Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Mar 9

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for March 9, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A device-independent protocol for more efficient random number generation

Relationship between type 1 diabetes, interferon response and viral infection is first step toward preventive therapies

Ultra-short-period super-Earth detected by TESS

Evidence of superfluidity in a dipolar supersolid

Neural network CLIP mirrors human brain neurons in image recognition

Serendipitous Juno detections shatter ideas about origin of zodiacal light

Breaking waves and moisture transport drive extreme precipitation events

Tropical cyclone exposure linked to rise in hospitalizations from many causes for older adults

First AI system for contactless monitoring of heart rhythm using smart speakers

'Wearable microgrid' uses the human body to sustainably power small gadgets

Full evolutionary journey of hospital superbug mapped for the first time

Injectable porous scaffolds promote better, quicker healing after spinal cord injuries

Younger Tyrannosaurus Rex bites were less ferocious than their adult counterparts

Adhesion, contractility enable metastatic cells to go against the grain

Microwave-assisted recording technology promises high-density hard disk performance

Physics news

A device-independent protocol for more efficient random number generation

Recent advancements in the development of experimental Bell tests have enabled the implementation of a new type of device-independent random number generator. Remarkably, this new type of random number generators can be realized with malicious quantum devices, without requiring detailed models of the quantum devices used.

Evidence of superfluidity in a dipolar supersolid

Superfluidity in liquids and gases can manifest as a reduced moment of inertia (the rotational analog of mass) under slow rotations. Non-classical rotational effects can also be considered in the elusive supersolid phases of matter where superfluidity can coexist with a lattice structure. In a new report now published in Science, L. Tanzi and a research team at the National Institute of Optics and the Department of Astronomy at the University of Florence in Italy, showed how a recently discovered supersolid phase in dipolar quantum gases featured a reduced moment of inertia. The team studied a peculiar rotational oscillation mode in a harmonic potential to deduce a supersolid fraction and provide direct evidence of the supersolid nature of the dipolar construct.

Microwave-assisted recording technology promises high-density hard disk performance

Researchers at Toshiba Corporation in Japan have studied the operation of a small device fabricated in the write gap of a hard disk drive's write head to extend its recording density. The device, developed by HWY Technologies, is based on a design concept known as microwave-assisted magnetic recording, or MAMR.

Irradiating COVID-19 cough droplets with UV-C lamps

One of the primary ways the COVID-19 virus is transmitted is via airborne diffusion of saliva microdroplets, so it is paramount to find methods to kill the virus in airborne microdroplets.

Strategic air purifier placement reduces virus spread within music classrooms

The University of Minnesota School of Music was concerned about one-on-one teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic and wondered if it should supplement its ventilation system with portable HEPA air purifiers.

An investigation of thin liquid films at interfaces between ice and clay materials

For ice, so-called 'surface melting' was postulated as early as the 19th century by Michael Faraday: Already below the actual melting point, i.e. 0 °C, a thin liquid film forms on the free surface because of the interface between ice and air. Scientists led by Markus Mezger, group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (department of Hans-Jürgen Butt) and professor at the University of Vienna, have now studied this phenomenon in more detail at interfaces between ice and clay minerals.

Breaking the warp barrier for faster-than-light travel

If travel to distant stars within an individual's lifetime is going to be possible, a means of faster-than-light propulsion will have to be found. To date, even recent research about superluminal (faster-than-light) transport based on Einstein's theory of general relativity would require vast amounts of hypothetical particles and states of matter that have 'exotic' physical properties such as negative energy density. This type of matter either cannot currently be found or cannot be manufactured in viable quantities. In contrast, new research carried out at the University of Göttingen gets around this problem by constructing a new class of hyper-fast 'solitons' using sources with only positive energies that can enable travel at any speed. This reignites debate about the possibility of faster-than-light travel based on conventional physics. The research is published in the journal Classical and Quantum Gravity.

Microscope allows ultrafast nanoscale manipulation while tracking energy dynamics

Since the early 2010s, ultrafast probing of materials at atomic-level resolution has been enabled by terahertz scanning tunneling microscopes (THz-STM). But these devices can't detect the dissipation of energy that happens during events such as when photons are emitted via recombination process of an electron-hole pair in a light emitting diode (LED). However, a new technique allows the tracking of just such energy dynamics alongside THz-STM, opening up new avenues of investigation for nanoscale science and technology.

Microscopic wormholes possible in theory

Wormholes play a key role in many science fiction films—often as a shortcut between two distant points in space. In physics, however, these tunnels in spacetime have remained purely hypothetical. An international team led by Dr. Jose Luis Blázquez-Salcedo of the University of Oldenburg has now presented a new theoretical model in the science journal Physical Review Letters that makes microscopic wormholes seem less far-fetched than in previous theories.

