for March 2, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Theoretical interpretations of the pulsar timing data recently released by NANOGrav

An open-source machine learning framework to carry out systematic reviews

Mammal ancestors moved in their own unique way

Astronomers identify faint radio-jets in the galaxy cluster CLJ1449+0856

Kidney-on-a-chip offers clues to prevent kidney damage from essential drugs

Study shows conversations rarely end when people want them to end

Researchers introduce a new generation of tiny, agile drones

Birthweight strongly linked to type 2 diabetes risk in adulthood

Rarest seal breeding site discovered

WHO expert panel strongly advises against use of hydroxychloroquine to prevent COVID-19

Neanderthal and early modern human stone tool culture co-existed for over 100,000 years

Stressed-out young oysters may grow less meat on their shells

Lead up to volcanic eruption in Galapagos captured in rare detail

New study gives the most detailed look yet at the neuroscience of placebo effects

Secrets of sealed 17th century letters revealed by dental X-ray scanners

Physics news

Theoretical interpretations of the pulsar timing data recently released by NANOGrav

The North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) is a gravitational-wave detector that monitors areas in the vicinity of Earth using a network of pulsars (i.e., clock-like stars). At the end of 2020, the NANOGrav collaboration gathered evidence of fluctuations in the timing data of 45 pulsars, which could be compatible with a stochastic gravitational wave background (SGWB) signal at nanohertz frequencies.

How does plastic debris make its way into ocean garbage patches?

Tons of plastic debris get released into the ocean every day, and most of it accumulates within the middle of garbage patches, which tend to float on the oceans' surface in the center of each of their regions. The most infamous one, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is in the North Pacific Ocean.

Complex fluid dynamics may explain hydroplaning

When a vehicle travels over a wet or flooded road, water builds up in front of the tire and generates a lift force. In a phenomenon known as hydroplaning, this force can become large enough to lift the vehicle off the ground.

Photonics discovery portends dramatic efficiencies in silicon chips

A team led by Vanderbilt engineers has achieved the ability to transmit two different types of optical signals across a single chip at the same time.

A quantum internet is closer to reality, thanks to this switch

When quantum computers become more powerful and widespread, they will need a robust quantum internet to communicate.

Photon-photon polaritons: the intriguing particles that emerge when two photons couple

Scientists at the University of Bath in the UK have found a way to bind together two photons of different colors, paving the way for important advancements in quantum-electrodynamics—the field of science that describes how light and matter interact. In time, the team's findings are likely to impact developments in optical and quantum communication, and precision measurements of frequency, time and distances.

Model describes interactions between light and mechanical vibration in microcavities

Optomechanical microcavities are extremely small structures with diameters of less than 10 micrometers (about a tenth of a human hair) inside which light and mechanical vibrations are confined. Thanks to their small size and to efficient microfabrication techniques that enable them to hold intense light energy and interact with mechanical waves, microcavities can be used as mass and acceleration sensors and in Raman scattering (a spectroscopy technique deployed to analyze materials, including gases, liquids, and solids). A sound understanding of these phenomena can contribute in future to advances in areas such as biomedicine, including the development of sensors to detect molecules that serve as cancer markers, for example.

Ultra-fast electron measurement provides important findings for the solar industry

Using a new method, physicists from TU Freiberg, in cooperation with researchers from Berkeley and Hamburg, are for the first time analyzing at the femtosecond scale the processes in a model system for organic solar cells. This can be used to develop high-performance and efficient solar cells. Key to this are ultra-fast flashes of light, with which the team led by Dr. Friedrich Roth works at FLASH in Hamburg, the world's first free-electron laser in the X-ray region.

Nuclear fusion: Building a star on Earth is hard, which is why we need better materials

Nuclear fusion is the process that powers the Sun and all other stars. During fusion, the nuclei of two atoms are brought close enough together that they fuse together, releasing huge amounts of energy.

Ultracold atom interferometry in space

In 2017, a team of researchers led by Leibniz University Hannover succeeded in generating Bose-Einstein condensates in space within the scope of the MAIUS-1 rocket mission. Bose-Einstein condensates describe a highly unusual state of matter close to absolute zero and can be illustrated with a single wave function. Through time-consuming analyses, the researchers studied different components of the condensate. Their findings have now been published in the scientific journal Nature Communications. This marks the beginning of extremely accurate measurements via atom interferometry in space.

