Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Apr 21

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

Spotlight Stories Headlines

This is PATRICK: Meet the brittle star-inspired robot that can crawl underwater

The realization of a 1-D magneto-optical trap of polyatomic molecules

'Lucky' MESSENGER data upends long-held idea about Venus' atmosphere

Testing hypotheses about the role of neural circuits in insect associative learning

The evolution of the ear canal in an ancient crocodile relative

Scientists lead study of galaxy's 'water worlds'

'Nanocardboard' flyers could serve as martian atmospheric probes

Lizards develop new 'love language': Animal chemical signals shift after only four generations

What's old is new again: Researchers repurpose classic chemotherapy drug to overcome cancer therapy resistance

Ghost moves towards communication: Correlated unpolarized photons enable camouflaged secure communication

Organic memory devices show promise for flexible, wearable, personalized computing

Ultrasound-assisted molecule delivery looks to preserve blood for years

New insight into how a genetic change increases the risk of schizophrenia

Researchers link age-related DNA modifications to susceptibility to eye disease

Geolocators give new insights into nesting behavior of godwits

Physics news

The realization of a 1-D magneto-optical trap of polyatomic molecules

Researchers at the Harvard-MIT Center for Ultracold Atoms have recently demonstrated a one-dimensional (1-D) magneto-optical trap (MOT) of polar free radical calcium monohydroxide (CaOH). This technique, outlined in a paper published in Physical Review Letters, was realized by cooling CaOH using radiative laser cooling techniques.

Ghost moves towards communication: Correlated unpolarized photons enable camouflaged secure communication

Secure communication is an important and challenging topic for global digital data exchange and ensures the interaction of Internet of Things devices as well as private messaging between two parties. Parallel to the efforts made in the development of quantum computers, secure cryptographic systems are highly important, and novel communication schemes such as quantum cryptography are under development. Apart from quantum cryptography, chaos communication is another area of research that aims to realize the secure transfer of information on the basis of physical laws by exploiting two chaotic lasers and their synchronization, thus providing a measure of security directly on the physical layer.

Organic memory devices show promise for flexible, wearable, personalized computing

The advent of artificial intelligence, machine learning and the internet of things is expected to change modern electronics and bring forth the fourth Industrial Revolution. The pressing question for many researchers is how to handle this technological revolution.

Ultrasound-assisted molecule delivery looks to preserve blood for years

Ensuring adequate preservation of the millions of units of blood that are donated every year presents a challenge for blood banks, as blood can typically be stored for only six weeks after donation. A potential solution to the problem attempts to dry blood by using a sugar-based preservative that organisms living in some of Earth's most extreme environments produce to weather long periods of dryness. New work in ultrasound technology looks to provide a path to inserting these sugars into human red blood cells, in an effort to help them last for years.

Modelling wrinkling and buckling in materials that form the basis of flexible electronics

Flexible circuits have become a highly desirable commodity in modern technology, with applications in biotechnology, electronics, monitors and screens, being of particular importance. A new paper authored by John F. Niven, Department of Physics & Astronomy, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, published in EPJ E, aims to understand how materials used in flexible electronics behave under stress and strain, particularly, how they wrinkle and buckle.

New POP atomic clock design achieves state-of-the-art frequency stability

Chinese researchers have developed a pulsed optically pumped (POP) atomic clock with a frequency stability of 4.7 x 10-15 at 104 seconds based on a new design.

Mitch Allmond: Shaping a better fundamental understanding of matter

In the Physics Division of the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, James ("Mitch") Allmond conducts experiments and uses theoretical models to advance our understanding of the structure of atomic nuclei, which are made of various combinations of protons and neutrons (nucleons).

Astronomy and Space news

'Lucky' MESSENGER data upends long-held idea about Venus' atmosphere

Philosopher Nicholas Rescher once wrote, "Scientific discoveries are often made not on the basis of some well-contrived plan of investigation, but through some stroke of sheer luck."

Scientists lead study of galaxy's 'water worlds'

Astrophysical observations have shown that Neptune-like water-rich exoplanets are common in our galaxy. These "water worlds" are believed to be covered with a thick layer of water, hundreds to thousands of miles deep, above a rocky mantle.

NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover gets balanced

With 13 weeks to go before the launch period of NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover opens, final preparations of the spacecraft continue at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On April 8, the assembly, test and launch operations team completed a crucial mass properties test of the rover.

Lyrids meteor shower reaches its peak

April 21 and 22 is the peak of a shower of meteors—or shooting stars—known as the Lyrids.

A tale of two telescopes: WFIRST and Hubble

NASA's Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), planned for launch in the mid-2020s, will create enormous cosmic panoramas. Using them, astronomers will explore everything from our solar system to the edge of the observable universe, including planets throughout our galaxy and the nature of dark energy.

Rotating galaxies galore: New results from ALPINE reveal what appear to be spiral galaxies in the infant universe

New results from an ambitious sky survey program, called ALPINE, reveal that rotating disk-shaped galaxies may have existed in large numbers earlier in the universe than previously thought.

Technology news

This is PATRICK: Meet the brittle star-inspired robot that can crawl underwater

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have recently created PATRICK, an untethered soft robot that artificially replicates the structure and behavior of the brittle star, a marine invertebrate closely related to starfish. This unique bio-inspired robot, presented in a paper pre-published on arXiv, can crawl underwater using five legs actuated by shape-memory alloy (SMA) wires.

'Nanocardboard' flyers could serve as martian atmospheric probes

This summer, NASA plans to launch its next Mars rover, Perseverance, which will carry with it the first aircraft to ever fly on another planet, the Mars Helicopter. As the first of its kind, the Mars Helicopter will carry no instruments and collect no data—NASA describes merely flying it all as "high-risk, high-reward" research.

Research: A solar window will soon do the same job as a standard rooftop solar panel

Semi-transparent solar cells that can be incorporated into window glass are a "game-changer" that could transform architecture, urban planning and electricity generation, Australian scientists say in a paper in Nano Energy.

Ad hoc team of engineers and doctors races to fill COVID-19-related ventilator shortage

It was clear early on in the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic that a critical need in the coming weeks and months would be for ventilators, the potentially life-saving devices that keep air flowing into a patient whose ability to breathe is failing.

Engineers develop simpler, faster way to build complex and better-performing 3-D electronics

UCLA engineers have developed a faster, simpler 3-D-printing technique to build electronics, trimming their manufacturing time from hours down to a few minutes. The method can be used to print electronics into complex shapes in volumes that could be used for antenna arrays, prosthetics, sensors and robots. A study detailing the advance was published in Nature Electronics.

Engineers develop way to improve efficiency and heat tolerance of devices

When it comes to increasing electric storage efficiency and electric breakdown strength—the ability of an electrical system to operate at higher voltage and temperatures with great efficiency—increasing one traditionally has led to a decrease in the other. Penn State researchers, led by Qiming Zhang, distinguished professor of electrical engineering, recently developed a scalable method that relies on engineered materials to increase both properties.

High-performance electrolyte solves battery puzzle

Lithium ion batteries have already become an integral part of our everyday life. However, our energy-hungry society demands longer life, faster charging, and lighter batteries for a variety of applications from electric vehicles to portable electronics, including lightening the load a soldier carries as numerous electronics become adopted by the Army.

Mazda files patent for hybrid rotary engine (Update)

Rotary engines that once powered the gorgeous Mazda RX-7 two-seater, rear-wheel drive coupe—a five-time winner of a coveted spot on Car and Driver's Ten Best autos list—were phased out by 2012. Their popularity in the Seventies and Eighties was boosted by their compact design and low weight, but they lost favor due to poor fuel efficiency in an increasingly environmentally conscious era.

Daimler, Volvo in 1.2-bn-euro deal to make hydrogen batteries: statement

German automobile group Daimler said Tuesday it was partnering with Sweden's Volvo to make hydrogen batteries for trucks, as car giants accelerate a push to wean vehicles from fossil fuels.

Apple Music expands to 52 new countries in global services push

Apple Music is being expanded to 52 additional countries and territories in a push to broaden service revenue streams for the iPhone maker, the company said Tuesday.

Virus upends outsourcing as firms 'reshore', embrace AI

Coronavirus is permanently shaking up the global outsourcing industry as lockdowns from Bangalore to Manila prompt firms to "reshore" jobs and, with AI, to move further away from needing humans at all.

