Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Jul 20

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for July 20, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Scientists create world's thinnest magnet

New X-ray pulsar discovered

The plateau pika: How this tiny mammal survives winter on the roof of the world

World's richest man Jeff Bezos blasts into space

Supermassive black holes put a brake on stellar births

Copper transporter potential new treatment target for cardiovascular disease

Tomato fruits send electrical warnings to the rest of the plant when attacked by insects

Covid recovery to drive all-time emissions high: IEA

Amazon magnate Bezos ready to ride his own rocket to space

Study finds surprising source of social influence

Bleak cyborg future from brain-computer interfaces if we're not careful

Babies at risk for diabetes may have microbiota restored

Gene expression mechanism may have immunity, cancer implications

Climate change threatens food security of many countries dependent on fish

Data identifies turbine wake clustering, improves wind farm productivity via yaw control

Physics news

Can consciousness be explained by quantum physics? Research is closer to finding out

One of the most important open questions in science is how our consciousness is established. In the 1990s, long before winning the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for his prediction of black holes, physicist Roger Penrose teamed up with anaesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff to propose an ambitious answer.

3D hohlraum model assists in indirect-drive implosions at NIF

Scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) have described a simple 3D model in hohlraums and capsules for inertial confinement fusion (ICF) implosions. The model will assist in delivering the required implosion symmetry on layered deuterium-tritium (DT) implosions for ignition.

Capturing electrons in space

Interstellar clouds are the birthplaces of new stars, but they also play an important role in the origins of life in the Universe through regions of dust and gas in which chemical compounds form. The research group, molecular systems, led by ERC prize winner Roland Wester at the Institute for ion physics and applied physics at the University of Innsbruck, has set itself the task of better understanding the development of elementary molecules in space. "Put simply, our ion trap allows us to recreate the conditions in space in our laboratory," explains Roland Wester. "This apparatus allows us to study the formation of chemical compounds in detail." The scientists working with Roland Wester have now found an explanation for how negatively charged molecules form in space.

Anomalous quantum transport phenomena observed in fractal photonic lattices

Fractals are complex structures that usually exhibit self-similarity and have a non-integer dimension. The terminology "fractal" was first introduced by the famous mathematician Benoit B. Mandelbrot. He noticed that here and there, many natural objects were fractals, such as snowflakes, branching trees, coastline, etc. Outside of nature, fractal patterns or structures are also artificially created. One famous fractal type, Sierpinski gaskets, are widely used not only in the decoration of churches in ancient times, but also in modern artificial device engineering. So far, the feature of fractality has been reported in a wide range of fields including quantum mechanics, optics, finance, physiology, etc.

Laser improves the time resolution of CryoEM

In 2017, Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank, and Richard Henderson won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their contributions to cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM), an imaging technique that can capture pictures of biomolecules such as proteins with atomic precision.

The origin of bifurcated current sheets explained

A Korean research team has identified the origin of bifurcated current sheets, considered one of the most unsolved mysteries in the Earth's magnetosphere and in magnetized plasma physics.

Astronomy and Space news

New X-ray pulsar discovered

Using ART-XC and eROSITA telescopes onboard the Spectrum Roentgen Gamma (SRG) mission, an international team of astronomers has detected a new pulsar. The newly found object, designated SRGA J204318.2+443815, turns out to be a long-period, faint X-ray pulsar in a distant binary system. The finding is reported in a paper published July 12 on

World's richest man Jeff Bezos blasts into space

Earth's wealthiest man Jeff Bezos spent a few minutes outside the planet's atmosphere Tuesday on Blue Origin's first crewed space mission—a breakthrough moment for the space tourism sector that after years of delays is now poised for liftoff.

Supermassive black holes put a brake on stellar births

Black holes with masses equivalent to millions of suns do put a brake on the birth of new stars, say astronomers. Using machine learning and three state of the art simulations to back up results from a large sky survey, the researchers resolve a 20-year long debate on the formation of stars. Joanna Piotrowska, a Ph.D. student at the University of Cambridge, will present the new work today at the virtual National Astronomy Meeting (NAM 2021).

