Science X Newsletter Thursday, Dec 12

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for December 12, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Surface organometallic chemistry could open new paths for synthetic fuels and energy carriers

Study unveils new nonlinear dynamics of spinning bosonic stars

Best of Last Year: The top articles of 2019

Is there dark matter at the center of the Milky Way?

Largest study of its kind reveals that many psychiatric disorders arise from common genes

Scientists map Mars' global wind patterns for the first time

The limits of ocean heavyweights: Prey curb whales' gigantic size

Tiny quantum sensors watch materials transform under pressure

A way to 'fingerprint' human cells

Alcohol, 'Asian glow' mutation may contribute to Alzheimer's disease, study finds

Flipping the script on novel cancer therapy leads to insights into lupus

World's oldest artwork uncovered in Indonesian cave: study

A more efficient way to turn saltwater into drinking water

Forensic chemist proposes sweat testing strip as breathalyzer replacement

New potential cancer players revealed by extensive tumor protein analysis

Physics news

Study unveils new nonlinear dynamics of spinning bosonic stars

Although researchers have been studying dark matter and trying to observe it, its nature is a longstanding scientific mystery. The standard cosmological model suggests that approximately one-quarter of cosmological energy and matter is almost immune to electromagnetic interactions, thus the only way to observe it is to study its gravitational effects. However, the type of particles that make up dark matter is still a subject of debate.

Is there dark matter at the center of the Milky Way?

MIT physicists are reigniting the possibility, which they previously had snuffed out, that a bright burst of gamma rays at the center of our galaxy may be the result of dark matter after all.

Tiny quantum sensors watch materials transform under pressure

Since their invention more than 60 years ago, diamond anvil cells have made it possible for scientists to recreate extreme phenomena—such as the crushing pressures deep inside the Earth's mantle—or to enable chemical reactions that can only be triggered by intense pressure, all within the confines of a laboratory apparatus that you can safely hold in the palm of your hand.

Ghost imaging speeds up super-resolution microscopy

Researchers have used advanced imaging approaches to achieve super-resolution microscopy at unprecedented speeds. The new method should make it possible to capture the details of processes occurring in living cells at speeds not previously possible.

Does tapping your can of beer really keep it from fizzing all over you?

A team of researchers at the University of Denmark has tested the popular notion that tapping a can of beer after it has been shaken will prevent it from spraying when it is opened. Their paper describes a trial they carried out along with their conclusions, and is available on the arXiv preprint server.

New technology improves gravitational wave detectors by cutting quantum noise

Physicists have successfully developed a new instrument that significantly reduces quantum-level noise that has thus far limited experiments' ability to spot gravitational waves. Collisions between massive black holes and stars are thought to generate these ripples in space-time that were first detected in 2015. In all, about 11 detections have been fully confirmed so far.

(Noise)less is more

A group of researchers from Osaka University led by Prof. Masayuki Abe and Prof. Hiroshi Toki of the Graduate School of Engineering Science developed a high precision 3-D circuit simulator in the time-domain for quantifying electromagnetic (EM) noise and elucidated its origin, allowing for electronic and electrical circuit layout to reduce EM noise.

Astronomy & Space news

Scientists map Mars' global wind patterns for the first time

Today, a paper published in Science documents for the first time the global wind circulation patterns in the upper atmosphere of a planet, 120 to 300 kilometers above the surface. The findings are based on local observations, rather than indirect measurements, unlike many prior measurements taken on Earth's upper atmosphere. But it didn't happen on Earth: it happened on Mars. On top of that, all the data came from an instrument and a spacecraft that weren't originally designed to collect wind measurements.

The return to Venus and what it means for Earth

Sue Smrekar really wants to go back to Venus. In her office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the planetary scientist displays a 30-year-old image of Venus' surface taken by the Magellan spacecraft, a reminder of how much time has passed since an American mission orbited the planet. The image reveals a hellish landscape: a young surface with more volcanoes than any other body in the solar system, gigantic rifts, towering mountain belts and temperatures hot enough to melt lead.

