Science X Newsletter Monday, Dec 9

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for December 9, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Study projects scenarios for water use reduction in thermal power plants using satellite imagery

CRISPR-resistant viruses build 'safe rooms' to shield genomes from DNA-dicing enzymes

How Enceladus got its stripes

Newly identified jet-stream pattern could imperil global food supplies, says study

Scientists show evolutionary principle in microbes of offshore Southern California

IRAS 18379–1707 is a metal-poor high-velocity star, observations find

Shape-programmable dielectric liquid crystal elastomer actuators

Storing data in everyday objects

In surprise breakthrough, scientists create quantum states in everyday electronics

In a split second, clothes make the man more competent in the eyes of others

Reorganizing a computer chip: Transistors can now both process and store information

Last remaining glaciers in the Pacific will soon melt away

Ancient worm reveals way to destroy toxic cells in Huntington's disease

Experiment closes critical gap in weather forecasting

Hanabi: Facebook AI steps up to cooperative gameplay

Physics news

Shape-programmable dielectric liquid crystal elastomer actuators

Materials scientists aim to use bioinspired soft robots to carry out advanced interactions between humans and robots, but the associated technology remains to be developed. For example, soft actuators must perform quickly with force to deliver programmable shape changes and the devices should be easy to fabricate and energy efficient for untethered applications. In a new report on Science Advances, Zoey S. Davidson and an interdisciplinary research team in the departments of Physical Intelligence, Materials Science and Engineering, and the School of Medicine in Germany, U.S. and Turkey, combined several characteristics of interest using two distinct active materials systems to build soft robots.

In surprise breakthrough, scientists create quantum states in everyday electronics

After decades of miniaturization, the electronic components we've relied on for computers and modern technologies are now starting to reach fundamental limits. Faced with this challenge, engineers and scientists around the world are turning toward a radically new paradigm: quantum information technologies.

Spin on perovskite research advances potential for quantum computing

The next generation of information technology could take advantage of spintronics—electronics that use the minuscule magnetic fields emanating from spinning electrons as well as the electric charges of the electrons themselves—for faster, smaller electronic devices that use less energy.

Liquid flow is influenced by a quantum effect in water

Researchers at EPFL have discovered that the viscosity of solutions of electrically charged polymers dissolved in water is influenced by a quantum effect. This tiny quantum effect influences the way water molecules interact with one another. Yet, it can lead to drastic changes in large-scale observations. This effect could change the way scientists understand the properties and behavior of solutions of biomolecules in water, and lead to a better understanding of biological systems.

Study calls 200-year-old law about gas mixtures into question

According to a new study led by a team from The University of New Mexico, centuries-old laws about the behavior of gas mixtures do not apply in the presence of shock waves.

Understanding color at a nanoscale

Some of the most vibrantly colored creatures in the animal kingdom don't owe their amazing colors to pigment. Instead, they cover themselves with microscopic structures that fine tune the way they reflect light.

Ultrafast stimulated emission microscopy of single nanocrystals

The ability to investigate the dynamics of single particle at the nano-scale and femtosecond level remained an unfathomed dream for years. It was not until the dawn of the 21st century that nanotechnology and femtoscience gradually merged together and the first ultrafast microscopy of individual quantum dots (QDs) and molecules was accomplished. Ultrafast microscopy studies entirely rely on detecting nanoparticles or single molecules with luminescence techniques, which require efficient emitters to work. However, such techniques cause degradation to the sample as well as yield little information about the dynamics of the system in the excited state. Only in recent years have the efforts to find an alternative compatible technique to study fast processes in nano-objects come into the spotlight.

Nanowire detects Abrikosov vortices

Researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, and the Institute of Solid State Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences have demonstrated the possibility of detecting Abrikosov vortices penetrating through a superconductor-ferromagnet interface. The device considered in their study, published in Scientific Reports, is a ferromagnetic nanowire with superconductive electrodes connected to it.