Amazon magnate Bezos ready to ride his own rocket to space

The wealthiest man on the planet Jeff Bezos will ride his own rocket to outer space on Tuesday, a key moment for a fledgling industry seeking to make the final frontier accessible to elite tourists.

Hubble returns to full science observations and releases new images

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is back in business, exploring the universe near and far. The science instruments have returned to full operation, following recovery from a computer anomaly that suspended the telescope's observations for more than a month.

Long-period oscillations of the Sun discovered

A team of solar physicists led by Laurent Gizon of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) and the University of Göttingen in Germany has reported the discovery of global oscillations of the Sun with very long periods, comparable to the 27-day solar rotation period. The oscillations manifest themselves at the solar surface as swirling motions with speeds on the order of 5 kilometers per hour. These motions were measured by analyzing 10 years of observations from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Using computer models, the scientists have shown that the newly discovered oscillations are resonant modes and owe their existence to the Sun's differential rotation. The oscillations will help establish novel ways to probe the Sun's interior and obtain information about our star's inner structure and dynamics. The scientists describe their findings in a letter to appear today in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

New method predicts 'stealth' solar storms before they wreak geomagnetic havoc on Earth

On 23 July 2012, humanity escaped technological and economic disaster. A diffuse cloud of magnetized plasma in the shape of a slinky toy tens of thousands of kilometers across was hurled from the Sun at a speed of hundreds of kilometers per second.

Exoplanet discovery tool begins its mission

The NEID spectrometer, a new tool for the discovery of planets outside of our solar system, has now started its scientific mission at the WIYN 3.5m telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory, Arizona.

Signs of life on Mars? Perseverance rover begins the hunt

NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover has begun its search for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet. Flexing its 7-foot (2-meter) mechanical arm, the rover is testing the sensitive detectors it carries, capturing their first science readings. Along with analyzing rocks using X-rays and ultraviolet light, the six-wheeled scientist will zoom in for closeups of tiny segments of rock surfaces that might show evidence of past microbial activity.

ExoMars orbiter continues hunt for key signs of life on Mars

The ESA-Roscosmos Trace Gas Orbiter has set new upper limits on how much methane, ethane, ethylene and phosphine is in the martian atmosphere—four so-called 'biomarker' gases that are potential signs of life.

With the HUMANS project, a message that space is for everyone

When the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft launched in 1977, they each carried a Golden Record, a special project spearheaded by astrophysicist Carl Sagan, in addition to the scientific instruments necessary for their mission to explore the outer reaches of our solar system. Part time capsule, part symbolic ambassador of goodwill, the Golden Record comprises sounds, images, music, and greetings in 59 languages, providing a snapshot of life on Earth for the edification of any intelligent extraterrestrial beings the spacecraft might encounter.

Blue Origin's first crewed flight minted four new astronauts

The world's richest man Jeff Bezos, his brother, a Dutch teenager who is now the youngest ever astronaut and a barrier-breaking female US aviator who is now the oldest have now been to space.

Bezos says 'awestruck' by Earth's beauty as seen from space

Jeff Bezos said the "most profound" aspect of his brief journey to space was the spectacular view he saw of Earth, which left him amazed by its beauty and fragility.

Technology news

Data identifies turbine wake clustering, improves wind farm productivity via yaw control

In the wind power industry, optimization of yaw, the alignment of a wind turbine's angle relative to the horizonal plane, has long shown promise for mitigating wake effects that cause a downstream turbine to produce less power than its upstream partner. However, a critical missing puzzle piece in the application of this knowledge has recently been added—how to automate the identification of which turbines are experiencing wake effects amid changing wind conditions.

A machine learning breakthrough: Using satellite images to improve human lives

More than 700 imaging satellites are orbiting the earth, and every day they beam vast oceans of information—including data that reflects climate change, health and poverty—to databases on the ground. There's just one problem: While the geospatial data could help researchers and policymakers address critical challenges, only those with considerable wealth and expertise can access it.

New algorithm may help autonomous vehicles navigate narrow, crowded streets

It is a scenario familiar to anyone who has driven down a crowded, narrow street: Parked cars line both sides, and there isn't enough space for vehicles traveling in both directions to pass each other. One has to duck into a gap in the parked cars or slow and pull over as far as possible for the other to squeeze by.

