Science X Newsletter Monday, Dec 2

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for December 2, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Kaolin: The first comprehensive library for 3-D deep learning research

Accessing scrambling in quantum systems using matrix product operators

Cardiac imaging with 3-D cellular resolution using few-mode interferometry to diagnose coronary artery disease

Helping machines perceive some laws of physics

Researchers reveal unexpected versatility of an ancient DNA repair factor

Drone images show Greenland ice sheet becoming more unstable as it fractures

New study points to one cause for several mysteries linked to breathable oxygen

This 'fix' for economic theory changes everything from gambles to Ponzi schemes

Researchers discover new way to split and sum photons with silicon

New membrane technology to boost water purification and energy storage

Research unravels mystery of how early animals survived ice age

When laser beams meet plasma: New data addresses gap in fusion research

A new way to control microbial metabolism

Study identifies brain networks that play crucial role in suicide risk

Facial deformity in royal dynasty was linked to inbreeding, scientists confirm

Physics news

Accessing scrambling in quantum systems using matrix product operators

In quantum physics, scrambling is the dispersal of quantum information across a complex quantum system, such as chaotic quantum many-body systems. This process can make quantum information difficult or impossible to access, particularly when using simple and conventional physics methods.

Cardiac imaging with 3-D cellular resolution using few-mode interferometry to diagnose coronary artery disease

A new imaging technique developed by Biwei Yin and interdisciplinary researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in the U.S., provides resolution at the subcellular-level to image the heart's vascular system. As a result, heart researchers can study and diagnose human coronary artery disease with greater precision. Conventionally, cardiologists employ intravascular optical coherence tomography (OCT) to assess the buildup of coronary plaque, which can narrow arteries to cause coronary artery disease.

This 'fix' for economic theory changes everything from gambles to Ponzi schemes

Whether we decide to take out that insurance policy, buy Bitcoin, or switch jobs, many economic decisions boil down to a fundamental gamble about how to maximize our wealth over time. How we understand these decisions is the subject of a new perspective piece in Nature Physics that aims to correct a foundational mistake in economic theory.

When laser beams meet plasma: New data addresses gap in fusion research

New research from the University of Rochester will enhance the accuracy of computer models used in simulations of laser-driven implosions. The research, published in the journal Nature Physics, addresses one of the challenges in scientists' longstanding quest to achieve fusion.

Controlling the optical properties of solids with acoustic waves

Physicists from Switzerland, Germany, and France have found that large-amplitude acoustic waves, launched by ultrashort laser pulses, can dynamically manipulate the optical response of semiconductors.

All-optical diffractive neural networks process broadband light

Diffractive deep neural network is an optical machine learning framework that blends deep learning with optical diffraction and light-matter interaction to engineer diffractive surfaces that collectively perform optical computation at the speed of light. A diffractive neural network is first designed in a computer using deep learning techniques, followed by the physical fabrication of the designed layers of the neural network using e.g., 3-D printing or lithography. Since the connection between the input and output planes of a diffractive neural network is established via diffraction of light through passive layers, the inference process and the associated optical computation does not consume any power except the light used to illuminate the object of interest.

Scientists invent a way to see attosecond electron motions with an X-ray laser

Researchers at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have invented a way to observe the movements of electrons with powerful X-ray laser bursts just 280 attoseconds, or billionths of a billionth of a second, long.

Molecular vibrations lead to high performance laser

Lasers. They are used for everything from entertaining our cats to encrypting our communications. Unfortunately, lasers can be energy intensive and many are made using toxic materials like arsenic and gallium. To make lasers more sustainable, new materials and lasing mechanisms must be discovered.

Scientists develop new primary method for measurement of pressure

Scientists from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) have implemented a novel pressure measurement method, partly as a byproduct of the work on the "new" kelvin. In addition to being new, this procedure is a primary method, i.e. it only depends on natural constants. As an independent method, it can be used to check the most accurate pressure gauges, for which PTB is known as the world leader.

Neutrons probe ultra-cold condensate for insight into quantum matter

Bose-Einstein condensates are macroscopic quantum phases of matter which appear only under very particular conditions. Learning more about these phases of matter could help researchers develop a better understanding of fundamental quantum behaviors and possibly contribute to future quantum technology.

