Science X Newsletter Monday, Jul 6

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for July 6, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

'Pregnancy test for water' delivers fast, easy results on water quality

Group genomics drive aggression in honey bees

First direct evidence of ocean mixing across the Gulf Stream

A tiny ancient relative of dinosaurs and pterosaurs discovered

Herpesvirsuses hedge their bets to optimize survival

Star-forming region IRAS 12272-6240 probed in infrared

Researchers develop soft electromagnetic actuators with medical potential

2-D semiconductors found to be close-to-ideal fractional quantum Hall platform

Making plastic more transparent while also adding electrical conductivity

Dying stars breathe life into Earth: study

How does Earth sustain its magnetic field?

German firm creates bionic birds

Cell 'membrane on a chip' could speed up screening of drug candidates for COVID-19

Flashes bright when squeezed tight: How single-celled organisms light up the oceans

Divers uncover mysteries of earliest inhabitants of Americas deep inside Yucatan caves

Physics news

Flashes bright when squeezed tight: How single-celled organisms light up the oceans

Research explains how a unicellular marine organism generates light as a response to mechanical stimulation, lighting up breaking waves at night.

Red-light LEDs for next-generation displays

Novel red LEDs are more temperature stable than those made using the conventional semiconductor of choice.

A 'breath of nothing' provides a new perspective on superconductivity

Zero electrical resistance at room temperature? A material with this property, i.e. a room temperature superconductor, could revolutionize power distribution. But so far, the origin of superconductivity at high temperature is only incompletely understood. Scientists from Universit├Ąt Hamburg and the Cluster of Excellence "CUI: Advanced Imaging of Matter" have succeeded in observing strong evidence of superfluidity in a central model system, a two-dimensional gas cloud for the first time. The scientists report on their experiments in the journal Science, which allow to investigate key issues of high-temperature superconductivity in a very well-controlled model system.

Behind the dead-water phenomenon

What makes ships mysteriously slow down or even stop as they travel, even though their engines are working properly? This was first observed in 1893 and was described experimentally in 1904 without all the secrets of this 'dead water' being understood. An interdisciplinary team from the CNRS and the University of Poitiers has explained this phenomenon for the first time: the speed changes in ships trapped in dead water are due to waves that act like an undulating conveyor belt on which the boats move back and forth. This work was published in PNAS on July 6, 2020.

Researchers study effects of cellular crowding on the cell's transport system

As many diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, have been linked to the defective functioning of motor proteins in cell transport systems, understanding the intricacies of how motor proteins work in their native crowded cell environments is essential to understanding what goes wrong when they function incorrectly. Molecular motors are specialized proteins that bind to a variety of organelles, referred to as cell cargo, and transport them along microtubule filaments (structural proteins commonly referred to as the highway of the cell). Motor proteins often work in groups, binding to one cargo and inching together along the filament's path in the cell.

Researchers realize an anomalous Floquet topological system

An international team led by physicists from the Ludwig-Maximilians Universitaet (LMU) in Munich realized a novel genuine time-dependent topological system with ultracold atoms in periodically-driven optical honeycomb lattices.

Leap in lidar could improve safety, security of new technology

Whether it's on top of a self-driving car or embedded inside the latest gadget, Light Detection and Ranging (lidar) systems will likely play an important role in our technological future, enabling vehicles to 'see' in real-time, phones to map three-dimensional images and enhancing augmented reality in video games.

Researchers develop novel approach to modeling yet-unconfirmed rare nuclear process

Researchers from the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) Laboratory at Michigan State University (MSU) have taken a major step toward a theoretical first-principles description of neutrinoless double-beta decay. Observing this yet-unconfirmed rare nuclear process would have important implications for particle physics and cosmology. Theoretical simulations are essential to planning and evaluating proposed experiments. The research team presented their results in an article recently published in Physical Review Letters.

Atomic 'Swiss Army knife' precisely measures materials for quantum computers

It images single atoms. It maps atomic-scale hills and valleys on metal and insulating surfaces. And it records the flow of current across atom-thin materials subject to giant magnetic fields. Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a novel instrument that can make three kinds of atom-scale measurements simultaneously. Together, these measurements can uncover new knowledge about a wide range of special materials that are crucial for developing the next generation of quantum computers, communications and a host of other applications.

High-order synthetic dimensions in waveguide photonic lattices

In physics, a very intuitive way of describing the evolution of a system proceeds via the specification of functions of the spatiotemporal coordinates. Yet, there often exist other degrees of freedom in terms of which the physical entities pertaining to a variety of structures can be seen to evolve and that are not amenable to a description via spatial coordinates.

