Science X Newsletter Friday, Jul 30

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for July 30, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Engineers bend light to enhance wavelength conversion

Bird brains left other dinosaurs behind

Black and Latinx conservatives 'upshift' competence to white audiences: study

Why uncertainty makes us change our behavior—even when we shouldn't

'Digging' into early medieval Europe with big data

Researchers film human viruses in liquid droplets at near-atomic detail

Differentiating strong antibiotic producers from weaker ones

Buffer zones, better regulation needed to prevent agricultural pollution in rivers, streams

New Russian lab briefly knocks space station out of position

Research looks for possible COVID tie to later Alzheimer's

Flawed scientific papers fueling COVID-19 misinformation

Climate change threat to 'tuna dependent' Pacific Islands economies

Equity principles introduced into the algorithm development process for public health modeling

Novel therapy may improve survival for patients with malignant gliomas

Study: COVID-19 does not enter DNA

Physics news

Engineers bend light to enhance wavelength conversion

Electrical engineers from the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering have developed a more efficient way of converting light from one wavelength to another, opening the door for improvements in the performance of imaging, sensing and communication systems.

Ultracold transistors serve as their own memory devices

Digital transistors—assembled by the billions in today's computer chips—act as near-perfect electronic switches. In the "on" position, achieved when an above-threshold voltage is applied to the device, the transistor allows current to flow. When the switch is off, the transistor prevents the flow of current. The on/off positions of the switch translate into the 1s and 0s of digital computation.

Natural mineral hackmanite enables new method of x-ray imaging

Researchers from the University of Turku have discovered a new method of X-ray imaging based on the coloring abilities of the natural mineral hackmanite. The international group of researchers also found out how and why hackmanite changes color upon exposure to X-rays.

Ultrafast X-ray provides new look at plasma discharge breakdown in water

Occurring faster than the speed of sound, the mystery behind the breakdown of plasma discharges in water is one step closer to being understood as researchers pursue applying new diagnostic processes using state-of-the-art X-ray imaging to the challenging subject.

Searching for dark matter inside the Earth

Dark matter remains one of the greatest mysteries in science. Despite decades of astronomical evidence for its existence, no one has yet been able to find any sign of it closer to home. There have been dozens of efforts to do so, and one of the most prominent just hit a milestone—the release and analysis of eight years of data. The IceCube Neutrino Observatory will soon be releasing results from those eight years, but for now let's dive in to what exactly they are looking for.

Electron microscopy in the age of automation

"Many of the greatest challenges of our time, from clean energy to environmental justice, require new approaches to the craft of scientific experimentation. This is exceedingly apparent in the field of electron microscopy. As researchers utilize this powerful window to peer into the atomic machinery behind today's technologies, they are increasingly inundated with data and constrained by traditional operating models. We must leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning in our scientific instruments if we are to unlock breakthrough discoveries."

Astronomy and Space news

New Russian lab briefly knocks space station out of position

A newly arrived Russian science lab briefly knocked the International Space Station out of position Thursday when it accidentally fired its thrusters.

Apollo 11 ascent stage may still be orbiting the moon

James Meador, an independent researcher at the California Institute of Technology, has found evidence that suggests the Apollo 11 ascent stage may still be orbiting the moon. He has written a paper outlining his research and findings and has posted it on the arXiv preprint server.

The magnetic field in the galactic outflow of M82

Messier 82 (M82) is a luminous infrared galaxy about twelve million light-years away from the Milky Way. Its burst of star formation powers the radiation and drives a bipolar superwind that originates near the core of the galaxy. The wind extends perpendicular to the galactic plane out into the halo and intergalactic medium; ionized gas in the wind traces a continuous structure that is about thirty-four thousand light-years long. Astronomers think that star formation along the superwind is exciting the gas and also generating X-ray emission, the latter produced by associated shocks.

Astronomers discover how to feed a black hole

The black holes at the centers of galaxies are the most mysterious objects in the Universe, not only because of the huge quantities of material within them, millions of times the mass of the sun, but because of the incredibly dense concentration of matter in a volume no bigger than that of our solar system. When they capture matter from their surroundings they become active, and can send out enormous quantities of energy from the capture process, although it is not easy to detect the black hole during these capture episodes, which are not frequent.

US watchdog upholds SpaceX's Moon lander contract

NASA did not violate regulations when it decided to give SpaceX the sole contract to build a Moon lander, a watchdog said Friday, in a ruling that denied challenges by competitors Blue Origin and Dynetics.

World's first commercial re-programmable satellite blasts into space

The world's first commercial fully re-programmable satellite lifted off from French Guiana on Friday on board an Ariane 5 rocket, ushering in a new era of more flexible communications.

World's first re-progammable commercial satellite set to launch

The European Space Agency will on Friday launch the world's first commercial fully re-programmable satellite, paving the way for a new era of more flexible communications.

Astronomers develop sky model to help ultralong-wavelength observations

The radio sky at frequencies below ~30 MHz, particularly below ~10 MHz, is still largely unknown. Due to the absorption and distortion by the ionosphere, it is quite difficult to receive radio signal of such ultra-long wavelength by telescopes on Earth.

Russia blames space station lab incident on software failure

A Russian space official on Friday blamed a software problem on a newly docked science lab for briefly knocking the International Space Station out of position.

