Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Sep 1

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for September 1, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Scientists in Sweden discover a rare, aggressive form of Alzheimer's that begins in the early 40s

DefGraspSim: A pipeline to evaluate robotic grasping of 3D deformable objects

Atomic-scale imaging reveals ants use zinc to sharpen their teeth

Hidden bacterial hairs power nature's 'electric grid'

Do genetics control who our friends are? It seems so with mice

Extremely strong nano-twinned pure nickel with extremely fine twin thickness

Aloof neutrons may actually 'talk' to one another briefly in new kind of symmetry

Experiment shows groups of laypeople reliably rate stories as effectively as fact-checkers do

Research inspects the emission from millisecond pulsar PSR J0218+4232

Study shows impacts of deforestation and forest burning on biodiversity in the Amazon

Toward the scaling up of nanocages to trap noble gases

What young stars teach us about the birth of our solar system

The case of the missing mantle: How impact debris may have disappeared from the solar system

Physicists find 'magnon' origins in 2D magnet

Imaginary numbers protect AI from very real threats

Physics news

Aloof neutrons may actually 'talk' to one another briefly in new kind of symmetry

Even though neutrons love to partner with protons to make the nucleus of an atom, the particles have always been notorious for their reluctance to bind with each other. But according to a new proposed theory, these particles might communicate under certain circumstances, forming a new sort of 'unparticle'—which could offer evidence of a new kind of symmetry in physics.

Physicists find 'magnon' origins in 2D magnet

Rice physicists have confirmed the topological origins of magnons, magnetic features they discovered three years ago in a 2D material that could prove useful for encoding information in the spins of electrons.

Ultrafast electronic control of magnetic anisotropy by mid-infrared light

One of the most important tasks in modern information technologies is controlling spin directions in magnets. State-of-the-art hard disk drives and large-volume magnetic storage used in data centers require magnetization in solids to switch their directions in nanoseconds, corresponding to GHz frequency, or even faster speeds. An ever-increasing demand for writing speed has pushed researchers towards extensive research in optical techniques using femtosecond laser pulses.

Fast tool developed for quantum computing and communication

Isaac Nape, an emerging South African talent in the study of quantum optics, is part of a crack team of Wits physicists who led an international study that revealed the hidden structures of quantum entangled states. The study was published in the renowned scientific journal, Nature Communications, on Friday, 27 August 2021.

Improved fabrication technique paves way for improved quantum devices

Physicists and engineers have found a way to identify and address imperfections in materials for one of the most promising technologies in commercial quantum computing.

Understanding how electrons drive chemical reactions

An Imperial-led team of international researchers has used a special X-ray probe to gain new insights into how electrons behave at the quantum level.

New molecular device has unprecedented reconfigurability reminiscent of brain plasticity

In a discovery published in the journal Nature, an international team of researchers has described a novel molecular device with exceptional computing prowess.

Gap solitons break one-dimensional coherent atomic systems

As the core of the light field modulation technologies, optical lattice has highly tunability and is usually used to manipulate the nonlinear matter waves of Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC). At present, the mainstream researches focus on coherent atomic systems like BECs which have been confirmed to be able to stably generate optical solitons under electromagnetically induced transparency (EIT) mode. However, related studies are limited to the periodic physical system in one dimension.

Diagnostic capability allows scientists to create X-ray movies

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists are working on a new diagnostic capability that will provide, for the first time, the ability to make X-ray radiographic movies.

Astronomy and Space news

Research inspects the emission from millisecond pulsar PSR J0218+4232

By analyzing the data from NASA's Fermi spacecraft and Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Cherenkov (MAGIC) telescope, an international team of astronomers has investigated a millisecond pulsar known as PSR J0218+4232. Results of the study, published August 25 on, shed more light on the emission from this source.

What young stars teach us about the birth of our solar system

The familiar star at the center of our solar system has had billions of years to mature and ultimately provide life-giving energy to us here on Earth. But a very long time ago, our sun was just a growing baby star. What did the sun look like when it was so young? That's long been a mystery that, if solved, could teach us about the formation of our solar system—so-named because sol is the Latin word for sun—and other stellar systems made up of planets and cosmic objects orbiting stars. 

The case of the missing mantle: How impact debris may have disappeared from the solar system

In the early solar system, terrestrial planets like Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are thought to have formed from planetesimals, small early planets. These early planets grew over time, through collisions and mergers, to make them the size they are today.

China wants to build a spaceship that's kilometers long

It's no secret that China has become a major contender in spaceflight. In the past 20 years, the China National Space Agency (CNSA) has accomplished some historic firsts. This includes sending astronauts to space, deploying three space stations (as part of the Tiangong program), developing heavy launch vehicles (like the Long March 5), and sending robotic explorers to the far side of the moon and Mars.

Student-designed experiment to measure Earth's magnetic field arrives at Space Station

Oscar-Qube, short for Optical Sensors based on CARbon materials: QUantum Belgium, is an experiment developed by a group of students from the University of Hasselt, Belgium. Part of ESA Education Office's Orbit Your Thesis! program, the experiment arrived at the International Space Station on Space X Dragon CR23 resupply mission yesterday.

