Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Apr 22

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for April 22, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

The surface stress of biomedical silicones is a stimulant of cellular response

Bio-inspired algorithms to produce collaborative behaviors for robot teams

Astronomers probe chemical composition of globular cluster NGC 6652

Researchers use electrostatic charge to assemble particles into materials mimicking gemstones, salt

Excessive rain triggered 2018 KÄ«lauea volcano eruption, study finds

Tectonic plates started shifting earlier than previously thought

Human-caused warming will cause more slow-moving hurricanes, warn climatologists

Tiny sensors fit 30,000 to a penny, transmit data from living tissue

Electronic skin fully powered by sweat can monitor health

Study reveals behavioral differences between bots and humans that could inform new machine learning algorithms

Scientists find bisulphates that curb efficacy of diesel engine catalysts

Study sheds light on unique culinary traditions of prehistoric hunter-gatherers

Study identifies potential drug treatments for telomere diseases

How SARS-CoV-2 gets into respiratory tissue—and how it may exploit one of our defenses

Microwaves power new technology for batteries, energy

Physics news

ATLAS Experiment measures the 'beauty' of the Higgs boson

Two years ago, the Higgs boson was observed decaying to a pair of beauty quarks (H→bb), moving its study from the "discovery era" to the "measurement era." By measuring the properties of the Higgs boson and comparing them to theoretical predictions, physicists can better understand this unique particle, and in the process, search for deviations from predictions that would point to new physics processes beyond our current understanding of particle physics.

Quantum research unifies two ideas offering an alternative route to topological superconductivity

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen, in collaboration with Microsoft Quantum researchers, have used a pencil-shaped semiconductor measuring only a few hundred nanometers in diameter to uncover a new route to topological superconductivity and Majorana zero modes. The study was recently published in Science.

A breakthrough in estimating the size of a (mostly hidden) network

A newly discovered connection between control theory and network dynamical systems could help estimate the size of a network even when a small portion is accessible.

New design could make fiber communications more energy efficient

Researchers say a new discovery on a U.S. Army project for optoelectronic devices could help make optical fiber communications more energy efficient.

Astronomy and Space news

Astronomers probe chemical composition of globular cluster NGC 6652

Using the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), Russian astronomers have conducted a chemical study of the galactic globular cluster NGC 6652. Results of the study, presented in a paper published April 13 on, deliver more hints about the chemical composition of this cluster.

Hungry galaxies grow fat on the flesh of their neighbours

Galaxies grow large by eating their smaller neighbours, new research reveals.

USGS releases first-ever comprehensive geologic map of the Moon

Have you ever wondered what kind of rocks make up those bright and dark splotches on the moon? Well, the USGS has just released a new authoritative map to help explain the 4.5-billion-year-old history of our nearest neighbor in space.

New satellite to continue 40 years of solar measurements

Researchers at CU Boulder are playing a major role in the next phase of a more than four decades-long campaign to take the temperature of the sun.

Technology news

Bio-inspired algorithms to produce collaborative behaviors for robot teams

Researchers at the University of Surrey have recently developed self-organizing algorithms inspired by biological morphogenesis that can generate formations for multi-robot teams, adapting to the environment they are moving in. Their recent study, featured in IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems, was partly funded by the European Commission's FP7 program.

Tiny sensors fit 30,000 to a penny, transmit data from living tissue

Theologians once pondered how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. Not to be outdone, Cornell researchers who build nanoscale electronics have developed microsensors so tiny, they can fit 30,000 on one side of a penny.

Electronic skin fully powered by sweat can monitor health

One of the ways we experience the world around us is through our skin. From sensing temperature and pressure to pleasure or pain, the many nerve endings in our skin tell us a great deal.

Study reveals behavioral differences between bots and humans that could inform new machine learning algorithms

Bots are social media accounts which are controlled by artificial software rather than by humans and serve a variety of purposes from news aggregation to automated customer assistance for online retailers. However, bots have recently been under the spotlight as they are regularly employed as part of large-scale efforts on social media to manipulate public opinion, such as during electoral campaigns.

