Science X Newsletter Thursday, Mar 26

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for March 26, 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

An indoor MAV pose estimation system that leverages existing Wi-Fi infrastructure

Exploring the interactions between explicit and implicit motor learning components

A wearable, freestanding electrochemical sensing system

Neural networks facilitate optimization in the search for new materials

In Earth's largest extinction, land die-offs began long before ocean turnover

Researchers look for dark matter close to home

How stable is deep ocean circulation in warmer climate?

Coral tells own tale about El Nino's past

Quantum effect triggers unusual material expansion

Putting artificial intelligence to work in the lab

Weedy rice is unintended legacy of Green Revolution

Lipid helps heal the eye's frontline protection

Modelling study estimates impact of physical distancing measures on progression of COVID-19 epidemic in Wuhan

Artificial intelligence may be pandemic lifesaver... one day

New framework will help decide which trees are best in the fight against air pollution

Physics news

Researchers look for dark matter close to home

Eighty-five percent of the universe is composed of dark matter, but we don't know what, exactly, it is.

Quantum effect triggers unusual material expansion

You know how you leave space in a water bottle before you pop it in the freezer—to accommodate the fact that water expands as it freezes? Most metal parts in airplanes face the more common opposite problem. At high altitudes (low temperatures) they shrink. To keep such shrinkage from causing major disasters, engineers make airplanes out of composites or alloys, mixing materials that have opposite expansion properties to balance one another out.

Putting artificial intelligence to work in the lab

An Australian-German collaboration has demonstrated fully-autonomous SPM operation, applying artificial intelligence and deep learning to remove the need for constant human supervision.

New fabrication approach paves way to low cost mid-infrared lasers useful for sensing

For the first time, researchers have fabricated high-performance mid-infrared laser diodes directly on microelectronics-compatible silicon substrates. The new lasers could enable the widespread development of low-cost sensors for real-time, accurate environmental sensing for applications such as air pollution monitoring, food safety analysis, and detecting leaks in pipes.

Bricks can act as 'cameras' for characterizing past presence of radioactive materials

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique for determining the historical location and distribution of radioactive materials, such as weapons grade plutonium. The technique may allow them to use common building materials, such as bricks, as a three-dimensional "camera," relying on residual gamma radiation signatures to take a snapshot of radioactive materials even after they've been removed from a location.

A new approach to achieving stable, high-repetition-rate laser pulses

High-repetition-rate pulsed lasers serve a wide range of applications, from optical communications to microwave photonics and beyond. Generating trains of ultrashort optical pulses commonly involves locking phases of longitudinal laser cavity modes. In 1997, a mechanism based on dissipative four-wave-mixing (DFWM) was demonstrated with key components comprising comb filters and high-nonlinearity elements. Since then, demonstrations of high-repetition-rate pulse trains adopting DFWM have exploited various types of comb filters and nonlinear components.

Holographic cosmological model and thermodynamics on the horizon of the universe

The expansion of the Universe has occupied the minds of astronomers and astrophysicists for decades. Among the cosmological models that have been suggested over the years, Lambda cold dark matter (LCDM) models are the simplest models that can provide elegant explanations of the properties of the Universe, e.g., the accelerated expansion of the late Universe and structural formations. However, the LCDM model suffers from several theoretical difficulties, such as the cosmological constant problem. To resolve these difficulties, alternative thermodynamic scenarios have recently been proposed that extend the concept of black hole thermodynamics.

Researchers develop acoustic cylindrical shell to measure liquid properties

Researchers from the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology (SIAT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences developed a compact liquid sensor based on a liquid-filled glass cylindrical shell. Intrinsic circumferential modes of the cylindrical shell were excited acoustically and subsequently detected.

Simplified modal method explores deeper into broad and high-efficiency gratings

Owing to the excellent dispersion ability, diffraction gratings are playing an important role in widespread fields ranging from spectrometers to chirped pulse amplifiers. However, decades of extensive study on various broadband high-efficiency resonant gratings mainly focuses on those operating only at -1st order.

Quantum phenomenon governs organic solar cells

Researchers at Linköping University have discovered a quantum phenomenon that influences the formation of free charges in organic solar cells. "If we can properly understand what's going on, we can increase the efficiency," says Olle Inganäs, professor emeritus.

Astronomy and Space news

Revisiting decades-old Voyager 2 data, scientists find one more secret about Uranus

Eight and a half years into its grand tour of the solar system, NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft was ready for another encounter. It was Jan. 24, 1986, and soon it would meet the mysterious seventh planet, icy-cold Uranus.

Earth's own evolution used as guide to hunt exoplanets

Cornell astronomers have created five models representing key points from our planet's evolution, like chemical snapshots through Earth's own geologic epochs.

Venezuelan communications satellite out of service

Venezuela's first communications satellite, launched in 2008, is out of service due to a systems failure, the country's government said Wednesday.

Space science from home: Resources for children and adults

With many people across the world staying at home these days, we have curated a selection of activities for you to pass time and learn more about space science in the meantime.

