Science X Newsletter Thursday, May 27

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for May 27, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

153 years after discovery of the immune system's dendritic cells, scientists uncover a new subset

Experiments validate the possibility of helium rain inside Jupiter and Saturn

How metals work together to weaken hardy nitrogen-nitrogen bonds

Slushy iceberg aggregates control calving timing on Greenland's Jakobshavn Isbræ

Seabirds face dire threats from climate change, human activity—especially in Northern Hemisphere

Biologists construct a 'periodic table' for cell nuclei

Managing global climate change—and local conditions—key to coral reefs' survival

How plants ward off a dangerous world of pathogens

Physicists uncover secrets of world's thinnest superconductor

Engineered defects in crystalline material boost electrical performance

Scientists unravel noise-assisted signal amplification in systems with memory

Global study of 60 cities' microbes finds each has a signature microbial fingerprint

Better peatland management could cut half a billion tons of carbon

Scientists call for international investment to tackle major wheat losses

Keeping more ammonium in soil could decrease pollution, boost crops

Physics news

Physicists uncover secrets of world's thinnest superconductor

Physicists from across three continents report the first experimental evidence to explain the unusual electronic behavior behind the world's thinnest superconductor, a material with myriad applications because it conducts electricity extremely efficiently. In this case the superconductor is only an atomic layer thick.

Scientists unravel noise-assisted signal amplification in systems with memory

Signals can be amplified by an optimum amount of noise, but stochastic resonance is a fragile phenomenon. Researchers at AMOLF were the first to investigate the role of memory for this phenomenon in an oil-filled optical microcavity. The effects of slow non-linearity (i.e. memory) on stochastic resonance were never considered before, but these experiments suggest that stochastic resonance becomes robust to variations in the signal frequency when systems have memory. This has implications in many fields of physics and energy technology. In particular, the scientists numerically show that introducing slow nonlinearity in a mechanical oscillator harvesting energy from noise can increase its efficiency tenfold. They have published their findings in Physical Review Letters on May 27th.

New microscopy method reaches deeper into the living brain

Researchers have developed a new technique that allows microscopic fluorescence imaging at four times the depth limit imposed by light diffusion. Fluorescence microscopy is often used to image molecular and cellular details of the brain in animal models of various diseases but, until now, has been limited to small volumes and highly invasive procedures due to intense light scattering by the skin and skull.

Detecting 5-MeV protons using a flexible organic thin-film device

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in Italy and one in the U.S. has developed an organic thin-film device that can be used to measure doses of proton radiation. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes their semiconductor-based thin film device and possible uses for it.

Scientists overhear two atoms chatting

How materials behave depends on the interactions between countless atoms. You could see this as a giant group chat in which atoms are continuously exchanging quantum information. Researchers from Delft University of Technology in collaboration with RWTH Aachen University and the Research Center Jülich have now been able to intercept a chat between two atoms. They present their findings in Science on 28 May.

Controlling magnetization by surface acoustic waves

Using the circular vibration of surface acoustic waves, a collaborative research group have successfully controlled the magnetization of a ferromagnetic thin film.

Quark-gluon plasma flows like water, according to new study

What does quark-gluon plasma—the hot soup of elementary particles formed a few microseconds after the Big Bang—have in common with tap water? Scientists say it's the way it flows.

Spacetime crystals proposed by placing space and time on an equal footing

A Penn State scientist studying crystal structures has developed a new mathematical formula that may solve a decades-old problem in understanding spacetime, the fabric of the universe proposed in Einstein's theories of relativity.

Stephen Hawking's office and archive to be preserved in UK

Papers and a diverse range of personal items belonging to the late British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking have been acquired by Cambridge University and a UK museum group.

Forging new paths in particle physics

Everything we see around us is made up of elementary particles, the building blocks of matter. We know that protons and neutrons are made up of particles called quarks and that electrons are important building blocks for atoms. Thanks to the work of dedicated physicists, we also know that there exist force-carrying particles called bosons, three of which are photons, gluons and the recently discovered Higgs boson.

Astronomy and Space news

Experiments validate the possibility of helium rain inside Jupiter and Saturn

Nearly 40 years ago, scientists first predicted the existence of helium rain inside planets composed primarily of hydrogen and helium, such as Jupiter and Saturn. However, achieving the experimental conditions necessary to validate this hypothesis hasn't been possible—until now.

Black hole simulations provide blueprint for future observations

Astronomers continue to develop computer simulations to help future observatories better home in on black holes, the most elusive inhabitants of the universe.

