Science X Newsletter Thursday, Jan 21

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for January 21, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Researchers develop a system that can recommend personalized and healthy recipes

Scientists find black holes could reach 'stupendously large' sizes

Search for axions from nearby star Betelgeuse comes up empty

Much of Earth's nitrogen was locally sourced

Behind those dancing robots, scientists had to bust a move

New studies clarify which genes may raise breast cancer risk

Some COVID-19 mutations may dampen vaccine effectiveness

Common pesticides stop bees and flies from getting a good night's sleep

Vaccine produces long-lasting anti-tumor response in patients with melanoma

Fossil burrows point to ancient seafloor colonization by giant marine worms

Solar system formation in two steps

Using CRISPR technology, team tracks lineage of individual cancer cells as they proliferate and metastasize in real time

Antibiotic resistance may spread even more easily than expected

Astronomers see whirlwind around possible exoplanet in the making

A breakthrough in chiral polymer thin films research could enable a new generation of devices

Physics news

Search for axions from nearby star Betelgeuse comes up empty

The elusive axion particle is many times lighter than an electron, with properties that barely make an impression on ordinary matter. As such, the ghost-like particle is a leading contender as a component of dark matter—a hypothetical, invisible type of matter that is thought to make up 85 percent of the mass in the universe.

Defects may help scientists understand the exotic physics of topology

Real-world materials are usually messier than the idealized scenarios found in textbooks. Imperfections can add complications and even limit a material's usefulness. To get around this, scientists routinely strive to remove defects and dirt entirely, pushing materials closer to perfection. Now, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have turned this problem around and shown that for some materials defects could act as a probe for interesting physics, rather than a nuisance.

Scientists use diamonds to generate better accelerator beams

Beam-driven wakefield acceleration approaches are promising candidates for future large-scale machines, including X-ray free electron lasers and linear colliders, as they have the potential to improve efficiency and reduce operation cost.

Researchers improve data readout by using 'quantum entanglement'

Researchers say they have been able to greatly improve the readout of data from digital memories—thanks to quantum entanglement.

Turbulence model could help design aircraft capable of handling extreme scenarios

In 2018, passengers onboard a flight to Australia experienced a terrifying 10-second nosedive when a vortex trailing their plane crossed into the wake of another flight. The collision of these vortices, the airline suspected, created violent turbulence that led to a free fall.

Bringing atoms to a standstill: Researchers miniaturize laser cooling

It's cool to be small. Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have miniaturized the optical components required to cool atoms down to a few thousandths of a degree above absolute zero, the first step in employing them on microchips to drive a new generation of super-accurate atomic clocks, enable navigation without GPS, and simulate quantum systems.

Electrons caught in the act

A team of researchers from the Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences at the University of Tsukuba filmed the ultrafast motion of electrons with sub-nanoscale spatial resolution. This work provides a powerful tool for studying the operation of semiconductor devices, which can lead to more efficient electronic devices.

Lasers create miniature robots from bubbles

Robots are widely used to build cars, paint airplanes and sew clothing in factories, but the assembly of microscopic components, such as those for biomedical applications, has not yet been automated. Lasers could be the solution. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces have used lasers to create miniature robots from bubbles that lift, drop and manipulate small pieces into interconnected structures.

Innovations through hair-thin optical fibers

Scientists at the University of Bonn have built hair-thin optical fiber filters in a very simple way. They are not only extremely compact and stable, but also color-tunable. This means they can be used in quantum technology and as sensors for temperature or for detecting atmospheric gases. The results have been published in the journal Optics Express.

A cascaded dual deformable phase plate wavefront modulator enables direct AO integration with existing microscopes

Microscopy is the workhorse of contemporary life science research, enabling morphological and chemical inspection of living tissue with ever-increasing spatial and temporal resolution. Even though modern microscopes are genuine marvels of engineering, minute deviations from ideal imaging conditions will still lead to optical aberrations that rapidly degrade imaging quality. A mismatch between the refractive indices of the sample and its immersion medium, deviations in the thickness of sample holders or cover glasses, the effects of aging on the instrument—such deviations can manifest themselves in the form of spherical aberration and focusing errors. Also, particularly for deep tissue imaging, an essential tool in neurobiology research, an inhomogeneous refractive index of the sample and its complex surface shape can lead to additional higher order aberrations.

Two-photon polymerization of PEGda hydrogel microstructure

The fabrication of shape-memory hydrogel scaffolds not only requires biocompatibility, micrometer resolution, high mechanical strength, but also requires a low polymerisation threshold in high-water content environment to incorporate microstructures with biological tissues. Towards this goal, scientists from China and Australia developed a new hydrogel formula that full fills this goal and demonstrated water-responsive structures with a shape-memory effect at a micrometer scale. This work is of importance for the development future reversible microdevices in biomedical engineering.

