Science X Newsletter Monday, Aug 2

Dear ymilog,

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

Spotlight Stories Headlines

The antibody with a secret: Scientists uncover IgA antibodies' ability to fight malaria

A tactile sensing mechanism for soft robotic fingers

Researchers find oxygen spike coincided with ancient global extinction

Sea levels influence eruptions on volcanic island

Lake Huron sinkhole surprise: The rise of oxygen on early Earth linked to changing planetary rotation rate

Birnessite study offers insights for electrochemistry, energy storage

Punishment enforces cooperation in the fig-wasp mutualism: The exception proves the rule

New material offers ecofriendly solution to converting waste heat into energy

WISEA J052305.94-015356.1 may be an extreme subdwarf of T-type

NASA study highlights importance of surface shadows in moon water puzzle

More to pictures than meets the eye: study

Why is this weird, metallic star hurtling out of the Milky Way?

Image: Hubble spots squabbling galactic siblings

Researchers find gaps in clinical trial data sharing

Heatwave causes massive melt of Greenland ice sheet

Physics news

Finding the cause of a fatal problem in rocket engine combustors

Rocket engines contain confined combustion systems, which are essentially combustion chambers. In these chambers, nonlinear interactions among turbulent fuel and oxidizer flows, sound waves, and heat produced from chemical reactions cause an unstable phenomenon called "combustion oscillations." The force of these oscillations on the body of the combustion chamber—the mechanical stress on the chamber— is high enough to threaten catastrophic failure of the engine. What causes these oscillations? The answer remains to be found.

Astronomy and Space news

WISEA J052305.94-015356.1 may be an extreme subdwarf of T-type

By analyzing the data from various surveys, a British amateur astronomer has found that a recently discovered star, designated WISEA J052305.94-015356.1, may be a representative of a rare class of subdwarfs—an extreme subdwarf of the T spectral class (esdT). The finding is reported in a paper published July 23 on

NASA study highlights importance of surface shadows in moon water puzzle

The shadows cast by the roughness of the Moon's surface create small cold spots for water ice to accumulate even during the harsh lunar daytime.

Why is this weird, metallic star hurtling out of the Milky Way?

About 2,000 light-years away from Earth, there is a star catapulting toward the edge of the Milky Way. This particular star, known as LP 40−365, is one of a unique breed of fast-moving stars—remnant pieces of massive white dwarf stars—that have survived in chunks after a gigantic stellar explosion.

Image: Hubble spots squabbling galactic siblings

A dramatic triplet of galaxies takes center stage in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, which captures a three-way gravitational tug-of-war between interacting galaxies. This system—known as Arp 195—is featured in the Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies, a list which showcases some of the weirder and more wonderful galaxies in the universe.

Cosmic galaxy assembly and the evolution of metals

Astronomers refer to all the elements heavier than helium as "metals," even elements that are typically found in gaseous form. In the big bang only hydrogen and helium (and a trace of lithium) were created while the "metals" were all made subsequently in stellar processes. The abundance of metals in the interstellar medium (ISM) of galaxies—the metallicity of the galaxies—thus quantifies the collective stellar processes that govern galactic evolution. The metallicity of the gaseous phase of the ISM (excluding particulates) has been found to be closely related to the history of a galaxy's star formation and can be determined using optical spectroscopic observations of atomic lines, especially bright ones from ionized oxygen and neon. Another pivotal process in setting the metallicity is gas flow both out of the galaxy, driven by supernovae or other processes, and into the galaxy from the intergalactic medium.

ESA gets ready for double Venus flyby

Solar Orbiter and BepiColombo are set to make space history with two Venus flybys just 33 hours apart on 9 and 10 August.

Science in motion for ExoMars twin rover

The first science tests for the ExoMars rover replica kicked off after several weeks of driving tests around the Mars Terrain Simulator at the ALTEC premises in Turin, Italy.

Discovery of very red bodies in the asteroid belt that resemble trans-Neptunian objects

Two asteroids (203 Pompeja and 269 Justitia) have been discovered with a redder spectrum than any other object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The discovery was led by HASEGAWA Sunao, Associate Senior Researcher at ISAS JAXA, with an international team of researchers from MIT, the University of Hawai'i, Seoul National University, Kyoto University and the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille

First additively-manufacture thermal protection shield is going to space

A research team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have 3D printed a thermal protection shield, or TPS, for a capsule that will launch with the Cygnus cargo spacecraft as part of the supply mission to the International Space Station. The launch will mark the first time an additively manufactured TPS has been sent to space.

Technology news

A tactile sensing mechanism for soft robotic fingers

In recent years, numerous roboticists worldwide have been trying to develop robotic systems that can artificially replicate the human sense of touch. In addition, they have been trying to create increasingly realistic and advanced bionic limbs and humanoid robots, using soft materials instead of rigid structures.

Explainer: The tech behind Tokyo Olympics' fast track

The Jamaican sprinter and her Olympic-record time captured everyone's attention. What's under foot, though, might have been a factor when Elaine Thompson-Herah broke a 33-year-old Olympic record in the women's 100 meters.

Heterogeneous epitaxy of semiconductors targeting the post-Moore era

A research team led by Prof. Liu Zhiqiang from the Institute of Semiconductors of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in cooperation with the team led by Prof. Gao Peng from Peking University and the team led by Prof. Liu Zhongfan from Beijing Graphene Institute (BGI), recently realized the concept of "heterogeneous epitaxy" via a van der Walls strategy, a type of nonsymmetrical epitaxy process.

