Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Jul 15

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for July 15, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A new strategy to synthesize 2-D inorganic materials used in capacitors, batteries, and composites

Blast sends star hurtling across the Milky Way

Scientists uncover key process in the manufacture of ribosomes and proteins

Scientists discover heavy element chemistry can change at high pressures

Bacteria with a metal diet discovered in dirty glassware

Hallmark of severe COVID-19 patients identified

Marine drifters: Interdisciplinary study explores plankton diversity

Running on empty: New affordable catalyst relies on nitrogen vacancies to produce ammonia

A new framework for understanding dynamic representations in networked neural systems

Variability of blazar 3C 273 examined by astronomers

AI model to forecast complicated large-scale tropical instability waves in Pacific Ocean

True colors: Scientists discuss evolution of white coloration of velvet ants

Global methane emissions soar to record high

Invasive alien species may soon cause dramatic global biodiversity loss

Experimental COVID-19 vaccine safe, generates immune response

Physics news

Tracking particles containing charm quarks offers insight into how quarks combine

Nuclear physicists are trying to understand how particles called quarks and gluons combine to form hadrons, composite particles made of two or three quarks. To study this process, called hadronization, a team of nuclear physicists used the STAR detector at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider—a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science user facility for nuclear physics research at DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory—to measure the relative abundance of certain two- and three-quark hadrons created in energetic collisions of gold nuclei. The collisions momentarily "melt" the boundaries between the individual protons and neutrons that make up the gold nuclei so scientists can study how their inner building blocks, the quarks and gluons, recombine.

Twisting magnetic fields for extreme plasma compression

A new spin on the magnetic compression of plasmas could improve materials science, nuclear fusion research, X-ray generation and laboratory astrophysics, research led by the University of Michigan suggests.

Rsearchers suggest modification of quantum encryption system with compact detector

A new system can significantly lower the production costs costs of mass quantum key distribution (QKD) networks, which will make them available to a wider user audience. This will make it possible to use QDK in the regular fiber-optic cable infrastructure. The paper was published in Scientific Reports.

Shaking light with sound

Piezoelectric materials can convert electrical voltage to mechanical displacement and vice versa. They are ubiquitous in modern wireless communication networks such as in cellphones. Today, piezoelectric devices, including filters, transducers and oscillators, are used in billions of devices for wireless communications, global positioning, navigations, and space applications.

The smallest micro-gripper, grown on optical fibers, is operated remotely with light

Researchers at the Faculty of Physics, University of Warsaw, used the liquid crystal elastomer technology to demonstrate a series of micro-tools grown on optical fibers. The 200-micrometer gripers are controlled remotely, without electric wiring or pneumatic tubing, with green light delivered through the fibers—absorbed light energy is directly converted into the gripper jaws' action.

Transparent inorganic multicolour displays enabled by zinc-based electrochromic devices

Multicolour electrochromic displays are one of the most versatile applications because they can retain their colored states without the need to supply electrical power. However, the simultaneous colouration of the counter layer when operating a conventional electrochromic display restricts the color overlay effects. Additionally, the operation of conventional electrochromic displays requires external voltages to trigger the colouration/bleaching processes, which makes the conventional electrochromic displays far from a net-zero energy consumption technology.

New nuclear magnetic resonance method enables monitoring of chemical reactions in metal containers

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is employed in a wide range of applications. In chemistry, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy is in standard use for the purposes of analysis, while in the medical field, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to see structures and metabolism in the body. Scientists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Helmholtz Institute Mainz (HIM), working in collaboration with visiting researchers from Novosibirsk in Russia, have developed a new method of observing chemical reactions.

New organic material unlocks faster electronic devices

Mobile phones and other electronic devices made from an organic material that is thin, bendable and more powerful are now a step closer thanks to new research led by scientists at The Australian University (ANU).

