Science X Newsletter Friday, Feb 21

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for February 21, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Dementia gene: Heading soccer balls increases brain risks for certain players

Compact dark object search: Scanning Earth's core with superconducting gravimeters

A light-sensitive compound enables heatless membrane modulation in photoswitches

Offshore wind farms could power much of coastal China: study

Ethnobotanical medicine is effective against the bacterium causing Lyme disease

Antidepressant harms baby neurons in lab-grown 'mini-brains'

Newly found bacteria fights climate change, soil pollutants

Researchers develop label-free microscopic techniques to visualize extracellular vesicles in cancer

The fat around your arteries may actually keep them healthy

Height limits for 'blade runners' baseless, new study suggests

Osteosarcoma profiling reveals why immunotherapy remains ineffective

Drug cocktail holds promise for spinal injuries

Study finds that lack of oxygen during pregnancy can cause schizophrenia

How a road sign trick sent a self-driving car into high-speed mode

XMM-Newton reveals giant flare from a tiny star

Physics news

Compact dark object search: Scanning Earth's core with superconducting gravimeters

Physics theory suggests that the universe is made up in great part by a type of matter that does not emit, absorb or reflect light, and hence cannot be observed using conventional detection methods. This type of matter, referred to as dark matter, has so far never been experimentally observed or detected.

Scientists predict state of matter that can conduct both electricity and energy perfectly

Three scientists from the University of Chicago have run the numbers, and they believe there may be a way to make a material that could conduct both electricity and energy with 100% efficiency—never losing any to heat or friction.

When plasmons reach atomic flatland

Researchers from the MPSD and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in the United States have discovered a significant new fundamental kind of quantum electronic oscillation, or plasmon, in atomically thin materials. Their work has now been published in Nature Communications. It has potential implications for novel imaging techniques and photochemical reactions at the nanoscale.

Scientists crack the mystery of liquid light interactions in organic materials

A team of scientists from the Hybrid Photonics Laboratory at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) and the University of Sheffield (UK) made a breakthrough in understanding nonlinear physics of the strong interaction of organic molecules with light. Principles of strong light matter interaction open new horizons of ultra-fast and low energy all-optical data processing. The findings were published in Communications Physics and featured in the February issue of Nature Physics.

A step towards controlling spin-dependent petahertz electronics by material defects

The operational speed of semiconductors in various electronic and optoelectronic devices is limited to several gigahertz (a billion oscillations per second). This constrains the upper limit of the operational speed of computing. Now researchers from the MPSD and the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay have explained how these processes can be sped up through the use of light waves and defected solid materials.

Astronomy & Space news

XMM-Newton reveals giant flare from a tiny star

A star of about eight percent the Sun's mass has been caught emitting an enormous 'super flare' of X-rays—a dramatic high-energy eruption that poses a fundamental problem for astronomers, who did not think it possible on stars that small.

How better propulsion systems can improve space exploration

Aero/Astro engineer Ken Hara is developing computer models to help make a little-known, but widely-used thruster engine more suitable for long-distance missions.

Mars InSight lander to push on top of the 'mole'

After nearly a year of trying to dig into the Martian surface, the heat probe belonging to NASA's InSight lander is about to get a push. The mission team plans to command the scoop on InSight's robotic arm to press down on the "mole," the mini pile driver designed to hammer itself as much as 16 feet (5 meters) down. They hope that pushing down on the mole's top, also called the back cap, will keep it from backing out of its hole on Mars, as it did twice in recent months after nearly burying itself.

Technology news

A light-sensitive compound enables heatless membrane modulation in photoswitches

Optical technologies that can be used to modulate neuronal activity are opening up exciting possibilities for research in neuroscience and biology. Optical tools allow neuroscientists to excite and inhibit neurons or areas of the brain at will. They can thus be used to investigate the function of specific brain circuits or regions, as well as to identify new potential treatments for neurological and psychiatric diseases.

Offshore wind farms could power much of coastal China: study

Under the Paris Climate Agreement, China committed to rely on renewable resources for 20 percent of its energy needs by 2030. Currently, the country is on track to double that commitment, aiming to hit 40 percent by the next decade. Wind power is critical to achieving that goal. Over the past 20 years, China's wind power capacity has exploded from 0.3 gigawatts to 161 gigawatts.

How a road sign trick sent a self-driving car into high-speed mode

Can a little strip of tape on a 35-mile-per-hour speed limit sign cause a self-driving car to accelerate? Yes—and press attention, too. Researchers from security company McAfee wanted to see if they could dupe a Tesla car into thinking the speed limit was different than posted, and they succeeded.

Scientists finally confirm a 50-year-old theory in mechanics

An experiment by EPFL researchers has confirmed a theory that has been used in mechanics for over half a century—despite never having been fully validated. The team could now use the theory in bolder and more innovative ways in their quest to develop ever better energy systems.

Emotion recognition has a privacy problem—here's how to fix it

With devices listening everywhere you go, privacy concerns are endemic to advancing technology. Especially sensitive are different techniques powered by audio from your smartphones and speakers, putting consumers in a constant cost-benefit analysis between privacy and utility.

