Science X Newsletter Friday, Nov 1

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for November 1, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Using deep learning to localize human eyes in images

Numerical evidence for the merger of MOTSs inside a binary black hole

Cytoplasm of ruptured frog eggs organizes into cell-like structures that retain the ability to divide

Ancient gas cloud shows that the first stars must have formed very quickly

The secret behind crystals that shrink when heated

Three-drug combo improves lung function in most common genetic form of cystic fibrosis

The science of zombies: Will the undead rise?

Online tool speeds response to elephant poaching by tracing ivory to source

Rice yields plummet and arsenic rises in future climate-soil scenarios

Researchers find new signaling systems in human cells

Study aims at boosting antitumoral activity of compound extracted from an Amazon plant

What drives circadian rhythms in the polar regions?

Worldwide observations confirm nearby 'lensing' exoplanet

Changing the soil the key to reducing childhood lead exposure

Echolocation found to be cheap for deep-diving whales

Physics news

Numerical evidence for the merger of MOTSs inside a binary black hole

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, Rochester Institute of Technology and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics have recently gathered strong numerical evidence for a new phenomenon that takes place in the interior of binary black holes. In their study, published in Physical Review Letters, they collected observations that could offer exciting new insight into the merger of marginally outer trapped surfaces (MOTSs) in a binary black hole (BBH), a system consisting of two black holes in close orbit around each other.

Bringing ideas to life through experimental physics

Even the most brilliant scientific ideas need data. Just this year, the first-ever image of a black hole finally provided the evidence needed to support Einstein's 100-year-old theories. 

Astronomy & Space news

Ancient gas cloud shows that the first stars must have formed very quickly

Astronomers led by Eduardo BaƱados of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy have discovered a gas cloud that contains information about an early phase of galaxy and star formation, merely 850 million years after the Big Bang. The cloud was found serendipitously during observations of a distant quasar, and it has the properties that astronomers expect from the precursors of modern-day dwarf galaxies. When it comes to relative abundances, the cloud's chemistry is surprisingly modern, showing that the first stars in the universe must have formed very quickly after the Big Bang. The results have been published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Worldwide observations confirm nearby 'lensing' exoplanet

Researchers using telescopes around the world confirmed and characterized an exoplanet orbiting a nearby star through a rare phenomenon known as gravitational microlensing. The exoplanet has a mass similar to Neptune, but it orbits a star lighter (cooler) than the Sun at an orbital radius similar to Earth's orbital radius. Around cool stars, this orbital region is thought to be the birth place of gas-giant planets. The results of this research suggest that Neptune-sized planets could be common around this orbital region. Because the exoplanet discovered this time is closer than other exoplanets discovered by the same method, it is a good target for follow-up observations by world-class telescopes like the Subaru Telescope.

Jupiter-sized exoplanet discovered through microlensing

The path of a light beam is bent by the presence of mass, and a massive body can therefore act like a lens (a "gravitational lens") to distort the image of an object seen behind it. Scientists first confirmed Einstein's prediction quantitatively during the now famous total eclipse of 29 May 1919 by observing starlight bent by the mass of the Sun. Microlensing is the name given to a related phenomenon: the brightening of light from a star as a cosmic body, acting as a gravitational lens, passing fortuitously in front of it, the light then dimming to normal as the body moves beyond the line-of sight. About one hundred exoplanets have been discovered to date by the microlensing technique, ranging in masses from about fifty Jupiter-masses to less than a few Earth-masses.

An astronaut smart glove to explore the moon, Mars and beyond

The NASA Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) and collaborating organizations SETI Institute, Mars Institute, NASA Ames Research Center, Collins Aerospace, and Ntention are announcing the successful field test of an "astronaut smart glove" for future human exploration of the Moon, Mars, and beyond. The smart glove is a prototype for a human-machine interface (HuMI) that would allow astronauts to wirelessly operate a wide array of robotic assets, including drones, via simple single-hand gestures.

Mobile app to provide the latest on black hole collisions and merging neutron stars

PhD students from the Institute for Gravitational Wave Astronomy have released a new app to encourage members of the public to stay up to date with new gravitational wave events in near real time.

Technology news

Using deep learning to localize human eyes in images

A team of researchers at China University of Geosciences and Wuhan WXYZ Technologies in China has recently proposed a new machine learning-based technique to locate people's eyes in images of their faces. This technique, presented in a paper published in Elsevier's journal Neurocomputing, could have several useful applications. For example, it could be used to detect drowsiness in people who are driving a car or performing tasks that require a certain degree of alertness and attention.

'Transformative electronics systems' to broaden wearable applications

Imagine a handheld electronic gadget that can soften and deform when attached to our skin. This will be the future of electronics we all dreamed of. A research team at KAIST says their new platform called 'Transformative Electronics Systems' will open a new class of electronics, allowing reconfigurable electronic interfaces to be optimized for a variety of applications.

New York goes big on storage battery plans, gets green light for Queens facility

New York authorities have given a 316-megawatt battery storage project the green light. The project number, 316 MW / 2528 MWh, packs enough power to provide over 250,000 households with electricity for up to eight hours.