Highest peak power and excellent stability demonstrated in a laser

Power-scalable ultrafast laser sources in the midwave-infrared (MWIR) are a key element for basic research and applications in material processing and medicine. Optical amplifiers based on chirped pulse amplification (CPA) are used to generate high intensity pulses, a technique awarded with the Nobel Prize in physics in 2018. In the CPA scheme, a weak temporally stretched seed pulse is amplified to high energy in a laser amplifier and finally re-compressed resulting in an ultrashort pulse of very high intensity. Applying this concept a new system was developed at MBI delivering few-ps pulses at 2 ╬╝m wavelength with peak power beyond 10 GW (10 billion watt) at a 1 kHz repetition rate. The emitted pulses are characterized by excellent stability and brilliant beam quality. The results are reported in the latest issue of Optics Letters.

Team obtained high-level control of spin qubit lifetime based on silicon quantum dots

By tuning the direction of the external magnetic field with respect to the crystallographic axis of the silicon wafer, an improvement of spin lifetime (relaxation time) by over two orders of magnitude was reported in silicon quantum dots. This breakthrough was carried out by a team led by academician Guo Guangcan from CAS Key Laboratory of Quantum Information, USTC, in which Prof. Guo Guoping, Prof. Li Hai-Ou with their colleagues and Origin Quantum Computing Company Limited. This work was published in Physical Review Letters on June 23, 2020.

Low-threshold topological nanolasers based on the second-order corner state

The applications of topological photonics have been intensively investigated, including one-way waveguide and topological lasers. The topological lasers especially have attracted broad attention in recent years, which have been proposed and demonstrated in various systems, including 1-D edge states in 2-D systems, 0-D boundary states in 1-D lattice, and topological bulk state around band edges. Most of them are at microscale. The topological nanolaser with a small footprint, low threshold and high energy-efficiency has yet to be explored. Recently, a new type of higher-order topological insulators which have lower dimensional boundary states has been proposed and demonstrated in many systems, including 2-D photonic crystal. In the second-order 2-D topological photonic crystal slab, there exist the gapped 1-D edge states and mid-gap 0-D corner state. This localized corner state provides a new platform to realize topological nanolasers.

Astronomy and Space news

Star-forming region IRAS 12272-6240 probed in infrared

Astronomers have conducted spectroscopic observations of a star-forming region known as IRAS 12272-6240. Results of this observational campaign shed more light on the nature of this massive and complex region. The study was detailed in a paper published June 25 on

Dying stars breathe life into Earth: study

As dying stars take their final few breaths of life, they gently sprinkle their ashes into the cosmos through the magnificent planetary nebulae. These ashes, spread via stellar winds, are enriched with many different chemical elements, including carbon.

Researchers identify role of turbulence for plasmas heating in solar flares

On July 2, The Astrophysical Journal published a numerical study on a solar flare current sheet (CS). Dr. Ye Jing from Yunnan Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and his collaborators in this study investigated the turbulent radiation features found in the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) observations.

Measuring the structure of a giant solar flare

The sun's corona, its hot outermost layer, has a temperature of over a million degrees Kelvin, and produces a wind of charged particles, about one-millionth of the moon's mass is ejected each year. Transient events have been known to cause large eruptions of high-energy charged particles into space, some of which bombard the Earth, producing auroral glows and occasionally veven disrupting global communications. One issue that has long puzzled astronomers is how the sun produces these high-energy particles.

Study reveals secret life of lithium in Sun-like stars

Lithium is becoming common in our everyday lives. It is the key ingredient in the batteries of our mobile phones and electric vehicles, but have you ever wondered where it comes from?

Researchers foresee linguistic issues during space travel

It lacks the drama of a shape-shifting alien creature, but another threat looms over the prospect of generations-long, interstellar space travel: Explorers arriving on Xanadu could face problems communicating with previous and subsequent arrivals, their spoken language having changed in isolation along the way.

Satellite-carrying rocket 'lost' after New Zealand launch

A commercial rocket carrying seven satellites was "lost" after take-off Sunday from a New Zealand launch pad, the owner Rocket Lab said.

