Science X Newsletter Thursday, Mar 25

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for March 25, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

On-chip torsion balance with femtonewton force resolution at room temperature

Design could enable longer lasting, more powerful lithium batteries

Changes in ocean chemistry show how sea level affects global carbon cycle

California's diesel emissions rules reduce air pollution, protect vulnerable communities

A simple way to turn 2D drawings into 3D objects

Researchers harvest energy from radio waves to power wearable devices

Lawyers used sheepskin as anti-fraud device for hundreds of years to stop fraudsters pulling the woo

Frequent consumption of meals prepared away from home associated with an increased risk of death

Engineers make filters from tree branches to purify drinking water

Researchers use machine learning to rank cancer drugs in order of efficacy

Scientists find evidence that novel coronavirus infects the mouth's cells

LA's biggest quake threat sits on overlooked part of San Andreas, study says. That may be good

Old-growth forest carbon sinks overestimated

Division and growth of synthetic vesicles

Researchers develop 15-minute test to assess immune response

Physics news

Researchers capture first 3D super-resolution images in living mice

Researchers have developed a new microscopy technique that can acquire 3-D super-resolution images of subcellular structures from about 100 microns deep inside biological tissue, including the brain. By giving scientists a deeper view into the brain, the method could help reveal subtle changes that occur in neurons over time, during learning, or as result of disease.

Detecting photons transporting qubits without destroying quantum information

Even though quantum communication is tap-proof, it is so far not particularly efficient. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics want to change this. They have developed a detection method that can be used to track quantum transmissions. Quantum information is sent over long distances in the form of photons (i.e. light particles). However, these are quickly lost. Finding out after only a partial distance whether such a photon is still on its way to its destination or has already been lost, can significantly reduce the effort required for information processing. This would make applications such as the encryption of money transfers much more practicable.

Revealing nano big bang: Scientists observe the first milliseconds of crystal formation

When we grow crystals, atoms first group together into small clusters—a process called nucleation. But understanding exactly how such atomic ordering emerges from the chaos of randomly moving atoms has long eluded scientists.

Team finds an easier optimal detection scheme for near-term quantum sensors

Quantum holds the promise of increasing the power of sensing technologies. While the field of quantum sensing has shown a lot of potential for detecting very small signals, the ability to truly optimize these sensors has been thwarted by the complexity of control schemes.

Technology uses 'single' approach to develop electronics, acoustics

A Purdue University innovator has developed a new approach to creating popular thin films used for devices across a broad range of fields, including optics, acoustics and electronics.

Scientist discovers a new type of 'bi-molecule' with applications for quantum sensors

Dr. Rosario González-Férez, a researcher at the Department of Atomic, Molecular and Nuclear Physics and the Carlos I Institute of Theoretical and Computational Physics of the University of Granada, has published an article titled "Ultralong-Range Rydberg Bi-molecules" in Physical Review Letters. The results of the study show a new type of bi-molecule formed from two nitric oxide (NO) molecules, both in their ground state and in the Rydberg electronic state.

Scientists realize real-time GW-BSE investigations on spin-valley exciton dynamics

Prof. Zhao Jin's research team from University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) has made important progress in the development of spin-valley exciton dynamics. The research developed an ab initio nonadiabatic molecular dynamics (NAMD) method based on spin-resolved exciton dynamics. The team gained the first clear and complete physical picture of valley exciton dynamics in MoS2 from the perspective of first-principles calculations based on GW plus real-time Bethe-Salpeter equation (GW + rtBSE-NAMD).

Astronomy and Space news

New light on baryonic matter and gravity on cosmic scales

Scientists estimate that dark matter and dark energy together are some 95% of the gravitational material in the universe while the remaining 5% is baryonic matter, which is the "normal" matter composing stars, planets and living beings. However, for decades, almost one-half of this matter has not been found. Now, using a new technique, a team including researchers from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) has shown that this "missing" baryonic matter fills the space between galaxies as hot, low-density gas. The same technique also gives a new tool that shows that the gravitational attraction experienced by galaxies is compatible with the theory of general relativity. This research is published today in three articles in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS).

Previously thought to be science fiction, a planet in a triple-star system has been discovered

KOI-5Ab is a newly discovered planet in a triple-star system. It is a great example of the kind of astonishing discoveries that result from co-operation between large teams of astronomers using different types of telescopes and observation techniques.

