Science X Newsletter Thursday, Mar 4

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for March 4, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

MeInGame: A deep learning method to create videogame characters that look like real people

Research uncovers new potential target for ovarian cancer therapies

Dramatic decline in western butterfly populations linked to fall warming

Apparent Atlantic warming cycle likely an artifact of climate forcing

Soft robot swims in the Mariana Trench

Social distancing in nature

Hubble solves mystery of monster star's dimming

Masters of mimicry, male lyrebirds use their skill to deceive potential mates

Neuroimaging reveals how ideology affects race perception

Pericardial injection effective, less invasive way to get regenerative therapies to heart

SpaceX Starship lands upright, then explodes in latest test

Chinese astronauts training for space station crewed flights

Higher income predicts feelings such as pride and confidence

Ancient DNA reveals clues about how tuberculosis shaped the human immune system

Collagen plays protective role during pancreatic cancer development

Physics news

New microcomb could help discover exoplanets and detect diseases

Tiny photonic devices could be used to find new exoplanets, monitor health, and make the internet more energy efficient. Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, now present a game-changing microcomb that could bring advanced applications closer to reality.

Doubling creation of antimatter using same laser energy

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists have achieved a near 100 percent increase in the amount of antimatter created in the laboratory.

A potential model for a real physical warp drive

A pair of researchers at Applied Physics has created what they describe as the first general model for a warp drive, a model for a space craft that could travel faster than the speed of light, without actually breaking the laws of physics. Alexey Bobrick, and Gianni Martire have written a paper describing their ideas for a warp drive and have published it in IOP's Classical and Quantum Gravity.

Terahertz waves from electrons oscillating in liquid water

Ionization of water molecules by light generates free electrons in liquid water. After generation, the so-called solvated electron is formed, a localized electron surrounded by a shell of water molecules. In the ultrafast localization process, the electron and its water shell display strong oscillations, giving rise to terahertz emission for tens of picoseconds.

'Egg carton' quantum dot array could lead to ultralow power devices

A new path toward sending and receiving information with single photons of light has been discovered by an international team of researchers led by the University of Michigan.

Twistoptics—A new way to control optical nonlinearity

Nonlinear optics, a study of how light interacts with matter, is critical to many photonic applications, from the green laser pointers we're all familiar with to intense broadband (white) light sources for quantum photonics that enable optical quantum computing, super-resolution imaging, optical sensing and ranging, and more. Through nonlinear optics, researchers are discovering new ways to use light, from getting a closer look at ultrafast processes in physics, biology, and chemistry to enhancing communication and navigation, solar energy harvesting, medical testing, and cybersecurity.

Research contributes to understanding of hypersonic flow

Using data collected in a NASA Langley Mach 6 wind tunnel, researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign replicated the hypersonic flow conditions of a compression ramp flow by means of Direct Numerical Simulation. The simulation yielded an abundance of additional data, which can be used to better understand the phenomena that occur surrounding vehicles traveling at hypersonic speeds.

Thin explosive films provide snapshot of how detonations start

Using thin films—no more than a few pieces of notebook paper thick—of a common explosive chemical, researchers from Sandia National Laboratories studied how small-scale explosions start and grow. Sandia is the only lab in the U.S. that can make such detonatable thin films.

Factoring in gravitomagnetism could do away with dark matter

Observations of galactic rotation curves give one of the strongest lines of evidence pointing towards the existence of dark matter, a non-baryonic form of matter that makes up an estimated 85% of the matter in the observable Universe. Current assessments of galactic rotation curves are based upon a framework of Newtonian accounts of gravity, a new paper published in EPJ C, by Gerson Otto Ludwig, National Institute for Space Research, Brazil, suggests that if this is substituted with a general relativity-based model, the need to recourse to dark matter is relieved, replaced by the effects of gravitomagnetism.

Astronomy and Space news

Hubble solves mystery of monster star's dimming

Last year, astronomers were puzzled when Betelguese, the bright red supergiant star in the constellation Orion, dramatically faded, but then recovered. The dimming lasted for weeks. Now, astronomers have turned their sights toward a monster star in the adjoining constellation Canis Major, the Great Dog.

SpaceX Starship lands upright, then explodes in latest test

SpaceX's futuristic Starship looked like it aced a touchdown Wednesday, but then exploded on the landing pad with so much force that it was hurled into the air.

