Science X Newsletter Monday, Oct 28

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for October 28, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A deep learning approach to coordinate defensive escort teams

Gold-DNA nanosunflowers for efficient gene silencing and controlled transformation

An ultrathin nanoelectromechanical transducer made of hafnium zirconium oxide

The homeland of modern humans

ESO telescope reveals what could be the smallest dwarf planet yet in the solar system

New outburst detected from a luminous supersoft source in a nearby galaxy

New synthesis method yields degradable polymers

Crystallization clarified, researchers report

Overcoming weak governance will take decades with implications for climate adaptation

Underground fungal relationships key to thriving plants

Extent of human encroachment into world's protected areas revealed

Microscale rockets can travel through cellular landscapes

American whiskey found to leave distinctive 'fingerprint' when it evaporates

New research finding gives valleytronics a boost

Who will get depressed under major stress? Study shows promise of genetic risk prediction

Physics news

American whiskey found to leave distinctive 'fingerprint' when it evaporates

A team of researchers at the University of Louisville has found that unlike other whiskeys, American whiskey leaves a distinctive "fingerprint" behind when it evaporates on a flat surface. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Fluids, the researchers describe how they came to find the unique patterns and note possible uses for such information.

New research finding gives valleytronics a boost

An international research team led by physicists at the University of California, Riverside, has revealed a new quantum process in valleytronics that can speed up the development of this fairly new technology.

Compact depth sensor inspired by eyes of jumping spiders

For all our technological advances, nothing beats evolution when it comes to research and development. Take jumping spiders. These small arachnids have impressive depth perception despite their tiny brains, allowing them to accurately pounce on unsuspecting targets from several body lengths away.

Alert system for failing nuclear plant pipes uses thin films and sound vibrations

A failing pipe can be tough to spot. It may cause a puddle, produce another sign of damage, or simply burst before detection. A flooded kitchen or laundry room is messy and inconvenient, but the stakes are much, much higher in nuclear power plants—which on average contain many miles of pipeline.

Study shows ability to detect light from UV to the IR optical regimes using spin currents

A University of Wyoming researcher and his team have shown that the spin Seebeck effect (SSE) can be used to detect light across a broad optical range—ultraviolet through visible to near-infrared. This work has future implications on novel spin current-based technologies.

Placing another piece in the dark matter puzzle

Very little is known about the exact nature of dark matter. Currently, some of the most promising dark matter candidates are extremely light bosonic particles such as axions, axion-like particles or even dark photons. "These can also be regarded as a classical field oscillating at a certain frequency. But we can't yet put a figure on this frequency—and therefore the mass of the particles," explains Professor Dmitry Budker. "That is why in the CASPEr research program, we are systematically investigating different frequency ranges looking for hints of dark matter."

Topological nanoelectronics

Topological insulators are materials with astonishing properties: Electric current flows only along their surfaces or edges, whereas the interior of the material behaves as an insulator. In 2007, Professor Laurens Molenkamp at Julius-Maximilians-Universit├Ąt (JMU) W├╝rzburg in Bavaria, Germany, was the first to experimentally demonstrate the existence of such topological states. His team achieved this seminal work with quantum wells based on mercury and tellurium (HgTe). Since then, these novel materials have been the hope for a fundamentally new generation of components that, for example, promise innovations for information technology.

Researchers transmit energy with laser in 'historic' power-beaming demonstration

It was the second day of a three-day-long tech demonstration at the David Taylor Model Basin at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where attendees had gathered to stand around in the dark to look at something they mostly couldn't see.

Mathematics reveals new insights into Marangoni flows

The Marangoni effect is a popular physics experiment. It is produced when an interface between water and air is heated in just one spot. Since this heat will radiate outwards, a temperature gradient is produced on the surface, causing the fluid to move through the radiation process of convection. When un-dissolvable impurities are introduced to this surface, they are immediately swept to the side of the water's container. In turn, this creates a gradient in surface tension which causes the interface to become elastic.

