Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Mar 24

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for March 24, 2020:

Due to an increasing volume of information and news about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we have split stories concerning the virus into a separate category in the MedicalXpress daily newsletter. As always, you may configure your email newsletter preferences in your ScienceX account.

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A deep learning-based method for vision-based tactile sensing

Study unveils dependence of spin memory loss in a variety of interfaces

Solitonics in molecular wires could benefit electronics

Chinese astronomers detect gamma-ray emission from two star-forming galaxies

Protein modification with ISG15 blocks coxsackievirus pathology via antiviral and metabolic reprogramming

Chatty kids do better at school

Crumpled graphene makes ultra-sensitive cancer DNA detector

Old human cells rejuvenated with stem cell technology, research finds

Jets of bacteria carry microscopic cargo

Stroke: When the system fails for the second time

Teamwork in a cell: The cytoskeleton from a bird's eye perspective

Solar system acquired current configuration not long after its formation

System trains driverless cars in simulation before they hit the road

Special blend of circuits and memristive devices created for brain-mimicking processing systems

Study uses AI to estimate unexploded bombs from Vietnam War

Physics news

Study unveils dependence of spin memory loss in a variety of interfaces

Researchers at the University of Twente and Beijing Normal University have recently conducted a study investigating the parameter known as spin memory loss (SML) for a variety of different interfaces, using a combination of theoretical and computational methods. Their paper, published in Physical Review Letters, offers valuable new insights that could inform the design of more efficient interfaces.

Jets of bacteria carry microscopic cargo

It is a longstanding challenge to be able to control biological systems to perform specific tasks. In a paper published in Nature Physics, researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, in collaboration with groups in U.S. and U.K., have now reported doing just that. They have found a way to control bacteria to transport microscopic cargo. Bacteria form the largest biomass in the world, larger than all the animals and plants combined, and they are constantly moving, but their movement is chaotic. The researchers pursued the idea that if this motion could be controlled, they might be able to develop it into a biological tool. They used a liquid crystal to dictate the direction of the bacterial movement, and added a microscopic cargo for the bacteria to carry, more than five times the size of the bacteria.

Special blend of circuits and memristive devices created for brain-mimicking processing systems

During the 1990s, Carver Mead and colleagues combined basic research in neuroscience with elegant analog circuit design in electronic engineering. This pioneering work on neuromorphic electronic circuits inspired researchers in Germany and Switzerland to explore the possibility of reproducing the physics of real neural circuits by using the physics of silicon.

Adjusting processing temperature results in better hydrogels for biomedical applications

Biohydrogels—biomaterials composed of polymer chains dispersed in water—have been studied closely by researchers for their potential use in biomedical applications, such as in tissue repair, as surgical sealants, and in 3-D biofabrication.

Scientists observe superconductivity in meteorites

Scientists at UC San Diego and Brookhaven Laboratory in New York went searching for superconducting materials where researchers have had little luck before. Setting their sights on a diverse population of meteorites, they investigated the 15 pieces of comets and asteroids to find "Mundrabilla" and "GRA 95205"—two meteorites with superconductive grains.

The physics that drives periodic economic downturns

A professor at Duke University says that the way spilled milk spreads across the floor can explain why economic downturns regularly occur.

First high-sensitivity dark matter axion hunting results from South Korea

Researchers at the Center for Axion and Precision Physics Research (CAPP), within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS, South Korea), have reported the first results of their search of axions, elusive, ultra-lightweight particles that are considered dark matter candidates. IBS-CAPP is located at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). Published in Physical Review Letters, the analysis combines data taken over three months with a new axion-hunting apparatus developed over the last two years.

Sensing internal organ temperature with optically stimulated luminescence

A cheap, biocompatible white powder that luminesces when heated could be used for non-invasively monitoring the temperature of specific organs within the body. Tohoku University scientists conducted preliminary tests to demonstrate the applicability of this concept and published their findings in the journal Scientific Reports.

Pushing periodic disorder induced phase-matching into deep-ultraviolet spectral region

Phase matching condition is the key criteria for efficient nonlinear frequency conversion. Here, Scientists in China employed an additional periodic phase (APP) technique to meet the phase-matching condition in quartz crystal and experimentally demonstrated the efficient nonlinear frequency conversion from the visible to the deep-ultraviolet spectral region. The APP theory and generated visible to deep-ultraviolet radiation would revolutionize next-generation nonlinear photonics and their further applications.