Astrophysicists simulate microscopic clusters from the Big Bang

The very first moments of the Universe can be reconstructed mathematically even though they cannot be observed directly. Physicists from the Universities of Göttingen and Auckland (New Zealand) have greatly improved the ability of complex computer simulations to describe this early epoch. They discovered that a complex network of structures can form in the first trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. The behavior of these objects mimics the distribution of galaxies in today's Universe. In contrast to today, however, these primordial structures are microscopically small. Typical clumps have masses of only a few grams and fit into volumes much smaller than present-day elementary particles. The results of the study have been published in the journal Physical Review D.

Ocean currents predicted on Enceladus

Buried beneath 20 kilometers of ice, the subsurface ocean of Enceladus—one of Saturn's moons—appears to be churning with currents akin to those on Earth.

Russia launches more UK telecom satellites into space

A Soyuz rocket blasted off from the Vostochny cosmodrome in Russia's Far East on Thursday carrying 36 UK telecommunications and internet satellites, the Roscosmos space agency said.

NASA engineers analyze navigation needs of Artemis moon missions

Space communications and navigation engineers at NASA are evaluating the navigation needs for the Artemis program, including identifying the precision navigation capabilities needed to establish the first sustained presence on the lunar surface.

Gravitational lenses could allow a galaxy-wide internet

As Carl Sagan once said, "The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars." And our first emissaries to the stars will be robotic probes. These interstellar probes will be largely autonomous, but we will want to communicate with them. At the very least, we will want them to phone home and tell us what they've discovered. The stars are distant, so the probes will need to make a very long-distance call.

Water mission takes on space weather

For well over a decade, ESA's SMOS satellite has been delivering a wealth of data to map moisture in soil and salt in the surface waters of the oceans for a better understanding of the processes driving the water cycle. While addressing key scientific questions, this exceptional Earth Explorer has repeatedly surpassed expectations by returning a wide range of unexpected results, often leading to practical applications that improve everyday life. Adding to SMOS' list of talents, new findings show that what was considered noise in the mission's data can actually be used to monitor solar activity and space weather, which can damage communication and navigation systems.

Paraguay's first satellite deployed from the International Space Station

On March 14, the Paraguayan Space Agency (AEP) deployed a satellite from the International Space Station to help track a tiny parasite that causes Chagas disease. The satellite, Guaranisat-1, is the first developed and put into orbit by Paraguay. An estimated 8 million people in Mexico, Central America, and South America have Chagas disease, which if untreated can be life-threatening. Large-scale population movements from rural to urban areas of Latin America and other parts of the world have increased the geographic distribution of the disease.

Technology news

Design could enable longer lasting, more powerful lithium batteries

Lithium-ion batteries have made possible the lightweight electronic devices whose portability we now take for granted, as well as the rapid expansion of electric vehicle production. But researchers around the world are continuing to push limits to achieve ever-greater energy densities—the amount of energy that can be stored in a given mass of material—in order to improve the performance of existing devices and potentially enable new applications such as long-range drones and robots.

A simple way to turn 2D drawings into 3D objects

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in South Korea has developed a simple method for converting 2D drawings to 3D objects. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes their technique and possible uses for it.

Researchers harvest energy from radio waves to power wearable devices

From microwave ovens to Wi-Fi connections, the radio waves that permeate the environment are not just signals of energy consumed but are also sources of energy themselves. An international team of researchers, led by Huanyu "Larry" Cheng, Dorothy Quiggle Career Development Professor in the Penn State Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics, has developed a way to harvest energy from radio waves to power wearable devices.

Engineers make filters from tree branches to purify drinking water

The interiors of nonflowering trees such as pine and ginkgo contain sapwood lined with straw-like conduits known as xylem, which draw water up through a tree's trunk and branches. Xylem conduits are interconnected via thin membranes that act as natural sieves, filtering out bubbles from water and sap.

'Smart clothes' that can measure your movements

In recent years there have been exciting breakthroughs in wearable technologies, like smartwatches that can monitor your breathing and blood oxygen levels.

Electronics-free DraBot dragonfly signals environmental disruptions

Engineers at Duke University have developed an electronics-free, entirely soft robot shaped like a dragonfly that can skim across water and react to environmental conditions such as pH, temperature or the presence of oil. The proof-of-principle demonstration could be the precursor to more advanced, autonomous, long-range environmental sentinels for monitoring a wide range of potential telltale signs of problems.