Research group confirm planet-mass objects in extragalactic systems

A University of Oklahoma research group is reporting the detection of extragalactic planet-mass objects in a second and third galaxy beyond the Milky Way after the first detection in 2018. With the existing observational resources, it is impossible to directly detect planet-mass objects beyond the Milky Way and to measure its rogue planetary population.

Martian aurora offers climate change clues, research reports

A newly published study, presented on Dec. 12 at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting, reveals that a type of Martian aurora originally detected by NASA's MAVEN spacecraft is in fact the most common aurora on the Red Planet, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University researchers said.

NASA's NICER delivers best-ever pulsar measurements, first surface map

Astrophysicists are redrawing the textbook image of pulsars, the dense, whirling remains of exploded stars, thanks to NASA's Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER), an X-ray telescope aboard the International Space Station. Using NICER data, scientists have obtained the first precise and dependable measurements of both a pulsar's size and its mass, as well as the first-ever map of hot spots on its surface.

Interstellar comet 2I/Borisov swings past sun

When astronomers see something in the universe that at first glance seems like one-of-a-kind, it's bound to stir up a lot of excitement and attention. Enter comet 2I/Borisov. This mysterious visitor from the depths of space is the first identified comet to arrive here from another star. We don't know from where or when the comet started heading toward our Sun, but it won't hang around for long. The Sun's gravity is slightly deflecting its trajectory, but can't capture it because of the shape of its orbit and high velocity of about 100,000 miles per hour.

NRL-camera aboard NASA spacecraft confirms asteroid phenomenon

A U.S. Naval Research Laboratory-built camera mounted on the NASA Parker Solar Probe revealed an asteroid dust trail that has eluded astronomers for decades.

Short-lived light sources discovered in the sky

A project lead by an international team of researchers use publicly available data with images of the sky dating as far back as the 1950s to try to detect and analyse objects that have disappeared over time. In the project "Vanishing & Appearing Sources during a Century of Observations" (VASCO), they have particularly looked for objects that may have existed in old military sky catalogues from the 1950s, not to be found again in modern sky surveys. Among the physical indicators that they are looking for are stars that have vanished in the Milky Way.

Boeing's crew capsule declared ready for 1st space flight

Boeing's Starliner crew capsule finally has a launch date for its first test flight to the International Space Station.

Technology news

Surface organometallic chemistry could open new paths for synthetic fuels and energy carriers

To convert hydrocarbons into fuel, the petrochemical industry currently relies primarily on heterogeneous catalysts, which in most cases contain active metal sites with poorly defined structures. In recent years, however, an area of study known as surface organometallic chemistry (SOMC) has enabled the design and development of far more defined, so-called single-site catalysts, in which metal sites can be tailored to meet specific requirements.

Google engineers raise the flag on AR depth, seek builders

So, a smartphone camera is just good for taking snapshots? Don't bring such talk to Google's augmented reality engineers. Blending the real and the virtual—-and winning special props for blending the real with the virtual—is what Google has in mind as a motivator for developers wanting to go deep into AR.

Taking the carbon out of construction with engineered wood

To meet the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change—keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius and ideally capping it at 1.5 C—humanity will ultimately need to achieve net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere. To date, emissions reduction efforts have largely focused on decarbonizing the two economic sectors responsible for the most emissions, electric power and transportation. Other approaches aim to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it through carbon capture technology, biofuel cultivation, and massive tree planting.

FAA analysis predicted many more Max crashes without a fix

After the first crash of a Boeing 737 Max last year, federal safety officials estimated that there could be 15 more fatal crashes of the Max over the next few decades if Boeing didn't fix a critical automated flight-control system.

YouTube bans 'implied' threats

YouTube broadened its anti-harassment policies on Wednesday to include a ban on "implied" threats along with insults based on race, gender identity or sexual orientation.

Twitter backs overhaul of social media to stem disinformation

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey is funding research aimed at changing the way information circulates on social media—with the goal of combating online violence, hate and disinformation.