Student solves a 100-year-old physics enigma

An EPFL Bachelor's student has solved a mystery that has puzzled scientists for 100 years. He discovered why gas bubbles in narrow vertical tubes seem to remain stuck instead of rising upward. According to his research and observations, an ultra-thin film of liquid forms around the bubble, preventing it from rising freely. And he found that, in fact, the bubbles are not stuck at all—they are just moving very, very slowly.

A trick for taming terahertz transmissions

An Osaka University research team has introduced a new terahertz detector that allows extremely rapid wireless data communication and highly sensitive radar by using a frequency range that has previously been very difficult to work with. Their approach combined sensitive electronics and a novel method for handling high frequencies to achieve the long-sought goal of using terahertz radiation for sending and receiving wireless data. The record 30 gigabit per second real-time error-free transmission they obtained may lead the way for next-generation (6G) cellular network technology.

Bank on it: Gains in one type of force produced by fusion disruptions are offset by losses in another

Doughnut-shaped tokamaks—facilities designed to reproduce the fusion energy that powers the sun and stars on Earth—must withstand forces that can be stronger than hurricanes created by disruptions in the plasma that fuels fusion reactions. Recent findings by physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) show that certain forces released by disruptions act in a surprising manner. The results could enable designers of large future facilities such as ITER, the international tokamak under construction in France, to better contain forces that could seriously damage the facility.

Astronomy & Space news

Researchers identify a minimoon fireball

A team of researchers at Curtin University studying data from Australia's Desert Fireball Network has identified a minimoon fireball. In their paper published in The Astronomical Journal, the group describes how they found the fireball and the methods they used to show that it had come from a minimoon.

Image: Hubble detects dynamic galactic duo

Some galaxies are closer friends than others. While many live their own separate, solitary lives, others stray a little too close to a near neighbor and take their friendship even deeper.

Solar Wind Around Pluto instrument confirms solar wind slows farther away from the sun

Measurements taken by the Solar Wind Around Pluto (SWAP) instrument aboard NASA's New Horizons spacecraft are providing important new insights from some of the farthest reaches of space ever explored. In a paper recently published in the Astrophysical Journal, a team led by Southwest Research Institute shows how the solar wind—the supersonic stream of charged particles blown out by the Sun—evolves at increasing distances from the Sun.

Scientist leads international team to crack 60-year-old mystery of Sun's magnetic waves

A Queen's University Belfast scientist has led an international team to the ground-breaking discovery of why the Sun's magnetic waves strengthen and grow as they emerge from its surface, which could help to solve the mystery of how the corona of the Sun maintains its multi-million degree temperatures.

Spacewalking astronauts add new pumps to cosmic detector

Spacewalking astronauts installed new pumps on a cosmic ray detector outside the International Space Station on Monday in a bid to extend its scientific life.

Black hole or newborn stars? SOFIA finds galactic puzzle

Universities Space Research Association (USRA) today announced that scientists on NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) found a strange black hole that is changing its galactic surroundings in a way that is usually associated with newborn stars.

NASA shares mid-sized robotic lunar lander concept with industry

As NASA presses forward with the agency's mission to the Moon, Mars and beyond, the development of top-tier technology is critical to success. With emphasis on lunar exploration and scientific investigation, the desire to deliver a wide variety of payloads to the Moon has increased.

Astronaut Luca feeling the force, to advance rover control

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano has made robotics history, reaching out from the International Space Station in orbit around Earth at 8 km/s, to control an Earth-based rover, equipped with an advanced gripper possessing the equivalent mobility and dexterity of a human hand.

When space travel is a blur

Canadian scientists are working on a new way to measure the mechanics of the human eye to better identify astronauts at risk of developing ocular damage before they go into space. Collaborating with the Canadian Space Agency and NASA, Université de Montréal researchers Santiago Costantino and Mark Lesk hope to use their expertise in measuring ocular rigidity to protect astronauts from the adverse impacts that space travel can have on their vision.

Mercury transit observed at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory

About 13 times per century, fleeting Mercury can be seen passing directly in front of the Sun in what is called a transit. The most recent Mercury transit occurred on November 11, 2019.

