Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Dec 8

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for December 8, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Elementary particles part ways with their properties

'The Smellicopter,' an obstacle-avoiding drone that uses a live moth antenna to seek out smells

Nanoelectromechanical tags for tamper-proof product identification and authentication

Observations investigate the neutrino emitting blazar TXS 0506+056

Exploring how activity in the hippocampal CA2 region encodes social interactions

Breakthrough material makes pathway to hydrogen use for fuel cells under hot, dry conditions

Natural reward theory could provide new foundation for biology

Beavers may help amphibians threatened by climate change

Research brief: Global trends in nature's contributions to people

Capsule with asteroid samples arrives in Japan for research

Research: Millions of smart devices vulnerable to hacking

NASA outlines science goals for future astronauts on Moon

'SCOUT' helps researchers find, quantify significant differences among organoids

Adapting magnetometers for noisy, physically demanding environments

Batteries mimic mammal bones for stability

Physics news

Elementary particles part ways with their properties

"Spooky action at a distance," Einstein's summation of quantum physics, has been a criticism of quantum mechanics since the field emerged. So far, descriptions of entangled particles to explain their apparently faster-than-light responses, and even explanations for the phase shifts induced by an electromagnetic field in regions where it is zero—the "Aharonov-Bohm" effect—have mostly addressed these concerns. However, recent theoretical and experimental demonstrations of a "counterfactual" quantum communication protocol have proved difficult to explain in terms of physical cause and effect. In this kind of quantum communication, observers on either side of a "transmission channel" exchange information without any particle passing between them—spooky indeed.

Adapting magnetometers for noisy, physically demanding environments

Researchers routinely measure magnetic fields to better understand a vast array of natural phenomena including geological movements, solar flares, neuronal communication in the brain, and molecular-scale chemical processes.

Batteries mimic mammal bones for stability

Sodium-ion batteries are poised to replace lithium-ion batteries for large-scale electrical energy storage. They offer several advantages over lithium-ion batteries, particularly due to the widespread abundance of sodium.

Face shields no match for sneeze vortex rings

Do face shields provide enough protection to the wearers against COVID-19 if they don't also wear a mask? Spoiler alert: no. But researchers at Fukuoka University in Japan are working to create face shields safe enough to be worn alone.

Breakthrough optical sensor mimics human eye, a key step toward better artificial intelligence

Researchers at Oregon State University are making key advances with a new type of optical sensor that more closely mimics the human eye's ability to perceive changes in its visual field.

Enhanced frequency doubling adds to photonics toolkit

The digital age has seen electronics, including computer chips, shrink in size at an amazing rate, with ever tinier chips powering devices like smartphones, laptops and even autonomous drones. In the wake of this progress, another miniature technology has been gaining steam: integrated photonics.

Sneezes and coughs act like 'mini atomic bombs' and regularly exceed two meters

Keeping two meters apart might not be far enough to stop the spread of coronavirus from sneezes and coughs, according to a new study.

Experiment to test quantum gravity just got a bit less complicated

Is gravity a quantum phenomenon? That has been one of the big outstanding questions in physics for decades. Together with colleagues from the UK, Anupam Mazumdar, a physicist from the University of Groningen, proposed an experiment that could settle the issue. However, it requires studying two very large entangled quantum systems in freefall. In a new paper, which has a third-year Bachelor's student as the first author, Mazumdar presents a way to reduce background noise to make this experiment more manageable.

Researchers develop new theoretical approach to manipulate light

The quest to discover pioneering new ways in which to manipulate how light travels through electromagnetic materials has taken a new, unusual twist.

Scientists reveal reaction mechanism of 11Be nucleus

Scientists from the Institute of Modern Physics (IMP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and their collaborators have lately made new progress in the study of the reaction mechanism of 11Be nucleus. The study will help understand the effect of exotic structures such as the neutron halo on the reaction characteristics.