Proton-hydrogen collision model could impact fusion research

The motions of plasmas may be notoriously difficult to model, but they can be better understood by analysing what happens when protons are scattered by atoms of hydrogen. In itself, this property is characterised by the size of a particular area surrounding the atom, known as its 'cross section.' In new research published in EPJ D, Anthony Leung and Tom Kirchner at York University in Canada used new techniques to calculate the cross sections of atoms which have been excited to higher energy levels. They analysed the behaviour over a wide range of impact energies.

Astronomy & Space news

How Enceladus got its stripes

Saturn's icy moon Enceladus is of great interest to scientists due to its subsurface ocean, making it a prime target for those searching for life elsewhere. New research led by Carnegie's Doug Hemingway reveals the physics governing the fissures through which oceanwater erupts from the moon's icy surface, giving its south pole an unusual "tiger stripe" appearance.

IRAS 18379–1707 is a metal-poor high-velocity star, observations find

Astronomers have conducted high-resolution spectroscopic observations of IRAS 18379–1707 (or LS 5112), a candidate post-asymptotic giant branch (post-AGB) star in the Milky Way galaxy. Results of the observations provide more details about the properties of this object, revealing that it is a metal-poor, high-velocity star. The findings are detailed in a paper published November 28 on

SpaceX delivers 'mighty mice,' worms, robot to space station

SpaceX made an early holiday delivery to the International Space Station on Sunday, dropping off super muscular "mighty mice," pest-killing worms and a smart, empathetic robot.

How planets may form after dust sticks together

Scientists may have figured out how dust particles can stick together to form planets, according to a Rutgers co-authored study that may also help to improve industrial processes.

NASA says core stage of next Moon rocket now ready

NASA has completed the giant rocket that will take US astronauts back to the Moon, the space agency's head announced Monday, pledging the mission would take place in 2024 despite being beset by delays.

Russian supply ship docks with International Space Station

An unmanned Russian ship carrying tons of supplies successfully docked Monday with the International Space Station.

Image: Hubble spots galaxy's dramatic details

Some of the most dramatic events in the universe occur when certain stars die—and explode catastrophically in the process.

SN Now: The final installment of SCaN Now

NASA satellites, no matter the destination, have to communicate their data to mission control and scientists on Earth. These missions capture extraordinary data that make communications an essential part of each mission: pictures of galaxies, critical information on solar flares and much more. An interactive online tool now shows live data transmissions from each of NASA's three space communications networks and the missions supported by those data.

A neutron star with an unusual magnetic field structure

Scientists from Moscow Institute for Physics and Technology, Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IKI), and Pulkovo Observatory discovered a unique neutron star, the magnetic field of which is apparent only when the star is seen under a certain angle relative to the observer. Previously, all neutron stars could be grouped into two large families: the first one included objects where the magnetic field manifests itself during the whole spin cycle, and the other one included objects where the magnetic field is not measured at all. The neutron star GRO J2058+42 studied by the researchers offers an insight into the internal structure of a neutron star's magnetic field only at a certain phase of its rotational period. The work was published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

How did supermassive black holes grow so fast?

Black holes in the early universe pose a bit of a problem. Based on observations from telescopes on Earth and in space, we know that some black holes grew to be a billion times the mass of the sun just one billion years after the Big Bang. Our current models of black hole growth, however, can't explain this speed of growth. So how did these supermassive black holes come about?

New reentry CubeSat in orbit

ESA's latest space mission has reached orbit. The Qarman CubeSat flew to space aboard SpaceX's Dragon launched from Florida, U.S., on Thursday 5 December, ahead of a planned rendezvous with the International Space Station on Sunday 8 December. From there, Qarman—seen here during plasma wind tunnel testing—will be deployed into space in late January 2020.

Technology news

Study projects scenarios for water use reduction in thermal power plants using satellite imagery

Water and energy are closely linked, as current electricity generation methods often require water, and extracting water typically consumes energy. This connection between water and energy, also known as the "water-energy nexus," has been the focus of several scientific studies.

Storing data in everyday objects

Life's assembly and operating instructions are in the form of DNA. That's not the case with inanimate objects: anyone wishing to 3-D print an object also requires a set of instructions. If they then choose to print that same object again years later, they need access to the original digital information. The object itself does not store the printing instructions.

