Science X Newsletter Thursday, Jun 3

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for June 3, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Puppies are wired to communicate with people, study shows

Antarctica wasn't quite as cold during the last ice age as previously thought

Passing the acid test: New low-pH system recycles more carbon into valuable products

A shark mystery millions of years in the making

Early acoustic experiences alter methylation in songbird embryo's forebrain

Strain-driven autonomous control of cation distribution for artificial ferroelectrics

Deep bedrock mineral veins are microbial graveyards

Record-breaking temperatures more likely in populated tropics

Lighting hydrogels via nanomaterials

Researchers: Culture drives human evolution more than genetics

Scientists make powerful underwater glue inspired by barnacles and mussels

NASA picks Venus as hot spot for two new robotic missions

A programmable fiber contains memory, temperature sensors, and a trained neural network program

Extensive study identifies over a dozen existing drugs as potential COVID-19 therapies

Water droplets become hydrobots by adding magnetic beads

Physics news

Water droplets become hydrobots by adding magnetic beads

Using a piece of magnet, researchers have designed a simple system that can control the movement of a small puddle of water, even when it's upside down. The new liquid manipulation strategy, described in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science on June 3, can have a wide range of applications including cleaning hard-to-reach environments or delivering small objects.

Quantum computing with holes

Quantum computers, with their promises of creating new materials and solving intractable mathematical problems, are a dream of many physicists. Now, they are slowly approaching viable realization in many laboratories all over the world. But there are still enormous challenges to master. A central one is the construction of stable quantum bits—the fundamental unit of quantum computation, called "qubit" for short—that can be networked together.

Stripes give away Majoranas

Majorana particles have been getting bad publicity: a claimed discovery in ultracold nanowires had to be retracted. Now Leiden physicists open up a new door to detecting Majoranas in a different experimental system, the Fu-Kane heterostructure, they announce in Physical Review Letters.

How quantum dots can 'talk' to each other

So-called quantum dots are a new class of materials with many applications. Quantum dots are realized by tiny semiconductor crystals with dimensions in the nanometre range. The optical and electrical properties can be controlled through the size of these crystals. As QLEDs, they are already on the market in the latest generations of TV flat screens, where they ensure particularly brilliant and high-resolution color reproduction. However, quantum dots are not only used as dyes, they are also used in solar cells or as semiconductor devices, right up to computational building blocks, the qubits, of a quantum computer.

Enantiomorph distribution maps for metals and metallic alloys

Left- or right-handedness is a symmetry property that many macroscopic objects also exhibit and which is of immense importance, particularly for the bioactivity of organic molecules. Chirality is also relevant for physical or chemical properties such as optical activity or enantioselectivity of crystalline solids or their surfaces. In the case of chiral metallic phases, unconventional superconductivity and unusual magnetic ordered states are linked to the chirality of the underlying crystal structure. Despite this connection between chirality and the properties of a material, detection is often difficult because left-handed and right-handed structural variants can cancel each other out or at least weaken chirality effect.

Unique microscope to film molecules in motion

A unique electron microscope, set to break new ground in biological imaging, is being installed today at the Rosalind Franklin Institute in the UK. The machine is able to image biological samples at up to a million frames a second, a thousand times faster than the current standard.

Astronomy and Space news

NASA picks Venus as hot spot for two new robotic missions

NASA is returning to sizzling Venus, our closest yet perhaps most overlooked neighbor, after decades of exploring other worlds.

White dwarf stars' debris disk formation delayed

White dwarfs, the glowing cores of dead stars, often host disks of dusty debris. However, these debris disks only appear 10 to 20 millions of years following the star's violent Red Giant phase. A new paper by Planetary Science Institute Research Scientist Jordan Steckloff unravels the reason for this delay.

Astronomers calculate genesis of Oort cloud in chronological order

A team of Leiden astronomers has managed to calculate the first 100 million years of the history of the Oort cloud in its entirety. Until now, only parts of the history had been studied separately. The cloud, with roughly 100 billion comet-like objects, forms an enormous shell at the edge of our solar system. The astronomers will soon publish their comprehensive simulation and its consequences in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Front-row view reveals exceptional cosmic explosion

Scientists have gained the best view yet of the brightest explosions in the universe: A specialized observatory in Namibia has recorded the most energetic radiation and longest gamma-ray afterglow of a so-called gamma-ray burst (GRB) to date. The observations with the High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.) challenge the established idea of how gamma-rays are produced in these colossal stellar explosions which are the birth cries of black holes, as the international team reports in the journal Science.

