Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Oct 30

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for October 30, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Dielectric metasurfaces for next-generation holograms

Lithium ion battery design can charge an electric vehicle in 10 minutes

Twisted physics: Magic angle graphene produces switchable patterns of superconductivity

Bundlemers (new polymer units) could transform industries

To survive in the human gut, bacteria need genetic 'passcode'

A new high-resolution map of how the brain is wired

Double-sided tape for tissues could replace surgical sutures

Globular cluster Terzan 9 investigated with MUSE

Climate models and geology reveal new insights into the East Asian monsoon

Empowering drug discovery by evaluating antivirals in thousands of single cells

Two-legged robot mimics human balance while running and jumping

Simulations explain giant exoplanets with eccentric, close-in orbits

System provides cooling with no electricity

Two million-year-old ice provides snapshot of Earth's greenhouse gas history

Classic energy theory fails to explain coral distribution across depth

Physics news

Dielectric metasurfaces for next-generation holograms

Metasurfaces are optically thin metamaterials that can control the wavefront of light completely, although they are primarily used to control the phase of light. In a new report, Adam C. Overvig and colleagues in the departments of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics at the Columbia University and the Center for Functional Nanomaterials at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, U.S., presented a novel study approach, now published on Light: Science & Applications. The simple concept used meta-atoms with a varying degree of form birefringence and angles of rotation to create high-efficiency dielectric metasurfaces with ability to control optical amplitude (maximum extent of a vibration) and phase at one or two frequencies. The work opened applications in computer-generated holography to faithfully reproduce the phase and amplitude of a target holographic scene without using iterative algorithms that are typically required during phase-only holography.

Twisted physics: Magic angle graphene produces switchable patterns of superconductivity

Last year, scientists demonstrated that twisted bilayer graphene—a material made of two atom-thin sheets of carbon with a slight twist—can exhibit alternating superconducting and insulating regions. Now, a new study in the journal Nature by scientists from Spain, the U.S., China and Japan shows that superconductivity can be turned on or off with a small voltage change, increasing its usefulness for electronic devices.

Scientists reveal the physics of Jackson Pollock's painting technique

The celebrated painter Jackson Pollock created his most iconic works not with a brush, but by pouring paint onto the canvas from above, weaving sinuous filaments of color into abstract masterpieces. A team of researchers analyzing the physics of Pollock's technique has shown that the artist had a keen understanding of a classic phenomenon in fluid dynamics—whether he was aware of it or not.

Researchers build a biomimetic 'soft cannon' to understand how fungal spores are dispersed

A team of researchers from the Technical University of Denmark, the University of Copenhagen and Wageningen University and Research has built a tiny biomimetic 'soft cannon' to better understand how fungal spores are dispersed. In their paper published in Journal of the Royal Society Interface, the group describes building their tiny cannon and what they learned from firing it.

A superconductor that 'remembers' its electronic charge arrangement

In the field of superconductivity—the ability of a material to conduct electricity with virtually zero resistance—the so-called high-temperature superconductors (HTSCs) are possible candidates for a new generation of advanced technologies. One subset of these, the "cuprates," which are crystalline materials based on planes of copper oxide, are particularly promising. But scientists still need to learn much more about these materials before mainstream, room-temperature applications are possible. Currently, even the "high-temperature" superconductors must be chilled to very, very cold temperatures by everyday standards.

Researchers use 3-D printing to make glass optical fiber preform

Researchers have developed a way to use 3-D printing to create a preform that can be drawn into silica glass optical fibers, which form the backbone of the global telecommunications network. This new fabrication method could not only simplify production of these fibers but also enable designs and applications that weren't possible before.

LS2 Report: Linac4 knocking at the door of the PS Booster

Busy activity has returned to the CERN Control Centre (CCC), where the Operation group coordinates the current Linac4 test run, supported by the Accelerators and Beam Physics (ABP) group and all the involved equipment groups. As we write, the nominal 160 MeV beam has already reached the Linac4 dump.

Surface functionalized microcavity boosts nonlinear optics

Silica optical microcavities are mainstay photonic devices, valued for their intrinsically ultra-low loss in the broadband spectra and mature fabrication processes, but unfortunately, they suffer from low second- and third-order optical nonlinearity. A notable feature of the microcavity is the inherent leaking evanescent field at the surface, which opens the window for light-matter interactions at the surface.

Astronomy & Space news

Globular cluster Terzan 9 investigated with MUSE

Using the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE), an international team of astronomers has investigated Terzan 9—one of the most central globular clusters in the Milky Way galaxy. Results of the study, presented in a paper published October 22 on arXiv, provide more information about the properties of Terzan 9, which could help astronomers to better understand the chemical composition and nature of this cluster.

Simulations explain giant exoplanets with eccentric, close-in orbits

As planetary systems evolve, gravitational interactions between planets can fling some of them into eccentric elliptical orbits around the host star, or even out of the system altogether. Smaller planets should be more susceptible to this gravitational scattering, yet many gas giant exoplanets have been observed with eccentric orbits very different from the roughly circular orbits of the planets in our own solar system.