Chinese astronauts training for space station crewed flights

China said Thursday a cohort of astronauts is training for four crewed missions this year as the country works to complete its first permanent orbiting space station.

Chinese volunteers live in Lunar Palace 1 closed environment for 370 days

Volunteer students at Beihang University have reportedly lived in the Lunar Palace 1 biosphere environment for 370 days. Media outlets have reported that two groups of students took turns living in the biosphere over the course of 370 days, and required minimal supplies from the outside.

Volcanoes might light up the night sky of this exoplanet

Until now, researchers have found no evidence of global tectonic activity on planets outside our solar system. Under the leadership of the University of Bern and the National Center of Competence in Research NCCR PlanetS, scientists have now found that the material inside planet LHS 3844b flows from one hemisphere to the other and could be responsible for numerous volcanic eruptions on one side of the planet.

Organic materials essential for life on Earth are found for the first time on the surface of an asteroid

New research from Royal Holloway, has found water and organic matter on the surface of an asteroid sample returned from the inner Solar System. This is the first time that organic materials, which could have provided chemical precursors for the origin of life on Earth, have been found on an asteroid.

Super-Earth discovered: Data will characterize planetary atmosphere models

During the past 25 years astronomers have discovered a wide variety of exoplanets, made of rock, ice and gas, thanks to the construction of astronomical instruments designed specifically for planet searches. Also, using a combination of different observing techniques they have been able to determine a large number of masses, sizes, and hence densities of the planets, which helps them to estimate their internal composition and raises the number of planets which have been discovered outside the Solar System.

Testing instruments for Artemis astronauts

NASA's Artemis program will establish a sustainable presence at the Moon as we prepare to venture on to Mars. To empower the success of these missions, terrestrial engineers must furnish astronauts with the tools they need to make new discoveries on their journeys.

New 'eyewear' to deepen the view of NASA's Roman Space Telescope

NASA's Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will be able to explore even more cosmic questions, thanks to a new near-infrared filter. The upgrade will allow the observatory to see longer wavelengths of light, opening up exciting new opportunities for discoveries from the edge of our solar system to the farthest reaches of space.

Technology news

MeInGame: A deep learning method to create videogame characters that look like real people

In recent years, videogame developers and computer scientists have been trying to devise techniques that can make gaming experiences increasingly immersive, engaging and realistic. These include methods to automatically create videogame characters inspired by real people.

Soft robot swims in the Mariana Trench

A team of researchers affiliated with multiple institutions in China has developed a soft robot that can successfully swim in the Mariana Trench. In their paper published in the journal Nature,, the group describes their soft robot and its capabilities. Cecilia Laschi and Marcello Calisti with the National University of Singapore and the University of Lincoln, respectively, have published a News & Views piece in the same journal issue outlining the work by the team in China.

PowerPoint Live helps Microsoft Teams users present remotely

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations around the globe have had to implement remote work policies, creating the need to address new challenges like virtual presentations and meetings.

Study reveals extent of privacy vulnerabilities with Amazon's Alexa

A recent study outlines a range of privacy concerns related to the programs that users interact with when using Amazon's voice-activated assistant, Alexa. Issues range from misleading privacy policies to the ability of third-parties to change the code of their programs after receiving Amazon approval.

Field study shows icing can cost wind turbines up to 80% of power production

Wind turbine blades spinning through cold, wet conditions can collect ice nearly a foot thick on the yard-wide tips of their blades.

Will Paramount+ be a mountain or a molehill in streaming?

Paramount+ debuts Thursday as the latest—and last—streaming option from a major media company, this time from ViacomCBS. It's betting that consumers are willing to add yet another paid streaming service in an increasingly crowded field.

Online commerce and social networks: Is Facebook the storefront of the future?

Online shopping has been with us for many years. The World Wide Web opened up to the commercial world back in the mid-1990s. However, the web itself has been displaced to a large degree by social networking and online life for many exists almost exclusively on these apps and sites rather than the broader internet. As such, commercial concerns hoping to keep pace with constant change must adapt to take advantage of social networking in the same way that bricks-and-mortar shops had to adapt to the emergence of web rivals. Could the social network be the new shopping mall?