Jets from massive protostars might be very different from lower-mass systems

Astronomers studying the fast-moving jet of material ejected by a still-forming, massive young star found a major difference between that jet and those ejected by less-massive young stars. The scientists made the discovery by using the U.S. National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) to make the most detailed image yet of the inner region of such a jet coming from a massive young star.

InSight Mars lander gets a power boost

The team behind NASA's InSight Mars lander has come up with an innovative way to boost the spacecraft's energy at a time when its power levels have been falling. The lander's robotic arm trickled sand near one solar panel, helping the wind to carry off some of the panel's dust. The result was a gain of about 30 watt-hours of energy per sol, or Martian day.

Which way does the solar wind blow?

The surface of the sun churns with energy and frequently ejects masses of highly-magnetized plasma towards Earth. Sometimes these ejections are strong enough to crash through the magnetosphere—the natural magnetic shield that protects the Earth—damaging satellites or electrical grids. Such space weather events can be catastrophic.

SpaceX launches tiny critters, solar panels to space station

SpaceX launched thousands of tiny sea creatures to the International Space Station on Thursday, along with a plaque-fighting toothpaste experiment and powerful solar panels.

NASA to explore divergent fate of Earth's mysterious twin with Goddard's DAVINCI+

Although Earth and Venus are similar in size and location, they are very different worlds today. While Earth has oceans of water and abundant life, Venus is dry and fiercely inhospitable. Although it's somewhat closer to the sun—about 70 percent of Earth's distance—Venus is much hotter, with temperatures at the surface high enough to melt lead. The scorched landscape is obscured by clouds of sulfuric acid, and it is smothered by a thick atmosphere of mostly carbon dioxide at over 90 times the pressure of Earth's, which causes the air to behave more like a fluid than a gas near its surface.

Small packages with big benefits aboard SpX-22

When the Falcon 9 rocket launches on June 3, it will be carrying thousands of pounds of cargo to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX's 22nd commercial resupply services mission. Yet the last five items to be loaded will weigh less than an ounce. These include two plant and two animal species along with a microbial study. Scientists will examine these to better understand how to prepare future astronauts for the rigors of long-distance space travel, as well as unlock a few secrets that may benefit all of humankind back on Earth.

Worms blast off into space for muscle loss mission

Thousands of tiny worms will be launched into space today (3 June) to help scientists to understand more about muscle loss and how to prevent it.

Galileo satellites' last step before launch

Europe's Galileo satellite navigation constellation is set to grow. Later this year the first two out of 12 "Batch 3" Galileo satellites will be launched by Soyuz from French Guiana. Their last step on the way to launch is situated beside sand dunes on the Dutch coast: the ESTEC Test Center, which is Europe's largest satellite test facility.

Space bubble experiment could lead to more effective early cancer screenings

Researchers studying how bubbles form and function are sending a fully automated, self-contained experiment into space.

Technology news

A programmable fiber contains memory, temperature sensors, and a trained neural network program

MIT researchers have created the first fiber with digital capabilities, able to sense, store, analyze, and infer activity after being sewn into a shirt.

Let's talk about the elephant in the data

You would not be surprised to see an elephant in the savanna or a plate in your kitchen. Based on your prior experiences and knowledge, you know that is where elephants and plates are often to be found. If you saw a mysterious object in your kitchen, how would you figure out what it was? You would rely on your expectations or prior knowledge. Should a computer approach the problem in the same way? The answer may surprise you. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Professor Partha Mitra described how he views problems like these in a "Perspective" in Nature Machine Intelligence. He hopes his insights will help researchers teach computers how to analyze complex systems more effectively.

Are wind farms slowing each other down?

The expansion of wind energy in the German Bight and the Baltic Sea has accelerated enormously in recent years. The first systems went into operation in 2008. Today, wind turbines with an output of around 8,000 megawatts operate in German waters, which corresponds to around eight nuclear power plants. But space is limited. For this reason, wind farms are sometimes built very close to one another. A team led by Dr. Naveed Akhtar from Helmholtz Zentrum Hereon has found that wind speeds at the downstream windfarm are significantly slowed down. As the researchers now write in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, this braking effect results in astonishingly large-scale low wind pattern noticeable in mean wind speeds. On average, they extend 35 to 40 kilometers—in certain weather conditions even up to 100 kilometers. The output of a neighboring wind farm can thus be reduced by 20 to 25 percent, which ultimately leads to economic consequences. If wind farms are planned close together, this wake effects need to be considered in the future.