Computer scientists create a 'laboratory' to improve streaming video

In these days of social distancing, as millions cloister at home to binge-watch TV over the internet, Stanford researchers have unveiled an algorithm that demonstrates a significant improvement in streaming video technology.

With lidar and artificial intelligence, road status clears up after a disaster

Consider the days after a hurricane strikes. Trees and debris are blocking roads, bridges are destroyed, and sections of roadway are washed out. Emergency managers soon face a bevy of questions: How can supplies get delivered to certain areas? What's the best route for evacuating survivors? Which roads are too damaged to remain open?

AMD announces $99 Ryzen 3 desktop CPU

AMD has announced the release of two Zen 2 core architecture processors geared towards gamers and business users at budget-friendly prices.

Facebook takes $5.7 bn stake in India's Jio digital platforms

Facebook has taken a $5.7 billion stake in the Jio digital platforms business of India's richest man, Mukesh Ambani, in one of the country's biggest foreign investments, the companies said Wednesday.

Researchers demonstrate bi-directional wireless charging on hybrid UPS truck

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in late February demonstrated a 20-kilowatt bi-directional wireless charging system installed on a UPS medium-duty, plug-in hybrid electric delivery truck. The project is the first of its kind to achieve power transfer at this rate across an 11-inch air gap, advancing the technology to a new class of larger vehicles with higher ground clearance.

Interactive tool helps people see why staying home matters during a pandemic

Social distancing has become one of the most impactful strategies in the battle to contain the spread of COVID-19, and a new interactive modeling tool can help people understand why it is so important to "flatten the curve." Known as VERA, the artificial intelligence (AI) application was developed by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology to raise awareness about why it matters that individuals distance themselves during an infectious disease outbreak.

Researchers developing solutions for smart city infrastructures, autonomous vehicles

FIU researchers are working to solve the problems of tomorrow. Specifically, the future of smart city infrastructures and autonomous vehicles, vehicles that can drive themselves.

Simple steps could help reduce aviation accidents

Flight into inclement weather remains a significant cause of aviation fatalities, particularly for small aircraft, according to a recent study.

Artificial intelligence passes on skills at the workplace

How can the knowledge and skills of an experienced employee be effortlessly passed on to new employees? Researchers at Aalto University have tackled this problem that many industrial companies have experienced by developing a toolchain based on artificial intelligence and computer vision. It would automatically create training materials such as instructional video and augmented reality (AR) based real-time assistance applications.

Robots are playing many roles in the COVID-19 crisis—and offering lessons for future disasters

A cylindrical robot rolls into a treatment room to allow health care workers to remotely take temperatures and measure blood pressure and oxygen saturation from patients hooked up to a ventilator. Another robot that looks like a pair of large fluorescent lights rotated vertically travels throughout a hospital disinfecting with ultraviolet light. Meanwhile a cart-like robot brings food to people quarantined in a 16-story hotel. Outside, quadcopter drones ferry test samples to laboratories and watch for violations of stay-at-home restrictions.

Facebook rolls out Messenger Kids to 70 new countries

Facebook on Wednesday rolled out its Messenger Kids application to 70 new countries, saying it can help children deal with the challenges of distance learning and isolation during the virus lockdowns.

How we end up 'confined' on YouTube

Everyone who has used the YouTube video platform has already had the feeling: the successive recommendations generated by the site's algorithm sometimes "confine" us in a bubble of similar content.

Sensor system identifies cause of alarm in hard-to-access industrial plants

When sensors embedded within industrial plants trigger an alarm at night, maintenance teams have to respond immediately. But there's always the chance that this is just another false alarm. A new sensor system developed at Saarland University is able to analyse signal patterns and identify the exact cause of the disturbance. The team, led by Professor Dr. Uwe Hartmann of the Experimental Physics Department at Saarland University, has many years' experience in developing sensor systems and analysing signal patterns. When their system is used for the remote monitoring of perimeter fencing, it can precisely distinguish between those signals that are useful and those that are false alarms. The team has developed software that uses AI and machine learning techniques to enable their knowledge about signal pattern recognition to be applied not just to perimeter fencing systems, but also to a broad range of applications such as wind turbines and industrial process plants.

