Science X Newsletter Thursday, Feb 20

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for February 20, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Highly sensitive pressure sensors for robotics and healthcare applications

Study finds microbes can alter an environment dramatically before dying out

Old carbon reservoirs unlikely to cause massive greenhouse gas release

Earliest interbreeding event between ancient human populations discovered

Bumblebees can experience an object using one sense and later recognize it using another

Researchers develop new method to isolate atomic sheets and create new materials

Microchannel network hydrogel-induced ischemic blood perfusion connection

How newborn stars prepare for the birth of planets

Beyond the brim, Sombrero Galaxy's halo suggests turbulent past

Watching TV helps birds make better food choices

Illuminating interactions between decision-making and the environment

Can AI flag disease outbreaks faster than humans? Not quite

You might just be addicted: Smartphone use physically affects your brain, study says

Plant-based relatives of cholesterol could give boost to gene therapy

First genetic evidence of resistance in some bats to white-nose syndrome, a devastating fungal disease

Physics news

ALPHA collaboration reports first measurements of certain quantum effects in antimatter

The ALPHA collaboration at CERN has reported the first measurements of certain quantum effects in the energy structure of antihydrogen, the antimatter counterpart of hydrogen. These quantum effects are known to exist in matter, and studying them could reveal as yet unobserved differences between the behavior of matter and antimatter. The results, described in a paper published today in the journal Nature, show that these first measurements are consistent with theoretical predictions of the effects in "normal" hydrogen, and pave the way for more precise measurements of these and other fundamental quantities.

How are microbes attracted to an oil spill?

When containing a massive disaster like an oil spill, small microbes play a big role.

Physicists grab individual atoms in groundbreaking experiment

In a first for quantum physics, University of Otago researchers have "held" individual atoms in place and observed previously unseen complex atomic interactions.

10,000 times faster calculations of many-body quantum dynamics possible

How an electron behaves in an atom, or how it moves in a solid, can be predicted precisely with the equations of quantum mechanics. These theoretical calculations agree fully with the results obtained from experiments. But complex quantum systems, which contain many electrons or elementary particles—such as molecules, solids or atomic nuclei—can currently not be described exactly, even with the most powerful computers available today. The underlying mathematical equations are too complex, and the computational requirements are too large. A team led by Professor Michael Bonitz from the Institute of Theoretical Physics and Astrophysics at Kiel University (CAU) has now succeeded in developing a simulation method, which enables quantum mechanical calculations up to around 10,000 times faster than previously possible. They have published their findings in the current issue of the renowned scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Carrier-assisted differential detection

Hyperscale datacenters have sprung up across the globe rapidly. This generate tremendous demand for high-capacity, cost-effective optical communication links that interconnect them. Engineers at the University of Melbourne invented an innovative signal reception scheme tailored for datacenter applications where the complex-valued double-sideband signals can be recovered via direct detection. The receiver architecture opens a new class of direct detection schemes that are suitable for photonic integration analogous to homodyne receivers in coherent detection.

Laser writing enables practical flat optics and data storage in glass

Femtosecond laser machining has emerged as an attractive technology enabling applications ranging from eye surgery to direct writing on the bulk of transparent materials. Scientists from the University of Southampton, UK, demonstrated a new regime of ultrafast laser writing in silica glass, which produces anisotropic nanostructures and related birefrigence with negligible transmission loss. The technology enables practical wavefront shaping with flat optics and polarization beam shaping of high power lasers from ultraviolet to infrared, as well as high-capacity optical data storage.

Astronomy & Space news

How newborn stars prepare for the birth of planets

An international team of astronomers used two of the most powerful radio telescopes in the world to create more than three hundred images of planet-forming disks around very young stars in the Orion Clouds. These images reveal new details about the birthplaces of planets and the earliest stages of star formation.

Beyond the brim, Sombrero Galaxy's halo suggests turbulent past

Surprising new data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope suggests the smooth, settled "brim" of the Sombrero galaxy's disk may be concealing a turbulent past. Hubble's sharpness and sensitivity resolves tens of thousands of individual stars in the Sombrero's vast, extended halo, the region beyond a galaxy's central portion, typically made of older stars. These latest observations of the Sombrero are turning conventional theory on its head, showing only a tiny fraction of older, metal-poor stars in the halo, plus an unexpected abundance of metal-rich stars typically found only in a galaxy's disk, and the central bulge. Past major galaxy mergers are a possible explanation, though the stately Sombrero shows none of the messy evidence of a recent merger of massive galaxies.

Eighteen-hour-year planet on edge of destruction

Astronomers from the University of Warwick have observed an exoplanet orbiting a star in just over 18 hours, the shortest orbital period ever observed for a planet of its type.