Astronomy and Space news

Observations investigate the neutrino emitting blazar TXS 0506+056

Astronomers have performed spectroscopic observations of a neutrino-emitting blazar known as TXS 0506+056. Results of this observational campaign, presented in a paper published November 28 on the arXiv pre-print server, shed more light on the nature of this mysterious object.

Capsule with asteroid samples arrives in Japan for research

Japanese space agency officials were delighted Tuesday by the return of a small capsule containing asteroid soil samples obtained by their Hayabusa2 spacecraft and were anxiously waiting to look inside after preparations are complete.

NASA outlines science goals for future astronauts on Moon

The US space agency NASA published a voluminous report on Monday outlining the scientific priorities for the Artemis III astronauts it intends to send to the Moon in 2024.

Microbes to demonstrate biomining of asteroid material aboard space station

As humanity moves closer to the possibility of living and working millions of miles from Earth on planets like Mars, scientists are looking beyond our planet at how to acquire the materials needed to establish a self-sustaining presence in space.

Using Earth's history to inform the search for life on exoplanets

UC Riverside is leading one of the NASA Astrobiology Program's eight new research teams tackling questions about the evolution and origins of life on Earth and the possibility of life beyond our solar system.

Study confirms dark coating can reduce satellite reflectivity

Observations conducted by the Murikabushi Telescope of Ishigakijima Astronomical Observatory confirmed that dark coating can reduce satellite reflectivity by half. There are concerns that numerous artificial satellites in orbit could impair astronomical observations, but these findings may help alleviate such conditions.

Chuck Yeager, 1st to break sound barrier, dies at 97

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles "Chuck" Yeager, the World War II fighter pilot ace and quintessential test pilot who showed he had the "right stuff" when in 1947 he became the first person to fly faster than sound, has died. He was 97.

Technology news

'The Smellicopter,' an obstacle-avoiding drone that uses a live moth antenna to seek out smells

One huge advantage of drones is that these little robots can go places where people can't, including areas that might be too dangerous, such as unstable structures after a natural disaster or a region with unexploded devices.

Research: Millions of smart devices vulnerable to hacking

Researchers at a cybersecurity firm say they have identified vulnerabilities in software widely used by millions of connected devices—flaws that could be exploited by hackers to penetrate business and home computer networks and disrupt them.

Robot vacuum cleaners can spy on private conversations

When your robot vacuum cleaner does its work around the house, beware that it could pick up private conversations along with the dust and dirt. Computer scientists from NUS have demonstrated that it is indeed possible to spy on private conversations using a common robot vacuum cleaner and its built-in Light Detection and Ranging (Lidar) sensor.

How clean electricity can upgrade the value of captured carbon

A team of researchers from U of T Engineering has created a new process for converting carbon dioxide (CO2) captured from smokestacks into commercially valuable products, such as fuels and plastics.

Research shows bright spot for optical computing through artificial intelligence

Optical computing, a hot research topic a couple of decades ago, has emerged again as a promising technology—this time backed by artificial intelligence.

Two discoveries advance basic and applied additive manufacturing research

A research team led by Tao Sun, associate professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Virginia, has made two discoveries that can expand additive manufacturing in aerospace and other industries that rely on strong metal parts.

Australia to reveal laws to make Google and FB pay for news

Australia's government will reveal legislation in Parliament on Wednesday that would make Facebook and Google pay for journalism.

How sensors monitor and measure our bodies and the world around us

Sensors are all around. They are in automatic doors, at cash registers, in doctors' offices and hospitals. They are used inside the body and outside.

The world's smallest high-performance magnetic tunnel junction

A research group from Tohoku University led by current president Hideo Ohno has developed the world's smallest (2.3 nm) high-performance magnetic tunnel junctions (MTJs). This work is expected to accelerate the advancement of ultrahigh-density, low-power, high-performance non-volatile memory for a variety of applications, such as IoT, AI, and automobiles.