Google's Quic transmission protocol speeds up the Internet's flagship TCP

On the horizon for eight years now, Google's planned replacement for Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), Quic, seems to be finally underway. In fact, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) published Quic as a standard for the worldwide network earlier this week. If successful, this protocol might replace TCP, which has dominated the Internet transmission space since 1974.

Shoot better drone videos with a single word

The pros make it look easy, but making a movie with a drone can be anything but.

EXPLAINER: Why ransomware is so dangerous and hard to stop

Recent high-profile "ransomware" attacks on the world's largest meat-packing company and the biggest U.S. fuel pipeline have underscored how gangs of extortionist hackers can disrupt the economy and put lives and livelihoods at risk.

Amsterdam tests out electric autonomous boats on its canals

Electric cars, meet your competition. Electric boats are on the way.

Apple touts App Store economy as its clout challenged

Apple said Wednesday its App Store "ecosystem" surged in 2020, fueled by pandemic-hit consumers seeking to stay connected for work, school and play.

Poop to power? New research puts wastewater to work, as a source of both water and electricity

Washington University researchers have developed a filter that treats wastewater and also generates electricity—an advance that could reshape energy use at treatment plants.

Microsoft to unveil next generation of Windows on June 24

Microsoft will reveal later this month what PC users can expect from the future of its Windows operating system.

Scientists develop integrated electrodes for high-energy-density flexible supercapacitors

Recently, a research team led by Prof. Zhao Bangchuan from the Institute of Solid Materials of the Hefei Institutes of Physical Science (HFIPS) synthesized 3D porous honeycomb-like CoN-Ni3N/N-C nanosheets and vanadium nitride (VN) nanobelt arrays via in-situ growth method, respectively, and constructed a high-energy-density flexible supercapacitor device. The result has been published in Advanced Functional Materials.

Algal biodiesel could be the best eco-friendly fuel option of tomorrow

The search for sustainable energy sources continues apace. Research highlighted in the International Journal of Renewable Energy Technology, looks at one such source—algae, from which biodiesel can be derived, The work discusses production issues, characterisation, and compares the performance of such fuels with other sources of diesel.

A better way to introduce digital tech in the workplace

When bringing technologies into the workplace, it pays to be realistic. Often, for instance, bringing new digital technology into an organization does not radically improve a firm's operations. Despite high-level planning, a more frequent result is the messy process of frontline employees figuring out how they can get tech tools to help them to some degree.

Tech calms down, but still strong as the world goes digital

Technology company stocks are in rest mode this year, but what may seem like weakness as the economy recovers is really just dormancy.

GM raises forecast, says chip shortage not as bad as feared

General Motors Co. says efforts to manage the global computer chip shortage have worked better than expected, so it's financial results will improve over previous forecasts.

Smartphone, broadband usage grows in US: survey

The vast majority of US adults now use a smartphone and have high-speed internet at home, following modest growth over the past two years, a survey showed Thursday.

United Airlines sees a supersonic future

United Airlines aims to bring back supersonic travel before the decade is over with a plane that has yet to be built.

Twitter starts subscription service in Canada, Australia

Twitter is rolling out a subscription service, starting in Canada and Australia, that offers perks like an undo button for subscribers.

NY transit officials confirm cyberattack; say harm limited

Hackers infiltrated computer systems for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York, setting off a scramble to counter a potentially crippling cyberattack against North America's largest transit system, MTA officials confirmed on Wednesday.

Taiwan boosts coronavirus testing for tech industry

Taiwan is ramping up testing and vaccinations for tech industry workers in a bid to stop a sudden surge in coronavirus cases hitting its semiconductor industry at a time of global shortages.

EU plans digital ID wallet for bloc's post-pandemic life

The European Union unveiled plans Thursday for a digital ID wallet that residents could use to access services across the 27-nation bloc, part of a post-pandemic recovery strategy that involves accelerating the shift to an online world.

Walmart aims to empower workers with own devices, new app

Walmart is coming out with a new app for its store workers' phones that allows them to do a variety of tasks from digitally clocking into work to helping locate merchandise and answering customers' questions.

Ferry system serving Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket hit by cyberattack

Ransomware attackers have hacked into the ferry system between the Massachusetts mainland and its iconic islands in the latest cyber assault on U.S. infrastructure.

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