Sensor for non-spoofable biometric identification easily integrated in smart phones

Holst Center has demonstrated the world's first organic near-infrared large-area image sensor capable of detecting the unique pattern of veins in a person's hand via reflected light. The sensor opens the door to highly secure, non-spoofable biometric identification for security-critical applications such as passports and payment authentication, and can be easily integrated into devices such as smartphones.

Chasing particles with tiny electric charges

All known elementary particles have electric charges that are integer multiples of a third of the electron charge. But some theories predict the existence of "millicharged" elementary particles that would have a charge much smaller that the electron charge and could account for the elusive dark matter that fills the universe. An international team of researchers has now reported the first search at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)—and more generally at any hadron collider—for elementary particles with charges smaller than a tenth of the electron charge.

Astronomy and Space news

Blast sends star hurtling across the Milky Way

An exploding white dwarf star blasted itself out of its orbit with another star in a "partial supernova" and is now hurtling across our galaxy, according to a new study from the University of Warwick.

Variability of blazar 3C 273 examined by astronomers

Using data from space observatories and ground-based telescopes, astronomers have investigated variability of a blazar known as 3C 273. The new study, presented in a paper published July 6 on the arXiv pre-print server, sheds more light on the emission from this source.

Supercomputer reveals atmospheric impact of gigantic planetary collisions

The giant impacts that dominate late stages of planet formation have a wide range of consequences for young planets and their atmospheres, according to new research.

Short gamma ray burst leaves most-distant optical afterglow ever detected

The farther away an object lies in the universe, the fainter it appears through the lens of a telescope.

Cases of black hole mistaken identity

Astronomers have discovered one type of growing supermassive black hole masquerading as another, thanks to a suite of telescopes including NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. The true identity of these black holes helps solve a long-running mystery in astrophysics.

Pocket-sized German satellite maker shoots for stars

Holding its own against aerospace giants like pan-European Airbus Space or French-Italian Thales Alenia, German minnow OHB has carved out a space as a national champion in satellite building.

UAE again delays Mars probe launch over weather

The United Arab Emirates said on Wednesday it would delay the launch of its "Hope" Mars probe for a second time, again due to bad weather.

10 cool things we learned about Pluto from New Horizons

Five years ago today, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft made history. After a voyage of nearly 10 years and more than 3 billion miles, the intrepid piano-sized probe flew within 7,800 miles of Pluto. For the first time ever, we saw the surface of this distant world in spectacular, colored detail.

Six things to know about the Ingenuity Mars helicopter

When NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida later this summer, an innovative experiment will ride along: the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. Ingenuity may weigh only about 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms), but it has some outsize ambitions.

Image: Place for space testing

ESA's Compact Antenna Test Range at its ESTEC technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. This anechoic chamber is used to test space antennas of 1 m across or less, or else entire small satellites.

Subaru Telescope and New Horizons explore the outer solar system

Collaborative observations with NASA's New Horizons mission have been ongoing at the Subaru Telescope since May 2020. Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC), the wide field camera mounted on the prime focus of the Subaru Telescope, is used for the observations to search for target candidates for New Horizons' next observations. Astronomers from Japan are participating in the observation team together with ones from the New Horizons mission.

Planetary scientist collaborates on first-ever Mars mission launched by Arab world

A veteran of multiple NASA missions to Mars, Northern Arizona University planetary scientist Christopher Edwards will closely watch the upcoming launch of a space probe to Mars that carries a unique new instrument he co-designed in collaboration with engineers from the United Arab Emirates Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and Arizona State University (ASU).

'Celestial sleuth' sheds new light on Vermeer's masterpiece 'View of Delft'

Johannes Vermeer is one of the most celebrated artists of the 17th century's Dutch Golden Age period. Widely known today for his "Girl with a Pearl Earring," he was famed for his mastery in rendering the effects of light and shadow. Nowhere is this technical precision more evident than in his masterpiece, "View of Delft", a vibrant cityscape that has captivated viewers for centuries. Because few details of Vermeer's life survive to the present day, little is known about when "View of Delft" was painted. Art historians have long assumed Vermeer painted it sometime during late spring or early summer of 1660. Based on the lighting, scholars have offered a wide variety of times of day: morning, mid-day, afternoon and sunset have all been mentioned. Now, a team of researchers led by Texas State University astronomer, physics professor emeritus and Texas State University System Regents' Professor Donald Olson has applied his distinctive brand of celestial sleuthing to Vermeer's masterpiece, using the artist's signature gift for depicting light and shadow to resolve the long-standing uncertainty over when it was painted.

