Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Apr 14

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for April 14, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A new material to print mechanically robust and shape-shifting structures

Teaching the iCub robot to express basic human emotions

'A bad time to be alive': Study links ocean deoxygenation to ancient die-off

New scavenger technology allows robots to 'eat' metal for energy

Flamingos form firm friendships

Manipulating cell death signaling after radiation could offer a new way to treat cancers

Vulnerable cells armor themselves against infection by depleting surface cholesterol

Estuaries are warming at twice the rate of oceans and atmosphere

Predicting the evolution of genetic mutations

Switching on a key cancer gene could provide first curative treatment for heart disease

Plant diversity in European forests is declining

Immune system alteration identified as key process in the male pregnancy of seahorses

Solar power plants get help from satellites to predict cloud cover

Technologies converge on interacting surfaces in protein complexes

Is the Earth's inner core oscillating and translating anomalously?

Physics news

Seeking 'soundwaves' in the superfluid order parameter

A Swinburne University of Technology study published this week examines the propagation of energy as sound waves in a quantum gas, revealing for the first time strong variations in the nature of the sound wave as a function of temperature.

New electronic cooling technology to enable miniaturization of quantum computers

VTT researchers have successfully demonstrated a new electronic refrigeration technology that could enable major leaps in the development of quantum computers. Present quantum computers require extremely complicated and large cooling infrastructure that is based on mixture of isotopes of helium. The new electronic cooling technology could replace these cryogenic liquid mixtures and enable miniaturization of quantum computers.

Discovery offers new avenue for next-generation data storage

The demands for data storage and processing have grown exponentially as the world becomes increasingly connected, emphasizing the need for new materials capable of more efficient data storage and data processing.

Researchers develop fast, micrometer-size electro-optical modulator

Researchers at the George Washington University developed and demonstrated for the first time a silicon-based electro-optical modulator that is smaller, as fast as and more efficient than state-of-the-art technologies. By adding indium tin oxide (ITO)—a transparent conductive oxide found in touchscreen displays and solar cells—to a silicon photonic chip platform, the researchers were able to create a compact device 1 micrometer in size and able to yield gigahertz-fast, or 1 billion times per second, signal modulation.

Novel 3-D imaging technology makes fluorescence microscopy more efficient

Scientists have been using fluorescence microscopy to study the inner workings of biological cells and organisms for decades. However, many of these platforms are often too slow to follow the biological action in 3-D; and too damaging to the living biological specimens with strong light illumination.

Astronomy and Space news

Galactic bulge modeling sheds light on galaxy evolution

Using data from the CALIFA Integral Field Spectroscopy (IFS) survey and advanced modeling tools, researchers from Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço (IA) have obtained important results about the central spherical component (the bulge) in spiral galaxies like the Milky Way, shedding new light on the understanding of galactic evolution. The results are published in the latest issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Methane forms under space conditions in laboratory

An international team of astronomers has shown in a laboratory at Leiden University (the Netherlands) that methane can form on icy dust particles in space. The possibility had existed for quite some time, but because the conditions in space were difficult to simulate, it was not possible to prove this under relevant space conditions. The researchers will publish their findings Monday evening in the journal, Nature Astronomy.

Cosmic tempest: Astronomers detect most energetic outflow from a distant quasar

Researchers using the Gemini North telescope on Hawai'i's Maunakea have detected the most energetic wind from any quasar ever measured. This outflow, which is travelling at nearly 13% of the speed of light, carries enough energy to dramatically impact star formation across an entire galaxy. The extragalactic tempest lay hidden in plain sight for 15 years before being unveiled by innovative computer modeling and new data from the international Gemini Observatory.

Time-traveling ESA team explore a virtual moon

If someone had been watching as Apollo 15's Falcon Lunar Module headed down beside the moon's Appenine mountains in 1971, then this is what they would have seen. ESA researchers, working with UK company Timelab Technologies, are recreating historic missions to the moon in high-definition 360 virtual reality, as a way of gaining new insights from vintage instrument data—as well as helping plan new missions for later this decade.

Image: Power glove

Spacewalks are a risky business and wearing a spacesuit that protects against the vacuum outside our atmosphere is cumbersome. This glove is a mockup concept for astronauts that adds extra functions to the five fingers.

Technology news

Teaching the iCub robot to express basic human emotions

As robots make their way into a variety of environments and start interacting with humans on a regular basis, they should be able to communicate with users as effectively as possible. Over the past decade or so, researchers worldwide have thus been developing machine learning-based models and other computational techniques that could enhance human-robot communications.