Astronomy and Space news

Scientists find black holes could reach 'stupendously large' sizes

A recent study suggests the possible existence of 'stupendously large black holes' or SLABS, even larger than the supermassive black holes already observed in the centers of galaxies.

Much of Earth's nitrogen was locally sourced

Where did Earth's nitrogen come from? Rice University scientists show one primordial source of the indispensable building block for life was close to home.

Solar system formation in two steps

An international team of researchers from the University of Oxford, LMU Munich, ETH Zurich, BGI Bayreuth, and the University of Zurich discovered that a two-step formation process of the early Solar System can explain the chronology and split in volatile and isotope content of the inner and outer Solar System.

Astronomers see whirlwind around possible exoplanet in the making

An international team of astronomers led by researchers from the Netherlands has discovered a whirlwind of dust and debris in orbit around a young star. It is possible that a planet is forming within the debris. The scientists made the discovery during the time that designers and developers of an astronomical instrument get as a reward for their work. They will soon publish their findings in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Juno maps water ice across northern Ganymede

Jupiter's moon Ganymede is the largest planetary satellite in the solar system. It's also one of the most intriguing: Ganymede is the only moon with its own magnetic field, it is the most differentiated of all moons, and it likely possesses a subsurface ocean of liquid water. It was studied by the early Jupiter flybys made by the Pioneer and Voyager spacecraft, but our understanding today rests largely on observations made by NASA's Galileo orbiter from 1995 to 2003.

Oldest carbonates in the solar system

A meteorite that fell in northern Germany in 2019 contains carbonates which are among the oldest in the solar system; it also evidences the earliest presence of liquid water on a minor planet. The high-resolution Ion Probe—a research instrument at the Institute of Earth Sciences at Heidelberg University—provided the measurements. The investigation by the Cosmochemistry Research Group led by Prof. Dr. Mario Trieloff was part of a consortium study coordinated by the University of Münster with participating scientists from Europe, Australia and the U.S.

Rocks show Mars once felt like Iceland

Once upon a time, seasons in Gale Crater probably felt something like those in Iceland. But nobody was there to bundle up more than 3 billion years ago.

Astronomers estimate Titan's largest sea is 1,000-feet deep

Far below the gaseous atmospheric shroud on Saturn's largest moon, Titan, lies Kraken Mare, a sea of liquid methane. Cornell University astronomers have estimated that sea to be at least 1,000-feet deep near its center—enough room for a potential robotic submarine to explore.

3-D printing to pave the way for moon colonization

A research team from the Skoltech Center for Design, Manufacturing and Materials (CDMM) comprising 2nd year Ph.D. student Maxim Isachenkov, Senior Research Scientist Svyatoslav Chugunov, Professor Iskander Akhatov, and Professor Igor Shishkovsky has prepared an extensive review on the use of Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies (also known as 3-D-printing) in crewed lunar exploration. Their paper published in the journal Acta Astronautica contains a comprehensive description of the geological composition of the lunar surface and the properties of lunar soil (lunar regolith) and its simulants, detailing their mineralogy, morphology, and chemical composition, in the light of their future use as feedstock for 3-D-printing on the moon surface.

NASA mission to test technology for satellite swarms

A NASA mission slated for launch on Friday will place three tiny satellites into low-Earth orbit, where they will demonstrate how satellites might track and communicate with each other, setting the stage for swarms of thousands of small satellites that can work cooperatively and autonomously.

Technology news

Researchers develop a system that can recommend personalized and healthy recipes

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and IBM Research in New York have recently created pFoodReQ, a system that can recommend recipes tailored around the preferences and dietary needs of individual users. This system is outlined in a paper pre-published on arXiv and set to be presented at the 14th International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining (WSDM) in March.

Behind those dancing robots, scientists had to bust a move

The man who designed some of the world's most advanced dynamic robots was on a daunting mission: programming his creations to dance to the beat with a mix of fluid, explosive and expressive motions that are almost human.

Bio-in­spired ro­bot­ics: Learn­ing from drag­on­flies

It is a high-speed movement: within fractions of a second the mouthparts of the dragonfly larvae spring forwards to seize its prey. For decades, researchers had assumed that this action must have been driven primarily by hydraulic pressure. Now, for the first time, scientists at Kiel University (CAU) have completely decrypted the biomechanical functional principle of what is known as the labial mask of dragonfly larvae. A vital contribution to this discovery was made by the team led by Dr. Sebastian Büsse of the Zoological Institute in its development of a bio-inspired robot with the operating principle of the complex mouthparts adapted to test its own hypothesis—the technology used here could lead to a significant enhancement of agile robot systems. The results of the ambitious research project were published on Wednesday 20 January in the renowned specialist journal Science Robotics.