Astronomers discover ghosts of supernovas in nearby galaxy

Researchers from the University of Manchester, with international colleagues, have carried out a survey of a nearby galaxy.

NASA's latest exoplanet posters are a Halloween treat

Just in time for Halloween, NASA has released two new posters celebrating some truly terrifying exoplanets, or planets outside our solar system. Free to download, the entertaining posters recall vintage horror movie advertisements but have a decidedly astronomical focus.

Image: Antarctic mist

As the Northern hemisphere tucks into longer nights, Antarctica bursts into its season of sunlight.

SwRI to plan Pluto orbiter mission

NASA has funded Southwest Research Institute to study the important attributes, feasibility and cost of a possible future Pluto orbiter mission. This study will develop the spacecraft and payload design requirements and make preliminary cost and risk assessments for new technologies.

Technology news

Lithium ion battery design can charge an electric vehicle in 10 minutes

Scientist have developed a lithium ion battery that charges at an elevated temperature to increase reaction rate but keeps the cell cool during discharge, showing the potential to add 200 miles of driving range to an electric car in 10 minutes. If scaled, the design is one potential strategy to alleviate concerns that all-electric vehicles lack sufficient cruise range to safely reach a destination without stalling mid-journey. The Pennsylvania State University researchers present the work October 30 in the journal Joule.

Double-sided tape for tissues could replace surgical sutures

Inspired by a sticky substance that spiders use to catch their prey, MIT engineers have designed a double-sided tape that can rapidly seal tissues together.

Two-legged robot mimics human balance while running and jumping

Rescuing victims from a burning building, a chemical spill, or any disaster that is inaccessible to human responders could one day be a mission for resilient, adaptable robots. Imagine, for instance, rescue-bots that can bound through rubble on all fours, then rise up on two legs to push aside a heavy obstacle or break through a locked door.

System provides cooling with no electricity

Imagine a device that can sit outside under blazing sunlight on a clear day, and without using any power cool things down by more than 23 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius). It almost sounds like magic, but a new system designed by researchers at MIT and in Chile can do exactly that.

Phoenix rises with driverless Waymo signups

Waymo's autonomous cars have started picking up passengers in Phoenix, Arizona. Let's focus on autonomous: Nobody is at the wheel. Riders-only.

Robotic blocks can identify each other and self-assemble to form structures

Swarms of simple, interacting robots have the potential to unlock stealthy abilities for accomplishing complex tasks. Getting these robots to achieve a true hive-like mind of coordination, though, has proved to be a hurdle.

Engineers develop computerized bionic leg to help amputees walk faster, easier and with better balance

For a brief time, Kerry Finn felt like "The Terminator" or "The Six Million Dollar Man." The 60-year-old retired truck driver from Salt Lake County, Utah, lost his left leg to vascular disease from type 2 diabetes. But last year, he was one of 10 human subjects at the University of Utah to test one of the world's first truly bionic legs, a self-powered prosthetic limb with a computer processor and motorized joints in the ankle and knee that enable an amputee to walk with more power, vigor and better balance.

AT&T says HBO Max streaming service to launch in May for $15

AT&T said Tuesday that its HBO Max streaming service will launch in May for $15 a month, joining a crowded field.

Quibi: the new mobile-centric short-form streaming service

Quibi, the Hollywood-backed streaming service set to launch next April, will offer people on the go short-form content that can be viewed in 10-minute increments only on mobile phones.

Fiat Chrysler, Peugeot in talks to create $50 bn car giant

Fiat Chrysler and Groupe PSA, the maker of Peugeot and Citroen cars, announced Wednesday they are in merger talks that could propel them into the top ranks as the world's fourth largest automaker.

Volkswagen confident despite braking car market

German car giant Volkswagen said Wednesday it was confident of hitting financial targets despite a lower unit sales outlook, warning "vehicle markets will contract faster than previously anticipated in many regions".

Sony sees first-half net profit drop but lifts full-year forecast

Japan's Sony said Wednesday half-year net profit fell nearly 15 percent, but it upgraded its annual forecast on solid growth in its image-sensor and music sectors.

Gender neutral emojis hit screens in new Apple update

Apple has put out new gender neutral emojis of most of its people icons—including punks, clowns and zombies—as part of an update to its mobile operating system.

Beijing eyes facial recognition tech for metro security

Beijing will use facial recognition tools to speed up security checks in the city's overcrowded metro, using a 'credit system' to sort passengers into different channels, state-run media reported on Wednesday.

Automatic braking can be lifesaving (except when it's not), IIHS study finds

As the nation's pedestrian safety crisis continues, carmakers are gradually adopting automatic braking systems that are supposed to help vehicles avoid hitting people.

Edmunds tests Android Auto and Apple CarPlay updates

The fall season coincides with the reveal of the latest smartphones and operating systems from Apple and Google. This year in particular marks the first time that the two brands have significantly overhauled their automotive software—Apple CarPlay and Android Auto—to make them easier to use. Edmunds gives an overview of how these systems work and which new features our experts like the best.