New scavenger technology allows robots to 'eat' metal for energy

When electronics need their own power sources, there are two basic options: batteries and harvesters. Batteries store energy internally, but are therefore heavy and have a limited supply. Harvesters, such as solar panels, collect energy from their environments. This gets around some of the downsides of batteries but introduces new ones, in that they can only operate in certain conditions and can't turn that energy into useful power very quickly.

Researchers design intelligent microsystem for faster, more sustainable industrial chemistry

The synthesis of plastic precursors, such as polymers, involves specialized catalysts. However, the traditional batch-based method of finding and screening the right ones for a given result consumes liters of solvent, generates large quantities of chemical waste, and is an expensive, time-consuming process involving multiple trials.

Six-junction solar cell sets two world records for efficiency

Scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have fabricated a solar cell with an efficiency of nearly 50%.

$5 Raspberry Pi boards power ventilators in COVID-19 fight

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is stepping up production of its Zero single-core boards to help combat the coronavirus.

Coronavirus fallout: Amazon is placing new online grocery customers on a waiting list

Amazon is placing new grocery delivery customers on a waitlist as it pushes social distancing and grapples with the onslaught of digital orders placed during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Amazon adds 75,000 job openings on top of the 100,000 it already filled in a month

Amazon hired 100,000 people in less than a month to bolster its novel coronavirus response and said Monday it is planning to add 75,000 more jobs in its warehouses, grocery stores and delivery network.

3-D printable free mask design is the first of its kind to get federal approval

Onetime Microsoft executive Jonathan Roberts knows that not all 3-D-printed personal protective equipment being produced for the nation's coronavirus response is created equal.

Twitter data may offer policy makers a glimpse into demand for renewable energy

Tweets could one day help policy makers and energy companies better communicate in near real-time to help customers make better sustainable energy choices, according to a team of researchers.

Why is it so hard to stop COVID-19 misinformation spreading on social media?

Even before the coronavirus arrived to turn life upside down and trigger a global infodemic, social media platforms were under growing pressure to curb the spread of misinformation.

Apple's next iPhones will take design cues from the latest iPad Pro, report says

Apple reportedly has plans to introduce at least four new iPhones this year and some are inspired by the latest iPad Pro.

Cloud sourcing electricity usage

Sometimes an outside perspective is all it takes to tackle a problem in an innovative way. And inferring electricity usage in a building without using a meter could be as simple as correlating average occupancy at a given time.

Renault closing main China business, will focus on electrics

Renault SA said Tuesday it will shut down its main China business and focus on electric and commercial vehicles.

French court faults Amazon over virus safety, limits deliveries

Amazon faces having its operations reduced to a bare minimum in France after a court ruled the e-commerce giant can deliver only essential goods while the company evaluates its workers' risk of coronavirus exposure.

Researchers build disinfection robot to aid cleaners in COVID-19 outbreak

Researchers from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have developed a semi-autonomous robot that can disinfect large surfaces quickly. The researchers are planning to have public trials to support Singapore's fight against COVID-19.

Supercomputing future wind power rise

Wind power surged worldwide in 2019, but will it sustain? More than 340,000 wind turbines generated over 591 gigawatts globally. In the U.S., wind powered the equivalent of 32 million homes and sustained 500 U.S. factories. What's more, in 2019 wind power grew by 19 percent, thanks to both booming offshore and onshore projects in the U.S. and China.

Airline revenues to nosedive by 55% in 2020: IATA

Airline passenger revenues are set to plunge by 55 percent, or $314 billion, in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Air Transport Association said Tuesday.

Hunger for 'good news' grows as pandemic woes deepen

Battered by grim headlines, horrifying statistics and deep uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic, many people worldwide are trying to lift their spirits by seeking out "good news."

Google Doodle honors those 'on the front lines': Grocery store workers

Google's search page honors workers who are putting their lives on the line during the coronavirus crisis.

Scientists says Corona apps can be a risk

While many governments around the world want to reduce the spread of the corona virus with apps that track people's behavior, researchers warn that such apps may pose threats to human rights and freedoms.

Robots to use new AI tool to evaluate all possibilities before making decisions

Just like humans, when robots have a decision to make there are often many options and hundreds of potential outcomes. Robots have been able to simulate a handful of these outcomes to figure out which course of action will be the most likely to lead to success. But what if one of the other options were equally likely to succeed—and safer?

Boeing reports more order cancelations in March

Boeing saw a spike in canceled plane orders in March, due to the travails of the 737 MAX as well as the hit to air travel from COVID-19, the company reported Tuesday.

Hungarian airline Wizz Air scraps 1,000 jobs

Hungarian budget airline Wizz Air said on Tuesday it is cutting 1,000 jobs and cutting salaries for the remaining staff as it struggles to cope with Europe's coronavirus lockdown.

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