World first for ethical AI and workplace equity

Companies, organizations, and governments around the world face an incredible challenge to rebuild their workforce at scale, and with the confidence that the technology they use to make important decisions is fair, accurate and equitable.

Circuit board reads 8000 messages per second

Autonomous vehicles are in demand like never before. At NTNU, researchers have developed a circuit board that can be adapted to different drones with simple steps. Airbus has tested the system on a lunar landing prototype.

Studying trust in autonomous products

While a certain level of trust is needed for autonomous cars and smart technologies to reach their full potential, these technologies are not infallible—hence why we're supposed to keep our hands on the wheel of self-driving cars and follow traffic laws, even if they contradict our map app instructions. Recognizing the significance of trust in devices—and the dangers when there is too much of it—Erin MacDonald, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University, researches whether products can be designed to encourage more appropriate levels of trust among consumers.

Apple to tighten app privacy, remove apps that don't comply

Apple is stepping up privacy for app users, forcing developers to be more transparent about data collection and warning they could be removed if they don't comply with a new anti-tracking measure, a company executive and regulators said Tuesday.

Boeing suffers more canceled orders for its 737 Max plane

Boeing Co. reported more cancellations for its 737 Max jet, which this week is scheduled to carry paying passengers for the first time since the planes were grounded 21 months ago after two deadly crashes.

WhatsApp adds shopping carts in fresh e-commerce push

WhatsApp on Tuesday added virtual shopping carts people can load with purchases and then use to fire off orders to businesses as the Facebook-owned messaging service pushed deeper into e-commerce.

Apple unveils headphones that cost twice as much as AirPods

Apple has one more thing for the holiday shopping season: over-the-ear, wireless headphones that will test how much people are willing to splurge on for high-quality sound.

Apple's new MacBook Air is speedy with iPhone-inspired chip, but here's what's missing

Imagine a laptop computer with all the modern benefits of an iPhone—a machine that could last for hours and hours, ran quietly and do several things at once, without bottling up.

Second US judge blocks Trump's TikTok ban

A second US federal judge has suspended a Trump administration executive order threatening to ban TikTok in the United States.

Norwegian Air secures bankruptcy protection in Norway

Embattled low-cost carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle said Tuesday it had secured bankruptcy protection in Norway, after recently receiving a similar shield in Ireland.

JD.com health arm rockets 75% on Hong Kong debut

The medical arm of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com soared 75 percent on its debut in Hong Kongon Tuesday, valuing the company at $50 billion, as investors bank on the pandemic boom in digital health services.

Lizards, snakes block construction on Tesla's Berlin plant

US automaker Tesla was forced to suspend forest clearing for a new German plant Tuesday after environmentalists won an injunction over threats to the habitats of resident lizards and snakes.

Data Action: Seeing the values behind the numbers

In the early decades of the 20th century, city officials in the U.S. began collecting data like they never had before. In St. Louis, starting around 1915, planners fanned out across the city and obtained detailed information about the use and ownership of every property standing.

Army looks to improve quadrotor drone performance

When an aircraft veers upwards too much, the decrease in lift and increase in drag may cause the vehicle to suddenly plummet. Known as a stall, this phenomenon has prompted many drone manufacturers to err on the side of extreme caution when they plan their vehicles' autonomous flight movements.

Research team invents novel light-controlled contamination-free fluidic processor

A mechanical engineering research team at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) has invented a novel light-controlled, contamination-free fluidic processor, which can serve as a useful tool to greatly reduce the risk of infection of front-line medical workers in testing virus or bacteria in big pandemics like the current COVID-19 pandemic, and to minimize the risk of contamination during the process.

Delivering sound to people where they want it for VR, AR

What if a commercial audio speaker could function like an autozoom projector does for light, and you could deliver the sound people want where they want it?

Airbnb, DoorDash lead 'unicorn parade' ending hot IPO year

Airbnb and DoorDash make their stock market debut this week as part of a "unicorn parade" capping a busy year for hot startups going public.


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