Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Jan 20

Dear ymilog,

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

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Exploring the underpinnings of shadowbanning on Twitter

3-D printing highly stretchable hydrogel with diverse UV curable polymers

Researchers develop a mathematical model to explain the complex architecture of termite mounds

Squid-inspired robot swims with nature's most efficient marine animals

Fornax A galaxy investigated with AstroSat

Amber-encased fossil shines light on evolution of bioluminescent insects

Free online tool calculates risk of COVID-19 transmission in poorly-ventilated spaces

Breakthrough in understanding 'tummy bug' bacteria

Exploration of toxic Tiger Rattlesnake venom advances use of genetic science techniques

Do simulations represent the real world at the atomic scale?

Protected areas vulnerable to growing emphasis on food security

Butterflies create jet propulsion with a clap of their wings

How the male mantis keeps its head during rough sex

Designer DNA therapeutic wipes out cancer stem cells, treats multiple myeloma in mice

Diabetes powerfully associated with premature coronary heart disease in women

Physics news

Free online tool calculates risk of COVID-19 transmission in poorly-ventilated spaces

The vital role of ventilation in the spread of COVID-19 has been quantified by researchers, who have found that in poorly-ventilated spaces, the virus spreads further than two meters in seconds, and is far more likely to spread through prolonged talking than through coughing.

Do simulations represent the real world at the atomic scale?

Computer simulations hold tremendous promise to accelerate the molecular engineering of green energy technologies, such as new systems for electrical energy storage and solar energy usage, as well as carbon dioxide capture from the environment. However, the predictive power of these simulations depends on having a means to confirm that they do indeed describe the real world.

Scientists gain an unprecedented view of irradiated nuclear fuel

In a feat requiring perseverance, world-leading technology, and no small amount of caution, scientists have used intense X-rays to inspect irradiated nuclear fuel. The imaging, led by researchers at Purdue University and conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, revealed a 3-D view of the fuel's interior structure, laying the groundwork for better nuclear fuel designs and models.

Storing information with light

New photo-ferroelectric materials allow storage of information in a non-volatile way using light stimulus. The idea is to create energy efficient memory devices with high performance and versatility to face current challenges. The study has been published in Nature Communications by Josep Fontcuberta and co-workers and opens a path towards further investigations on this phenomenon and to neuromorphic computing applications. 

Astronomy and Space news

Fornax A galaxy investigated with AstroSat

Using the AstroSat spacecraft, Indian astronomers have performed an imaging and spectroscopic study of the Fornax A galaxy. Results of the study, published January 13 on the arXiv preprint server, provide more clues on the properties of the galaxy and ultraviolet emission from this source.

Saturn's tilt caused by its moons

Two scientists from CNRS and Sorbonne University working at the Institute of Celestial Mechanics and Ephemeris Calculation (Paris Observatory—PSL/CNRS) have just shown that the influence of Saturn's satellites can explain the tilt of the rotation axis of the gas giant. Their work, published on 18 January 2021 in the journal Nature Astronomy, also predicts that the tilt will increase even further over the next few billion years.

Physicist proposes human-populated mega-satellite orbiting Ceres

Physicist Pekka Janhunen with the Finnish Meteorological Institute has developed a novel idea to colonize a place other than the Earth—and it is not the moon or Mars. Instead, Janhunen is suggesting in a paper posted on the arXiv preprint server that humans populate a giant satellite that orbits Ceres, a dwarf planet in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars.

Genesis of blue lightning into the stratosphere detected from ISS

Dark clouds, the smell of rain on a hot sidewalk, the flashes of intense light followed by a loud crackling and then a low, rolling thunder—who doesn't love a good summer thunderstorm? We've all seen one, heard one, or been completely soaked by one. But how much do we really know about this weather phenomenon?

Alabama museum to restore full-sized mockup of space shuttle

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Alabama announced plans Tuesday to restore the world's only full-sized mockup of a space shuttle coupled with an external fuel tank and twin rocket boosters.

Technology news

Exploring the underpinnings of shadowbanning on Twitter

In recent years, social media platforms have been developing and implementing a variety of strategies to moderate content published by their users and ensure that it is not offensive or inappropriate. This has sparked significant debate, with some users claiming that these techniques hinder freedom of speech online.

Squid-inspired robot swims with nature's most efficient marine animals

Scientists at the University of Southampton and University of Edinburgh have developed a flexible underwater robot that can propel itself through water in the same style as nature's most efficient swimmer—the Aurelia aurita jellyfish.

