Science X Newsletter Thursday, Nov 21

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for November 21, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A multi-camera optical tactile sensor that could enable vision-based robotic skins

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer measurements unveil properties of cosmic helium

Protein protects the mitochondria and surprisingly rescues neurons from stroke-like damage

Study establishes how some songs sound 'right' in different social contexts, all over the world

Dung beetle discovery revises biologists' understanding of how nature innovates

Big plans to save the planet depend on nanoscopic materials improving energy storage

New 'warm Jupiter' exoplanet discovered

Nature's secret recipe for making leaves

How to design and control robots with stretchy, flexible bodies

Theorists probe the relationship between 'strange metals' and high-temperature superconductors

Are hiring algorithms fair? They're too opaque to tell, study finds

Little-known protein appears to play important role in obesity and metabolic disease

Scientists first to develop rapid cell division in marine sponges

Researchers sequence genome of the 'devil worm'

Deep learning compute system is billed as world's fastest

Physics news

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer measurements unveil properties of cosmic helium

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) collaboration, a large group of researchers from CERN and other institutes worldwide, has recently presented a series of precision measurements of the properties of cosmic Helium isotopes 3He and 4He. These measurements were collected by the AMS, a spectrometer located on the International Space Station (ISS).

Theorists probe the relationship between 'strange metals' and high-temperature superconductors

Strange metals make interesting bedfellows for a phenomenon known as high-temperature superconductivity, which allows materials to carry electricity with zero loss.

New tech puts virtual sense of touch at our fingertips

Garrett Anderson has never known the pleasure of holding hands with both his children at the same time.

Bringing faster 3-D imaging for biomedical researches

By combining a compressive sensing algorithm with a digital holographic microscope, Prof. Shih-Chi Chen of the Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and his research team have developed a high-speed imaging method. The new approach is able to produce two-photon microscopy images of a 3-D sample in one second, which is at a speed three to five times that of the conventional point-scanning method.

New twist in quest to develop understanding of time crystalline behavior

The quest to develop the understanding for time crystalline behaviour in quantum systems has taken a new, exciting twist.

Escher's angels and demons woodcut predicts how matter deforms

Dutch artist M.C. Escher's most famous drawing, "Circle Limit IV (Heaven and Hell)", shows angels and demons in a tessellation that fills a circle without empty spaces. This masterful woodcut inspired an international partnership of researchers including Politecnico di Milano Physics Department to author the cover-story article published in Physical Review Letters.

Astronomy & Space news

New 'warm Jupiter' exoplanet discovered

An international team of astronomers reports the discovery of a new "warm Jupiter" alien world transiting a main sequence late F-type star on an eccentric orbit. The newfound exoplanet, designated TOI-677 b, is about 20 percent bigger and more massive than Jupiter. The finding is detailed in a paper published November 13 on

NASA's Fermi, swift missions enable a new era in gamma-ray science

A pair of distant explosions discovered by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory have produced the highest-energy light yet seen from these events, called gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). The record-setting detections, made by two different ground-based observatories, provide new insights into the mechanisms driving gamma-ray bursts.

Building a Mars base with bacteria

How do you make a base on Mars? Simple: you send some bacteria to the red planet and let them mine iron. After a couple of years, you send in human settlers who use the iron to construct a base. That, in a nutshell, is the proposal of Ph.D. candidate Benjamin Lehner of Delft University of Technology. Together with Delft colleagues and researchers from the space agencies ESA and NASA, Lehner has worked on an extensive plan for an unmanned mission utilizing bacteria for the past four years. On Friday the 22nd of November, he will defend his Ph.D. thesis at TU Delft.

Fractured ice sheets on Mars

Where the two hemispheres of Mars meet, the planet is covered in broken-up terrain: a sign that slow-but-steady flows of icy material once forged their way through the landscape, carving out a fractured web of valleys, cliffs and isolated mounds of rock.

The simultaneous merging of giant galaxies

An international research team led by scientists from Göttingen and Potsdam proved for the first time that the galaxy NGC 6240 contains three supermassive black holes. The unique observations, published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, show the black holes close to each other in the core of the galaxy. The study points to simultaneous merging processes during the formation of the largest galaxies in the universe.

Russia opens new fraud cases over cosmodrome

Russian investigators said Thursday they had opened two new fraud probes over the construction of a corruption-tainted space centre in the country's Far East.