Using digitally programmable metasurfaces to conduct space and frequency division multiplexing

A combined team of researchers from Southeast University and the Jiangsu Cyber Space Science & Technology Co., both in China, has developed a way to use digitally programmable metasurfaces to conduct space and frequency division multiplexing. In their paper published in the journal Nature Electronics, the group describes their technique and the two-channel mixer they built to demonstrate their ideas. Shuai Nie and Ian Akyildiz with the Georgia Institute of Technology have published a News & Views piece in the same issue, outlining the ways that metasurfaces have been used in wireless communications and the work done by the team in China.

New nanotransistors keep their cool at high voltages

Power converters are the little-known systems that make electricity so magical. They are what allow us to plug in our computers, lamps and televisions and turn them on in a snap. Converters transform the alternating current (AC) that comes out of wall sockets into the exact level of direct current (DC) that our electronics need. But they also tend to lose, on average, up to 20% of their energy in the process.

Leveraging the 5G network to wirelessly power IoT devices

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have uncovered an innovative way to tap into the over-capacity of 5G networks, turning them into "a wireless power grid" for powering Internet of Things (IoT) devices that today need batteries to operate.

Firefox 87 reveals SmartBlock for private browsing

With the release of Firefox 87, Mozilla has introduced a safe browsing feature called SmartBlock. SmartBlock allows users to avoid online tracking tools while browsing the Internet. This way, users can surf the Web without worrying if their information is being scrutinized.

More transparency and understanding into machine behaviors

Explaining, interpreting, and understanding the human mind presents a unique set of challenges. Doing the same for the behaviors of machines, meanwhile, is a whole other story.

Formula 1 must prove sustainability goes beyond the racetrack if it is to prolong its appeal

Formula 1 risks wasting its advances in technology and losing mass appeal unless it learns from the mistakes of the last ten years.

Data science and artificial intelligence for the public good

The Federal Statistical Office (FSO) is joining forces with the Swiss Data Science Center, a joint venture between the two federal institutes of technology, to encourage the use of data science and artificial intelligence within the administration.

Tethered drones have wireless data covered

Keeping up with wireless demand is a never-ending endeavor for data providers, who often contend with temporary high-usage hotspots that might be underserviced by the fixed-base station network. Tethered drones could provide a flexible and low-cost solution for temporarily increasing wireless capacity when and where it's needed.

European consumer protections for digital services users need 'significant changes,' experts warn

European laws protecting consumers using digital services such as social media and search engines need "significant changes," experts have warned.

How energy modelling influences policymaking and vice versa

Energy models are used to explore different options for the development of energy systems in virtual "laboratories". Scientists have been using energy models to provide policy advice for years. As a new study shows, energy models influence policymaking around the energy transition. Similarly, policymakers influence the work of modelers. Greater transparency is needed to ensure that political considerations do not set the agenda for future research or determine its findings, the researchers demand.

'Keep off the grass': The biofuel that could help us achieve net zero

The Miscanthus genus of grasses, commonly used to add movement and texture to gardens, could quickly become the first choice for biofuel production. A new study shows these grasses can be grown in lower agricultural grade conditions—such as marginal land—due to their remarkable resilience and photosynthetic capacity at low temperatures.

Biocrude passes the 2,000-hour catalyst stability test

A large-scale demonstration converting biocrude to renewable diesel fuel has passed a significant test, operating for more than 2,000 hours continuously without losing effectiveness. Scientists and engineers led by the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory conducted the research to show that the process is robust enough to handle many kinds of raw material without failing.

Former Google CEO gives $150M for research in biology, AI

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and his wife, Wendy, have given $150 million to a research institute to establish a "new era of biology" aimed at battling diseases with a mix of data and life science studies.

Recharged: Energy seen as big winner after disastrous 2020

Energy companies spent the first quarter of 2021 recharging from a draining year. Wall Street expects that growth to continue as energy companies and many of the other companies beaten down by the virus benefit from the vaccine push aimed at bringing the pandemic to an end.

Automakers say 2020 production plunged in 'worst crisis ever'

Global production of automobiles tumbled by 16 percent last year to a level last seen in 2010 as the industry was pummelled by the coronavirus pandemic, an international carmaker association said Thursday.

