Science X Newsletter Friday, Jan 17

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for January 17, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Thin-film identification tags for transferring data to touchscreen devices

Ingestible medical devices can be broken down with light

Real-time flu prediction may be possible using wearable heart rate and sleep tracking devices

New dog, old tricks? Stray dogs can understand human cues

Edible 'security tag' to protect drugs from counterfeit

Researchers uncover new vulnerability in kidney cancer

'Melting rock' models predict mechanical origins of earthquakes

Study traces evolution of acoustic communication

Study shows human ancestors could have consumed hard plant tissues without damaging their teeth

Walking with atoms—chemical bond making and breaking recorded in action

AlphaFold makes its mark in predicting protein structures

America's most widely consumed oil causes genetic changes in the brain

Why we differ in our ability to fight off gut infections

Sanitary care by social ants shapes disease outcome

Loss of function in key Y-chromosome genes increases cancer risk in men

Physics news

Walking with atoms—chemical bond making and breaking recorded in action

Ever since it was proposed that atoms are building blocks of the world, scientists have been trying to understand how and why they bond to each other. Be it a molecule (which is a group of atoms joined together in a particular fashion), or a block of material or a whole living organism, ultimately, everything is controlled by the way atoms bond, and the way bonds break.

How sensitive can a quantum detector be?

Quantum physics is moving out of the laboratory and into everyday life. Despite headline results about quantum computers solving problems impossible for classical computers, technical challenges are standing in the way of getting quantum physics into the real world. New research published in Nature Communications from teams at Aalto University and Lund University could provide an important tool in this quest.

How biology creates networks that are cheap, robust, and efficient

From veins that deliver oxygen to tissues to xylem that send water into stems and leaves, vascular networks are a crucial component of life. In biology, there is a wide range of unique patterns, like the individualized structures found on leaves, along with many conserved structures, such as named arteries and veins in the human body. These two observations led scientists to think that vascular networks evolved from a common design, but how, exactly, could nature create so many complex structures from a single starting point?

Spider-Man-style robotic graspers defy gravity

Specially designed vacuum suction units allow humans to climb walls. Scientists have developed a suction unit that can be used on rough surfaces, no matter how textured, and that has applications in the development of climbing robots and robotic arms with grasping capabilities.

Charge model for calculating the photo-excited states of one-dimensional Mott insulators

Assistant Professor Ohmura Shu and Professor Takahashi Akira of the Nagoya Institute of Technology and others have developed a charge model to describe photo-excited states of one-dimensional Mott insulators under the JST Strategic Basic Research Programs. They have also succeeded in constructing a many-body Wannier function as the localized basis state of the photo-excited states and calculating large-system, optical conductivity spectra that can be compared with experimental results.

Astronomy & Space news

XMM-Newton discovers scorching gas in Milky Way's halo

ESA's XMM-Newton has discovered that gas lurking within the Milky Way's halo reaches far hotter temperatures than previously thought and has a different chemical make-up than predicted, challenging our understanding of our galactic home.

Here and gone: Outbound comets are likely of extra-solar origin

Astronomers at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) have analyzed the paths of two objects heading out of the Solar System forever and determined that they also most likely originated from outside of the Solar System. These results improve our understanding of the outer Solar System and beyond.

Scientists measure the evolving energy of a solar flare's explosive first minutes

Toward the end of 2017, a massive new region of magnetic field erupted on the Sun's surface next to an existing sunspot. The powerful collision of magnetic energy produced a series of potent solar flares, causing turbulent space weather conditions at Earth. These were the first flares to be captured, in their moment-by-moment progression, by NJIT's then recently opened Expanded Owens Valley Solar Array (EOVSA) radio telescope.

First Spacebus Neo satellite launched

Ariane 5's first launch of 2020 has delivered two telecom satellites, Konnect and GSAT-30, into their planned transfer orbits. Arianespace announced liftoff at 21:05 GMT (22:05 CET, 18:05 local time) this evening from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

New astronomical instrument on the hunt for exoplanets

At the highest point of the Quinlan mountains, overlooking the Sonoran Desert as it stretches across southern Arizona, NEID (pronounced like "fluid") recently collected its first observations, known colloquially by astronomers as "first light," at the Kitt Peak National Observatory.

Image: Hubble views galaxy from famous catalog

This bright, somewhat blob-like object—seen in this image taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope—is a galaxy named NGC 1803. It is about 200 million light-years away, in the southern constellation of Pictor (the Painter's Easel).

Technology news

Thin-film identification tags for transferring data to touchscreen devices

Today, countless electronic devices have touchscreens, including smart phones, tablets and smart home appliances. Touchscreen interfaces have become some of the most common means for users to communicate with and browse through their devices.