Sub-Neptune sized planet validated with the habitable-zone planet finder

A signal originally detected by the Kepler spacecraft has been validated as an exoplanet using the Habitable-zone Planet Finder (HPF), an astronomical spectrograph built by a Penn State team and recently installed on the 10m Hobby-Eberly Telescope at McDonald Observatory in Texas. The HPF provides the highest precision measurements to date of infrared signals from nearby low-mass stars, and astronomers used it to validate the candidate planet by excluding all possibilities of contaminating signals to very high level of probability. The details of the findings appear in the Astronomical Journal.

Journey to the center of Mars: A new compositional model for the red planet

While InSight's seismometer has been patiently waiting for the next big marsquake to illuminate its interior and define its crust-mantle-core structure, two scientists, Takashi Yoshizaki (Tohoku University) and Bill McDonough (Tohoku University and University of Maryland, College Park), have built a new compositional model for Mars. They used rocks from Mars and measurements from orbiting satellites to predict the depth to its core-mantle boundary, some 1,800 km beneath the surface and have been able to suggest that its core contains moderate amounts of sulfur, oxygen and hydrogen as light elements.

Sex in space: Could technology meet astronauts' intimate needs?

The 2018 movie A.I. Rising explores how machines could fulfill desires and support humans during space travel. Lo and behold, it might contain the solution to problems related to space exploration.

One small step: Getting started with astronomy

Keen to get into astronomy or stargazing, but no idea how to start? Don't worry—it's easier than you think.

Stargazing with computers: What machine learning can teach us about the cosmos

Gazing up at the night sky in a rural area, you'll probably see the shining moon surrounded by stars. If you're lucky, you might spot the furthest thing visible with the naked eye—the Andromeda galaxy. It's the nearest neighbor to our galaxy, the Milky Way. But that's just the tiniest fraction of what's out there. When the Department of Energy's (DOE) Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) Camera at the National Science Foundation's Vera Rubin Observatory turns on in 2022, it will take photos of 37 billion galaxies and stars over the course of a decade.

Technology news

Highly sensitive pressure sensors for robotics and healthcare applications

Microscopic sensors that can detect small changes in pressure have numerous useful applications, particularly for the development of robots and health-monitoring wearable devices. Most existing capacitive and transistor-based pressure sensors, however, have a number of limitations, including low sensitivity, slow response speed, high power consumption and unsatisfactory stability.

Tiny, battery-free ID chip can help combat losses to counterfeiting

To combat supply chain counterfeiting, which can cost companies billions of dollars annually, MIT researchers have invented a cryptographic ID tag that's small enough to fit on virtually any product and verify its authenticity.

Magnet-controlled bioelectronic implant could relieve pain

A team of Rice University engineers has introduced the first neural implant that can be both programmed and charged remotely with a magnetic field.

Eclypsium security report shows unsigned firmware as ongoing headache

Risky business has an impact on computer users and known brand-name vendors, and it is all about firmware, rarely scanned for vulnerabilities, and which can subvert existing security controls. A new report from enterprise firmware security company Eclypsium reports on Windows and Linux firmware vulnerabilities.

Silicon Valley inventor of 'cut, copy and paste' dies

Silicon Valley on Wednesday was mourning a pioneering computer scientist whose accomplishments included inventing the widely relied on "cut, copy and paste" command.

Google updates terms in plain language after EU scrutiny

Google is attempting to make sure people know exactly what they're signing up for when they use its online services—though that will still mean reading a lengthy document.

The car is king in L.A. County—despite growing public transit options

Despite Los Angeles County's legendary traffic jams, residents remain wedded to their cars and reluctant to use public transportation due to concerns over safety and convenience, according to the new USC Dornsife/Union Bank LABarometer mobility survey. But in identifying specific concerns, the survey, which was conducted by the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR), also pointed to potential solutions for increasing use of public transportation.

AI agrees with mom: Take good care of yourself

Analysis by researchers at the University of Waterloo using artificial intelligence (AI) supports the conventional wisdom that taking care of yourself makes you feel good.

Protecting essential connections in a tangled web

It's winter. And as any frequent traveler knows, winter can mean airport weather delays. A blizzard in Minneapolis, a major airport hub, can quickly lead to delays in balmy Miami or foggy London.

New study presents all‐solid‐state printed bipolar Li–S batteries

Ultrahigh‐capacity and fire‐resistant batteries have been developed. The new battery has improved both the performance and safety of the "lithium-sulfur batteries," which have much larger capacities than commercialized lithium ion batteries, thus is easy to manufacture via the printing process.

France shuts oldest reactors, but nuclear power still reigns

France will start closing its oldest atomic power plant on Saturday after 43 years in operation, the first in a series of reactor shutdowns but hardly a signal the country will reduce its reliance on nuclear energy anytime soon.

TikTok offers feature that gives parents more control over their kids' access

Parents concerned with their children's TikTok obsession can perk up with the app's new feature that lets them have more control over how many videos is too many.

Tesla surges amid high solar power expectations

It looks like the sun is continuing to shine on Tesla.