Using generalization techniques to make AI systems more versatile

A group at DeepMind called the Open-Ended Learning Team has developed a new way to train AI systems to play games. Instead of exposing it to millions of prior games, as is done with other game playing AI systems, the group at DeepMind has given its new AI system agents a set of minimal skills that they use to achieve a simple goal (such as spotting another player in a virtual world) and then build on it. The researchers created a virtual world called XLand—a colorful virtual world that has a general video game appearance. In it, AI players, which the researchers call agents, set off to achieve a general goal, and as they do, they acquire skills that they can use to achieve other goals. The researchers then switch the game around, giving the agents a new goal but allowing them to retain the skills they have learned in prior games. The group has written a paper describing their efforts and have posted it on the arXiv preprint server.

Interpretable machine learning predicts terrorism worldwide

About 20 years ago, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks killed almost 3,000 people in the World Trade Center, New York and at the Pentagon. Since then, a vast amount of research has been carried out to better understand the mechanisms behind terrorism in the hope of preventing future potentially devastating acts of terror. Despite the large efforts invested to study terrorism, quantitative research has mainly developed and applied approaches aiming at describing regional cases of terrorist acts without providing reliable and accurate short-term predictions at local level required by policymakers to implement targeted interventions.   

'Vultur' malware uses new technique to steal banking credentials

A team of researchers at the security firm ThreatFabric is reporting on their website blog page that they have found instances of a new kind of malware in Android apps downloaded from Google Play that attempt to steal banking login information. They have named the new malware Vultur, after the birds that prey on wounded or dead targets.

Stinkweed could make a cleaner bio-jet fuel, study finds

A common farm weed could make a 'greener' jet fuel with fewer production-related environmental impacts than other biofuels, a new study indicates.

Turning network traffic data into music

Cybersecurity analysts deal with an enormous amount of data, especially when monitoring network traffic. If one were to print the data in text form, a single day's worth of network traffic may be akin to a thick phonebook. In other words, detecting an abnormality is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Smart necklace could track your detailed facial expressions

Human facial movements convey emotions, and help us communicate nonverbally and perform physical activities, such as eating and drinking.

A comprehensive study of technological change

The societal impacts of technological change can be seen in many domains, from messenger RNA vaccines and automation to drones and climate change. The pace of that technological change can affect its impact, and how quickly a technology improves in performance can be an indicator of its future importance. For decision-makers like investors, entrepreneurs, and policymakers, predicting which technologies are fast improving (and which are overhyped) can mean the difference between success and failure.

Kitchen robot in Riga cooks up new future for fast food

A pasta order comes in and the robotic arm springs into action at the Roboeatz eatery in Riga. After five minutes of gyrations, a piping hot plate is ready.

YouTube suspends Sky News Australia channel

YouTube said Sunday it had barred Sky News Australia from uploading new content for one week, citing concerns about COVID-19 misinformation.

Carmakers warn chip shortage putting brakes on recovery

The automobile industry is being hit hard by a shortage of computer chips that has slowed production and is set to drag on for months.

The chips are down: why there's a semiconductor shortage

A shortage of semiconductors has sent shockwaves through the global economy, squeezing supplies of everything from cars to headphones.

Square to buy installment payment firm Afterpay in $29B deal

Digital payments company Square Inc. says it has agreed to acquire Afterpay, which provides a "buy now, pay later'' option for merchants, in an all-stock deal valued at about $29 billion.

Zoom to settle US privacy lawsuit for $85 mn

Zoom, the videoconferencing firm, has agreed to settle a class-action US privacy lawsuit for $85 million, it said Sunday.

Using heating systems to provide effective cooling

Climate change is causing a persistent increase in the number of hot summer days. Offices and homes are getting hotter, and the nights bring little respite from the heat. Against this backdrop, a significant increase in new cooling systems installations is anticipated, which in turn will give rise to increased energy consumption. One potential cost-effective alternative is to use existing heating systems. According to an analysis by the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP, the heat pumps in these systems can be reverse operated to provide effective cooling.

Avoiding the congestion chaos left by the pandemic

When the pandemic hit in early 2020, a rapid decrease in urban private car use was seen globally. Satellite navigation company TomTom reported that 387 cities across the world experienced a decrease in congestion.

Australia Tesla battery blaze under control after three days

A blaze at a massive Tesla battery site in Australia that started three days ago was brought under control on Monday, firefighters said.

Predicting wireless traffic using AI could improve the reliability of future wireless communication

The prediction of future wireless traffic volumes using artificial intelligence (AI) would allow communication systems to automatically adjust network resources to maximize reliability. KAUST researchers have now developed a more accurate "dual attention" prediction scheme that minimizes the volume of prediction data that needs to be transferred across the network.

Google to build its own chip for new Pixel smartphone

Google on Monday unveiled a new flagship Pixel smartphone powered by its first mobile chip to put artificial intelligence in people's hands.

EU investigates Facebook's proposed purchase of Kustomer

European Union regulators are opening an in-depth investigation of Facebook's plan to buy Kustomer over concerns that the deal would stifle competition for customer relationship management software.

Offloading functionalities to the storage device for greater speeds

In most computers, 'files' can be opened with a single click, but behind this click are a set of highly orchestrated processes that convert these files to and from the digital form. There is a complex interface between the file system software and the device where files are stored. The read/write speeds that we ultimately perceive (how long it takes to open and save files) are closely related to the inner workings of this interface.

Afterpay, the $29 billion Aussie startup

Australian fintech Afterpay is being bought out by US digital payment platform Square—less than seven years after launching as a "buy now, pay later" start-up.

Air travel hits another pandemic high, flight delays grow

Air travel in the U.S. is hitting new pandemic-era highs, and airlines are scrambling to keep up with the summer-vacation crowds.

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