Technology news

A multi-camera optical tactile sensor that could enable vision-based robotic skins

A team of researchers at ETH Zurich in Switzerland has recently developed a multi-camera optical tactile sensor (i.e., a tactile sensor based on optical devices) that collects information about the contact force distribution applied to its surface. This sensor, presented in a paper prepublished on arXiv, could be used to develop soft robotic skins based on computer vision algorithms.

Big plans to save the planet depend on nanoscopic materials improving energy storage

The challenge of building an energy future that preserves and improves the planet is a massive undertaking. But it all hinges on the charged particles moving through invisibly small materials.

How to design and control robots with stretchy, flexible bodies

MIT researchers have invented a way to efficiently optimize the control and design of soft robots for target tasks, which has traditionally been a monumental undertaking in computation.

Are hiring algorithms fair? They're too opaque to tell, study finds

Time is money and, unfortunately for companies, hiring new employees takes significant time—more than a month on average, research shows.

Deep learning compute system is billed as world's fastest

A company called Cerebras offers up some dizzying superlatives that need some time to sift through. The world's biggest chip? And 56x larger than any other chip? At the heart of the fastest AI supercomputer in the world?

New algorithms train AI to avoid specific bad behaviors

Artificial intelligence has moved into the commercial mainstream thanks to the growing prowess of machine learning algorithms that enable computers to train themselves to do things like drive cars, control robots or automate decision-making.

Grid reliability under climate change may require more power generation capacity

A new analysis from university-based and national laboratory researchers applied a new modeling approach for long-term electricity generation infrastructure planning that considers future climate and water resource conditions. Compared to traditional projections, which do not consider climate-water impacts on electricity generation, results of this new approach show the national power grid may need an additional 5.3% to 12% of power-generating capacity to meet demand and reliability requirements. The changes would lower water use and carbon emissions, potentially helping mitigate future climate changes.

Bone breakthrough may lead to more durable airplane wings

Cornell researchers have made a new discovery about how seemingly minor aspects of the internal structure of bone can be strengthened to withstand repeated wear and tear, a finding that could help treat patients suffering from osteoporosis. It could also lead to the creation of more durable, lightweight materials for the aerospace industry.

Google reins in political advertising

Google is making it harder for political advertisers to target specific types of people.

E-commerce giant Alibaba raises $11 billion in share listing

The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has raised at least $11 billion in a share offering in Hong Kong, netting the city's biggest offering since 2010 despite recent political turmoil.

Panasonic to stop LCD panel production

Japanese electronics titan Panasonic said Thursday it would end its production of liquid crystal display panels by 2021, as Chinese and South Korean manufacturers dominate the global market.

As Tesla preps 'Cybertruck,' electric pickups gain steam. But does anyone want one?

Eager to tow your camper, haul some wood or go off-roading with your pickup?

Enough ambition (and hydrogen) could get Australia to 200% renewable energy

The possibilities presented by hydrogen are the subject of excited discussion across the world—and across Australia's political divide, notoriously at war over energy policy.

New report: The world is awash with fossil fuels and it's time to cut off supply

A new United Nations report shows the world's major fossil fuel producing countries, including Australia, plan to dig up far more coal, oil and gas than can be burned if the world is to prevent serious harm from climate change.

Google, Facebook at center of escalating political-ad tension

Facebook Inc. and Google were drawn into an escalating battle of wills Wednesday over the use of political advertising on social media.

Uber may contribute more transport pollution than solution: study

Ride-hailing pioneer Uber, rather than being part of the solution to urban transport may be adding to related problems, especially pollution from diesel cars, a study showed Thursday.

When de-aging De Niro and Pacino, 'Irishman' animators tried to avoid pitfalls of the past

If you thought 76-year-old Robert De Niro and 79-year-old Al Pacino were done starring in blockbuster gangster films, think again.

Xerox holds firm on HP offer, sets Monday deadline

Xerox said Thursday it was holding firm on its $33 billion takeover offer for computer and printer maker HP, and warned it would take the matter to shareholders directly without a deal by Monday.

Electric cars a major challenge for supermarkets, gas stations

The rise of electric cars is proving a challenge not only for auto makers but also gas stations, supermarkets and malls forced to adapt as more and more electric vehicles hit the road, experts say.

