Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Dec 17

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for December 17, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Study unveils new spatiotemporal dynamics of carriers in perovskite thin films

LeRop: A deep learning-based model to automatically capture human portraits

Eavesdropping on intimate 'crosstalk': Communication between immune and nervous systems in vaccination

CRISPR, gravity waves, water on Mars: A decade of discoveries

Meteorites lend clues to solar system's origin

Mercury's volcanic activity—or lack of it—could help astronomers find other Earth-like worlds

Researchers observe brain-like behavior in nanoscale device

Did it keep its flavour? Stone-age 'chewing-gum' yields human DNA

Camouflage made of quantum material could hide you from infrared cameras

Degraded soils mean tropical forests may never fully recover from logging

Math equation predicts and detects liver cancer

Millions with swallowing problems could be helped through new wearable device

A new gene therapy strategy, courtesy of Mother Nature

Would a deep-Earth water cycle change our understanding of planetary evolution?

Fine-tuning thermoelectric materials for cheaper renewable energy

Physics news

Study unveils new spatiotemporal dynamics of carriers in perovskite thin films

Hybrid organic or inorganic halide perovskites are a unique class of solar cell materials that break some of the material design rules that have been in place for over 30 years. For instance, they can achieve an extraordinarily high performance, despite being rich in defects and disordered on a macroscopic scale.

Camouflage made of quantum material could hide you from infrared cameras

Infrared cameras detect people and other objects by the heat they emit. Now, researchers have discovered the uncanny ability of a material to hide a target by masking its telltale heat properties.

Researchers reveal a wide band gap topological insulator

Since their discovery in 2006, topological insulators have been widely discussed as a promising avenue for energy efficient electronics. Their unique high-mobility edge states have a form of "quantum armor" that protects them from electron-scattering events that would otherwise produce waste heat.

Using corkscrew lasers to separate chiral molecules

Many of the molecular building blocks of life have two versions that are mirror images of one another, known as enantiomers. Although seemingly identical, the two enantiomers can have completely different chemical behaviour—a fact that has major implications in our day-to-day lives. For example, while one version of the organic compound carvone smells like spearmint, the mirror form smells like caraway seed. In pharmacology and drug design it can be essential to be able to distinguish between the two enantiomers and separate them if necessary, since the consequences can be life-changing. For instance, while one enantiomer of beta blockers selectively targets the heart, the other acts only on the cell membranes of the eye.

Multidimensional study offers new vision for optical tech

A new design of optical chips enables light to experience multiple dimensions, which could underpin versatile platforms for advanced communications and ultra-fast artificial intelligence technologies.

Turning light energy into heat to fight disease

An emerging technology involving tiny particles that absorb light and turn it into localized heat sources shows great promise in several fields, including medicine. For example, photothermal therapy, a new type of cancer treatment, involves aiming infrared laser light onto nanoparticles near the treatment site.

Surfing on quantum waves: Protein folding revisited

Two physicists from the University of Luxembourg have now unambiguously shown that quantum-mechanical wavelike interactions are indeed crucial even at the scale of natural biological processes.

Scientists correlate photon pairs of different colors generated in separate buildings

Particles can sometimes act like waves, and photons (particles of light) are no exception. Just as waves create an interference pattern, like ripples on a pond, so do photons. Physicists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and their colleagues have achieved a major new feat—creating a bizarre "quantum" interference between two photons of markedly different colors, originating from different buildings on the University of Maryland campus.

First experiments with diamond anvil cells at European XFEL

The European XFEL X-ray laser opens up new perspectives for high-pressure research: An international team used the intense laser flashes to heat and analyze samples in so-called diamond anvil cells at the X-ray laser for the first time. The experiments clearly exceeded the scientists' expectations, as the 50-strong team of experimentalists led by Stewart McWilliams from the University of Edinburgh reported after the completion of the experiments.

Products of nuclear transmutations are spotted with unprecedented detail

Ancient Greeks imagined that everything in the natural world came from their goddess Physis; her name is the source of the word physics. Present-day nuclear physicists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have created a GODDESS of their own—a detector providing insight into astrophysical nuclear reactions that produce the elements heavier than hydrogen (this lightest of elements was created right after the Big Bang).

Astronomy & Space news

Meteorites lend clues to solar system's origin

The isotopic composition of meteorites and terrestrial planets holds important clues about the earliest history of the solar system and the processes of planet formation.

Mercury's volcanic activity—or lack of it—could help astronomers find other Earth-like worlds

If you wanted to narrow down the search for Earth-like worlds in a vast universe, how might you go about it?

Glitch delays launch of Europe's exoplanet hunter

A technical rocket glitch during the final countdown Tuesday pushed back by a day the blastoff of Europe's CHEOPS planet-hunting satellite, launch company Arianespace and Russia's Roscosmos agency said.