Technology news

New lithium battery charges faster, reduces risk of device explosions

Cell phone batteries often heat up and, at times, can burst into flames. In most cases, the culprit behind such incidents can be traced back to lithium batteries. Despite providing long-lasting electric currents that can keep devices powered up, lithium batteries can internally short circuit, heating up the device.

A GoPro for beetles: Researchers create a robotic camera backpack for insects

In the movie "Ant-Man," the title character can shrink in size and travel by soaring on the back of an insect. Now researchers at the University of Washington have developed a tiny wireless steerable camera that can also ride aboard an insect, giving everyone a chance to see an Ant-Man view of the world.

New cobalt-free lithium-ion battery reduces costs without sacrificing performance

For decades, researchers have looked for ways to eliminate cobalt from the high-energy batteries that power electronic devices, due to its high cost and the human rights ramifications of its mining. But past attempts haven't lived up to the performance standards of batteries with cobalt.

Ex-Google robotics head unveils automated home assistant

The former head of Google's robotics division has unveiled a new robot named Stretch that he hopes will prove to be an economical and handy assistant around the home.

A restart of nuclear testing offers little scientific value to the US and would benefit other countries

July 15, 2020 marks 75 years since the detonation of the first nuclear bomb. The Trinity Test, in New Mexico's Jornada del Muerto desert, proved that the design for the Nagasaki Bomb worked and started the nuclear era.

Europe's shift to electric cars picks up despite recession

The coronavirus has cancelled business plans all over the world but Europe's push into electric cars isn't one of them. Sales of battery-powered and hybrid cars have held up better than the overall market amid a deeply painful recession, mainly thanks to the action of governments.

Tidal energy may help remote communities integrate more renewable energy

The tides roll in, and the tides roll out, just like clockwork. It's this consistency and predictability that makes tidal energy attractive, not only as a source of electricity but, potentially, as a mechanism to provide reliability and resilience to regional or local power grids.

Study says Twitter effectively communicates pediatric critical care info during a pandemic

Ever since the microblogging and social networking platform Twitter emerged in 2006, it has consistently ranked among the top ways that people around the world communicate with one another, with some 500 million tweets sent per day. According to the Twitter monitoring company, Tweet Binder, the COVID-19 pandemic has dominated the Twitterverse with about 600 million tweets alone using the hashtag #COVID19, #coronavirus or something similar between February and May of this year.

Simplifying smart security for the middle-aged

Home security for people who have reached middle age and older is an important concern in China, according to the authors of new research published in the International Journal of Embedded Systems.

Are Alexa, Siri, and Cortana recording your private conversations?

Smart speakers act as our personal assistants, offering a hands-free way to get information, control our homes, and manage our schedules. And like any good assistant, they are always listening.

Pour by phone: Coca-Cola introduces contactless technology to pour your beverage

Coca-Cola is introducing a new technology that could bring back soda dispensers.

McLaren partners with Klipsch for new lineup of racing-inspired wireless earbuds

A new lineup of earbuds is geared towards audiophiles and race car fanatics alike.

The transition to a renewable energy future will have long-term economic benefits

Making the transition to a renewable energy future will have environmental and long-term economic benefits and is possible in terms of energy return on energy invested (EROI), UNSW Sydney researchers have found.

Searching for the secret to more efficient solar cells

The search for the perfect solar cell is not yet over. Norwegian researchers are now adopting a new approach to the cells' raw material, crystalline silicon, with the aim of making the electricity-generating cells even more efficient.