Reorganizing a computer chip: Transistors can now both process and store information

A computer chip processes and stores information using two different devices. If engineers could combine these devices into one or put them next to each other, then there would be more space on a chip, making it faster and more powerful.

Hanabi: Facebook AI steps up to cooperative gameplay

The card game Hanabi has been taken on as a challenge by Facebook's AI, and it is quite a challenge considering they are entering a realm where playing is not just a question of one opponent beating another, but a "cooperative" card game where a competing team helps one another.

Advanced technology may indicate how brain learns faces

Facial recognition technology has advanced swiftly in the last five years. As University of Texas at Dallas researchers try to determine how computers have gotten as good as people at the task, they are also shedding light on how the human brain sorts information.

A contact lens that can show when blood glucose levels are high

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in the Republic of Korea has developed a contact lens with a tiny LED light that turns on and off to show blood glucose levels. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes how they made their contact lens and how well it worked when tested.

Researchers report breakthrough in 'distributed deep learning'

Online shoppers typically string together a few words to search for the product they want, but in a world with millions of products and shoppers, the task of matching those unspecific words to the right product is one of the biggest challenges in information retrieval.

US debate on internet liabilty spills over to global trade deals

US lawmakers seeking to rein in Big Tech have been stepping up efforts to limit legal immunity for online services, and now are taking that fight global.

EU opens subsidies for electric battery push

The EU's powerful anti-trust authority on Monday approved billions of euros in subsidies from seven member states as Europe seeks to make up lost ground in batteries.

As AI moves into content creation, researchers aim to battle its biases

As artificial intelligence generates more of the words we read every day, a USC Viterbi research team seeks to better understand and one day help to eliminate bias against women and minorities.

Building with algorithms: Looking for the optimal design

How can computers help design optimal buildings? Ph.D. student Koen van der Blom makes algorithms that take into account all kinds of different architectural requirements, in order to reach the best compromise. And that is quite difficult: "Algorithms do not automatically understand that a building that floats in the air is not practical."

Used electric vehicle batteries charge up the grid

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed an innovative control system for repurposed electric vehicle battery packs to store electricity for home use and are scaling up the technology to a large, power grid-level project.

Perovskite solar cell method to make solar energy more affordable

If someone asked you to wager a guess on when solar energy first came of age, and you said the seventies, you'd be correct—but only if you meant the 1870s.

Research draws on Formula 1 technology for the construction of skyscrapers

City, University London draws on Formula 1 technology for the construction of "needle-like" skyscrapers.

Will Apple kill off the Lightning charging port on its iPhones?

First, Apple "killed" headphone jacks in 2016, then Touch ID fingerprint scanning went away in 2017 with the iPhone X. Could the lightning cable be next to go?

A more realistic Bitmoji? Snapchat is working on a tool called Cameo that uses deepfake technology

SnapChat will soon be adding a feature that basically allows you deepfake yourself into a video or GIF for fun.

Amazon alleges Trump abused power in huge Pentagon contract

Amazon is alleging that US President Donald Trump abused the power of his office to deny the company a massive military cloud computing contract, court documents released Monday showed.

Researchers design headphones that warn pedestrians of dangers

You see them all over city streets: pedestrians wearing headphones or earbuds—their faces glued to their phones as they stroll along oblivious to their surroundings.

Reddit bans accounts, suspects possible UK vote interference

The prospect of Russian interference in Britain's election flared anew Saturday after the social media platform Reddit concluded that people from Russia leaked confidential British government documents on Brexit trade talks just days before the general U.K. vote.

Demonstration of high-speed SOT-MRAM memory cell compatible with 300 mm Si CMOS technology

Researchers at Tohoku University have announced the demonstration of a high-speed spin-orbit-torque (SOT) magnetoresistive random access memory cell compatible with 300 mm Si CMOS technology.

It may not be HQ2 but AOC declares victory and trolls Amazon over New York expansion

Can we call it HQ1/2?

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