Technology news

Kaolin: The first comprehensive library for 3-D deep learning research

As most real-world environments are three-dimensional, deep learning models designed to analyze videos or complete tasks in real-world environments should ideally be trained on 3-D data. Technological tools such as robots, self-driving vehicles, smartphones, and other devices are currently generating a growing amount of 3-D data that could eventually be processed by deep learning algorithms.

Helping machines perceive some laws of physics

Humans have an early understanding of the laws of physical reality. Infants, for instance, hold expectations for how objects should move and interact with each other, and will show surprise when they do something unexpected, such as disappearing in a sleight-of-hand magic trick.

A Moonshot robot is earning marks for sorting trash

Idea hatchers at the Moonshot Factory, Alphabet X, have been busy on an Everyday Robot project and its goal is quite simple. They are keen on "building a robot that can learn to operate in many different situations."

Carpentry Compiler helps woodworkers design objects that they can actually make

As the holidays approach, people might be thinking of neat do-it-yourself woodworking projects to give as gifts. But there's often a disconnect between designing an object and coming up with the best way to make it.

New framework brings accuracy, efficiency to identifying stop words

A research team led by Northwestern Engineering's Luis Amaral has developed an algorithmic approach for data analysis that automatically recognizes uninformative words—known as stop words—in a large collection of text. The findings could dramatically save time during natural language processing as well as reduce its energy footprint.

'Black Friday' becoming a shadow of its former self in US

The US holiday shopping season officially opened with a deluge of "Black Friday" promotions but the frenzied crowds of the past have thinned out with the rise of e-commerce.

China bans 'fake news' created with AI, bots

China has issued new rules banning online video and audio providers from using artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality technologies to produce "fake news."

Tokyo's main Olympic stadium ready to fight heat

Construction of the $1.4 billion main Tokyo Olympic venue has officially completed, constructors said on Saturday, and is set to fight excessive heat with a nature-inspired design.

Twitter won't be removing inactive accounts after backlash over profiles of dead users

Twitter is rethinking its plans to purge inactive accounts, including those started by users who have died.

Apple says to 'carefully' examine Crimea map controversy

Apple said on Saturday it was going to "carefully" examine its controversial decision to show the annexed Crimea peninsula as part of Russia on maps and weather apps which has caused an outcry in Ukraine.

Fiat Chrysler and union reach tentative contract deal in US

Fiat Chrysler and the United Auto Workers union have reached a tentative labor agreement calling for billions in new investments and thousands of new jobs, the UAW announced Saturday.

US online Black Friday sales hit record $7.4 bn

Online sales on Black Friday in the United States hit a record $7.4 billion this year, with a jump in the number of transactions made from smartphones, according to data released Saturday by Adobe Analytics.

China's chief on journey to boost working mothers

The head of Chinese travel giant, Jane Sun, is on a mission to propel women through her workforce, spearheading novel approaches such as encouraging babies on business trips and free egg freezing.

Still on top: Cyber Monday sales on track to hit record

Cyber Monday is still holding up as the biggest online shopping day of the year, even though many of the same deals have been available online for weeks and the name harks back to the days of dial-up modems.

AI could be a force for good – but we're currently heading for a darker future

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already re-configuring the world in conspicuous ways. Data drives our global digital ecosystem, and AI technologies reveal patterns in data. Smartphones, smart homes, and smart cities influence how we live and interact, and AI systems are increasingly involved in recruitment decisions, medical diagnoses, and judicial verdicts. Whether this scenario is utopian or dystopian depends on your perspective.

Researchers develop generator that uses substance to convert waste heat into clean electricity

UT Dallas researchers have developed a generator prototype that uses liquid metal to convert waste heat into clean electricity. From left: Electrical engineering doctoral students Tianyu Chen and Mahshid Khoshlessan, and Dr. Babak Fahimi, Distinguished Chair in Engineering and professor of electrical engineering, monitor the performance of a smart variable speed motor, which can follow commands wirelessly.

For hydrogen to be truly 'clean' it must be made with renewables, not coal

Using hydrogen as a clean fuel is an idea whose time may be coming. For Australia, producing hydrogen is alluring: it could create a lucrative new domestic industry and help the world achieve a carbon-free future.