Odds of asteroid Bennu hitting Earth put into perspective

Even Harry Stamper would probably like these odds.

NASA's Deep Space Network looks to the future

When NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover touched down on the Red Planet, the agency's Deep Space Network (DSN) was there, enabling the mission to send and receive the data that helped make the event possible. When OSIRIS-REx took samples of asteroid Bennu this past year, the DSN played a crucial role, not just in sending the command sequence to the probe, but also in transmitting its stunning photos back to Earth.

Technology news

DefGraspSim: A pipeline to evaluate robotic grasping of 3D deformable objects

Over the past few decades, roboticists and computer scientists have developed robots that can grasp and manipulate various objects in their surroundings. Most of these robots are primarily trained to grasp rigid objects or objects with specific shapes.

Imaginary numbers protect AI from very real threats

Computer engineers at Duke University have demonstrated that using complex numbers—numbers with both real and imaginary components—can play an integral part in securing artificial intelligence algorithms against malicious attacks that try to fool object-identifying software by subtly altering the images. By including just two complex-valued layers among hundreds if not thousands of training iterations, the technique can improve performance against such attacks without sacrificing any efficiency.

Researchers bring innovative AI and simulation tools to the COVID-19 battlefront

In its on-going campaign to reveal the inner workings of the Sar-CoV-2 virus, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory is leading efforts to couple artificial intelligence (AI) and cutting-edge simulation workflows to better understand biological observations and accelerate drug discovery.

When walked on, these wooden floors harvest enough energy to turn on a lightbulb

Researchers from Switzerland are tapping into an unexpected energy source right under our feet: wooden floorings. Their nanogenerator, presented September 1 in the journal Matter, enables wood to generate energy from our footfalls. They also improved the wood used in the their nanogenerator with a combination of a silicone coating and embedded nanocrystals, resulting in a device that was 80 times more efficient—enough to power LED lightbulbs and small electronics.

Researchers develop bionic arm that restores natural behaviors in patients with upper limb amputations

Cleveland Clinic researchers have engineered a first-of-its-kind bionic arm for patients with upper-limb amputations that allows wearers to think, behave and function like a person without an amputation, according to new findings published in Science Robotics.

Making the case for hydrogen in a zero-carbon economy

As the United States races to achieve its goal of zero-carbon electricity generation by 2035, energy providers are swiftly ramping up renewable resources such as solar and wind. But because these technologies churn out electrons only when the sun shines and the wind blows, they need backup from other energy sources, especially during seasons of high electric demand. Currently, plants burning fossil fuels, primarily natural gas, fill in the gaps.

Computer scientists create new search systems to limit COVID-19 misinformation

Researchers have created a new system that increases the correctness and reliability of health-related searches by 80 percent to help people make better decisions about topics like COVID.

Cheap electricity a boon for bitcoin mining in cash-strapped Venezuela

On a factory floor in Caracas, the din of dozens of computers working non-stop is deafening. This is the sound of a bitcoin mine—one of several in a country where cheap electricity has made crypto mining a rare profitable endeavor.

North African sun offers green hope but state role key

Blessed with year-round sunshine, North Africa has enormous potential for solar energy, but the huge investment and state subsidies required for large-scale projects are a challenge for cash-strapped regional governments.

Google appeals $591M French fine in copyright payment spat

Google is appealing a 500 million euro ($591 million) fine issued by French regulators over its handling of negotiations with publishers in a dispute over copyright.

Ultrasonic social distancing

Social distancing has been a critical component of the world's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The idea being that keeping physical apart from other people will reduce the risk of a person spreading the respiratory virus to someone else. It is just one component of our response, which also includes wearing face coverings, frequent hand sanitisation, and obtaining a vaccine against the virus.

Bluetooth devices proven to be vulnerable to unfixable security problems

Researchers from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) released 16 new security vulnerabilities, with the codename BrakTooth, affecting a wide range of Bluetooth classic (BR/EDR) implementations. The report, done in collaboration with the Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), was led by Assistant Professor Sudipta Chattopadhyay from SUTD's ASSET (Automated Systems SEcuriTy) Research Group.

Personalised gambling adverts: A troubling new trend

There's a new type of gambling advert being used online and on social media to try and appeal to viewers, recent research has shown. Unlike on television, these online advertisements can be more personalized, interactive and may be harder to distinguish from other content.

Smart windows that protect against solar radiation can help reduce greenhouse gases

Fraunhofer researchers have developed an intelligent coating for glass windows that darkens in the sun. This uses electrochromic and thermochromic materials that react to electricity and heat. In buildings with large glass fa├žades, it stops the rooms from getting too hot because of solar radiation, thereby reducing the demand for energy-intensive air conditioning.

Simulation of bamboo's response to moisture used to prevent mold growth in building materials

As a rapidly growing renewable raw material, bamboo is an ideal substitute for wood. However, bamboo's susceptibility to mold in damp conditions poses a problem. Researchers at Fraunhofer have now analyzed bamboo's response to moisture under specific climatic conditions. By using simulation software, building owners can plan and implement measures to prevent the growth of mold.