Firm wants to recover the Titanic's iconic telegraph machine

The salvage firm that has plucked silverware, china and gold coins from the wreckage of the Titanic now wants to recover the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Machine that transmitted the doomed ship's increasingly frantic distress calls.

New York ordered to pay $810 million to debt-hit taxi drivers

New York must pay $810 million to its debt-ridden cabbies, the state attorney general said Thursday, accusing the city of fraudulently inflating the value of permits needed to drive its famed yellow taxis.

Cyberattacks and the economy: Assessing the damage

When White House officials needed an expert to examine the economic impact of cybersecurity threats, they called on Anna Scherbina.

Sports not your thing? Streaming options from Philo might be for you

Sure, the Super Bowl, March Madness and the World Series all are national obsessions, but not everyone craves TV sports.

Google, YouTube should remove murder videos, father of slain journalist tells FTC

Andy Parker's daughter, Alison Parker, was shot and killed on live television more than four years ago. Now, Andy Parker is taking on YouTube and parent company Google to remove graphic content like the murder videos that still exist of his daughter from the video site.

Google-Fitbit deal could carry data and privacy risks, EU privacy agency says

The acquisition of Fitbit by Google and its parent company Alphabet could pose privacy concerns for consumers, the European Union's privacy agency said Thursday.

Deep learning AI discovers surprising new antibiotics

Imagine you're a fossil hunter. You spend months in the heat of Arizona digging up bones only to find that what you've uncovered is from a previously discovered dinosaur.

Coding for uncertainty increases security

Right now, drones are flying over wildlife parks in South Africa, equipped with thermal infrared cameras and smart automatic detection systems that can identify potential poachers. If a poacher is spotted, the drone can alert nearby rangers and flash its lights to send up an alarm.

Turns out there is such a thing as TMI: More information doesn't necessarily help people make better decisions

Making everyday decisions seems easy enough. People know basic information about health and finances that they can use to inform their decision making. But new research from Stevens Institute of Technology suggests that too much knowledge can lead people to make worse decisions, pointing to a critical gap in our understanding of how new information interacts with prior knowledge and beliefs.

Firm unveils new promises in bid to buy dot-org registry

A private equity firm announced Friday what it calls legally binding commitments designed to ease concerns that its proposed $1.1 billion private takeover of the dot-org domain-setting registry would lead to price gouging and censorship.

Renfe inks $6 bn deal to build high-speed train in US

Spanish train operator Renfe on Thursday said it had signed a $6-billion deal with US rail developer Texas Central to design, build and run a high-speed rail line in the United States.

Shopify joins nonprofit behind Facebook's Libra currency

Online commerce platform Shopify on Friday said it has joined the nonprofit association behind Facebook's planned Libra cryptocurrency.

'Dieselgate' recall of more Mercedes vehicles 'likely'

German authorities will "likely" discover software rigging the level of diesel emissions in Mercedes-Benz cars other than those already sanctioned, the Daimler group warned on Friday.

Canada privacy watchdog probes facial recognition startup

Canada's privacy watchdog on Friday announced an investigation into a US software startup reportedly capable of matching images of unknown faces to photos it mined from millions of websites and social media networks.

German court says Tesla can fell trees at site of new plant

A German court has ruled that the clearing of trees from the site of Tesla Inc.'s first electric car factory in Europe can go ahead, days after it issued an injunction temporarily halting the preparatory work.

Amazon launches app-based health-care service for Seattle-based employees

In its most direct foray yet into the $3.8 trillion medical sector, Amazon has launched a pilot program to administer health care services to many of its nearly 54,000 Seattle-area employees and their families.

DR Congo govt gives go-ahead to restarting nuclear reactor

The Democratic Republic of Congo has authorised the startup of an experimental nuclear reactor that has been mothballed for more than a quarter of a century.

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Grimes dropped an album and some wild ideas for the future


The Future Is Full of "Humanoid Vessels"

21 February 2020

Top Story

Grimes Wants to Send Her Mind to Mars Inside a "Humanoid Vessel"

In a new interview with British magazine The Face, singer and visual artist Grimes revealed her wild plans to travel to Mars. When asked if she'd "rather go to Mars or upload your consciousness to the cloud," the renowned musician — and Elon Musk love interest — couldn't make up her mind. But she settled on a spacey alternative.

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ONE New Battery Tech Could Double Electric Car Driving Range

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TWO Bill Nye: Humans May Be Descendants of Ancient Martians

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THREE Here's Why NASA Suspects Mars Life Could Be Hiding Underground

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FOUR What in Tarnation Is This "SpaceX Village" by the Starship Launch Site

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FIVE Japan Gives the 'Go' to Sample Return Mission to Mars Moon

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Chess Grandmaster Kasparov: I've Made "Peace" With Robot That Beat My Ass

Twenty-three years ago — long before "machine learning" was a term regularly belched up by luddites hiding behind dumb mid-level marketing buzzwords and printed-out Recode posts — IBM's Deep Blue AI beat reigning global Chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, sending shockwaves through the worlds of chess, computing, and conspiratorial technophobes, as fear of sentient computing had permeated another layer of pop culture.

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