Bluetooth stickers on your clothing? Startup Wiliot gets $20M for tracking tech

Giants in technology and consumer products are funneling more cash into a small tech startup in San Diego that's developing tiny bluetooth stickers that can transform everyday items—like clothing, wallets, or Amazon packages—to trackable "connected" devices.

New artificial intelligence algorithm better predicts corn yield

With some reports predicting the precision agriculture market will reach $12.9 billion by 2027, there is an increasing need to develop sophisticated data-analysis solutions that can guide management decisions in real time. A new study from an interdisciplinary research group at University of Illinois offers a promising approach to efficiently and accurately process precision ag data.

US expert says 5G tiff could affect information exchanges

The top U.S. diplomat for cybersecurity policy says he welcomes European Union moves toward recognizing the risks at stake in 5G technology, but warned that the U.S. will not be able to share top-level information with countries that choose "untrusted" vendors, such as China's Huawei.

CBS streaming service to grow with Viacom, Paramount videos

ViacomCBS is planning a new streaming service that will combine the existing CBS All Access service with Paramount movies and shows from Viacom channels such as MTV and BET.

New Mexico sues Google over collection of children's data

New Mexico's attorney general sued Google Thursday over allegations the tech company is illegally collecting personal data generated by children in violation of federal and state laws.

Going viral: Demand for disease-themed movies and games explodes

As the world confronts the spread of a deadly new virus, interest in disease-themed movies, games and TV series has exploded, with worried viewers turning to documentaries and disaster flicks for answers and ways to cope.

Qantas cuts flights to Asia as coronavirus hits profits

Australian airline Qantas on Thursday announced a major reduction in flights to Asia as the deadly coronavirus outbreak that began in China impacts demand and eats into profits.

Boeing supports state tax change to avoid EU sanctions

US aerospace manufacturer Boeing said Wednesday it supports a tax reform in Washington state that would eliminate a tax break but defuse a long-standing dispute with the European Union.

Coronavirus buffets Air France as 2019 profits dive

French-Dutch airline Air France-KLM said Thursday the coronavirus has blown a large hole in 2020 earnings to date while separately unveiling lower profits for 2019.

Estonia starts building 100-million-euro data center

An Estonian tech company has kicked off construction of the Baltic states' largest commercial data center, an estimated 100-million-euro ($108-million) project aimed at large financial services, telecom and technology firms in the region.

'Wood' you like to recycle concrete?

Researchers at the Institute of Industrial Science, a part of The University of Tokyo, have developed a new procedure for recycling concrete with the addition of discarded wood. They found that the correct proportion of inputs can yield a new building material with a bending strength superior to that of the original concrete. This research may help drastically reduce construction costs, as well as slash carbon emissions.

Asia-Pacific airlines could lose $27.8 bn to coronavirus: IATA

Airlines operating in the Asia-Pacific region stand to lose a combined $27.8 billion of revenue this year in the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the International Air Transport Association said on Thursday.

Software giant SAP shuts India offices after swine flu scare

German software giant SAP on Thursday shut down their offices in India for an "extensive sanitation" after two employees tested positive for H1N1 swine flu at its Bangalore headquarters, the company said.

Uber reactivates Colombia service after three-week hiatus

Transport platform Uber restarted its operations in Colombia on Thursday following a three-week suspension after it lost a case brought by taxi drivers for unfair business practices.

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Scientists scanned the brains of bullies and found something grim

The Future Is Taking Bullies Down a Peg

20 February 2020

Top Story

Scientists Scanned Brains of Bullies and Found Something Grim

An international team of neuroscientists scanned the brains of lifelong bullies and found something grim: Bullies' brains appear to be physically smaller than other brains.

"Our findings support the idea that, for the small proportion of individuals with life-course-persistent antisocial behaviour, there may be differences in their brain structure that make it difficult for them to develop social skills that prevent them from engaging in antisocial behaviour," said lead author Christina Carlisi, a researcher at the University College London.

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ONE Flaring Object in Space May Be Two Supermassive Black Holes Colliding

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TWO Cursed Deepfake Shows Jeff Bezos As Veiny-Headed "Star Trek" Alien

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THREE Quantum Physicists "Hold" Individual Atoms in Place for First Time

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FOUR Scientists Retract Study Claiming Vapes Cause Heart Attacks

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FIVE Meet the Virtual, Anime Camgirl the Internet's Most Toxic Men Are Obsessed With

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American Doctors Are Bracing For a Global COVID-19 Pandemic

It might be time to start preparing yourself for a coronavirus pandemic. CNBC reports that American doctors are worried that if the COVID-19 epidemic spreads beyond a few isolated cases in the United States, it could lead to a crisis as patients overwhelm emergency rules and exhaust stores of medical supplies. "This is the time to open up your pandemic plans and see that things are in order," Dr. Anne Schuchat, an official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned.

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" As glorious and life-affirming as live music can be, the magnitude of the enterprise — how much carbon a tour produces, how much waste a concert generates — can be troubling. "

New Yorker reporter Amanda Petrusich

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