Cutting off stealthy interlopers: A framework for secure cyber-physical systems

Cyber-physical systems (CPS), which combine modern networking with physical actuators, can be vulnerable against hackers. Recently, researchers at DGIST developed a new framework for CPSs that is resilient to a sophisticated kind of cyberattack. Unlike existing solutions, the proposed approach allows for real-time detection and recovery from the attack while ensuring stable operation. This paves the way for secure and reliable CPSs across various application domains, such as smart cities and unmanned public transportation.

This is how we create the age-friendly smart city

Senior citizens need help and encouragement to remain active as they age in their own communities. Given the choice, that's what most would prefer. The smart city can provide the digital infrastructure for them to find and tailor the local neighborhood information they need to achieve this.

Can the city cycling boom survive the end of the COVID-19 pandemic?

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in 2019-20, it had an immense impact around the world, but particularly in urban areas, where it was particularly transmissible. Lockdowns and curfews were imposed, as well as distance work and remote learning, in an attempt to reduce infection rates. As car and plane travel dropped precipitously, air quality improved unintentionally due to an "unprecedented decline in CO2 emissions." At the same time, because cycling was a form of "safe mobility", leading cities created "pop-up" cycling lanes to encourage socially distanced mobility.

Researchers' robots designed to avoid environmental dangers, deliver data quickly

A University of Texas at Dallas research group has developed an autonomous robotic team of devices that can be used at hazardous or difficult-to-reach sites to make surveys and collect data—providing more and faster insights than human beings are able to deliver.

Britain launches competition probe into Apple's App Store

Britain's competition regulator on Thursday launched an investigation into Apple that will focus on the US technology giant's use of its App Store.

The 2021 AI Index: Major growth despite the pandemic

The last decade was a pivotal one for the AI industry, and 2020 saw AI substantially increase its impact on the world despite the chaos brought about by the COVID pandemic: Technologists made significant strides in massive language and generative models; the United States witnessed its first drop in AI hiring ever—pointing to a maturation of the industry—while hiring around the world increased; more dollars flowed to government use of AI than ever before, while colleges and universities offered students double the AI courses from a few years ago.

Virtual reality helps people stay fit and well through lockdown

People who use virtual reality headsets as a way of passing the time during lockdown are exercising more vigorously and feeling better about life.

No tills? No problem. Amazon opens 'contactless' UK grocery store

Amazon on Thursday launched its first "just walk out shopping" outlet outside the United States, as the online retail giant steps up its competition with traditional supermarkets and other retailers.

US infrastructure gets C- from engineers as roads stagnate

America's infrastructure has scored near-failing grades for its deteriorating roads, public transit and storm water systems due to years of inaction from the federal government, the American Society of Civil Engineers reports. Its overall grade: a mediocre C-.

Lufthansa posts record annual loss, sees long recovery

German flag carrier Lufthansa said Thursday it lost a record 6.7 billion euros ($8.1 billion) in 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic wiped out demand for travel and left aircraft grounded.

Decade after Fukushima, Japan's nuclear industry stalled

Ten years after the Fukushima disaster, Japan's nuclear industry remains crippled, with the majority of its reactors halted or on the path towards decommissioning.

Takeaway app Deliveroo picks London for share listing

Takeaway meals app Deliveroo on Thursday said it had chosen London for its stock market listing, a major boost for the capital's financial sector which has been roiled by Brexit.

Airbus says won't lay off staff in Germany, France or UK

Airbus said Thursday that it would be able to avoid forced redundancies in Germany, France and Britain as the European aircraft maker reels from the fallout of Covid-19 on air travel.

GM looking to build 2nd US battery factory, Tennessee likely

General Motors says it's looking for a site to build a second U.S. battery factory with joint venture partner LG Chem of Korea.

Square unveils deal for Jay-Z's Tidal music platform

Digital payments firm Square said Thursday it was buying a controlling stake in the streaming music platform Tidal from a group led by rap star Jay-Z for $297 million in cash and stock.

US to suspend some Boeing-Airbus retaliatory UK tariffs

Britain and the United States said Thursday they had agreed that Washington will temporarily suspend retaliatory tariffs on various UK goods and jointly de-escalate the longstanding fight over Boeing and Airbus subsidies.

Assessing the costs of major power outages

Little is known about the full impact of widespread, long duration power interruptions, especially the indirect costs and related economy-wide impacts of these events. As a result, the costs of such power interruptions are generally not or only incompletely considered in utility planning activities.


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