Cranberry farmers want to build solar panels over their bogs

Plummeting cranberry prices and the country's ongoing trade wars have America's cranberry industry eyeing a possible new savior: solar power.

DNS-over-HTTPS: why the web's latest privacy tech is causing an outcry

A new technology promises to make your web browser more private than ever, keeping your internet activity from prying eyes. But some argue your data won't actually be all that private. And others are worried it could actually help criminals including child abusers to avoid justice. Here's what you need to know about DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH).

AI tool detects global fashion trends

On the king's birthday in Thailand—celebrated as Father's Day—people often wear yellow shirts emblazoned with the word "DAD."

A clear view through fog of city surveillance

CCTV—closed-circuit television—is widely used to carry out surveillance in a wide range of environments from military installations to shopping centres. Modern video surveillance, with recording and playback facilities, multiple cameras, and other infrastructure are quite unwieldy and rely on expensive computer servers that can process and store video.

Neural network reconstructs human thoughts from brain waves in real time

Researchers from Russian corporation Neurobotics and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology have found a way to visualize a person's brain activity as actual images mimicking what they observe in real time. This will enable new post-stroke rehabilitation devices controlled by brain signals. The team published its research as a preprint on bioRxiv and posted a video online showing their "mind-reading" system at work.

Ford to offer over-the-air software updates across lineup

Beginning next year, Ford's redesigned vehicle models will allow software updates over the internet or through cellular phone connections.

Aircraft pilots usually cannot spot an encroaching drone, study shows

Skilled pilots approaching a runway usually can't see small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) encroaching on their airspace, and they virtually never detect motionless drones, a newly published study shows.

Facebook agrees to pay fine in Cambridge Analytica scandal

Facebook has agreed to pay a 500,000-pound ($643,000) fine in a privacy case stemming from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, agreeing to accept the fine without admitting any liability.

Despite promising to stop, Facebook and Google are still selling political ads in Washington state

On Dec. 28 of last year, Facebook said it would stop selling ads about state and local elections in Washington state. Since that day, Facebook has sold at least $39,000 worth of ads about state and local elections in Washington state.

Blockchain offers promise for securing global supply chain

Blockchain technology has the potential to transform the global supply chain and improve both the speed and security of handling the flow of goods at international borders. But researchers say big questions remain about how the transformation will unfold.

Facebook profit climbs along with user base

Facebook on Wednesday reported that its quarterly profit grew along with its user base as it grapples with concerns ranging from political ads to cryptocurrency.

Twitter bans all political advertisements

Twitter is banning all political advertising from its service, saying social media companies give advertisers an unfair advantage in proliferating highly targeted, misleading messages.

Lyft loses money again but eyes profits in about 2 years

Lyft is continuing to lose staggering sums of money as it barrels ahead with impressive revenue growth, but its executives said they believe the company will turn a corner and reach profitability in about two years.

Apple overcomes iPhone slump with strong fiscal 4Q showing

Apple is still running a well-oiled moneymaking machine despite cooling demand for its hottest product, the iPhone.

Spotify launches standalone music app for kids

Spotify wants to hook your kids on music at an early age. And the Swedish company is doing so by launching a tailored Spotify Kids app on Wednesday, initially in beta and only in Ireland. Though make no mistake, Spotify has designs on spreading the service to other global markets, including the U.S.

Forget self-driving cars, this plane landed itself

I don't have a pilot's license. I'm not crazy about heights. I'm not even great at flight simulators on a computer.

Sony shutting down PlayStation VUE cut the cord service

This has not been a good week for cord cutters looking for cable TV alternatives.

Airbus cuts delivery forecast, profits in holding pattern

Airbus cut Wednesday its forecast for the number of planes it will deliver this year as it finds it difficult to meet ambitious targets to speed up production, while profits held steady in the third quarter.

Agriculture of the future: neural networks have learned to predict plant growth

Scientists from Skoltech have trained neural networks to evaluate and predict the plant growth pattern taking into account the main influencing factors and propose the optimal ratio between the nutrient requirements and other growth-driving parameters. The results of the study were published in the IEEE journal Transactions on Instrumentations and Measurements.

Carmaker tie-ups and break-ups

With US-Italian auto giant Fiat Chrysler and France's Groupe PSA in merger talks, here is a look at other major auto tie-up deals—or attempted deals—since the 1990s.

Africa targeted by Russian-led disinformation campaign: Facebook

Facebook said Wednesday it had taken down accounts linked to a Russian ally of President Vladimir Putin seeking to spread disinformation on the social network in eight African countries.

Boeing CEO grilled again amid calls for resignation

Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg faced another round of tough questions on Wednesday, with US lawmakers calling out the aerospace giant for not holding top leaders accountable after two deadly crashes.

Beyond Netflix: A look at what you get with new streamers

Attention binge watchers: There's life beyond Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.

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