Photonic Berry curvature in double liquid crystal microcavities with broken inversion symmetry

Researchers at Skoltech and their colleagues proposed a photonic device from two optical resonators with liquid crystals inside them to study optical properties of this system that can be useful for future generations of optoelectronic and spinoptronic devices. The paper was published in the journal Physical Review B.

Safe, simple additive could cut agrochemical pollution

Adding a simple polymer to fertilizers or pesticides could dramatically reduce agricultural pollution, suggests a new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia.

Astronomy and Space news

Ultra-short-period super-Earth detected by TESS

Using NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), an international team of astronomers has detected a new super-Earth exoplanet. The newfound alien world, designated TOI-1685b, is about 70% larger than Earth and has an ultra-short orbital period of approximately 0.67 days. The finding is reported in a paper published March 1 on arXiv.org.

Serendipitous Juno detections shatter ideas about origin of zodiacal light

Data from the NASA spacecraft's journey to Jupiter suggests that Mars may be shedding dust into interplanetary space.

Early Mars climate was intermittently warm

A new study that characterizes the climate of Mars over the planet's lifetime reveals that in its earliest history it was periodically warmed due to the input of greenhouse gases derived from volcanism and meteorites, yet remained relatively cold in the intervening periods, thus providing opportunities and challenges for any microbial life form that may have been emerging on the Red Planet. The study involved a national team of scientists that included Joel Hurowitz, Ph.D., of Stony Brook University. The findings are detailed in a paper published in Nature Geoscience.

Achondrite found to date back to just two million years after birth of solar system

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in France and one in Japan has found that an achondrite found in Algeria (in the Saharan desert) last year dates back to just 2 million years after the birth of the solar system. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes their study of the rock and what they learned about it.

Mars Express unlocks the secrets of curious cloud

When spring arrives in southern Mars, a cloud of water ice emerges near the 20-kilometer-tall Arsia Mons volcano, rapidly stretching out for many hundreds of kilometers before fading away in mere hours. A detailed long-term study now reveals the secrets of this elongated cloud, using exciting new observations from the Mars Webcam on ESA's Mars Express.

New study highlights first infection of human cells during spaceflight

Astronauts face many challenges to their health, due to the exceptional conditions of spaceflight. Among these are a variety of infectious microbes that can attack their suppressed immune systems.

Engineers propose solar-powered lunar ark as 'modern global insurance policy'

University of Arizona researcher Jekan Thanga is taking scientific inspiration from an unlikely source: the biblical tale of Noah's Ark. Rather than two of every animal, however, his solar-powered ark on the moon would store cryogenically frozen seed, spore, sperm and egg samples from 6.7 million Earth species.

Rare meteorite recovered in UK after spectacular fireball

In a major event for UK science, the meteorite that fell from the fireball that lit up the sky over the UK and Northern Europe on Sunday 28 February, has been found.

Gigantic jet spied from black hole in early universe

Astronomers have discovered evidence for an extraordinarily long jet of particles from a supermassive black hole in the early Universe, using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.

An astronaut's guide to out-of-Earth manufacturing

mprovising new stuff from the stuff you have is part of an astronaut's job description—think Apollo 13's crew refitting CO2 filters to save their own lives, or stranded Mark Watney in The Martian, feeding himself on the Red Planet. Now plans are underway to manufacture items in orbit, and ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst argues this could make a big difference to living and working in space.

Space missions are building up a detailed map of the sun's magnetic field

Solar physicists have been having a field day of late. A variety of missions have been staring at the sun more intently ever before (please don't try it at home). From the Parker Solar Probe to the Solar Orbiter, we are constantly collecting more and more data about our stellar neighbor. But it's not just the big-name missions that can collect useful data—sometimes information from missions as simple as a sounding rocket make all the difference.

Planetary pact: China and Russia to launch lunar space station

Russia and China unveiled plans Tuesday for a joint lunar space station, as Moscow seeks to recapture the glory of its space pioneering days of Soviet times, and Beijing gears up its own extraterrestrial ambitions.

France conducts first military drills in space

France has begun its first military exercises in space to test its ability to defend its satellites, in a sign of the growing competition between world powers in Earth's orbit.

One giant step: Moon race hots up

As Russia and China sign a deal for a shared lunar space station, we look at the new race to the Moon with Nokia even working with NASA to give it a 4G network.

Technology news

Neural network CLIP mirrors human brain neurons in image recognition

Open AI, the research company founded by Elon Musk, has just discovered that their artificial neural network CLIP shows behavior strikingly similar to a human brain. This find has scientists hopeful for the future of AI networks' ability to identify images in a symbolic, conceptual and literal capacity.

'Wearable microgrid' uses the human body to sustainably power small gadgets

Nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a "wearable microgrid" that harvests and stores energy from the human body to power small electronics. It consists of three main parts: sweat-powered biofuel cells, motion-powered devices called triboelectric generators, and energy-storing supercapacitors. All parts are flexible, washable and can be screen printed onto clothing.