Image: Snapshot of cosmic pyrotechnics

If you're looking for fireworks for the U.S. celebration of Independence Day, then look no further than the world of astronomy. The cosmic firework at the center of this image, the spiral galaxy NGC 925, resembles a vast pinwheel, with a bright central bar and swirling spiral arms. The red bursts strewn throughout NGC 925 are eruptions of star formation, which can be traced by observing conspicuous hydrogen-alpha emission.

Herschel and Planck views of star formation

A collection of intriguing images based on data from ESA's Herschel and Planck space telescopes show the influence of magnetic fields on the clouds of gas and dust where stars are forming.

Why outer space matters in a post-pandemic world

With all of the immense challenges we face on Earth this year, space can feel like an afterthought.

Technology news

Researchers develop soft electromagnetic actuators with medical potential

Rigid electromagnetic actuators have a variety of applications, but their bulky nature limits human-actuator integration or machine-human collaborations. In a new report on Science Advances, Guoyong Mao and a team of scientists in soft matter physics and soft materials at the Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria, introduced soft electromagnetic actuators (SEMAs) to replace solid metal coils with liquid-metal channels embedded in elastomeric shells. The scientists demonstrated the user-friendly, simple and stretchable construct with fast and durable programmability.

German firm creates bionic birds

Some might say it's for the birds.

What ethical models for autonomous vehicles don't address—and how they could be better

There's a fairly large flaw in the way that programmers are currently addressing ethical concerns related to artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous vehicles (AVs). Namely, existing approaches don't account for the fact that people might try to use the AVs to do something bad.

Amid reckoning on police racism, algorithm bias in focus

A wave of protests over law enforcement abuses has highlighted concerns over artificial intelligence programs like facial recognition which critics say may reinforce racial bias.

Uber buys Postmates, ups delivery game in $2.65 billion deal (Update)

Uber has widened its reach in the fiercely competitive delivery market by acquiring Postmates in a $2.65 billion all-stock deal, the company said Monday.

Water-filled windows could make a huge splash when it comes to saving energy and reducing global carbon emissions

Most everyone knows that heating and cooling buildings is not only expensive, but a massive issue due to the resulting carbon emissions. According to the UK Green Building Council, the built environment contributes around 40% of the UK's total carbon footprint—with heating alone contributing to 10% of the total.

Google probe has states split on strategy with US antitrust case looming

With the U.S. Justice Department nearing a lawsuit against Alphabet Inc.'s Google for antitrust violations, a coalition of states that are conducting a parallel investigation are divided over the best strategy for taking on the internet giant, according to people familiar with the matter.

New research reveals privacy risks of home security cameras

An international study has used data from a major home Internet Protocol (IP) security camera provider to evaluate potential privacy risks for users.

Low-cost airline HK Express resuming flights in August

Hong Kong low-cost airline HK Express, part of the Cathay Pacific Group, said Monday it will gradually resume flights on Aug. 2 as Asian governments ease coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

1,000 jobs to go at German aircraft engine firm

German aircraft engine manufacturer MTU Aero Engines said Monday it is planning to cut at least 1,000 jobs as the impact of the coronavirus continues to hammer the aviation industry.

Facebook, others block requests on Hong Kong user data

Social media platforms and messaging apps including Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, Google and Twitter will deny law enforcement requests for user data in Hong Kong as they assess the effect of a new national security law enacted last week.

China urges 'fair' treatment after France restricts Huawei

China urged France Monday to guarantee a "fair and just" environment for its companies after Paris decided to restrict licenses for telecom operators using 5G technology from Huawei.

Review: Five new features I'm excited about in Apple's iOS 14

It's July, which means, hey everyone, we're only about three months away from getting our hands on a new iPhone!

Britain set to axe Huawei 5G involvement: report

China's ambassador to Britain on Monday warned that London faced a risk to its international reputation if it blocked Huawei from the nation's 5G network.

Solar assisted heating networks reduce environmental impact and energy consumption

More than 40% of energy consumption in the European Union is by buildings and 63% of this figure is due to residential dwellings. Furthermore, more than 75% of domestic energy consumption is related to heating and the production of clean hot water. These data highlight the need to look for alternative sources of energy in line with the EU's 2030 targets that seek a sustainable transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies and to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. With this in mind, a group led by the URV has created a diagnostic tool that uses artificial intelligence to demonstrate the reduction in environmental impact and in energy consumption from solar assisted heating networks. The results of the study have been published in the journal Applied Energy.

Musk mocks Tesla short-sellers by selling short shorts

Tesla founder Elon Musk is ruthlessly mocking the carmaker's doubters who sell the company short by selling short shorts with the company logo.

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