Sensing technology could improve machine learning precision for manufacturing, electric vehicles, smart homes

The same small piece of technology that one day may help train welding robots and monitor electric vehicles could enable energy companies to better power smart homes and factories.

Australia stops short of major clampdown on Facebook, Google

Australia's government on Thursday announced a new taskforce to monitor the actions of tech giants such as Facebook and Google but stopped short of a major clampdown recommended by the country's consumer watchdog.

Researchers call for harnessing, regulation of AI

Artificial intelligence appears to be "widening inequality," and its deployment should be subject to tough regulations and limits, especially for sensitive technologies such as facial recognition, a research report said Thursday.

Drones deliver on internet connectivity

Hovering airborne vehicles could connect smart sensors to the internet of things.

Locking down your smart home with blockchain

The concept of the smart home has been around for many decades, but it is only in recent years with the advent of the so-called "internet of things," IoT, that meters and monitoring, cameras, locking systems, heating systems, and entertainment and information devices, have led to many homes having some degree of genuine smartness. Of course, with connectivity and utility come security problems. For instance, a malicious third party might find access to the home's wireless network, reprogram the smart TV, turn up the heating, disable the air conditioning, or even open the front door and allow them to remove all your smart devices and redeploy them elsewhere.

Diversify power sources to avoid a repeat of blackouts, study suggests

If states want to avoid costly electricity failures such as the blackouts that roiled California recently, they can improve their odds by diversifying power sources, according to new research from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin.

Google Maps for Apple devices now supports Incognito Mode. Here's how to turn it on

Google Maps users seeking extra privacy on their iPhones and other iOS devices have a new option.

What happens to your Facebook and Twitter accounts after you die?

When someone you love dies, sure, their spirit endures—but so does their social media. And when their photos, memories or posts surface unexpectedly, it can be a jarring purgatory for those still healing from the loss.

Supporting structures of wind turbines contribute to wind farm blockage effect

Offshore wind power generation has become an increasingly promising source of renewable energy. Much about the aerodynamic effects of larger wind farms, however, remains poorly understood. New work in this week's Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy looks to provide more insight in how the structures necessary for wind farms affect air flow.

Can artificial intelligence help prevent suicides?

According to the CDC, the suicide rate for individuals 10-24 years old has increased 56% between 2007 and 2017. In comparison to the general population, more than half of people experiencing homelessness have had thoughts of suicide or have attempted suicide, the National Health Care for the Homeless Council reported.

Ferrari plans electric car debut only 'after 2025'

Italian sports car maker Ferrari is likely to launch its first fully electric model only after 2025, its boss said on Thursday, blaming insufficient battery technology for the wait.

Facebook says ready for new California privacy law

Facebook on Thursday said it was ready for a data privacy law that will go into effect in its home state of California at the start of next year.

UAW workers ratify new contract with Fiat Chrysler

Unionized workers at Fiat Chrysler have voted overwhelmingly to approve a new four-year contract with the company.

Secure data backup of medical records using secret sharing and secure communications

The National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT, President: Hideyuki Tokuda, Ph.D.), Kochi Health Science Center (KHSC, Director: Yasuhiro Shimada) and collaborating teams have developed a secure data backup system in an 800 km network connecting the data servers in Kochi, Osaka, Nagoya, Otemachi and Koganei, Japan, using secret sharing and secure communications technologies, and demonstrated distributed storage of medical records and prompt restoration of important items, such as prescription records and allergy information, via a satellite link within a time as short as 9 sec.

Southwest, Boeing agree on compensation over 737 MAX

Southwest Airlines said Thursday it reached a settlement with Boeing to provide compensation for losses tied to the grounding of 737 MAX jets nine months ago.

US FAA warns Boeing its 737 MAX timeline 'not realistic'

The top US aviation regulator will meet Thursday with Boeing chief Dennis Muilenburg to express concerns the company is rushing to get its 737 MAX jets back in the air, officials said.

Twitter brings back election labels for 2020 US candidates

Twitter is bringing back special labels to help users identify accounts and tweets from U.S. political candidates.

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