Cultural differences account for global gap in online regulation: study

Differences in cultural values have led some countries to tackle the spectre of cyber-attacks with increased internet regulation, whilst others have taken a 'hands-off' approach to online security—a new study shows.

Significant developments in gamut mapping for the film industry

Particularly in the film industry, the rapid development of display technologies has created an urgent need to develop fast, automatic gamut mapping algorithms. An article published on 14 November in the advanced online edition of the IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence presents significant progress in this area.

'Hundreds of millions of people' may have had their text messages exposed online, researchers say

Some of your text messages may have been left exposed on the internet for the world to see.

Facebook tests tool to move photos to Google, other rivals

Facebook started testing a tool on Monday that lets users move their images more easily to other online services, as it faces pressure from regulators to loosen its grip on data.

Mass English lawsuit over VW 'dieselgate' reaches court

Volkswagen faced its first mass lawsuit in the English courts on Monday over the "dieselgate" emissions scandal, with around 90,000 drivers demanding compensation from the German auto giant.

UK probes Google's Looker purchase over competition concerns

Britain's competition watchdog says it's investigating Google's purchase of cloud data analytics company Looker Data Sciences, adding to the regulatory pressures the U.S. tech giant is facing.

EU to check how Facebook, Google use data: spokeswoman

The European Commission said Monday it had begun a "preliminary investigation" into how Facebook and Google collect personal data and what they do with it.

T-Mobile launches 5G service across US

T-Mobile said Monday it became the first to launch 5G wireless service across the United States, although it will be slower than some expect for the new generation of connectivity.

Berlin airport to open in 2020 after nine-year delay

Berlin's new international airport is set to open on October 31, 2020, its operating company said Friday, after an embarrassing nine-year delay owing to structural problems and corruption.

Zablit chosen as Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi secretary general

A French-Lebanese engineer has been chosen as secretary general of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi auto alliance, part of a new business framework announced a year after former boss Carlos Ghosn was arrested.

From armchairs to iPhones, India's millennials rent it all

At 29, Spandan Sharma doesn't own a flat, a car, or even a chair—one of a growing number of Indian millennials bucking traditional norms and instead opting to rent everything from furniture to iPhones.

No clear flight plan for Alitalia after rescue stalls

Efforts to save loss-making Alitalia have reached an impasse after months of unsuccessful negotiations with potential buyers, leaving Italy's government undecided on the next move.

Five key opportunities identified for hydrogen industry growth

A new report from the national science agency, CSIRO, maps the critical research steps Australia must follow to realise a potential 7,600 jobs and $11 billion per year by 2050 from the burgeoning hydrogen industry.

New streaming technology will change computer gaming

Streaming services, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime, are widely used. But the next wave of digital media is imminent: cloud gaming. This technology is similar to video-on-demand services. A computer game is run on a server in the cloud. The players access the server via an internet connection and receive an audio/video stream on their personal device. Players no longer have to own a powerful gaming device; instead, they just need a fast internet connection, capable of streaming large amounts of data from the cloud with low latency.

Facebook, Apple TV+ or 5G: Which tops the list of Tech Turkeys for 2019

Thanksgiving is behind us, but there's one more serving on the menu: our annual look back at the tech turkeys of 2019.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg says the social network should not be 'censoring politicians'

Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg on Monday reiterated his refusal to take down political advertisements on the social network even if the ads contain false information.

New higher-speed Florida train has highest US death rate

After Richard Branson announced his Virgin Group would partner with Brightline, Florida's new higher-speed passenger rail service, a train whisked the British billionaire, VIPs and journalists from Miami to West Palm Beach in just over an hour and then back, with no problems.

Amazon pulls Auschwitz 'Christmas ornaments' after protest

Amazon said Monday it has removed "Christmas ornaments" and other merchandise bearing the images of Auschwitz that had been available on its online site.

EU loses bid to overturn WTO Airbus ruling

A World Trade Organization panel found Monday the EU had failed to remove the illegal subsidies to Airbus that are at the centre of a bitter dispute between Washington and Brussels.

France says US pulling back on digital tax deal

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Monday that US officials no longer wanted a global deal on taxing multinational technology giants, and that Washington might be preparing penalities over a digital tax implemented by France this year.

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