Dubai displays tech reputation with global robotics contest

Seeking to bolster its image as a forward-looking metropolis, Dubai hosted the largest-ever international robotics contest this week, challenging young people from 190 countries to find solutions to global ocean pollution.

Apple TV+ seeks stardom on streaming service stage

Apple moved into new territory Friday with a streaming television service that features a budding library of original shows starring big-name celebrities, aimed at winning over its gadget lovers at home and on the go.

Pentagon awaits possible Amazon challenge over cloud deal

Amazon must decide soon if it will protest the Pentagon's awarding of a $10 billion cloud computing contract to rival Microsoft, with one possible grievance being the unusual attention given the project by President Donald Trump.

Virtual reality: game-changing revolution in eSports

Encased in headsets and carrying electronic replicas of weapons in their hands, the players prowl around the arena, ducking behind virtual obstacles before emerging to shoot at the enemy.

Lawsuit accuses Facebook ad targeting of abetting bias

A lawsuit filed on Thursday accuses Facebook of letting ad targeting tools be used to exclude women and older people from offers regarding loans, investments and other financial services.

Image: Driving into the future

A highly autonomous self-driving shuttle has entered service at ESA's technical heart. Its official inauguration took place on Tuesday, when it was assigned a suitably spacey name – "Orbiter' – chosen through an employee competition.

Will hiding 'like' counts and other numbers improve social media?

With social media companies under scrutiny for contributing to negative social pressure, Facebook announced in late September that it was starting a test in Australia to hide "like" counts and other metrics on posts. Instagram (owned by Facebook) began a similar experiment in seven countries earlier this year, and Twitter developed an experimental app that also hides some metrics. University of Illinois art professor Ben Grosser, also the co-founder of the Critical Technology Studies Lab at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, has been looking at the effects of those numbers on users for seven years. In 2012, he created Facebook Demetricator, a browser extension to hide all metrics on Facebook, and he followed that with Twitter Demetricator in 2018 and Instagram Demetricator in 2019. Grosser spoke with News Bureau arts and humanities editor Jodi Heckel.

Would you notice if your calculator lied to you? The research says probably not

These days, it's hard to know whom to trust online, and how to discern genuine content from fakery.

Does unmanned civil aviation have a place in current international legislation?

It is projected that in ten years time, ten percent of global civil aviation operations will be unmanned. Are the current international aviation laws and regulations up to these technological developments? Fernando Fiallos will defend his dissertation on 14 November 2019.

Can't find time for the people who matter most? There's an app for that

It's hard to make time for the people who matter.

Listening to engine blades to stop failures, disasters

The roar of a jet or race car engine can nearly take one's breath away. Now imagine trying to hear through all that noise to pinpoint a problem with the engine—and stop a potentially disastrous failure.

Google buys Fitbit for $2.1B, stepping back into wearables

Google is buying Fitbit for about $2.1 billion, enabling the internet company to step back into the hotly contested market for smartwatches and health trackers.

Engineers develop new way to know liars' intent

Dartmouth engineering researchers have developed a new approach for detecting a speaker's intent to mislead. The approach's framework, which could be developed to extract opinion from "fake news," among other uses, was recently published as part of a paper in Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence.

Uber facing ban in Geneva: authorities

The Swiss canton of Geneva said Friday it had classified ride-hailing giant Uber as an employer, ordering a halt to its activities unless it pays the social charges for its drivers.

Canada credit union data breach bigger than first thought: Desjardins

A massive data breach last year at Desjardins credit union has turned out to be bigger than originally thought, affecting all 4.2 million of its customers, Canada's largest banking co-operative said Friday.

Controversial Russian law to control internet enters force

A controversial law that would allow Russia to cut internet traffic from international servers came into force Friday, prompting fears from rights activists of online isolation.

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Cosmic Triangles Open a Window to the Origin of Time

Math and Science News from Quanta Magazine
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Cosmic Triangles Open a Window to the Origin of Time


A close look at fundamental symmetries has exposed hidden patterns in the universe. Physicists think that those same symmetries may also reveal time's original secret.

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The Universal Law That Aims Time's Arrow


A new look at a ubiquitous phenomenon has uncovered unexpected fractal behavior that could give us clues about the early universe and the arrow of time.

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A Jewel at the Heart of Quantum Physics


Physicists have discovered a jewel-shaped geometric object that challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental constituents of nature.

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Mathematicians Cut Apart Shapes to Find Pieces of Equations


New work on the problem of "scissors congruence" explains when it's possible to slice up one shape and reassemble it as another.

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A Proof That Some Spaces Can't Be Cut


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The Most-Magnetic Objects in the Universe Attract New Controversy


How do magnetars get so magnetic? A study of stellar explosions shows that the long-accepted theory might be wrong.

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Possible Detection of a Black Hole So Big It 'Should Not Exist'


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Perceptions of Musical Octaves Are Learned, Not Wired in the Brain


Singing experiments with residents of the Bolivian rainforest demonstrate how biology and experience shape the way we hear music.

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How the Brain Links Gestures, Perception and Meaning


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Mathematical Simplicity May Drive Evolution's Speed


Computer scientists are looking to evolutionary biology for inspiration in the search for optimal solutions among astronomically huge sets of possibilities.

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