Astronomy and Space news

Chinese astronomers detect gamma-ray emission from two star-forming galaxies

Astronomers from Nanjing University in China have detected gamma ray emission from two star-forming galaxies designated M33 and Arp 299. The finding, which is detailed in a paper published March 17 on, could be helpful in improving knowledge about the origin of very high-energy emission in galaxies.

Solar system acquired current configuration not long after its formation

The hypothesis that the solar system originated from a gigantic cloud of gas and dust was first floated in the second half of the 18th century by German philosopher Immanuel Kant and further developed by French mathematician Pierre-Simon de Laplace. It is now a consensus among astronomers. Thanks to the enormous amount of observational data, theoretical input and computational resources now available, it has been continually refined, but this is not a linear process.

Study supports contested 35-year-old predictions, shows that observable novae are just 'tip of the iceberg'

Almost 35 years ago, scientists made the then-radical proposal that colossal hydrogen bombs called novae go through a very long-term life cycle after erupting, fading to obscurity for hundreds of thousands of years and then building back up to become full-fledged novae once more. A new study is the first to fully model the work and incorporate all of the feedback factors now known to control these systems, backing up the original prediction while bringing new details to light. Published this week in the journal Nature Astronomy, the study confirms that the novae we observe flashing throughout the universe represent just a few percent of these cataclysmic variables, as they are known, with the rest "hiding" in hibernation.

Searching for the first stars and galaxies

Astrophysicists, telescopes, supercomputers, and software engineers have joined forces to search for signals from the early Universe.

Image: Bennu in unprecedented detail

This global map of asteroid Bennu's surface is a mosaic of images collected by NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft between Mar. 7 and Apr. 19, 2019. A total of 2,155 PolyCam images were stitched together and corrected to produce the mosaic.

A new measurement of charge-exchange reaction helps to understand core-collapse supernovae

Researchers from the Institute of Modern Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, together with collaborators, have lately made progress in the study of the electron-capture rates of the 93Nb by using the charge-exchange reaction, which sheds light on core-collapse supernovae (CCSNe).

8 European spacecraft put in hibernation amid virus lockdown

The European Space Agency said Tuesday that it is putting eight of its spacecraft into hibernation as it scales down operations during the coronavirus outbreak.

Technology news

A deep learning-based method for vision-based tactile sensing

To effectively interact with their surrounding environment, robots should be able to identify characteristics of different objects just by touching them, like humans do. This would allow them to get hold of and manage objects more efficiently, using feedback gathered by sensors to adjust their grasp and manipulation strategies.

System trains driverless cars in simulation before they hit the road

A simulation system invented at MIT to train driverless cars creates a photorealistic world with infinite steering possibilities, helping the cars learn to navigate a host of worse-case scenarios before cruising down real streets.

Study uses AI to estimate unexploded bombs from Vietnam War

Researchers have used artificial intelligence to detect Vietnam War-era bomb craters in Cambodia from satellite images—with the hope that it can help find unexploded bombs.

Automated speech recognition less accurate for blacks: study

The technology that powers the nation's leading automated speech recognition systems makes twice as many errors when interpreting words spoken by African Americans as when interpreting the same words spoken by whites, according to a new study by researchers at Stanford Engineering.

Microsoft reports new Windows vulnerability

Microsoft reported a "critical" security vulnerability Monday that could affect millions of Windows users. The critical label is the highest severity rating issued to potential threats.

Coronavirus dims Twitter earnings expectations

Twitter on Monday dialed back its earnings expectations for the current quarter amid a massive disruption in online advertising stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, even though the service has become a hub of conversation about the crisis.

A new low-cost solar technology for environmental cooling

Space cooling and heating is a common need in most inhabited areas. In Europe, the energy consumed for air conditioning is rising, and the situation could get worse in the near future due to the temperature increase in different regions worldwide. The increasing cooling need in buildings, especially during the summer season, is satisfied by air conditioners, which often make use of refrigerants with high environmental impact and also lead to high electricity consumption. So, how can engineers reduce the energy demand for building cooling?