30-year stellar survey cracks mysteries of galaxy's giant planets

Current and former astronomers from the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy (IfA) have wrapped up a massive collaborative study that set out to determine if most solar systems in the universe are similar to our own. With the help of W. M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea in Hawaiʻi, the 30-year planetary census sought to find where giant planets tend to reside relative to their host stars.

Astronomer reveals never-before-seen detail of the center of our galaxy

New research by University of Massachusetts Amherst astronomer Daniel Wang reveals, with unprecedented clarity, details of violent phenomena in the center of our galaxy. The images, published recently in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, document an X-ray thread, G0.17-0.41, which hints at a previously unknown interstellar mechanism that may govern the energy flow and potentially the evolution of the Milky Way.

Gravitational wave search no hum drum hunt

The hunt for the never before heard 'hum' of gravitational waves caused by mysterious neutron stars has just got a lot easier, thanks to an international team of researchers.

Magnetized threads weave spectacular galactic tapestry

Threads of superheated gas and magnetic fields are weaving a tapestry of energy at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. A new image of this new cosmic masterpiece was made using a giant mosaic of data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa.

Juno returns to 'Clyde's Spot' on Jupiter

During its 33rd low pass over the cloud tops of Jupiter on April 15, 2021, NASA's Juno spacecraft captured the intriguing evolution of a feature in the giant planet's atmosphere known as "Clyde's Spot."

Magnificent spiral galaxy is being stretched by passing neighbor

The myriad spiral galaxies in our universe almost all look like fried eggs. A central bulge of aging stars is like the egg yolk, surrounded by a disk of stars that are the egg white. The galaxy in this Hubble photo looks like it is sliding off the frying pan. The central bulge is off in one corner relative to the surrounding disk of bright young blue stars. In reality, the stars on the right side of the galaxy are being pulled like taffy by the gravitational tug of a neighboring galaxy, not seen in this close-up view. Galaxies are not solid objects but tenuous agglomerations of tens of billions of stars. When two galaxies come close to each other they feel each other's gravity and are distorted, like pulling on cotton candy. It's the universe's equivalent of the 19th century children's poem about two stuffed animals—the gingham dog and calico cat—who got into a spat and ate each other. It's not so dramatic in this case. The galaxies are only getting a little chewed up because of their close proximity.

Competitor fears Musk's SpaceX could 'monopolise' space

The launching of thousands of satellites into low Earth orbit by tech billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX threatens the "de-facto monopolisation" of space, the head of competitor Arianespace Stephane Israel has warned.

To give astronauts better food, engineers test a fridge prototype in microgravity

Astronauts have been going to space since 1961, but they still don't have a refrigerator to use for keeping food cold on long missions to the moon or Mars.

Canada to send rover to Moon by 2026: minister

Canada will land a robotic rover on the Moon within five years, its industry minister said Wednesday, announcing that Ottawa plans to "dream big" as it advances its competitive stake in the growing global space market.

Launch postponed for Soyuz rocket with UK telecom satellites

The launch of a Soyuz rocket carrying 36 UK telecommunication and internet satellites has been postponed until Friday, the Russian space agency Roscosmos said.

Technology news

Microsoft announces first product features running on GPT-3

During its Build developers conference this year, Microsoft announced its first features for a product fueled by GPT-3, the natural language model from OpenAI developed to assist users in building applications without any programming knowledge.

Researchers take a practical look beyond short-term energy storage

With variable renewable energy (VRE) expected to become a much larger share of the global energy mix, storage solutions are needed beyond short-duration timescales, such as standard commercial batteries, which are suitable for covering hourly differences in net load.

One-dimensional Anderson insulators predicted to host the bulk photovoltaic effect

Materials in which electrons are strongly localized are promising for use in next-generation solar cells and optoelectronic devices, calculations by a RIKEN theoretical physicist and a collaborator have indicated.

Researchers create robot that smiles back

While our facial expressions play a huge role in building trust, most robots still sport the blank and static visage of a professional poker player. With the increasing use of robots in locations where robots and humans need to work closely together, from nursing homes to warehouses and factories, the need for a more responsive, facially realistic robot is growing more urgent.

Merlin Labs develops autonomous 55-craft King Air fleet

Inspired by a close encounter with a fellow aircraft during his years as a novice pilot, Merlin Labs founder Matt George found himself drawn to the idea of applying ground transportation safety methods to air traffic. Now, two-and-a-half years later, his company has announced a collaborative effort with Dynamic Aviation to develop a 55-aricraft fleet capable of autonomous flight.