Researchers detects chiral structures using vortex light

Recently, the Laboratory of Micro and Nano Engineering, School of Engineering Science, University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) has made important progress in the field of structural chirality detection research using vortex light, and found that photon orbital angular momentum can efficiently detect the optical chiral signal of structures.

Astronomy and Space news

Astronomers identify faint radio-jets in the galaxy cluster CLJ1449+0856

Using ground-based facilities and space telescopes, an international team of astronomers has conducted multiwavelength observations of a galaxy cluster known as CLJ1449+0856. The observational campaign detected multiple faint radio-jets, what could shed more light on the nature of this cluster. The finding is reported in a paper published February 23 on the arXiv pre-print server.

Image: Hubble looks at a 'black eye' galaxy

This image taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope features NGC 4826—a spiral galaxy located 17 million light-years away in the constellation of Coma Berenices (Berenice's Hair). This galaxy is often referred to as the "Black Eye" or "Evil Eye" galaxy because of the dark band of dust that sweeps across one side of its bright nucleus.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope completes final functional tests to prepare for launch

February marked significant progress for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, which completed its final functional performance tests at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, California. Testing teams successfully completed two important milestones that confirmed the observatory's internal electronics are all functioning as intended, and that the spacecraft and its four scientific instruments can send and receive data properly through the same network they will use in space. These milestones move Webb closer to being ready to launch in October.

The Milky Way's merging history: Reconstructing the Cetus stream

Around the Milky Way, there are many river-like structures made up of stars. They are called stellar streams. How these stellar streams formed remains unclear.

Extinct atom reveals the long-kept secrets of the solar system

Using the extinct niobium-92 atom, ETH researchers have been able to date events in the early solar system with greater precision than before. The study concludes that supernova explosions must have taken place in the birth environment of our sun.

Astrophysicist's 2004 theory confirmed: Why the Sun's composition varies

About 17 years ago, J. Martin Laming, an astrophysicist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, theorized why the chemical composition of the Sun's tenuous outermost layer differs from that lower down. His theory has recently been validated by combined observations of the Sun's magnetic waves from the Earth and from space.

Boeing Starliner test flight postponed

An unmanned test mission of Boeing's Starliner space capsule, which is eventually to transport astronauts to the International Space Station, has had to be postponed, NASA said Monday.

Three elder sisters of the Sun with planets

An international team led by Prof. Dr. habil. Andrzej Niedzielski, an astronomer from the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun (Poland), has discovered yet another three extrasolar planets. These planets revolve around the stars that can be called elder sisters of our Sun.

Technology news

An open-source machine learning framework to carry out systematic reviews

When scientists carry out research on a given topic, they often start by reviewing previous study findings. Conducting systematic literature reviews or meta-analyses can be very challenging and time consuming, as there are often huge amounts of research focusing on different topics, which may not always be relevant to a researcher's work.

Researchers introduce a new generation of tiny, agile drones

If you've ever swatted a mosquito away from your face, only to have it return again (and again and again), you know that insects can be remarkably acrobatic and resilient in flight. Those traits help them navigate the aerial world, with all of its wind gusts, obstacles, and general uncertainty. Such traits are also hard to build into flying robots, but MIT Assistant Professor Kevin Yufeng Chen has built a system that approaches insects' agility.

Adapting to hybrid remote-office work with Google Workspace

In preparation for a post-pandemic reality, Google has upgraded its platform Google Workspace tools to better serve a remote working environment.

Study finds ideal placement, pressure for armband that could track heart rate

North Carolina State University researchers took a step forward in the development of an armband that could track the heart's electrical activity without requiring bulky wiring or sticky gel on the skin.

Energy switching decisions could widen social inequalities

New energy tariffs could leave people on bad deals even worse off despite the potential benefits for everyone, research has found.

A world first: A robot able to 'hear' through the ear of a locust

A technological and biological development that is unprecedented in Israel and the world has been achieved at Tel Aviv University. For the first time, the ear of a dead locust has been connected to a robot that receives the ear's electrical signals and responds accordingly. The result is extraordinary: When the researchers clap once, the locust's ear hears the sound and the robot moves forward; when the researchers clap twice, the robot moves backwards.

A fluid solution to dendrite growth in lithium metal batteries

A new paper from associate professor Jiandi Wan's group in the UC Davis Department of Chemical Engineering, published in Science Advances, proposes a potential solution to dendrite growth in rechargeable lithium metal batteries. In the paper, Wan's team prove that flowing ions near the cathode can potentially expand the safety and lifespans of these next-generation rechargeable batteries.