Initiatives to protect US energy grid and nuclear weapons systems

To deter attempts to disable U.S. electrical utilities and to defend U.S. nuclear weapon systems from evolving technological threats, Sandia National Laboratories has begun two multiyear initiatives to strengthen U.S. responses.

Coronavirus massive simulations completed on Frontera supercomputer

Scientists are preparing a massive computer model of the coronavirus that they expect will give insight into how it infects in the body. They've taken the first steps, testing the first parts of the model and optimizing code on the Frontera supercomputer at the University of Texas at Austin's Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). The knowledge gained from the full model can help researchers design new drugs and vaccines to combat the coronavirus.

Deep learning cuts costs in building control

American buildings consume roughly 40 percent of U.S. energy, much of which is expended on heating, cooling, and ventilation. Enhanced control methods can help reduce energy consumption. Model Predictive Control (MPC) has shown potential for substantially reducing energy use in buildings. However, it has not been widely adopted due to a number of implementation challenges.

Scientists develop prototype for rapidly deployable ventilator

Engineers, anaesthetists and surgeons from King's and the University of Oxford are building and testing prototypes that can be manufactured using techniques and tools available in well-equipped university and small and medium enterprise (SME) workshops.

How drones can help farmers track flooding, hail damage, and plant health

Have you seen a drone buzzing by in a park and wondered what all the fuss is about? These flying vehicles may seem like just an upgrade to the remote-controlled helicopters of yesteryear. But drones are receiving a lot of attention for good reasons.

Airlines headed for 'apocalypse' without aid: IATA

The coronavirus pandemic could spell "apocalypse" in the airline industry without urgent government aid, the global aviation association said Tuesday, warning that carriers could lose more than $250 billion in revenues this year alone.

Instagram steps up effort to curb COVID-19 disinformation

Instagram said Tuesday it was ramping up efforts to promote reliable content about the coronavirus pandemic and stop the spread of misinformation on the image-centric social network.

Instagram unveils new shared video feature to ease isolation

Instagram unveiled a new feature Tuesday allowing users to connect more easily over video and shared content as part of a move to ease isolation stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Researchers develop early warning system to fight disinformation online

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame are using artificial intelligence to develop an early warning system that will identify manipulated images, deepfake videos and disinformation online. The project is an effort to combat the rise of coordinated social media campaigns to incite violence, sew discord and threaten the integrity of democratic elections.

How fire causes office-building floors to collapse

Engineers and technicians at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) spent months meticulously recreating the long concrete floors supported by steel beams commonly found in high-rise office buildings, only to deliberately set the structures ablaze, destroying them in a fraction of the time it took to build them.

Disney launches reduced-bandwidth streaming in 7 European countries

The Walt Disney Company said Tuesday that it had rolled out its Disney+ streaming service in seven European countries, but had reduced bandwidth—and hence output quality—because of the heavy demand on network infrastructure during the coronavirus crisis.

Qantas probed over allegedly using crisis to try to sink rival

Australia's consumer watchdog said Tuesday it was investigating Qantas for alleged anti-competitive behaviour, after its CEO appeared to call for rival Virgin Australia to be cut out of a massive government bailout.

The story behind that little padlock in your browser

Whenever you see a little padlock in the address bar of your internet browser, as well as when you use apps, email and messaging, you're relying on something called 'transport layer security' or TLS. It's a protocol that keeps us safe online.

Boeing CEO sees fresh demand in China for planes

Boeing has begun talks with China over new plane orders as the country emerges from the economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus, Boeing Chief Executive David Calhoun said Tuesday.

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New MacBook Air back to $999, iPad gets more features

Latest from Apple: The new MacBook Air gets a new Magic Keyboard and double the storage, iPad gets trackpad support and a 3D scanner. Here's everything you need to know.
Latest from Apple
March 24, 2020
Apple has a new high-end iPad and a new low-end Mac laptop, both with new features to help people be more productive. The iPad Pro introduces a keyboard case that includes a trackpad and a special iPad cursor. The MacBook Air includes the new Magic Keyboard introduced last fall, but there's one important caveat for people working from home.

Keep up with the latest in iPhone, iPad and Mac with our CNET Apple Report newsletter. Subscribe now
Jason Hiner Jason Hiner
Editorial Director, CNET
New  MacBook Air: Updated keyboard, double the storage
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