Science X Newsletter Friday, Feb 7

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for February 7, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Can polarity-inverted membranes self-assemble on Saturn's moon Titan?

A flexible sensor for biometric authentication and the measurement of vital signs

How mosquitoes find humans to bite

Branching out for a new green revolution

Magnetic microrobots use capillary forces to coax particles into position

Scientists grow date palm plants from 2,000-year-old seeds

One small grain of moon dust, one giant leap for lunar studies

Scientists create 'chemical gardens' that can be used as bone substitute materials

New robot does superior job sampling blood

Research team delivers breakthrough for leading cause of blindness

New commuter concern: Cancerous chemical in car seats

Patent talk: Apple crease-free foldable sparks hopes for fresh phone

Scientists explore how females shut off their second X chromosome

Simple, solar-powered water desalination

Study in mice: Brain cells long thought of as passive play key role in memory

Physics news

Magnetoelectric coupling in a paramagnetic ferroelectric crystal demonstrated

An international team of researchers at University of Montpellier, University of Aveiro and University of Coimbra has demonstrated magnetoelectric coupling in a paramagnetic ferroelectric crystal. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes the ytterbium-based molecular magnetoelectric material they discovered and its possible uses. Ye Zhou and Su-Ting Han with Shenzhen University have published a Perspective piece describing the work in the same journal issue.

Silver sawtooth creates valley-coherent light for nanophotonics

Scientists at the University of Groningen used a silver sawtooth nanoslit array to produce valley-coherent photoluminescence in two-dimensional tungsten disulfide flakes at room temperature. Until now, this could only be achieved at very low temperatures. Coherent light can be used to store or transfer information in quantum electronics. This plasmon-exciton hybrid device is promising for use in integrated nanophotonics (light-based electronics). The results were published in Nature Communications on 5 February.

New multiplatform photon switch for application in quantum technology

An international team led by the Institute of Materials Science (ICMUV) of the University of Valencia has developed an optical (quantum) switch that modifies the emission properties of photons, the particles of electromagnetic radiation. The new device works with ultra-fast switching times and very low energy consumption and, in comparison to other designs, it can be implemented in a variety of semiconductor platforms and is of great application in current quantum technologies.

Jackiw-Rebbi zero-mode: Realizing non-Abelian braiding in non-Majorana system

As an important branch of quantum computation, topological quantum computation has been drawing extensive attention for holding great advantages such as fault-tolerance. Topological quantum computation is based on the non-Abelian braiding of quantum states, where the non-Abelian braiding in the field of quantum statistics is highly related to the non-locality of the quantum states. The exploration on topological quantum computation in the last two decades is mainly focused on the Majorana fermion (or its zero-energy incarnation known as Majorana zero-mode), an exotic particle possessing non-Abelian statistics and well-known for its anti-particle being itself.

New progress in turbulent combustion modeling: Filtered flamelet model

In turbulent combustion, the interaction between a strong nonlinear reaction source and turbulence leads to a broad spectrum of the spatio and temporal scales. From the modeling point of view, it is especially challenging to predict field statistics satisfactorily. Although there are different turbulent combustion models, e.g. the flamelet-like model, probability density function-like model, conditional moment closure model and eddy dissipation concept model, the bases of model closure have not been reasonably justified.

Astronomy & Space news

Can polarity-inverted membranes self-assemble on Saturn's moon Titan?

Astrobiologists are focused on resolving two central questions to understand the environmental and chemical limits of life. By understanding life's boundaries, they intend to identify possible biosignatures in exoplanet atmospheres and in the solar system. For example, the lipid bilayer membrane is a central prerequisite for life as we know on Earth. Preceding studies based on simulations of molecular dynamics have suggested that polarity-inverted membranes known as azotosomes made of small nitrogen-containing molecules may be kinetically abundant on cryogenic liquid worlds such as Saturn's moon Titan.

One small grain of moon dust, one giant leap for lunar studies

Back in 1972, NASA sent their last team of astronauts to the Moon in the Apollo 17 mission. These astronauts brought some of the Moon back to Earth so scientists could continue to study lunar soil in their labs. Since we haven't returned to the Moon in almost 50 years, every lunar sample is precious. We need to make them count for researchers now and in the future. In a new study in Meteoritics & Planetary Science, scientists found a new way to analyze the chemistry of the Moon's soil using a single grain of dust. Their technique can help us learn more about conditions on the surface of the Moon and formation of precious resources like water and helium there.

Galaxy formation simulated without dark matter

For the first time, researchers from the Universities of Bonn and Strasbourg have simulated the formation of galaxies in a universe without dark matter. To replicate this process on the computer, they have instead modified Newton's laws of gravity. The galaxies that were created in the computer calculations are similar to those we actually see today. According to the scientists, their assumptions could solve many mysteries of modern cosmology. The results are published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Solar Orbiter set to reveal Sun's secrets

The European Space Agency will embark upon one of its most ambitious projects to date Sunday when its Solar Orbiter probe launches from Florida's Cape Canaveral bound for the Sun.