A multimodal novel lensless microscopy technology for medical applications

Today's state-of-the-art analysis of biological samples by light microscopy includes a vast variety of techniques ranging from conventional bright field microscopy and phase contrast microscopy to high resolution confocal laser scanning microscopy and to recently developed super resolution microscopy techniques like stimulated emission depletion (STED) or stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM) which abnegate Abbe's limit of diffraction.

Astronomy & Space news

ESO telescope reveals what could be the smallest dwarf planet yet in the solar system

Astronomers using ESO's SPHERE instrument at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) have revealed that the asteroid Hygiea could be classified as a dwarf planet. The object is the fourth largest in the asteroid belt after Ceres, Vesta and Pallas. For the first time, astronomers have observed Hygiea in sufficiently high resolution to study its surface and determine its shape and size. They found that Hygiea is spherical, potentially taking the crown from Ceres as the smallest dwarf planet in the Solar System.

New outburst detected from a luminous supersoft source in a nearby galaxy

Astronomers from Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany have observed a new outburst from SSS1, a luminous transient supersoft X-ray source in the nearby galaxy NGC 300. The newly detected event could shed more light on the nature of this mysterious transient. The finding is detailed in a paper published October 18 on

Space: a major legal void

The internet of space is here. SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted this week using a connection provided by the first satellites in his high-speed Starlink constellation, which one day could include... 42,000 mini-satellites.

Stars pollute, but galaxies recycle

Galaxies were once thought of as lonely islands in the universe: clumps of matter floating through otherwise empty space. We now know they are surrounded by a much larger, yet nearly invisible cloud of dust and gas. Astronomers call it the circumgalactic medium, or CGM. The CGM acts as a giant recycling plant, absorbing matter ejected by the galaxy and later pushing it right back in.

New VIPER lunar rover to map water ice on the moon

NASA is sending a mobile robot to the South Pole of the moon to get a close-up view of the location and concentration of water ice in the region and for the first time ever, actually sample the water ice at the same pole where the first woman and next man will land in 2024 under the Artemis program.

Hubble captures cosmic face

In celebration of Halloween, this new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captures two galaxies of equal size in a collision that appears to resemble a ghostly face. This observation was made on 19 June 2019 in visible light by the telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys.

An overlooked piece of the solar dynamo puzzle

A previously unobserved mechanism is at work in the Sun's rotating plasma: a magnetic instability, which scientists had thought was physically impossible under these conditions. The effect might even play a crucial role in the formation of the Sun's magnetic field, say researchers from Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), the University of Leeds and the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) in the journal Physical Review Fluids.

Image: Hubble captures the IC 4653 galaxy

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows IC 4653, a galaxy just over 80 million light-years from Earth. That may sound like quite a distance, but it's not that far on a cosmic scale. At these kinds of distances, the types and structures of the objects we see are similar to those in our local area.

Insight-HXMT team releases new results on black hole and neutron star X-ray binaries

Scientists with the Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope (Insight-HXMT) team presented their new results on black hole and neutron star X-ray binaries during a press conference held Oct. 25 at the first China Space Science Assembly in Xiamen.

Image: A ghost in the Pleiades

This ghostly image shows what can happen when an interstellar cloud passes too close to a star. Barnard's Merope Nebula, also known as IC 349, is a cloud of interstellar gas and dust traveling through the Pleiades star cluster at a relative speed of 11 kilometers per second. It is passing close to the star Merope, located 0.06 light years away from the cloud, which is equivalent to about 3,500 times the distance between the Earth and the sun. This passage is disrupting the nebula and creating the wispy effect seen in the image.

From 'cavewalking' to spacewalking

It might not be obvious, but there are many similarities between working deep underground and in outer space.

Video: Gaia astronomical revolution

Launched in December 2013, the Gaia mission is revolutionizing our understanding of the Milky Way. The space telescope is mapping our galaxy in unprecedented detail—measuring the position, movement and distance of stars.