Distant Milky Way-like galaxies reveal star formation history of the universe

Look at this new radio image covered with dots, each of which is a distant galaxy! The brightest spots are galaxies that are powered by supermassive black holes and shine bright in radio light. But what makes this image special are the numerous faint dots filling the sky. These are distant galaxies like our own that have never been observed in radio light before.

SDO sees new kind of magnetic explosion on sun

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory has observed a magnetic explosion the likes of which have never been seen before. In the scorching upper reaches of the Sun's atmosphere, a prominence—a large loop of material launched by an eruption on the solar surface—started falling back to the surface of the Sun. But before it could make it, the prominence ran into a snarl of magnetic field lines, sparking a magnetic explosion.

Galaxy gathering brings warmth

As the holiday season approaches, people in the northern hemisphere will gather indoors to stay warm. In keeping with the season, astronomers have studied two groups of galaxies that are rushing together and producing their own warmth.

Researcher studies yeast to protect astronauts from space radiation

Corey Nislow is not an astronaut, but if humanity makes it to Mars safely, he will have played a vital role.

Capturing shooting stars over Hawaiʻi

Astronomers now have a new pair of eyes to detect meteors over Hawaiʻi using a state-of-the-art monitoring system installed on the rooftops of existing buildings on Maunakea and Haleakalā. The high-speed video devices are now fully operational and part of an expanding network of identical cameras in the Automated Meteor Observation System (AMOS).

Solving the challenges of long duration space flight with 3-D printing

The International Space Station has continuously been home to astronauts for more than nineteen years. Astronauts conduct scientific research using dozens of special facilities aboard the space station, which also provides them with a place to eat, sleep, relax and exercise. To make all of this possible requires sending more than 7,000 pounds of spare parts to the station annually. Another 29,000 pounds of spaceflight hardware spares are stored aboard the station and another 39,000 on the ground, ready to fly if needed.

Video: OPS-SAT, ESA's flying lab, open to all

What would you do with a powerful computer based in space? At just 30 cm in height, OPS-SAT is a tiny CubeSat designed to serve as a large-scale software laboratory in orbit – containing one of the most powerful flight computers ever flown – to test innovative control software from teams all over Europe.

Hundreds of thousands of people select names for exoplanet systems

On 17 December 2019 the names of 112 sets of exoplanets and host stars named in the IAU100 NameExoWorlds campaigns were announced at a press conference in Paris (France). Within the framework of the International Astronomical Union's 100th anniversary commemorations (IAU100) in 2019, 112 countries organised national campaigns that stimulated the direct participation of over 780 000 people worldwide, who proposed and selected names for each exoplanet and its host star.

Technology news

LeRop: A deep learning-based model to automatically capture human portraits

Taking good-quality photographs can be a challenging task, as it typically requires finding ideal locations, angles and lighting conditions. Although artistic pictures have so far primarily been taken by human photographers, in recent years, some researchers have started investigating the possibility of taking pictures automatically using robots.

Millions with swallowing problems could be helped through new wearable device

A wearable monitoring device to make treatments easier and more affordable for the millions of people with swallowing disorders is about to be released into the market.

Engineer discovers mighty power in small solar energy invention

Today's commonly used silicon solar cells are heavy and bulky, and take up a lot of space to produce power. Newer models, made from soft materials that are flexible and versatile, are cheaper to produce but also much less efficient than their pricier counterparts.

Pac-Man-era microchip could help gobble up nuclear warheads

When Russian nuclear inspectors traveled to the U.S. in the early 2000s, they were not allowed to directly examine classified nuclear weapon components, Professor Alex Glaser said. Instead, the inspectors were shown a radiation detector's green light as confirmation that components were real.

Sleuths with masks trick facial recognition systems

Researchers are not kidding: Facial recognition technology was not having a good year, between sensitive critics who generally bristle over AI making calls on anything and scientists who specifically point out questionable accuracy ratings.

Instagram expands fact-checking globally

Instagram on Monday announced it had gone global in its fight against misinformation, expanding its third-party fact-checking network around the world.

UK opens inquiry into Google's takeover of data company

Britain's competition watchdog said Tuesday it launched a formal inquiry into Google's takeover of cloud data analytics company Looker Data Sciences, as it intensifies scrutiny of technology deals.

Plays well with humans: Assisstive robots should help rather than hurt—even if it's just our feelings

In the Malone Hall lab of computer science Assistant Professor Chien-Ming Huang, three armless and legless—cute, but somewhat creepy—18-inch-tall robots rest atop a shelf. They come down now and again so that Huang and his students can tinker with their ability to blink, rotate their plastic heads, nod, respond to human touch, and even make eye contact. Well, sort of. It's actually the illusion of eye contact. These robots are programmed to recognize and follow a human's face by using a camera. They're also outfitted with tactile haptic sensors to recognize, say, a poke or a hug, and react accordingly.

