Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Mar 11

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for March 11, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Comparing Western and Chinese classical music using deep learning algorithms

Bilayer graphene double quantum dots tune in for single-electron control

Very Large Telescope observes exoplanet where it rains iron

Discovery of smallest known mesozoic dinosaur reveals new species in bird evolution

Engineers crack 58-year-old puzzle on way to quantum breakthrough

Microbes far beneath the seafloor rely on recycling to survive

Study determines fundamental parameters of four open clusters

Leaving your baby to 'cry it out' has no adverse effects on child development: study

Baboon mothers carry their dead infant up to 10 days

Scientists visualize the structure of a key enzyme that makes triglycerides

Alcoholics Anonymous most effective path to alcohol abstinence

'Zombie' brain cells develop into working neurons

Microbial DNA in patient blood may be tell-tale sign of cancer

Gasdermin E: A new approach to cancer immunotherapy that could have broad reach

Wireless, skin-mounted sensors monitor babies, pregnant women in the developing world

Physics news

Engineers crack 58-year-old puzzle on way to quantum breakthrough

A happy accident in the laboratory has led to a breakthrough discovery that not only solved a problem that stood for more than half a century, but has major implications for the development of quantum computers and sensors.In a study published today in Nature, a team of engineers at UNSW Sydney has done what a celebrated scientist first suggested in 1961 was possible, but has eluded everyone since: controlling the nucleus of a single atom using only electric fields.

Measuring variations of an atom's chemical reactivity through its chemical bonds

A team of researchers from the University of Regensburg and Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich has developed a way to measure the dependence of an atom's chemical reactivity on its chemical bonds. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the group outlines their process and what they found when it was tested.

Undercompressive shocks proposed to explain 'tears of wine' phenomenon

A small team of researchers at the University of California has developed a theory to explain the shape of tears of wine. They have written a paper describing their theory and uploaded it to the arXiv preprint server—it has been accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review Fluids.

World's first experimental observation of a Kondo cloud

Physicists have been trying to observe the Kondo cloud quantum phenomenon for many decades. An international research team including a scientist from City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has recently developed a novel device that successfully measures the length of the Kondo cloud and even allows for controlling it. The findings can be regarded as a milestone in condensed matter physics, and may provide insights for understanding multiple impurity systems such as high-temperature superconductors.

Novel error-correction scheme developed for quantum computers

Scientists in Australia have developed a new approach to reducing the errors that plague experimental quantum computers; a step that could remove a critical roadblock preventing them scaling up to full working machines.

Permanent magnets stronger than those on refrigerator could be a solution for delivering fusion energy

Permanent magnets akin to those used on refrigerators could speed the development of fusion energy—the same energy produced by the sun and stars.

Breakthrough made toward more powerful particle accelerators

An international team of researchers, affiliated with UNIST has for the first time demonstrated the ionization cooling of muons. Regarded as a major step in creating more powerful particle accelerators, this new muon accelerator is expected to provide a better understanding of the fundamental constituents of matter.

Glass transition of spins and orbitals of electrons in a pure crystal

A joint research group from Osaka University and the University of Tokyo uncovered the mechanism of the glass transition that electrons can experience in pyrochlore oxide crystals. The researchers show that distortions in the atomic lattice cause two types of rotational degrees of freedom of spins to become coupled and form a glassy state at the exact same temperature. This work will shed light on our understanding of the mechanism of glass transitions, which is one of the most fundamental unsolved problems in physics.

ORNL team builds portable diagnostic for fusion experiments from off-the-shelf items

The techniques Theodore Biewer and his colleagues are using to measure whether plasma has the right conditions to create fusion have been around awhile.

MEMS technology for fabricating plasmonic near-infrared spectrometers

Near-infrared spectroscopy provides absorption spectrum unique to substances so that discrimination of gas species becomes possible. Miniaturization of spectrometers is thus required to realize compact gas sensors for monitoring air quality in living spaces.

Astronomy & Space news

Very Large Telescope observes exoplanet where it rains iron

Researchers using ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) have observed an extreme planet where they suspect it rains iron. The ultra-hot giant exoplanet has a day side where temperatures climb above 2400 degrees Celsius, high enough to vaporise metals. Strong winds carry iron vapour to the cooler night side where it condenses into iron droplets.

Study determines fundamental parameters of four open clusters

Using data from various astronomical surveys, a team of researchers from China and India has investigated four poorly studied open clusters in our Milky Way galaxy. The new study, presented in a paper published March 5 on, determines fundamental parameters of these clusters.

Researchers find new minor planets beyond Neptune

Using data from the Dark Energy Survey (DES), researchers have found more than 300 trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs), minor planets located in the far reaches of the solar system, including more than 100 new discoveries. Published in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, the study also describes a new approach for finding similar types of objects and could aid future searches for the hypothetical Planet Nine and other undiscovered planets. The work was led by graduate student Pedro Bernardinelli and professors Gary Bernstein and Masao Sako.