Solar cells: Layer of three crystals produces a thousand times more power

The photovoltaic effect of ferroelectric crystals can be increased by a factor of 1,000 if three different materials are arranged periodically in a lattice. This has been revealed in a study by researchers at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU). They achieved this by creating crystalline layers of barium titanate, strontium titanate and calcium titanate which they alternately placed on top of one another. Their findings, which could significantly increase the efficiency of solar cells, were published in the journal Science Advances.

Enzyme-based plastics recycling is more energy efficient, better for environment

Researchers in the BOTTLE Consortium, including from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the University of Portsmouth, have identified using enzymes as a more sustainable approach for recycling polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a common plastic in single-use beverage bottles, clothing, and food packaging that are becoming increasingly relevant in addressing the environmental challenge of plastic pollution. An analysis shows enzyme-recycled PET has potential improvement over conventional, fossil-based methods of PET production across a broad spectrum of energy, carbon, and socioeconomic impacts.

Mind and matter: Modeling the human brain with machine learning

We all like to think that we know ourselves best, but given that our brain activity is largely governed by our subconscious mind, it is probably our brain that knows us better. While this is only a hypothesis, researchers from Japan have already proposed a content recommendation system that assumes this to be true. Essentially, such a system makes use of its user's brain signals (acquired using, say, an MRI scan) when exposed to a particular content and eventually, by exploring various users and contents, builds up a general model of brain activity.

New technology shows promise in detecting and blocking grid cyberattacks

Researchers from Idaho National Laboratory and New Mexico-based Visgence Inc. have designed and demonstrated a technology that can block cyberattacks from impacting the nation's electric power grid.

Managing data practices on the web

Surfing the web today exposes users to a shocking array of data collection practices. Websites are building digital profiles about you, targeting ads towards you, and sometimes they're even using your computer to mine cryptocurrency, whether you know it or not.

New weapons testing capability produces richer data, saves time, cost

A team of Sandia National Laboratories engineers developed a new testing capability in support of its nuclear weapons mission. The team completed their first combined-environments test on a full-scale weapons system at the Sandia Superfuge/Centrifuge complex in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

No excuse to continue reliance on fossil fuels, says leading nanotechnologist

One of the leading thinkers in nanoscience has called on the energy materials community to help finally put an end to the world's reliance on fossil fuels.

Expanding wind energy while preserving scenery

Wind energy is of outstanding importance to the energy transition in Germany. According to the Federal Statistical Office, its share in total gross electricity production of about 24% is far higher than those of all other renewable energy sources. "To reach our climate goals, it is important to further expand these capacities and to replace as much coal-based power as possible," says Professor Wolf Fichtner from KIT's Institute for Industrial Production (IIP). "However, there is considerable resistance, especially in beautiful landscapes." A team of researchers from KIT, the University of Aberdeen, and the Technical University of Denmark has now calculated what this means for the costs of the energy transition and for the CO2 balance of municipalities in Germany.

Improving cybersecurity means understanding how cyberattacks affect both governments and civilians

For nearly two years, 68 United Nations member states—along with private enterprises, non-governmental organizations, technical communities and academics—participated in an open-ended working group on developments in information and telecommunications in international security (Cyber OEWG). The working group deliberated on responsible state behavior in cyberspace.

Calling out China for cyberattacks is risky—but a lawless digital world is even riskier

Today's multi-country condemnation of cyber-attacks by Chinese state-sponsored agencies was a sign of increasing frustration at recent behavior. But it also masks the real problem—international law isn't strong or coherent enough to deal with this growing threat.

Satellites for 5G to connect delivery vans seamlessly

A vehicle that remains continuously connected even when in remote areas is being road tested in Cornwall in the south west of the UK.

The US Army tried mobile nuclear power at remote bases 60 years ago, and it didn't go well

In a tunnel 40 feet beneath the surface of the Greenland ice sheet, a Geiger counter screamed. It was 1964, the height of the Cold War. U.S. soldiers in the tunnel, 800 miles from the North Pole, were dismantling the Army's first portable nuclear reactor.