Activity detection inside a vehicle

Is the driver tired or even asleep? Cameras in the vehicle's interior can monitor this. Especially in the case of automated driving, interior cameras are important and prescribed by law. A new system developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB is the world's first to be able to use image data to draw conclusions about the driver's activity and analyze how quickly they would be able to take control of the vehicle.

3D-printed lunar habitat floor

A skeletal floor for the ESA-supported lunar habitat design which was created by leading architects Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and currently on show at this year's Venice Biennale.

Environmentally friendly manufacture of battery electrodes

Conventional processes for manufacturing battery electrodes involve mostly toxic solvents and require a lot of space and energy. This is not the case with DRYtraec—a new dry-coating process developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS. The technology is environmentally friendly and cost effective and can be used on a large scale, giving it the potential to revolutionize the manufacturing of battery electrodes.

A carbon-neutral response to rising electricity demand

Many everyday activities rely on electricity. As we look to 2050, this dependence is set to increase, with demand for electricity in Switzerland likely to rise to 50 percent. The increased demand can only be met by transforming the energy system.

Putting batteries on a chip could enable wearable sensors

Fitbits, car windows, oil refineries—the roll call of devices and technologies that rely on ultra-small sensors already numbers in the hundreds of billions.

New scientific approach reduces bias in training data for improved machine learning

As companies and decision-makers increasingly look to machine learning to make sense of large amounts of data, ensuring the quality of training data used in machine learning problems is becoming critical. That data is coded and labeled by human data annotators—often hired from online crowdsourcing platforms—which raises concerns that data annotators inadvertently introduce bias into the process, ultimately reducing the credibility of the machine learning application's output.

New report details Switzerland's geo-energy potential

When the Swiss government decided to phase out nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima accident on 11 March 2011, it also launched a major nationwide research program to explore alternative energy sources, with the goal of fully replacing the country's nuclear power with renewable energy by 2050. Some CHF 250 million in funding was deployed to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy. The nationwide research program entailed setting up eight Swiss Competence Centers for Energy Research (SCCERs) to explore seven energy-related topics. Universities and research institutes from across the country, in association with around 900 businesses and public-sector organizations, conducted 1,500 research projects through these Centers between 2013 and 2020. Innosuisse was commissioned to evaluate the results of the projects, and it issued its final report on 22 July 2021.

Increased advertising and algorithm changes at Google may make it harder to find what you're looking for

Over the past 25 years, the name "Google" has become synonymous with the idea of searching for anything online. In much the same way "to Hoover" means to use a vacuum cleaner, dictionaries have recognized "to Google" as meaning to undertake an online search using any available service.

Biofuels offer a cost-effective way to lower shipping emissions

Marine shipping traffic has grown steadily over the past decade—and so have the associated greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon emissions from ships grew almost 10% between 2012 and 2018, and the industry is a large consumer of petroleum fuel.

Grubhub testing delivery robots

Jeffrey McKee made a peculiar sighting on his way to work at Ohio State a few weeks ago. Rolling around campus was what appeared to be a food cooler with wheels and a camera perched on its roof.

China's amassing of genomic data highlights global biotech race

"Losing your DNA is not like losing your credit card."

NASA begins air taxi flight testing with Joby Aviation

NASA began flight testing Monday with Joby Aviation's all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft as part of the agency's Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) National Campaign. This testing runs through Friday, Sept.10, at Joby's Electric Flight Base located near Big Sur, California. This is the first time NASA will test an eVTOL aircraft as part of the campaign. In the future, eVTOL aircraft could serve as air taxis for those in cities and surrounding areas around the country, adding another mode of transportation for moving people and goods.

Researchers create 'brain-inspired computing architecture'

An international team of scientists including researchers at University of Limerick in Ireland have discovered a new molecule which could further increase ultra-fast decision making in computers.

Twitter tests Safety Mode to block internet trolls

Twitter on Wednesday announced it is testing a new feature that automatically blocks hateful messages, as the US site comes under increasing pressure to protect its users from online abuse.

China rolls out new data law over 'national security' fears

China's new data security law takes effect from Wednesday—the latest effort to tighten oversight of the country's mammoth tech sector.

Japan launches Digital Agency to boost government technology

Japan was looking to give its government services and record keeping a technological upgrade with Wednesday's launch of a new Digital Agency, hoping to bring a much needed overhaul to antiquated systems that have had their shortfalls highlighted by the pandemic.

Amazon says it's looking to hire 55,000 people

Amazon is going on another hiring spree.

Amazon to block some autocomplete search results for ivermectin, amid misuse for COVID-19

Amazon said it plans to block some autocomplete responses to address concerns over ivermectin, an unproven treatment for COVID-19, coming up as a suggestion when users type "iv" in the shopping platform's search bar.

Twitch video gamers go offline to protest 'hate raids'

Users of Twitch, the world's biggest video game streaming site, staged a virtual walkout on Wednesday to voice outrage over barrages of racist, sexist and homophobic abuse on the Amazon-owned platform.

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