Renewable energy, new perspectives for photovoltaic cells

In the future, photovoltaic cells could be 'worn' over clothes, placed on cars or even on beach umbrellas. These are just some of the possible developments from a study published in Nature Communications by researchers at the Physics Department of the Politecnico di Milano, working with colleagues at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and Imperial College London.

After AIs mastered Go and Super Mario, scientists have taught them how to 'play' experiments at NSLS-II

Inspired by the mastery of artificial intelligence (AI) over games like Go and Super Mario, scientists at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) trained an AI agent—an autonomous computational program that observes and acts—how to conduct research experiments at superhuman levels by using the same approach. The Brookhaven team published their findings in the journal Machine Learning: Science and Technology and implemented the AI agent as part of the research capabilities at NSLS-II.

New York Times digital 'NFT' article sells for $563,000

A New York Times columnist on Thursday sold one of his articles in digital form for $563,000, the latest example of the craze surrounding "non fungible tokens," which collectors are snapping up.

Airlines return to old ways; Southwest drops boarding change

As Americans slowly return to flying, airlines are dropping some of the changes they made early in the pandemic.

BMG and KKR team up to purchase music rights

German music management group BGM announced a partnership with US investment company KKR Wednesday in a move to acquire streaming rights—a new potentially lucrative frontier for investors.

Development of quality certification programs after the COVID-19 pandemic

Adedeji Badiru of the Air Force Institute of Technology in Dayton, Ohio, U.S., discusses the notion of quality insight in the International Journal of Quality Engineering and Technology and how this relates to motivating researchers and developers working on quality certification programs after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Optimization for resource management using multi-agent systems

Urban development is therefore becoming more important. The efficiency of existing real-world lift transport and road network systems can be measured through surveillance equipment such as cameras and global positioning system trackers. However, when wanting to build and deploy new and never-been-seen solutions, data that is required to build it is not existing and needs to be estimated. Simple mathematical models can be used for fast modeling to estimate cars' energy consumption, simple road network systems' traffic flows and lift traveling schedules, but real-world situations are often much more sophisticated, and these simple models is unrealistic. For instance, these simple models do not take into account uncertainties like human behavior, and sudden changes in the environment. Hence, the results of such simple models could be far from reality.

Robinhood app makes Wall Street feel like a game to win

Wall Street has long been likened to a casino. Robinhood, an investment app that just filed plans for an initial public offering, makes the comparison more apt than ever.

Mobile app generates data for the energy management of the future

Wind farms and solar plants play a central role in the success of the energy transition and thus in climate protection. However, these renewable energies also cause disruptive fluctuations in the energy grid because they do not always produce energy when we consume it. This problem can be countered by a combination of interconnected systems and innovative artificial intelligence (AI)-based energy services—such as predictive control or demand side management. The Intelligent energy systems and cyber-physical systems research group at the Institute of Software Technology at Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) is working on methods to increase the efficiency and intelligence of energy system, while also taking into account the interaction between humans and technology.

ArtEmis: Affective language for visual art

KAUST Assistant Professor of Computer Science Mohamed Elhoseiny has developed, in collaboration with Stanford University, CA, and École Polytechnique (LIX), France, a large-scale dataset to train AI to reproduce human emotions when presented with artwork.

Deliveroo strikes to precede London share listing

The meal delivery platform Deliveroo is bracing for strikes and other social actions by disgruntled riders as it gears up for a major London stock listing.

EXPLAINER: California's net neutrality law springs to life

More than three years ago, Trump-era regulators killed federal net neutrality regulations designed to prevent AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and other major internet providers from exploiting their dominance to favor certain services or apps over others. In response, seven states and Puerto Rico enacted their own net neutrality policies. The most expansive effort of this sort was in California, which will start enforcing its law on Thursday—with potentially significant consequences for the rest of the U.S.

US lawmakers, tech CEOs clash over disinformation

US lawmakers unleashed a torrent of criticism against social media top executives at a Capitol hearing Thursday, blaming the companies for amplifying false content and calls to violence, while promising new regulations to stem rampant online disinformation.

Majority Black venture capital firm announces $103 million fund to invest in entrepreneurs of color

A majority Black venture capital firm, helmed by a technology veteran, a Hollywood producer, and a former mayor of Washington D.C., is leading a new $103 million fund to seed young companies started by people of color.

Vaccines, spring weather lift hopes for US travel comeback

After a year of pandemic restrictions, Americans want to get back on the move—a dynamic apparent in Miami's spring break revellers and Washington's deluge of rental cars each weekend.


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