China's space propaganda blitz endures at slick new planetarium

China has opened the doors on what it bills as the world's largest planetarium, a slick new Shanghai facility showcasing the nation's recent extra-terrestrial exploits while notably downplaying those of space pioneers like the United States.

Technology news

Equity principles introduced into the algorithm development process for public health modeling

In the U.S., the place where one was born, one's social and economic background, the neighborhoods in which one spends one's formative years, and where one grows old are factors that account for a quarter to 60% of deaths in any given year, partly because these forces play a significant role in occurrence and outcomes for heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory diseases, and cerebrovascular diseases—the five leading causes of death.

Vibrating shoes help low-vision people navigate city streets

Honda has announced on its News Room website the establishment of a startup called Ashirase, Inc.— the first new business venture to originate from the company's IGNITION program. Ashirase will produce an in-shoe navigation system to help people with low vision navigate in public spaces.

New financial analysis tool for long-duration energy storage in deeply decarbonized grids

Renewable energy generation technologies such as solar, wind, and hydro continue to gain popularity worldwide. As more and more renewable generation enters the grid, the success of these clean technologies will increasingly rely on the development of long-duration energy storage solutions that support variability in electric power generation.

Decoding how salamanders walk

Researchers at Tohoku University and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, with the support of the Human Frontier Science Program, have decoded the flexible motor control mechanisms underlying salamander walking.

Autonomous vehicles learning to drive by mimicking others

Self-driving cars are powered by machine learning algorithms that require vast amounts of driving data in order to function safely. But if self-driving cars could learn to drive in the same way that babies learn to walk—by watching and mimicking others around them—they would require far less compiled driving data. That idea is pushing Boston University engineer Eshed Ohn-Bar to develop a completely new way for autonomous vehicles to learn safe driving techniques—by watching other cars on the road, predicting how they will respond to their environment, and using that information to make their own driving decisions.

Platform teaches nonexperts to use machine learning

Machine-learning algorithms are used to find patterns in data that humans wouldn't otherwise notice, and are being deployed to help inform decisions big and small—from COVID-19 vaccination development to Netflix recommendations.

Beware using telemedicine for voice and speech therapy

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, people across the world have experienced how teleconferencing platforms like Zoom help folks stay connected—playing games with friends, hosting virtual weddings, and even visiting a doctor. But when it comes to telemedicine, not all medical care is easily translated to a remote format.

Robotic police dogs: Useful hounds or dehumanizing machines?

If you're homeless and looking for temporary shelter in Hawaii's capital, expect a visit from a robotic police dog that will scan your eye to make sure you don't have a fever.

Amazon's sales growth slows as pandemic shopping surge eases

The world's return to almost normalcy is slowing down Amazon's pandemic-induced sales surge.

Climate bid faces tricky path over money for electric cars

The bipartisan compromise on infrastructure cuts in half President Joe Biden's call for $15 billion to build 500,000 electric vehicle charging outlets, raising the stakes as the administration seeks to win auto industry cooperation on anti-pollution rules to curb climate change.

Big Tech booms even as lockdown living wanes

Big Tech goliaths like Facebook and Amazon unveiled whopping profits this week, showing their dominance in lockdown lifestyles is on course to grow well beyond the pandemic.

Student designs compact lifesaving drone for beach rescue teams

In 2017, while on holiday with his family in Cornwall, Loughborough University student Dominic Leatherland witnessed a teenager become detached from their bodyboard and pulled out to sea due to rough conditions.

Former competitive swimmer designs pool navigation aid for visually impaired athletes

Since its invention in the 1980s, the tapping method has been used to guide visually impaired swimmers in the pool.

Scientists produce high-resolution urban floor area map of China

Recently, using random forest regression models, scientists estimated an urban floor (building) area map with high accuracy for mainland China.

Amazon fined 746 mn euros in Luxembourg over data privacy

Amazon was fined 746 million euros ($880 million) by Luxembourg authorities over allegations it flouted the EU's data protection rules, the online retail giant said Friday.

China nuclear reactor shut down for maintenance after damage

A reactor at a nuclear plant in southern China has been shut down because it is damaged, the operator said Friday, but it insisted there were no major safety issues.

How will machine learning change science?

Machine learning has burst onto the scene in the past two decades and will be a defining technology of the future. It is transforming large sectors of society, including healthcare, education, transport, and food and industrial production, as well as having an enormous impact on science and research.

Twitter to offer 'bounty' to find algorithmic bias

Twitter said Friday it would offer a cash "bounty" to users and researchers to help root out algorithmic bias on the social media platform.

China's Didi denies report of plan to buy back shares

Didi Global Inc. on Friday denied a report by The Wall Street Journal that the ride-hailing service was considering buying back its U.S.-traded shares after its June market debut was disrupted by Chinese government orders to overhaul data security.

Air France-KLM sees 'first signs of recovery'

Air France-KLM said Friday that it narrowed its loss in the second quarter and saw the "first signs of recovery" in the aviation sector as countries ease coronavirus restrictions and vaccination campaigns continue apace.

Monitoring system designed to make railway operations much safer

Researchers from the Hefei Institutes of Physical Science (HFIPS) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have developed a monitoring system to ensure communication and operation safety in railway sections by sending early warnings using fiber detection technology.

China presses tech giants to conduct 'deep self-examination'

China on Friday told the country's tech giants to conduct "deep self-examination" over issues including data security and user rights, as Beijing turns up the heat in its broadening regulatory clampdown.

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