Sales ban for "fossil cars" benefits the climate

If a ban were introduced on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, and they were replaced by electric cars, the result would be a great reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. That is the finding of new research from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, looking at emissions from the entire life cycle—from manufacture of electric cars and batteries, to electricity used for operation. However, the total effect of a phasing out of fossil-fuelled cars will not be felt until the middle of the century—and how the batteries are manufactured will affect the extent of the benefit.

Airbus to raise plane production, sees aviation post-COVID recovery

Airbus said Thursday it will produce more single-aisle planes in 2023 than before the coronavirus crisis as the European aerospace giant sees the aviation sector ascending from the pandemic.

EU privacy groups set sights on facial recognition firm

Privacy organisations on Thursday complained to regulators in five European countries over the practices of Clearview AI, a company that has built a powerful facial recognition database using images "scraped" from the web.

Climate policy that relies on a shift to electric cars risks entrenching existing inequities

At the end of this month, the Climate Change Commission will deliver its final advice to government, outlining how New Zealand can reach its climate targets.

Which type of transportation user are you?

Sociologists at EPFL conducted a survey of the factors that prompt people to select one form of transportation over another, and then compared the results from cities across Switzerland.

A robotic microplankton sniffer dog

Marine phytoplankton, or plant plankton, are incredibly important to life on Earth. As they go about their work of turning sunlight into energy, they produce fully 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe.

Germany and Norway inaugurate clean energy undersea link

Germany and Norway on Thursday inaugurated an undersea power cable designed to facilitate the exchange of renewable energy as Europe's biggest economy looks to phase out coal and nuclear power.

Germany, France want to curb 'killer' Big Tech deals

The EU's biggest economies Germany and France as well as the Netherlands want the bloc to secure beefier powers to stop startups from being swallowed by big tech companies.

On-site hydrogen production technology accelerates to market

A new technology that generates hydrogen from conventional natural gas, or renewable natural gas made from biomass, could be the next big thing to advance California's Hydrogen Highway, fuel cell vehicles and trucks and to create other valuable products.

US fines Boeing $17 mn over production issues

Boeing agreed to pay a $17 million fine and enhance its supply chain and production practices after installing unapproved equipment on hundreds of planes, US regulators said Thursday.

Ionophobic electrode boosts energy storage performance

Using renewable energy to replace fossil energy is now considered the best solution for greenhouse gas emission and air pollution problems. As a result, the demand for new and better energy storage technology is strong.

France, Germany push for 'historic agreement' on global corporate tax rate

France and Germany pushed for a "historic" agreement among major economies on a minimum tax rate for multinational corporations Wednesday, hoping to shore up support after sceptical European countries expressed opposition to the plan.

Bezos to hand over Amazon CEO reins on July 5

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said Wednesday that he will hand over operational control to his successor on July 5, leaving as the e-commerce giant flexes its muscles in television and cloud.

ExxonMobil, Chevron investors vote for more action on climate change

Investors rejected the responses of US oil giants to climate change Wednesday, installing activist board members at ExxonMobil and directing Chevron to deepen emissions cuts.

Amazon boosts streaming ambitions with deal for MGM studios

Amazon has agreed to buy the storied MGM studios for $8.45 billion, the companies said Wednesday, giving the US tech giant a vast content library to further its ambitions in streaming.

Scientists to cut the 'key' to an unhackable 5G network

Scientists from Heriot-Watt University have secured six-figure funding from Innovate-UK on a project led by BT to develop practical quantum key distribution (QKD) transmitter and receiver modules for short range terrestrial applications.

Uber's British union deal gets mixed reception

US ride-hailing giant Uber won a mixed reception Thursday for its historic pact with a British trade union to represent its 70,000 UK drivers.

Facebook reverses course, won't ban lab virus theory

Facebook has reversed its policy banning posts suggesting COVID-19 emerged from a laboratory amid renewed debate over the origins of the virus, raising fresh questions about social media's role in policing misinformation.

'The future of this planet is at stake,' new report pressures Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to battle climate lies

The nation's leading social media companies have pulled out the stops to shut down conspiracy theories, hoaxes and falsehoods about COVID and vaccines, QAnon and the 2020 election, but they are far less aggressive when it comes to the latest hotspot in the war on misinformation: climate change.

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