Microchips of the future: Suitable insulators are still missing

For decades, there has been a trend in microelectronics towards ever smaller and more compact transistors. 2D materials such as graphene are seen as a beacon of hope here: they are the thinnest material layers that can possibly exist, consisting of only one or a few atomic layers. Nevertheless, they can conduct electrical currents—conventional silicon technology, on the other hand, no longer works properly if the layers become too thin.

Making the role of AI in medicine explainable

Universitätsmedizin Berlin and TU Berlin as well as the University of Oslo have developed a new tissue-section analysis system for diagnosing breast cancer based on artificial intelligence (AI). Two further developments make this system unique: For the first time, morphological, molecular and histological data are integrated in a single analysis. Secondly, the system provides a clarification of the AI decision process in the form of heatmaps. Pixel by pixel, these heatmaps show which visual information influenced the AI decision process and to what extent, thus enabling doctors to understand and assess the plausibility of the results of the AI analysis. This represents a decisive and essential step forward for the future regular use of AI systems in hospitals. The results of this research have now been published in Nature Machine Intelligence.

Engineering platform offers collaborative cloud options for sustainable manufacturing

A Purdue University engineering innovator has developed a cloud-based platform aimed at mapping inter-industry dependence networks for materials and waste generation among manufacturers in sectors such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals and other industries tied to biobased economies.

Radiation knows no bounds—but builds strong bonds between two communities

An earthquake off the coast of Japan. A resulting tsunami. Ten years ago, Mark Triplett watched the news unfold and worried about two things. The safety of his son and daughter-in-law who were living in Japan at the time. He quickly learned his family was unaffected and safe. But the other concern? It's still with him, almost daily.

Google's scrapping third-party cookies, but invasive targeted advertising will live on

Google has announced plans to stop using tracking cookies on its Chrome browser by 2022, replacing them with a group profiling system in a move the company says will plot "a course towards a more privacy-friendly web."

Traffic is down on American highways during the pandemic, but vehicle deaths are up

Although there are fewer cars on America's roads since the pandemic began, the number of fatal car crashes has increased.

Low-voltage, low-power pressure sensors for monitoring health

Recent advances in technology have opened many possibilities for using wearable and implantable sensors to monitor various indicators of patient health. Wearable pressure sensors are designed to respond to very small changes in bodily pressure, so that physical functions such as pulse rate, blood pressure, breathing rates and even subtle changes in vocal cord vibrations can be monitored in real time with a high degree of sensitivity.

Global semiconductor shortage: A small and shrinking number of the world's computer chips are made in the U.S.

President Joe Biden's executive order calling for a review of supply chains for critical products put a spotlight on the decades-long decline in U.S. semiconductor manufacturing capacity. Semiconductors are the logic and memory chips used in computers, phones, vehicles and appliances. The U.S. share of global semiconductor fabrication is only 12%, down from 37% in 1990, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association.

Apple hit with personalised ads complaint in France

A group representing 2,000 French startups filed a complaint against Apple on Tuesday, accusing the US company of failing to seek permission from users for personalised advertising.

Researchers develop new algorithm that could reduce complexity of big data

Whenever a scientific experiment is conducted, the results are turned into numbers, often producing huge datasets. In order to reduce the size of the data, computer programmers use algorithms that can find and extract the principal features that represent the most salient statistical properties. But many such algorithms cannot be applied directly to these large volumes of data.

New tool makes students better at detecting fake imagery and videos

Researchers at Uppsala University have developed a digital self-test that trains users to assess news items, images and videos presented on social media. The self-test has also been evaluated in a scientific study, which confirmed the researchers' hypothesis that the tool genuinely improved the students' ability to apply critical thinking to digital sources.

EU wants to double microchip share by 2030

The EU aims to capture 20 percent of the world's semiconductors by 2030 as Europe looks to become a tech power to rival the US and China, officials said Tuesday.

Airline industry pushes US to standardize health papers

Leading airline and business groups are asking the Biden administration to develop temporary credentials that would let travelers show they have been tested and vaccinated for COVID-19, a step that the airline industry believes will help revive travel.

COVID vaccine: Instagram suggested posts recommended anti-vaccine misinformation, report says

Instagram's "suggested" posts feature recommended anti-vaccination content to users, even as parent company Facebook intensified efforts to combat false and misleading statements about COVID-19, according to new research from the Center for Countering Digital Hate.

UN finds 'no adverse health effects' from Fukushima disaster

Japan's 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster has not harmed the health of local residents 10 years on, according to a report published Tuesday by UN researchers.

Third French hospital hit by cyberattack

A hospital in southwest France has seen some of its IT systems paralysed by a "ransomware" cyberattack, its management said Tuesday, the third such incident in the last month.

Boeing finally sees positive net orders for airplanes

Boeing Co. said Tuesday that it received more new orders than cancellations for commercial airplanes in February for the first time in 15 months.


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