Researchers design open-source ventilator for use in low- and middle-income countries

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a team at the University of Cambridge has designed an open-source ventilator in partnership with local clinicians, engineers and manufacturers across Africa that is focused to address the specific needs for treating COVID-19 patients and is a fully functioning system for use after the pandemic.

Will smartphones help us keep COVID-19 under control?

The smartphones carried in so many pockets and purses could play a key role in keeping COVID-19 under control as the nation cautiously reopens the economy.

NASA data powers energy saving decisions

NASA's long-term, global view of Earth from space includes data on sunlight, wind, temperature and precipitation, all key elements in understanding how our planet works. That same, information is also being put to very practical use on Earth by improving the energy efficiency of buildings and siting renewable energy technology like wind turbines and solar panels.

How technology can help identify a 'safe' workforce and protect personal privacy

As policymakers and business leaders grapple with how to restart the economy and bring employees back to work in the shadow of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, a new white paper by MIT Professor Alex "Sandy" Pentland suggests that digital tools that certify a person's health status can be used to create "safe" environments for workers and customers—while also protecting people's personal privacy.

New algorithm to help process biological images

Skoltech researchers have presented a new biological image processing method that accurately picks out specific biological objects in complex images. Their results will be presented as an oral talk at the high-profile computer vision conference, CVPR 2020.

Linking self-driving cars to traffic signals might help pedestrians give them the green light

Automated vehicles don't have human operators to communicate their driving intentions to pedestrians at intersections. My team's research on pedestrians' perceptions of safety shows their trust of traffic lights tends to override their fear of self-driving cars. This suggests one way to help pedestrians trust and safely interact with autonomous vehicles may be to link the cars' driving behavior to traffic lights.

Carbon dioxide sensor can lower energy use, reduce utility costs

Walk in a room, the light goes on. Most people are familiar with the motion sensors that detect activity and then turn on the lights.

Cow poop could fuel California's clean-energy future

Lyle Schlyer grinned as a river of frothing manure oozed down a concrete channel, the murky greenish fluid soon disappearing into a storm drain-like hole.

HBO Max streaming service to launch May 27

Streaming platform HBO Max—expected to be a major player in the crowded online entertainment market—will launch on May 27, WarnerMedia announced Tuesday.

IBM shares slip as revenue down and forecast pulled

IBM shares slipped Tuesday as the market reacted to the business computing veteran reporting a decline in quarterly revenue and pulled its forecast for the year due to the pandemic tumult.

Google to make online shopping service free to merchants

Google is opening its online shopping service to merchants free of charge as it competes with Amazon in precious e-commerce and digital ads.

Virgin Australia collapses under coronavirus strain

Cash-strapped Virgin Australia collapsed Tuesday, making it the largest carrier yet to buckle under the strain of the coronavirus pandemic, which has ravaged the global airline industry.

Amazon workers to strike over 'unsafe' conditions amid virus

Hundreds of Amazon employees are expected to strike from Tuesday to protest conditions they say are unsafe and demand better protection in the workplace against the coronavirus pandemic.

The robots weeding organic farms and patrolling for greenhouse pests

Robots that use artificial intelligence to recognise the health of fruit and vegetable crops and when they're ready to harvest are being trialled to help small, organic and greenhouse farmers with weeding and patrolling for pests.

How contactless payment options can help during pandemic

In early March, the World Health Organization recommended the use of digital and contactless payments instead of cash to help limit exposure to the coronavirus.

Can Twitter anticipate attacks against Asians and Asian Americans?

University of Rochester computer scientists are gleaning a wealth of information from Twitter users to document the social impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Three things Australia should do to secure access to treatments, vaccines, tests and devices

Patents and related intellectual property rights can present formidable barriers to procuring medicines, vaccines, diagnostic tests and medical devices.

Is the Australian government's coronavirus app a risk to privacy?

Few people can fault the government's zeal in staring down the coronavirus and steering a path for Australia to emerge on the other side ready to do business again.

Slow restart for car factory in French virus lockdown

Large white tents greeted workers at a Toyota factory in northern France when they arrived back to work Tuesday after weeks of closure due to the country's strict coronavirus-busting lockdown.

SBA reports data breach in disaster loan application website

The Small Business Administration reported a potential data breach last month in its website that handles disaster loan applications.

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