Edible 'security tag' to protect drugs from counterfeit

Manufacturing prescription drugs with distinct markings, colors, shapes or packaging isn't enough to protect them from counterfeiting, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reports have shown.

AlphaFold makes its mark in predicting protein structures

Players applaud, say words like Whoo, bang plastic knives on the table and enjoy the best weekends with artificial intelligence as the main act, thanks to AI unleashed in games.

AI learning technique may illustrate function of reward pathways in the brain

A team of researchers from DeepMind, University College and Harvard University has found that lessons learned in applying learning techniques to AI systems may help explain how reward pathways work in the brain. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the group describes comparing distributional reinforcement learning in a computer with dopamine processing in the mouse brain, and what they learned from it.

Google parent Alphabet valuation hit $1 trillion

Google's parent company Alphabet saw its value reach $1 trillion for the first time Thursday, becoming the fourth US tech company to hit the milestone.

Small screen tech: First look at new smart contact lens

The "eyes" have it—quite literally.

Green is the new black

Green cars and green energy are not new. Very few conversations go by without someone mentioning green variations of energy.

New scheduling tool offers both better flight choices and increased airline profits

Researchers from Dartmouth and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed an original approach to flight scheduling that, if implemented, could result in a significant increase in profits for airlines and more flights that align with passengers' preferences. The approach is presented in a paper, "Airline Timetable Development and Fleet Assignment Incorporating Passenger Choice," recently published in Transportation Science, the leading journal in the field of transportation analysis.

Researchers find that cookies increase ad revenue for online publishers

How long has it been since you logged onto a Web site and you were prompted to decide whether to opt out of "cookies" that the site told you will enhance your online experience? Minutes? Hours?

Vodafone India's shares plunge almost 40%, future in doubt

Shares in Vodafone's Indian unit plunged almost 40 percent on Friday after officials rejected its appeal against paying $4 billion in back fees, raising questions about the British giant's future in the country.

US tech sector sees only modest relief in China trade deal

The US tech sector is getting some relief from a trade truce with China signed this week, but the deal leaves many of the industry's concerns unresolved.

The paints that eat pollutants and heat homes

Applying a coat of paint on the walls of a house may soon help to heat it, saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions. It could also clean the air that we breathe, breaking down chemicals and pollutants, and eliminating harmful pathogens.

Homomorphic encryption for cloud users

A new approach to encryption could improve user perception of cloud computing services where the users are concerned about private or personal data being exposed to third parties. Writing in the International Journal of Cloud Computing, the team outlines a proposed homomorphic encryption system.

Dutch tech firm caught in US-China row

Dutch computer chip machine manufacturer ASML found itself on Friday at the centre of a row between Beijing and Washington over the delivery of a hi-tech system to China.

Digital athletics in analogue stadiums

Globally, arenas and stadiums that seat tens of thousands of people are filling up for whole weekends with crowds excited to watch their favourite sports stars sit on chairs and stare at screens. These fans are here to watch men and women play computer games, and researchers from Aalto and Tampere University are studying why.

Tough love for Amazon's Bezos in India

Amazon boss Jeff Bezos on Friday promised to create a million new jobs in India in a farewell love letter to the country, after ending a tough visit that reportedly included a snub by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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A Voyage to the End of Ice

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The Voyage to the End of Ice


Arctic ice is disappearing — the question is how fast. Summer sea ice could endure 100 more years, or it could vanish later this decade, with disastrous consequences for the rest of the planet. To nail down the answer, an expedition to the top of the world has to untangle the knotty physics of ice.

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A World Without Clouds


A state-of-the-art supercomputer simulation indicates that a feedback loop between global warming and cloud loss can push Earth's climate past a disastrous tipping point in as little as a century.

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Black, Hot Ice May Be Nature's Most Common Form of Water


A new experiment confirms the existence of a bizarre form of water that might comprise the bulk of giant icy planets. 

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Micrograph of stained cortical neuron showing many dendrites.


Hidden Computational Power Found in the Arms of Neurons


The dendritic arms of some human neurons can perform logic operations that once seemed to require whole neural networks.

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Infant Brains Reveal How the Mind Gets Built


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For Fluid Equations, a Steady Flow of Progress


A startling experimental discovery about how fluids behave started a wave of important mathematical proofs.

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Famous Fluid Equations Spring a Leak


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Why I'm Hosting The Joy of x Podcast


The noted mathematician and author Steven Strogatz explains why he wanted to share intimate conversations with leading researchers from diverse fields in his new Quanta Magazine podcast.

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Usain Bolt's Split Times and the Power of Calculus


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How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Science

Podcast by SUSAN VALOT; Article by DAN FALK

The latest AI algorithms are probing the evolution of galaxies, calculating quantum wave functions, discovering new chemical compounds and more. Is there anything that scientists do that can't be automated? 

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