Samsung announces 14-inch OLED screens that run at 90Hz

Samsung Display, a subsidiary of The Samsung Group, has announced that it will begin production of its new 14-inch OLED screen that runs at 90 Hz for laptops this spring. In their announcement on their blog, CEO Choi Choo-sun claimed that the screens will be in full production starting March 21 of this year.

Data science and computational mathematics unite to advance predictive methods in engineering

A well-known mathematical method, used as a predictive tool in engineering and the physical sciences for more than 70 years, has been radically redesigned in landmark research led by Cambridge engineers.

Electron transfer discovery is a step toward viable grid-scale batteries

The way to boost electron transfer in grid-scale batteries is different than researchers had believed, a new study from the University of Michigan has shown. The findings are a step toward being able to store renewable energy more efficiently.

Merging technologies with color to avoid design failures

Various software packages can be used to evaluate products and predict failure; however, these packages are extremely computationally intensive and take a significant amount of time to produce a solution. Quicker solutions mean less accurate results.

New approach to AI offers more certainty in the face of uncertainty

A new method to reason about uncertainty might help artificial intelligence to find safer options faster, for example in self-driving cars, according to a new study to be published shortly in AAAI involving researchers at Radboud University, the University of Austin, the University of California, Berkeley, and the Eindhoven University of Technology.

When a story is breaking, AI can help consumers identify fake news

Warnings about misinformation are now regularly posted on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms, but not all of these cautions are created equal. New research from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute shows that artificial intelligence can help form accurate news assessments—but only when a news story is first emerging.

Study measures which kinds of infrastructure improvements could lead to wider adoption of electric cars

A new study from researchers at MIT uncovers the kinds of infrastructure improvements that would make the biggest difference in increasing the number of electric cars on the road, a key step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.

Designing customized 'brains' for robots

Contemporary robots can move quickly. "The motors are fast, and they're powerful," says Sabrina Neuman.

Long-term storage of aircraft is not a big risk to safety

Proper maintenance procedures are in place to ensure that planes grounded for months or years due to worldwide travel restrictions are not an additional danger when they fly again.

Google, French publishers sign copyright news payment deal

Google has signed a deal with a group of French publishers paving the way for the internet giant to make digital copyright payments for online news content.

BlackRock opens door to bitcoin in boost for cryptocurrency

BlackRock, Wall Street's biggest money manager, is opening the door to investing in bitcoin futures in a potential boost for the controversial cryptocurrency.

Smooth touchdown: Novel camera-based system for automated landing of drone on a fixed spot

Initially earmarked for covert military operations, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones have since gained tremendous popularity, which has broadened the scope of their use. In fact, "remote pilot" drones have been largely replaced by "autonomous" drones for applications in various fields. One such application is their usage in rescue missions following a natural or man-made disaster. However, this often requires the drones to be able to land safely on uneven terrain—which can be very difficult to execute.

Google suspends second AI ethics researcher: union

Google has suspended an artificial intelligence ethics researcher weeks after dismissing another member of the team, a recently formed union said.

Biden could have to give up Peloton over security concerns

Joe Biden may have to find another way to stay fit at the White House, as experts worry the president's Peloton interactive fitness bike could create security risks.

Apple reportedly working on VR headset as part of augmented reality ambitions

Tech giant Apple is reportedly developing a virtual reality headset, leading toward the potential release of augmented reality glasses for consumers.

United Airlines posts $1.9 billion loss in pandemic-laden 4Q

United Airlines said Wednesday that it finished one of the worst years in its history by losing $1.9 billion in the last three months of 2020, and it predicted more of the same in the first quarter of this year.

California WeChat users claim China surveillance in lawsuit

California WeChat users sued its parent company Tencent on Wednesday, saying the mobile app is used for spying on and censoring users for the Chinese government.

Restructuring Norwegian Air to get government support

Norway's government said Thursday it will help ailing low-cost carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle - a U-turn from its previous refusal to do so - as long as the company manages to raise 4.5 billion kroner ($529 million) from other investors.

Start-up commercialises AI that can detect leaks instantly in gas pipelines

A sensor network powered by an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm developed by scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) can accurately detect, in real-time, gas leaks and unwanted water seepage into gas pipeline networks.

Dutch airline KLM to cut up to 1,000 more jobs

Dutch airline KLM said on Thursday it will shed between 800 and 1,000 more jobs as the coronavirus pandemic is hitting the aviation sector for longer than expected.

Facebook's oversight board to rule on Trump ban

Facebook is passing the buck for its indefinite suspension of former president Donald Trump to a quasi-independent oversight board, setting up a major test of the recently established panel.


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