Is streaming video from sketchy websites illegal?

In today's movie streaming landscape, consumers increasingly expect affordable content on-demand, which pushes many (knowingly or not) onto sketchy video entertainment platforms that may or may not be legal.

Artificial intelligence may soon be able to analyze your tweets to match you to a job

Imagine yourself graduating from high school, with the world before you.

Researchers propose best loot box model to maximize gaming profits

Want a new outfit for your online game character or want to improve the odds of defeating a virtual enemy? Hand over a bit of real-world money for a virtual loot box and you can change the look of your avatar or gain an advantage that increases your in-game performance.

How connectedness can nurture complex dynamics across diverse networks

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology have uncovered some new aspects of how connections in networks can influence their behavior over time. Usually, network elements with many connections generate more complex activity than others, but this effect can become inverted if the connections are overly strong. In contrast, in cases such as neurons, which behave in a seemingly random way when by themselves, connectivity can result in more regular and predictable patterns.

Evaluating the risks posed by deepfakes

A few weeks ago, French charity Solidarité Sida caused a sensation when it published a fake yet highly realistic video of Donald Trump proclaiming "AIDS is over" as part of an awareness-raising campaign. The video in question is what's known as a deepfake, a technique that involves using machine learning to fabricate increasingly realistic images and videos as well as audio and text files.

Netflix seeing strong subscriber growth in Asia, Latin America

Netflix is seeing rapid subscriber growth in regions including Asia and Latin America as it girds for tougher competition in the streaming market, newly detailed figures show.

London street bans petrol, diesel cars

Petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned from a street in central London in an innovative attempt to reduce pollution, local authorities said.

737 MAX shutdown big blow to Boeing, US economy

Boeing's temporary halt in production of its 737 MAX jet lays bare a deepening crisis that could soon weigh even more heavily on the American economy.

How vulnerable is your car to cyberattacks?

The emergence of smart cars has opened the door to limitless possibilities for technology and innovation—but also to threats beyond the car itself. New research from Michigan State University is the first to apply criminal justice theory to smart vehicles, revealing cracks in the current system leading to potential cyber risks.

Why some cities and states balk at face recognition tech

Police departments around the U.S. are asking citizens to trust them to use facial recognition software as another handy tool in their crime-fighting toolbox. But some lawmakers—and even some technology giants—are hitting the brakes.

PSA supervisory board approves Fiat-Chrysler merger: source

The supervisory board of French carmaker PSA on Tuesday approved a mega-merger with Fiat-Chrysler to create the world's fourth-largest auto producer, a source close to their talks said.

Amazon bans sellers from using FedEx for some deliveries

Amazon is banning its third-party merchants from using FedEx's ground service to deliver to Prime members, suggesting that it thinks the service is too slow to get packages to their destinations in time for Christmas.

Finland offers crash course in artificial intelligence to EU

Finland is offering a techy Christmas gift to all European Union citizens—a free-of-charge online course in artificial intelligence in their own language, officials said Tuesday.

Southwest extends MAX grounding until April 2020

Southwest Airlines on Tuesday again extended the timeframe for resuming flights on the Boeing 737 MAX, this time until mid-April 2020.

Ford to add 3,000 jobs in the Detroit area, invest $1.45B

Ford Motor Co. is adding 3,000 jobs at two factories in the Detroit area and investing $1.45 billion to build new pickup trucks, SUVs, and electric and autonomous vehicles.

Canadian lab test provider pays ransom to secure hacked data

Lab test provider LifeLabs said Tuesday that it paid a ransom to secure data for Canadians that was stolen in a data breach in late October.

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NASA releases new image of interstellar visitor


The Future Is Lookin' for Life in All the Right Places

17 December 2019

Top Story

Scientists Want a Giant Folding Space Telescope to Find Earth 2.0

NASA astronomers have proposed building a gigantic, folding space telescope to scan for new exoplanets. The Habitable Exoplanet Observatory would grant it a greater ability to observe and spot distant Earthlike worlds, and better determine whether they can support life or even future human settlements.

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ONE Boeing to Halt Production of Disaster-Prone 737 MAX Jet

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TWO Tesla Owner's Dashcam Footage Proves Cop Wrong

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THREE New Orleans Declares State of Emergency Due to Hackers

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FOUR Europe is Launching a Planet-Hunting Space Telescope Tomorrow

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FIVE NASA Releases New Image of Interstellar Visitor

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Africa Unveils Massive Alien-Hunting Antenna Network

Thousands of engineers have been hard at work on a gigantic intergovernmental radio telescope network called the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), which will be so large that it will span eight countries in Africa. The array will scan the skies for radio signals — including signs of alien life — up to billions of light-years away.

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