Protected: DESI's 5000 eyes open as Kitt Peak Telescope prepares to map space and time

A new instrument on the 4-m Mayall telescope has opened its array of thousands of fiber-optic "eyes" to the cosmos and successfully captured the light from distant galaxies. The milestone marks the beginning of final testing for the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), which is poised to begin creating the most detailed map of the Universe ever undertaken. The Mayall telescope is located at Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO), which is operated by the National Science Foundation's National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NSF's OIR Lab).

New Horizons team pieces together the best images they have of Pluto's far side

Pluto was discovered in 1930 by astronomer Clyde Tombaugh. For decades, not much detail was known about the erstwhile planet. We assumed it was a frozen, dormant world.

UV satellite will open new view on exploding stars and black holes

A new space telescope will open up an unprecedented view of the universe in ultraviolet light. The ULTRASAT satellite will provide fundamental new insights into high-energy phenomena such as supernova explosions, colliding neutron stars and active black holes, all of which can also generate gravitational waves and act as cosmic particle accelerators.

Giant neutrino telescope to open window to ultra-high-energy universe

The long-sought, elusive ultra-high-energy neutrinos—ghost-like particles that travel cosmological-scale distances—are key to understanding the Universe at the highest energies. Detecting them is challenging, but the Giant Radio Array for Neutrino Detection (GRAND), a next-generation neutrino detector is designed to find them.

Technology news

A deep learning approach to coordinate defensive escort teams

Advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) are enabling the development of artificial agents designed to assist humans in a variety of everyday settings. One of the many possible uses for these systems could be to escort humans or valuable goods that are being transferred from one location to another, defending them from threats or attacks.

An ultrathin nanoelectromechanical transducer made of hafnium zirconium oxide

Recently developed nanomechanical resonators that can operate at super-high (i.e., three to 30 GHz) and extremely high (30 to 300 GHz) frequency regimes could be extremely valuable for the development of more advanced semiconductor electronics such as wideband spectral processors and high-resolution resonant sensors. Integrated nanoelectromechanical transducers could enable the development of very small sensors and actuators to facilitate mechanical interaction with the outside world at the atomic level with ultra-high resolution. However, realizing integrated electromechanical transduction at the nanoscale has so far proved to be very challenging.

Robotics, coding become child's play: KOOV Trial Kit

Earlier this month, Sony Electronics announced an abbreviated take on the KOOV robotics kit that it showed in a 2017 video as a robotics and coding educational kit, made up of blocks, sensors, motors, actuators, and a companion app for educating children about coding and robotics designs.

New method promises advances in 3-D printing, manufacturing and biomedical applications

In a development offering great promise for additive manufacturing, Princeton University researchers have created a method to precisely create droplets using a jet of liquid. The technique allows manufacturers to quickly generate drops of material, finely control their size and locate them within a 3-D space.

System prevents speedy drones from crashing in unfamiliar areas

Autonomous drones are cautious when navigating the unknown. They creep forward, frequently mapping unfamiliar areas before proceeding lest they crash into undetected objects. But this slowdown isn't ideal for drones carrying out time-sensitive tasks, such as flying search-and-rescue missions through dense forests.

Helping autonomous vehicles see around corners

To improve the safety of autonomous systems, MIT engineers have developed a system that can sense tiny changes in shadows on the ground to determine if there's a moving object coming around the corner.

Supercomputer analyzes web traffic across entire internet

Using a supercomputing system, MIT researchers have developed a model that captures what web traffic looks like around the world on a given day, which can be used as a measurement tool for internet research and many other applications.

To rid electric grid of carbon, shore up green energy support

Cornell and Northwestern University engineers, along with a federal economist, have created an energy model that helps to remove carbon-generated power from the U.S. electric grid—replacing it with a greener, financially feasible wind, solar and hydro energy system.

Pentagon hands Microsoft $10B 'war cloud' deal, snubs Amazon

The Pentagon awarded Microsoft a $10 billion cloud computing contract , snubbing early front-runner Amazon, whose competitive bid drew criticism from President Donald Trump and its business rivals.

Facebook 'news tab' seeks to reboot its role with media

Facebook on Friday began rolling out its dedicated "news tab" with professionally produced content—the latest move by the social network to promote journalism and shed its reputation as a platform for misinformation.