Technology news

Comparing Western and Chinese classical music using deep learning algorithms

Deep learning techniques are proving to be extremely useful for analyzing all kinds of data, ranging from images to text, online posts and audio recordings. These techniques are designed to identify patterns in large datasets, separate items in different categories and make predictions far quicker than humans.

New record could usher in new era for solar energy

The future of solar technology is almost reality, with researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) setting a new record for the conversion of sunlight into energy.

Researchers organically engineer solar cells using enzymes in papaya fruit

Titanium dioxide (titania) thin films are commonly used in various types of solar cells. The fabrication methods that are currently used to create such titania films require high temperatures, as well as expensive, high-end technologies. Researchers at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) have now developed a fully organic method to engineer porous titania thin films at relatively low temperatures.

Google releases quantum computing library

Google announced Monday that it is making available an open-source library for quantum machine-learning applications.

Research team develops voice localization techniques for smart speakers

Smart speakers—think, an Amazon Alexa or a Google Home—offer a wide variety of capabilities to help free up both our time and our hands. We can hear the morning news while brushing our teeth, ask for a weather report while picking out a coat, and set a timer for the oven while handling two hot pans at once. According to, Alexa is supporting more than 100,000 skills worldwide, but one task it hasn't mastered is determining user location in the home.

Dating app maker Match Group backs US bill seen as privacy threat

Match Group, the parent company of dating apps such as Tinder, on Tuesday publicly endorsed a US bill others in the tech industry fear will erode online privacy and speech in the name of fighting child abuse.

Tech must be treated like tobacco says Facebook whistleblower

Facebook and other tech companies need to be regulated like the tobacco industry, warned Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower who exposed the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Why is the UAE, where solar energy is abundant, about to open four nuclear reactors?

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is building the world's largest concentrated solar power plant, capable of generating 700 megawatts. During daylight, solar power will provide cheap electricity, and at night the UAE will use stored solar heat to generate electricity.

California AG drops challenge to T-Mobile-Sprint merger

California's attorney general said Wednesday that the state will not appeal a judge's decision approving T-Mobile's $26.5 billion purchase of Sprint, bringing the companies closer to creating a new wireless giant on par with AT&T and Verizon in size.

Image: Bendy, ultra-thin solar cell

ESA has backed the creation of this flexible, ultra-thin solar cell to deliver the best power to mass ratio for space missions.

US needs top cyber coordinator, better hacker 'deterrence': panel

The US needs a top-level cybersecurity coordinator and a better strategy of "deterrence" to protect against hackers and other cyber threats, a congressionally mandated commission said Wednesday.

Next generation 911 services are highly vulnerable to cyberattacks

Despite a previous warning by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers, who exposed vulnerability in the 911 system due to distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), the next generation of 911 systems that now accommodate text, images and video still have the same or more severe issues.

Boeing reins in spending amid 737 MAX, coronavirus crises

Boeing will suspend most hiring and overtime pay as it works to conserve cash in the face of twin crises over the 737 MAX and a massive slowdown in travel due to coronavirus, the company said Wednesday.

How secure are four and six-digit mobile phone PINs?

A German-American team of IT security researchers has investigated how users choose the PIN for their mobile phones and how they can be convinced to use a more secure number combination. They found that six-digit PINs actually provide little more security than four-digit ones. They also showed that the blacklist used by Apple to prevent particularly frequent PINs could be optimised and that it would make even greater sense to implement one on Android devices.

E3 video game conference cancelled due to coronavirus

The world's premier video game trade show, due to be held in June in Los Angeles, was cancelled on Wednesday over the spread of deadly novel coronavirus.

Cathay Pacific 2019 profits plunge, predicts virus losses

Cathay Pacific on Wednesday said profits plunged in 2019 as it reeled from political unrest in Hong Kong, while it warned financial losses lay ahead owing to the spread of the new coronavirus.

Lufthansa to cancel 23,000 flights in April over virus

German airline Lufthansa said Wednesday it would cancel 23,000 flights across the group, a 50-percent reduction, as it tries to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

FAA waives rules that led airlines to fly empty planes

Federal regulators waived a rule Wednesday that was causing airlines to fly nearly empty planes just to avoid losing takeoff and landing rights at major airports.

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Looking ahead to life on Mars

Explore the reality of actually living on Mars and the tools we have that can get us there.
Since we first put a man on the moon in 1969, humanity has dreamed of the next big leap for humankind: Mars. With NASA, Elon Musk and multiple other space agencies planning missions to the red planet, the Mars dream feels more real than ever.

But there are obstacles. How do we get there and, perhaps more importantly, how do we survive and potentially colonize and terraform a planet with no oxygen and next to no atmosphere? How do we make Mars a place worth living on?

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Mark Serrels Mark Serrels
Editorial Director, CNET
Terraforming Mars might be impossible… for now
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