Rise of the bots: Research team completes first census of Wikipedia bots

Since launching in 2001, Wikipedia has evolved into a sprawling repository of human knowledge, with 40 million collaboratively-written articles and almost 500 million monthly users. Maintaining that project requires more than 137,000 volunteer editors—and, increasingly, an army of automated, AI-powered software tools, known as bots, that continually scour the website to eliminate junk, add and tag pages, fix broken links, and coax human contributors to do better.

WeWork to lay off 2,400 workers worldwide

Embattled office sharing firm WeWork will lay off 2,400 employees worldwide—about a fifth of its workforce—as the it struggles to reorganize amid mounting losses, the company announced Thursday.

Army project may improve military communications by boosting 5G technology

An Army-funded project may boost 5G and mm-Wave technologies, improving military communications and sensing equipment.

Twitter lets users 'hide' off-course replies to tweets

Twitter on Thursday began letting users "hide" tweeted replies that could be seen as abusive or harassing in the latest effort by the online platform to create a more welcoming environment.

Google, Facebook business models threat to rights: Amnesty report

The data-collection business model fueling Facebook and Google represents a threat to human rights around the world, Amnesty International said in a report Wednesday.

India offers ailing telecom firms two-year moratorium on payments

India has granted the country's beleaguered telecom giants a moratorium on spectrum payments until the end of March 2022, offering much-needed respite after the Supreme Court slapped a massive $13-billion bill on the companies.

Workers of Samsung unite, new union tells chipmaker staff

Under the watchful gaze of Samsung Electronics security personnel, health and safety staffer Ko Jee-hun stood outside his semiconductor plant, handing out leaflets touting the benefits of joining a trade union.

Goldman Sachs CEO says 'no gender bias' in Apple Card

Goldman Sachs chief executive David Solomon on Thursday denied allegations of gender discrimination against an artificial intelligence programme used for setting credit limits for a new card from tech giant Apple.

Where parents feel like chauffeurs, companies step in

When Deb Fink heard about a company that could drive her 9-year-old son to his after-school program, she balked at the idea of putting him in a car with a stranger. But faced with the unrelenting pressure of driving him where he needed to go in the middle of her workday, she decided to give it a try.

British Airways says flights hit by glitch

British Airways flights were facing delays in and out of London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Thursday after a technical glitch overnight, the airline said.

Uber shows a big rise in government requests for rider information

Uber said on Wednesday that the number of requests for data on its riders from government officials in the United States and Canada rose sharply last year due, in part, to a "rising interest" in information on the ride-hailing company's users.

Free streaming options abound

There are more free streaming channels than you might suspect. Most are low-profile, compared with Netflix or Hulu, but they have more content than you will ever consume in six lifetimes. Since there's no such thing as a free lunch or a free viewing of "Free Willy," you'll have to endure ads, as we all did in the prehistoric network era.

Put together your favorite TV streaming package for less than $30 a month

It's never been more tempting for TV viewers to cut the cord and dive into "the stream." But with the recent launch of Disney+ and Apple TV+, the waters can appear murky. And they're about to get even muddier.

Secure data transmission with ultrasound on the mobile phone

Ultrasound communication is an entirely new method for data exchange between IoT devices and mobile phones. The communication between these is inaudible and the hardware requirements are kept to a minimum: microphone and loudspeakers. Researchers of the St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences have now developed a first open communication protocol including an open-source development kit for ultrasound communication by the name of SoniTalk.

Detecting mental and physical stress via smartphone

Can we use our smartphones without any other peripherals or wearables to accurately extract vital parameters, such as heart beat rate and stress level? The team led by Professor Enrico Caiani of the Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering at Politecnico di Milano has shown that it is possible to do so, using the accelerometers inside a smartphone.

Levitation, touch and sound – how you'll be able to feel videogames in the future

Despite advances in both virtual and augmented reality technology in the last few years, there's one area that remains neglected: touch. With your VR headset on, you might be able to explore the sights of a vast forest and hear birdsong all around you, but you won't feel the dampness of the moss on a tree trunk or the squelch of leaves underfoot.

Iran net outage first to effectively isolate a whole nation

Internet connectivity is trickling back in Iran after the government shut down access to the rest of the world for more than four days in response to unrest apparently triggered by a gasoline price hike.

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