Streaming TV war kicks into gear with Apple, Disney launches

The streaming television war is set to enter a new phase as titans Apple and Disney take direct aim at market leader Netflix, vying for consumers abandoning their cable TV bundles for on-demand services.

Contenders cramming TV streaming arena

Letting people watch whatever shows they want, wherever they wish on devices of their choice has become such a hit it is shaking up the television industry.

Streaming TV gears up for ad targeting

In the new world of streaming television, advertising is not going away, but is evolving to become more like marketing on the internet—targeted to specific groups or individuals.

5 milestones that created the internet, 50 years after the first network message

Fifty years ago, a UCLA computer science professor and his student sent the first message over the predecessor to the internet, a network called ARPANET.

Meet the robots that will be your colleagues—not your replacements

The latest industrial robots look like petting zoo versions of the big machines found in many modern factories—small, cute and you can play with them. But don't be deceived by their cuddly appearance. They have the potential to change the way humans work with machines and disrupt the existing market for industrial robots.

Energy companies turn to animal poo for clean power

In the search for clean electricity, power companies in Finland are going green by way of brown, and have set their sights on a previously untapped energy source: animal dung.

Teaching cars to drive with foresight

Good drivers anticipate dangerous situations and adjust their driving before things get dicey. Researchers at the University of Bonn now also want to teach this skill to self-driving cars. They will present a corresponding algorithm at the International Conference on Computer Vision which is held at Friday, November 1st, in Seoul. They will also present a data set that they used to train and test their approach. It will make it much easier to develop and improve such processes in the future.

Facebook to hand-pick publishers' content for new News service

Facebook on Friday continued with its ongoing efforts to give its users more control over what they see on the social network by launching Facebook News, a new option that will include more-personalized selection of content from some of the nation's best-known news outlets.

Google falls short on third-quarter profit

Google parent company Alphabet reported mixed third-quarter results Monday, beating analyst expectations for revenue but falling short on profits. The stock fell almost 3% immediately in after-hours trading, although it later made up roughly half of that drop.

Apple debuts AirPods Pro with noise cancelling, higher price

Apple is offering a $250 version of its wireless AirPods Pro earbuds with a new design and noise cancellation feature.

UAW says it has ratified General Motors contract, ending strike

General Motors hourly workers ratified a new contract with the auto giant on Friday, ending the longest automotive strike in the US in nearly 50 years.

Why more software development needs to go to the machines

Our expert: Justin Gottschlich leads the Machine Programming Research (MPR) team in the Systems and Software Research Lab. Justin's newly-formed research group focuses on the pioneering promise of machine programming, which is a fusion of machine learning, formal methods, programming languages, compilers and computer systems.

Horsepower, literally: Finnish horse show runs on manure

In a glimpse of the future, an entire sports event has been run on horse manure.

Toyota boosts presence in Poland on Brexit woes: media

Toyota said on Monday that it would boost production of components for hybrid vehicles at its plants in EU member Poland, with local media reporting the choice of location was underpinned by uncertainty over Brexit.

Instagram bans fictional snippets showing suicide

Fresh rules in place at Instagram on Monday ramped up a ban on images that might encourage suicide or self harm, adding drawings and other fictional content to the list.

AT&T makes changes in response to activist investor push

AT&T said it will look for more parts of its business to sell off and add two new board members after pressure from an activist investor.

Audit raps French energy giant EDF over nuclear project

An official report rapped French energy giant EDF on the knuckles Monday for lacking a "culture of quality," as reflected in huge delays and price overruns at a nuclear plant it has been building for more than a decade.

New US rules would require carriers to remove Chinese equipment

US regulators on Monday proposed rules to block telecom carriers from buying from Chinese tech companies Huawei and ZTE, and to remove any of their equipment already in place.

Ford announces it will cut 450 jobs in Canada

US automaker Ford said Monday it would lay off about 450 employees in Canada as it ends production of two vehicles currently assembled there.

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