New eco-friendly way to make ammonia could be boon for agriculture, hydrogen economy

Ammonia has sustained humanity since the early 20th century, but its production leaves a huge carbon footprint. Now researchers have found a way to make it 100 percent renewable.

An AI system for training dogs

A team of researchers at Colorado State University has designed an AI system to train a dog to obey certain oral commands without human assistance. In their paper uploaded to the arXiv preprint server, the researchers describe the technology that was used to build the system and how well it worked when tested.

New advances in the detection of bias in face recognition algorithms

A team from the Computer Vision Center (CVC) and the University of Barcelona has published the results of a study that evaluates the accuracy and bias in gender and skin color of automatic face recognition algorithms tested with real world data. Although the top solutions exceed the 99.9% of accuracy, researchers have detected some groups that show higher false positive or false negative rates.

Optimizing traffic signals to reduce wait times at intersections

Traffic lights at intersections are managed by simple computers that assign the right of way to the nonconflicting direction. However, studies looking at travel times in urban areas have shown that delays caused by intersections make up 12-55% of daily commute travel, which could be reduced if the operation of these controllers can be made more efficient to avoid unnecessary wait times.

Brave browser adds peer-to-peer IPFS protocol to combat censorship

In what might be the first salvo against the decades-long dominance of the HTTP protocol for internet data retrieval, an open source web browser devoted to privacy has introduced an option that allows for direct peer-to-peer transfers. This means that instead of relying on a massive network in which data are stored on dedicated servers, information can now rest on and be accessed from numerous nodes dispersed globally.

How to train a robot (using AI and supercomputers)

Before he joined the University of Texas at Arlington as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and founded the Robotic Vision Laboratory there, William Beksi interned at iRobot, the world's largest producer of consumer robots (mainly through its Roomba robotic vacuum).

Netflix's big 4Q lifts video service above 200M subscribers

Netflix's video streaming service has surpassed 200 million subscribers for the first time as its expanding line-up of TV series and movies continues to captivate people stuck at home during the ongoing battle against the pandemic.

World Wide Web inventor opposes Australia's news payment plan

World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee says Australia's plan to force digital giants to pay media outlets for news content is "unworkable" and undermines a "fundamental principle" of the internet.

US orders Ford to recall 3 mn vehicles with Takata airbags

US regulators on Tuesday ordered Ford to recall three million vehicles containing Takata airbags that show signs of "potential future rupture risk."

EU fines video game firms for blocking cross-border sales

The European Union has issued fines to a U.S. video game platform and five game makers after they blocked players from buying cheaper copies of the games in other countries in the bloc.

Lotus looks to an electric future with Alpine deal

A co-operation deal between British sports car maker Lotus and Alpine, owned by French giant Renault, is driven by a need to share supply chains and production facilities.

ASML earnings up despite pandemic

World leading Dutch microchip machine maker ASML said Wednesday it managed to chalk up strong growth last year despite the coronavirus pandemic as demand for equipment for online services at home kept electronics manufacturers busy.

Amazon offers to help with COVID-19 vaccine effort

Tech colossus Amazon on Wednesday offered to put its vast operation to work helping President Joe Biden get 100 million Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 in the next 100 days.

Top automotive tech at CES 2021

The atmosphere at the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show, held virtually for the first time due to the pandemic, struck a different tone than in years past. Without hordes of tech-hungry onlookers jockeying for position through packed convention center halls, automakers appeared more reserved in their proclamations for the future. Several high-profile exhibitors—such as Ford, Honda and Toyota—opted to sit out this year.

Jack's back: Chinese e-tycoon ends silence with online video

China's highest-profile entrepreneur, Jack Ma, appeared Wednesday in an online video, ending a 2 1/2-month absence from public view that prompted speculation about the future of the e-commerce billionaire and his Alibaba Group.

How do you know where a drone is flying without a GPS signal?

In Jouko Kinnari's doctoral dissertation, the location of a drone can be determined using map data and sensors.

Airline giant IAG gets Air Europa on cheap over virus

British Airways owner IAG on Wednesday said it would pay only half the agreed purchase price of Spain's Air Europa, and not for more than six years, as the sector is ravaged by the coronavirus.

Twitter shifts US presidential accounts to Biden team

As US President Joe Biden took office on Wednesday, Twitter handed him the reins of an official @POTUS account as part of the transfer of power.


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