Neural model seeks 'inappropriateness' to reduce chatbot awkwardness

Researchers from Skoltech and their colleagues from Mobile TeleSystems have introduced the notion of inappropriate text messages and released a neural model capable of detecting them, along with a large collection of such messages for further research. Among the potential applications are preventing corporate chatbots from embarrassing the companies that run them, forum post moderation, and parental control. The study came out in the Proceedings of the 8th Workshop on Balto-Slavic Natural Language Processing.

New cybersecurity order issued for US pipeline operators

The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday announced new requirements for U.S. pipeline operators to bolster cybersecurity following a May ransomware attack that disrupted gas delivery across the East Coast.

After conquering Earth, Bezos completes new mission in space

Jeff Bezos fulfilled his longtime dream of going into space Tuesday and potentially opening a door to space tourism—possibly the next mission for the man who built one of Earth's biggest business empires.

Millions of dollars saved when scheduled travel providers adapt to on-demand scheduling

Uber and Lyft are popular on-demand ways to travel, but does that mean trains and busses are a thing of the past? Travelers prefer different modes of transportation at different times. So how can all these modes co-exist and do so successfully? New research in the INFORMS journal Transportation Science has created a model and an algorithm to redistribute transit resources based on commuter preferences resulting in millions in savings.

Qualcomm beefs up artificial intelligence team with purchase of Twenty Billion Neurons

Qualcomm said Monday that it recently acquired the assets of Twenty Billion Neurons, a Microsoft-backed artificial intelligence/computer vision startup that develops avatars that can see and interact with people in a human-like way.

The Indus basin: Untapped potential for long-term energy storage

Hydropower has massive potential as a source of clean electricity, and the Indus basin can be a key player in fulfilling long-term energy storage demands across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. IIASA researchers explored the role the Indus basin could play to support global sustainable development.

Machine learning models to help photovoltaic systems find their place

With the looming threat of climate change, it is high time we embrace renewable energy sources on a larger scale. Photovoltaic systems, which generate electricity from the nearly limitless supply of sunlight energy, are one of the most promising ways of generating clean energy. However, integrating photovoltaic systems into existing power grids is not a straightforward process. Because the power output of photovoltaic systems depends heavily on environmental conditions, power plant and grid managers need estimations of how much power will be injected by photovoltaic systems so as to plan optimal generation and maintenance schedules, among other important operational aspects.

Empirical automobile class sizes

Traditionally, passenger cars are classified by experts in each country into categories such as micro, small, middle, upper middle, large and luxury class. But this old fashioned method has limitations in terms of compatibility. Moreover, some crossover vehicles are difficult to categorize. Empa scientists found a method to do this sorting fairly and in an efficient way by browsing databases with machine learning methods.

Instagram tool lets users avoid 'sensitive' content

Instagram on Tuesday added a way for users to adjust how tightly they want to filter out violent or sexually suggestive posts while they explore the image-centric social network.

Fitness company Peloton is making its own video game, called Lanebreak

Add Peloton to the list of companies experimenting with a move into video games.

China denies Microsoft hack, condemns US allies

China on Tuesday sharply denied US allegations it carried out a massive Microsoft hack, countering that Washington was the "world champion" of cyber attacks while raging at American allies for signing up to a rare joint statement of condemnation.

'You weren't paranoid': Mexico at heart of spyware scandal

Journalist Marcela Turati always suspected the Mexican authorities were spying on her. Now she's almost certain, after appearing in a leaked list at the center of a global spyware scandal.

EasyJet charts path out of pandemic fallout

British airline EasyJet on Tuesday ramped up summer capacity and revealed narrowing losses, thanks to easing Covid travel curbs in Europe, speedy vaccinations and improving demand.

Amazon to end testing for COVID-19 at warehouses this month

Amazon will stop testing workers for COVID-19 at its warehouses at the end of this month, citing the availability of vaccines and free testing.

Nasdaq, large banks unveil exchange for private stock sales

Nasdaq announced Tuesday that it is replacing its exchange for companies that are not publicly traded, with a joint venture that will receive financing from Goldman Sachs and other financial heavyweights.

Biden names Big Tech critic to head antitrust unit

President Joe Biden on Tuesday named a prominent Big Tech critic to head the Justice Department's antitrust division in another sign of aggressive moves to counter the dominance of major Silicon Valley firms.

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