Zoom posts big quarter even as subscriber growth slows

Zoom's astronomical growth is tapering off along with the pandemic, raising questions about whether the videoconferencing service's immense popularity will fade as more people return to classrooms, offices and other places that have been off limits for the past year.

Goodbye gas: Volvo to make only electric vehicles by 2030

Volvo says it will make only electric vehicles by 2030. But if you want one, you'll have to buy it online.

New energy efficiency codes set path toward green buildings

The next office building you visit may have innovative technology making it substantially greener thanks to the help of energy efficiency experts at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).

Aircraft 'central nervous system' could reduce structural fatigue accidents

The human central nervous systems provide us with the first hint that we're not well. Now, UNSW Canberra researchers are one step closer to developing aircraft that can 'feel' with similar sensory perception.

A robot that analyzes shoppers' behavior

Researchers from Skoltech's Intelligent Space Robotics Lab have proposed a novel method for customer behavior analytics and demand distribution based on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) stocktaking. Their research was published in the proceedings of the International Conference on Control, Automation, Robotics and Vision (ICARCV).

SoundCloud to be first music app with 'fan-powered' artist payments

SoundCloud announced Tuesday it would become the first streaming service to link subscribers' payments directly to the independent artists they support, a move welcomed by musicians campaigning for fairer pay.

Chatbots that resurrect the dead: Legal experts weigh in on 'disturbing' technology

It was recently revealed that in 2017 Microsoft patented a chatbot which, if built, would digitally resurrect the dead. Using AI and machine learning, the proposed chatbot would bring our digital persona back to life for our family and friends to talk to. When pressed on the technology, Microsoft representatives admitted that the chatbot was "disturbing", and that there were currently no plans to put it into production.

Study shows promising potential for marine biofuel

For several years now, the biofuels that power cars, jet airplanes, ships and big trucks have come primarily from corn and other mass-produced farm crops. Researchers at USC, though, have looked to the ocean for what could be an even better biofuel crop: seaweed.

Researchers test natural gas foam's ability to reduce water use in fracking

Southwest Research Institute has completed a pilot-scale facility to create and test natural gas foam as a safe and stable alternative to water for hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as 'fracking.' The six-year project is part of an effort to show that stable natural gas foam can be generated on-site at fracking locations using commercially available products.

US lagging in critical artificial intelligence: panel

The United States is dangerously behind in artificial intelligence critical to its future including national security, according to a commission that includes a former head of Google and the future chief of Amazon.

Uber spins off robot delivery unit of Postmates

Uber is spinning off the sidewalk robotics division of the Postmates delivery service acquired last year, creating a new company called Serve Robotics.

Comic-Con to remain virtual in 2021, cites financial strain

San Diego Comic-Con will remain virtual for the July event, but organizers are planning for a smaller-scale gathering later this year.

Twitter cracks down on COVID vaccine misinformation

Twitter says it has begun labeling tweets that include misleading information about COVID-19 vaccines and using a "strike system" to eventually remove accounts that repeatedly violate its rules.

Amazon accused of race-gender bias in workplace

A lawsuit filed in US federal court on Monday accused Amazon of keeping women and Black employees down while publicly talking up the need for diversity and social justice.

Hertz proposes sale to investors to exit bankruptcy

American rental car company Hertz on Tuesday proposed exiting bankruptcy by selling shares to two investments firms in a deal valued at up to $4.2 billion.

Delivery startup Instacart valued at $39 bn in new funding round

Instacart announced a new investment round Tuesday which values the fast-growing grocery delivery startup at $39 billion—more than double the valuation of just five months earlier.

Scientists develop elements for future electronics

Modern electronics is approaching the limit of its capabilities, which is determined by the fundamental laws of physics. Therefore, the use of classical materials, for example, silicon, is no longer able to meet the requirements for energy efficiency of devices. Currently, it is necessary to start searching for new materials, new principles of electronic devices' functioning. To solve this problem, researchers of Peter the Great St.Petersburg Polytechnic University (SPbPU) are developing thin films, the elements for biomolecular electronics. Scientists believe that biological macromolecules such as nucleic acids, proteins, and amino acids can become a promising material for modern electronics. These feature several unique properties, for example, the capability for self-organization, which is why the molecules can be assembled into certain structures, for example, biomolecular films.

Air cargo traffic recovers to pre-pandemic levels

Air freight traffic has returned to pre-pandemic levels, the International Air Transport Association said Tuesday, but passenger traffic slumped further in January.


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