Move over, Siri! Researchers develop improv-based Chatbot

What would conversations with Alexa be like if she was a regular at The Second City?

Researchers give robots intelligent sensing abilities to carry out complex tasks

Picking up a can of soft drink may be a simple task for humans, but this is a complex task for robots—it has to locate the object, deduce its shape, determine the right amount of strength to use, and grasp the object without letting it slip. Most of today's robots operate solely based on visual processing, which limits their capabilities. In order to perform more complex tasks, robots have to be equipped with an exceptional sense of touch and the ability to process sensory information quickly and intelligently.

Improved test methods for safer battery systems

For the development of innovative battery systems, reliable real-world safety tests of the lithium-ion cells in use are required. In the ProLIB research project, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) now collaborates with testing and standardization institutes and partners from industry in order to develop improved standards that are intended to ensure greater safety but also more flexibility in battery design. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy funds this research with more than 1.2 million euros.

Translating skeletal movements, joint by joint

Every human body is unique, and the way in which a person's body naturally moves depends on myriad factors, including height, weight, size, and overall shape. A global team of computer scientists has developed a novel deep-learning framework that automates the precise translation of human motion, specifically accounting for the wide array of skeletal structures and joints.

Zoom unveils touchscreen for home conferencing

Zoom on Wednesday set out to capitalize on its pandemic-powered popularity with a touchscreen display tuned to its video-conferencing platform.

Scientists build high-performing hybrid solar energy converter

Tulane University researchers are part of a team of scientists who have developed a hybrid solar energy converter that generates electricity and steam with high efficiency and low cost.

Space station motors make a robotic prosthetic leg more comfortable, extend battery life

A new robotic prosthetic leg prototype offers a more natural gait while also being quieter and more energy efficient than other designs.

Researchers create new model that aims to give robots human-like perception of their physical environments

Wouldn't we all appreciate a little help around the house, especially if that help came in the form of a smart, adaptable, uncomplaining robot? Sure, there are the one-trick Roombas of the appliance world. But MIT engineers are envisioning robots more like home helpers, able to follow high-level, Alexa-type commands, such as "Go to the kitchen and fetch me a coffee cup."

Unleashing the potential of tethered drones to provide cellular network coverage in both urban and rural areas

The use of tethered unmanned aerial vehicles (TUAVs) has been modeled as a powerful new tool for improving cellular phone and internet networks. When employed as flying base stations with a cable connection, multirotor drones promise to quickly ramp up coverage, increase the efficiency of urban networks and provide much needed access in remote rural areas.

Nissan rolls out new electric crossover, aims to boost image

Nissan unveiled an electric crossover vehicle Wednesday, the Japanese automaker's first major all-new model since getting embroiled in the scandal surrounding its former chairman, Carlos Ghosn.

Apple wins big EU court case over $15 billion in taxes

A European Union court on Wednesday delivered a hammer blow to the bloc's attempts to rein in multinationals' ability to strike special tax deals with individual EU countries when it ruled that Apple does not have to pay 13 billion euros ($15 billion) in back taxes to Ireland.

China accuses Britain of helping Washington hurt Huawei

China accused Britain on Wednesday of colluding with Washington to hurt Huawei after the Chinese tech giant was blocked from working on a British next-generation mobile phone network.

Airlines down on knees pleading for help from passengers

Airlines are pleading for help from their clients as they face paying customers back for flights cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic that could starve them of cash, the industry said Wednesday.

Google to buy $4.5 bn stake in digital unit of India's Reliance

Google will buy a $4.5 billion stake in Reliance's digital unit and jointly develop an entry-level smartphone with the Indian conglomerate, the two companies said Wednesday as global tech giants race to grab a share of the country's massive market.

US to hit Huawei employees with visa bans for rights abuses

The Trump administration said Wednesday it will impose travel bans on employees of the Chinese technology giant Huawei and other Chinese companies the U.S. determines are assisting authoritarian governments in cracking down on human rights, including in China's western Xinjiang province.

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