Defective software could have doomed Boeing's crew capsule

Defective software could have doomed Boeing's crew capsule during its first test flight that ended up being cut short late last year, NASA said Friday.

Developing the spacesuit of the future

Researchers at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology have entered their third year of development of a wearable and wireless body sensor system—with the ability to be powered remotely—that will revolutionize NASA spacesuits.

Hubble captures grand spiral NGC 5364

This eye-catching galaxy is known as NGC 5364.

SpaceX gets $80 million from NASA to launch its Earth Science mission in 2022

SpaceX will get $80.4 million from NASA to launch the agency's 2022 Earth science mission, known as PACE.

Five things we're going to learn from Europe's Solar Orbiter mission

At 23.03 (local time) on Sunday 9 February, Europe's newest mission to study the sun is set to lift off from Cape Canaveral in Florida, US. Called Solar Orbiter, this European Space Agency (ESA) mission will travel to within the orbit of planet Mercury to study the sun like never before, returning stunning new images of its surface.

Technology news

A flexible sensor for biometric authentication and the measurement of vital signs

Conformable imagers are flexible electronic components that can be placed in direct contact with a human user's skin, recording his/her vital signs or other biological information. Over the past few years, these imagers have become widely used, particularly for biometric authentication and in wearable electronics, such as smart watches or fitness trackers.

New robot does superior job sampling blood

In the future, robots could take blood samples, benefiting patients and healthcare workers alike.

Patent talk: Apple crease-free foldable sparks hopes for fresh phone

A patent application from Apple is all about a foldable device with a clever hinge design and it has tech watchers beating the drums for what Apple could bring to the table in folding phones with, if any, a difference.

Simple, solar-powered water desalination

A completely passive solar-powered desalination system developed by researchers at MIT and in China could provide more than 1.5 gallons of fresh drinking water per hour for every square meter of solar collecting area. Such systems could potentially serve off-grid arid coastal areas to provide an efficient, low-cost water source.

Using AI to spot causative relationships in overlapping medical datasets

A combined team of researchers from Babylon Health and University College has created an algorithm that they claim can find causal relationships among information in overlapping medical datasets. They have written a paper describing their algorithm and have uploaded it to the arXiv preprint server. They will also be giving a presentation describing their research at this year's Association for Advancement of Artificial Intelligence meeting.

Next generation of greenhouses may be fully solar powered

Many greenhouses could become energy neutral by using see-through solar panels to harvest energy—primarily from the wavelengths of light that plants don't use for photosynthesis. Those are the findings of a new modeling study conducted by engineering, plant biology and physics researchers at North Carolina State University.

Coronavirus claims world's biggest capacity car plant

The most productive car factory in the world fell quiet on Friday as South Korea's Hyundai suspended operations at its giant Ulsan complex, hamstrung by a lack of parts with the coronavirus outbreak crippling China's industrial output.

Pinterest shares leap as changes bear fruit

Pinterest shares leaped late Thursday after earnings figures showed the online bulletin board beat earnings and user expectations in the final quarter of last year.

Toyota extends China plant closure over virus

Japanese auto giant Toyota said Friday it would keep its Chinese factories shut until February 16, extending its suspension by a week amid the growing coronavirus crisis.

Intrusion alert: System uses machine learning, curiosity-driven 'honeypots' to stop cyberattacks

In recent months, the FBI issued a high-impact cybersecurity warning in response to increasing attacks on government targets. Government officials have warned major cities that such hacks are a disturbing trend that is likely to continue.

I hacked the government, and it was easier than you may think

Max Weiss never intended to hack the government. His discovery of how easy it is to do—outlined in a new paper he authored—came of the best of intentions.

Google Maps turns 15: Here are 15 tips to get the most out of the app

Google Maps turns 15 this week, and many of the 1 billion-plus people who turn to Google's app globally each month do so for more than navigation guidance.

Engineers streamline jet engine design

Anyone who looks to the stars also dreams of going to space. Turning this dream into reality depends on countless technological advances. One of these is new rocket and aircraft engines, which are becoming easier and cheaper to design and test, thanks in part to scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory.

Apple fined in France over iPhone-slowing software

France's consumer watchdog said Friday that Apple had agreed to pay 25 million euros ($27.4 million) for failing to tell iPhone users that software updates could slow down older devices.

Cyborgs, trolls and bots: A guide to online misinformation

Cyborgs, trolls and bots can fill the internet with lies and half-truths. Understanding them is key to learning how misinformation spreads online.

Study shows social media and search engines are better than their reputation suggests

Digital media have fundamentally changed the way we consume news. It is often assumed that the use of social networks and search engines has had a negative impact on the diversity of news that people access. This is often attributed to the algorithmic filtering used by these intermediaries, which only displays information that corresponds to the individual users' interests and preferences.