This powerful ion engine will be flying on NASA's DART mission to try and redirect an asteroid

Despite humanity's current struggle against the novel coronavirus, and despite it taking up most of our attention, other threats still exist. The very real threat of a possible asteroid strike on Earth in the future is taking a backseat for now, but it's still there.

Astronaut conducts heart research on station with former colleague

When NASA astronaut Jessica Meir recently slipped her hands into the Life Sciences Glovebox on the International Space Station to conduct a new investigation on heart tissues, she brought a lengthy scientific collaboration full circle.

Space Force launches its first mission with virus precautions

The newly established U.S. Space Force launched its first national security satellite Thursday with a leaner staff because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Technology news

An indoor MAV pose estimation system that leverages existing Wi-Fi infrastructure

Micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) could have numerous useful applications, for instance, assisting humans in completing warehouse inventories or search and rescue missions. While many companies worldwide have already started producing and using MAVs, some of these flying robots still have considerable limitations.

Neural networks facilitate optimization in the search for new materials

When searching through theoretical lists of possible new materials for particular applications, such as batteries or other energy-related devices, there are often millions of potential materials that could be considered, and multiple criteria that need to be met and optimized at once. Now, researchers at MIT have found a way to dramatically streamline the discovery process, using a machine learning system.

U.S. needs to reduce fossil-fuel dependence, but parties disagree about how to do it

Both sides of the political spectrum recognize a need to reduce American dependence on carbon-based energy sources, but how the nation does so remains a divisive issue, a new study from Indiana University researchers has found.

New computer program predicts crack initiation in 3-D

Most structures and materials have defects, and if the conditions are right, these defects can lead to the initiation and propagation of cracks. Finding out where and with what orientation a surface crack is most likely to initiate is a critical part of analyzing and designing a structure. An important quantity to compute in this type of analysis is the energy release rate, which is the energy available for crack propagation. The energy release rate is compared to the fracture toughness, a material property that describes the energy required for a crack to propagate.

Hypothetical spring-loaded human exoskeleton could double running speed

A pair of researchers at Vanderbilt University has proposed a method to create a device that would allow human beings to run nearly twice as fast as is possible naturally. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, Amanda Sutrisno and David Braun describe their idea for such a device and what is required to make it a reality.

New Qualcomm chips pack high-end features for lower-cost earbuds

Qualcomm is getting ready to usher in a new generation of super low-power Bluetooth earbud chips.

Coronavirus: Why we need to consult engineers as well as scientists for solutions

The coronavirus outbreak has shone a bright light on the use of experts and scientific advice. In the UK the prime minister, Boris Johnson, is flanked by his chief scientist and chief medical officer when giving updates about his response to the outbreak—emphasizing that it is driven by scientific advice. Similarly, the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has urged people to "trust in science" while Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, has referred to "consensus among experts".

Hey, Siri: Are we paranoid, or are you eavesdropping on us to serve us advertising?

Have you ever had a conversation about unicorns, then unicorn ads started popping up in your Facebook feed?

'Pandemic drone' in development to detect people with coronavirus

A 'pandemic drone' to remotely monitor and detect people with infectious respiratory conditions is being developed by the University of South Australia (UniSA) in partnership with a Canadian company.

Researchers develop an intelligent spectrum sensing technique for 5G communications

Spectrum sensing plays an important role in future wireless communication systems as it helps to resolve the coexistence issue and optimize spectrum efficiency. However, the ongoing 5G communication involves diversified scenarios with different characteristics and diverse requirements, which makes spectrum sensing methods difficult to serve various applications flexibly while maintaining satisfactory performance. The scarcity of spectrum resource remains a critical challenge for 5G communications.

Will coronavirus bump web traffic into the slow lane?

With more than one third of the globe's population confined to their homes in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus, some are asking if the increased demand being put on the internet could substantially slow down web traffic.

Coronavirus: Pinterest launches new Today tab which will offer advice from health agencies

Pinterest saw a record number of users over the weekend as more Americans than ever before hunker down and look for at-home inspiration amidst the advancing coronavirus crisis.

Uber provides free meals, discounted rides for health care workers

Free meals and discounted Uber rides are now available for over 25,000 health care workers in certain regions of the U.S. who are helping respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Huawei flagship phone goes Google-free

Huawei drove into its post-Google era Thursday with a flagship smartphone that uses none of the Android maker's apps now that the Chinese group has been blacklisted by US authorities.

Airbnb to offer housing to 100,000 crisis responders

Airbnb said Thursday it would provide free or subsidized housing for up to 100,000 relief workers responding to the coronavirus pandemic around the world.

Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Honda, Toyota seek to restart factories

Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Honda and Toyota took steps Thursday to restart North American factories that have been closed to protect workers from the coronavirus.

Q&A with Kathleen Carley on the spread of coronavirus disinformation

Amid the global coronavirus pandemic, disinformation about the situation has been spreading at lightning speeds on social media. In the words of Kathleen Carley, a CyLab faculty member and a professor in the School of Computer Science's Institute for Software Research, "This is dangerous." Her research group has been closely monitoring the situation and sharing their findings on a regular basis.

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