Software glitches force GM to recall pickups for 2nd time

General Motors is recalling about 162,000 full-size pickup trucks worldwide for a second time because of faulty brake control software that was installed in a recall from last year.

Its Wuhan plants shut, Honda reports quarterly profit drop

Japanese automaker Honda reported Friday a nearly 31% dive in its October-December profit as strong demand for its motorcycles failed to make up for falling vehicles sales.

Oscars 2020: How to stream the Academy Awards online

It's time for the Oscars. And while you might be able now to stream some of the movies up for the coveted golden statue, can you actually watch the show if you've cut the cord and dropped your cable subscription?

Scientists propose a technology reducing the cost of high-efficiency solar cells

A group of St. Petersburg scientists has proposed and experimentally tested a technology for the fabrication of high-efficiency solar cells based on A3B5 semiconductors integrated on a silicon substrate, which in the future may increase the efficiency of the existing single-junction photovoltaic converters by 1.5 times. The development of the technology was forecasted by the Nobel Laureate Zhores Alferov. The results have been published in the journal Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells.

Ericsson to skip mobile trade show over coronavirus

Swedish telecommunications equipment provider Ericsson said on Friday it would skip a major trade show because of the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Hong Kong Airlines to lay off 400 staff as virus hits city

Hong Kong Airlines said Friday it has been forced to slash hundreds of jobs and ask remaining staff to take unpaid leave as the coronavirus outbreak compounds problems at the already-struggling firm.

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A mother reunited with her deceased child in VR. Is this the future of mourning?

The Future Is Virtual Life After Death

7 February 2020

Top Story

Watch a Mother Reunite With Her Deceased Child in VR

Would you want to see a deceased loved one again — in a virtual world? In 2016, Jang Ji-sung's seven-year-old daughter Nayeon died of an incurable disease. Three years later, the South Korean mother was reunited with Nayeon — sort of — in a virtual world created for a televised documentary.

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ONE TikTok Waited Three Hours to Tell Cops About Livestreamed Suicide

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TWO New Research: Cancer Symptoms Can Appear Years Before Diagnosis

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THREE Tesla Is Remotely Removing Autopilot Features From Used Cars

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FOUR Human Trial Suggests CRISPR Could Be a Viable Cancer Treatment

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FIVE Watch a Cybertruck Replace the DeLorean in "Back to the Future"

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Whistleblower Doctor Who Warned of Viral Outbreak Dies From It

Li Wenliang, the doctor from Wuhan, China who was one of the first to warn others about what was then an emerging coronavirus outbreak, died of the virus early on Friday morning. Li was hospitalized in January with a bad case of 2019-nCoV — and this week, conflicting reports emerged that he had died, with the hospital treating him claiming he was still alive.

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" I think we've got a better chance of having slightly higher forms of life on Europa, perhaps similar to the intelligence of an octopus. "

Monica Grady, chancellor, UK's Liverpool Hope University

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Mathematicians Prove Universal Law of Turbulence

Math and Science News from Quanta Magazine
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Uneven mixing of white and black paint shows turbulence.



Mathematicians Prove Universal Law of Turbulence


By exploiting randomness, three mathematicians have proved an elegant law that underlies the chaotic motion of turbulent systems.

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Turbulent flow.



A Wrinkle Found in Famed Fluid Equations


Two mathematicians prove that under certain extreme conditions, the Navier-Stokes equations output nonsense.

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How Randomness Can Make Math Easier


Randomness would seem to make a mathematical statement harder to prove. In fact, it often does the opposite. 

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James P. Allison sits at his office desk.


The Contrarian Who Cures Cancers


James P. Allison believed that unleashing the immune system was a way to beat cancer when almost no one else did. A Nobel Prize and a growing list of cancer survivors vindicate him.

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Nobel Prize Awarded for Cancer Immunotherapy


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Artist's conception of a rogue wave about to capsize a sailboat.


The Grand Unified Theory of Rogue Waves


Rogue waves — enigmatic giants of the sea — were thought to be caused by two different mechanisms. But a new idea that borrows from the hinterlands of probability theory has the potential to predict them all.

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What Makes the Hardest Equations in Physics So Difficult?


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Leslie Vosshall on Designer Mosquitoes and Dude Walls

Podcast hosted by STEVEN STROGATZ

Leslie Vosshall, professor of neurogenetics and behavior at the Rockefeller University, talks about the science behind our sense of smell and how it guides her work on making mosquitoes less deadly. But after she discusses the academic barriers to inclusivity, host Steven Strogatz is inspired to action.

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AI Strategy Mimics How Brains Learn to Smell


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Illustration of flying bird confronting a bottomless stack of turtles.


Did the Chicken Come First or Is It Turtles All the Way Down?


The apparent paradox of the chicken and the egg smells like "turtles all the way down." This puzzle shows how biology and physics can overcome infinite regress. 

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