Delivery drones instead of postal vans? Study reveals drones still consume too much energy

When delivering parcels, drones often have a poorer energy balance than traditional delivery vans, as shown by a new study conducted at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. In densely populated areas, drones consume comparatively high amounts of energy and their range is strongly influenced by wind conditions. In rural areas, however, they may be able to compete with diesel-powered delivery vans. The study has been published in the journal Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment.

Robots on the rise in the COVID-19 economy

The streets are empty of cars in Ann Arbor, but robot traffic is up.

New Army tech may turn low-cost printers into high-tech producers

The Army has a new type of multi-polymer filament for commonly-used desktop 3-D printers. This advance may save money and facilitate fast printing of critical parts at the point of need.

Rush for thermal cameras boosts Flir before factories reopen

First, it was ventilators for hospitals. Now, it's thermal body scanners for factories.

Companies turning to virtual conferences to stage annual meetings

It is annual meeting season for public companies, but the coronavirus restrictions are quickening a trend toward virtual meetings.

As the use of facial recognition rises, so do privacy concerns. These glasses are designed to block the technology.

The chunky, thick-framed glasses Scott Urban makes in his Chicago workshop look like normal eye glasses, but when viewed on a security camera, the wearer's face becomes a shining orb.

Boeing to lay off 10% of workers in civil aviation: sources

Boeing plans to reduce the workforce in its civil aviation unit by 10 percent to cut costs as the coronavirus causes a crisis for airlines, two sources familiar with the matter told AFP.

For one Ukrainian startup, coronavirus means business is booming

The headquarters of Dmytro Voloshyn's startup in the historic centre of Kiev is eerily quiet. But online, his business is busier than ever.

Europe races to shield virus-hit firms from bargain hunters

Fears that cash-rich corporate raiders could use the coronavirus crisis to swoop on weakened European firms were perhaps best exemplified by Donald Trump's alleged bid for a German biotech firm working on a vaccine.

Virus-hit news industry needs tech giant aid: UK union

The main union representing journalists in Britain is calling on the government to triple a tax on global tech giants to support the industry, as it faces fresh shocks from the coronavirus outbreak.

Former Baidu executive suspected of corruption

A former executive at China's internet search giant Baidu is being investigated for corruption, the company said Wednesday.

JAL cuts profit forecast more than 40% as virus bites

Japanese Airlines on Wednesday slashed its forecast for annual net profits by 43 percent because of the coronavirus, making it the latest carrier to fly into virus-related turbulence as global tourism plummets.

Carmaker SEAT to test all employees for virus before restarting

Spanish carmaker SEAT, a unit of the VW group, said Wednesday it would test all of its 15,000 employees for the novel coronavirus before gradually resuming production.

Africa's biggest airline fights for 'survival' amid pandemic: CEO

In early March, Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam told an aviation conference in Addis Ababa the coronavirus pandemic was "a temporary problem"—comparable to a natural disaster or a spike in oil prices.

New data suggest COVID-19 is shifting the burden of energy costs to households

The global reach of COVID-19 is impacting almost everybody, and New York City is squarely at the epicenter. The metropolis is largely shut down, and while some have left the city, most residents remain, sheltering in place under a statewide order that went into effect on March 22. Excepting essential workers, almost everyone else is home nearly 24/7, conducting work, schooling and everything else in life—all from the confines of a New York City apartment.

The future of cities in the face of twin crises

Before January this year, many people around the world had never heard of Wuhan. Today, this Chinese megacity—population 11 million—has achieved notoriety as the birthplace of a pandemic.

Facebook to label national origin of popular posts

Facebook said Wednesday it will label posts from popular accounts with their geographic origin in an attempt to curb political misinformation by foreign-based pages that mimic legitimate groups and political parties.

Delta warns of need to 'resize' after big loss on virus shutdowns

Delta Air Lines will need to "resize" the company in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, executives said Wednesday, as they sketched out a picture of airline industry recovery that is expected to be slow and choppy.

Study shows senior drivers prefer watching videos to learn driver assistance technologies

Most vehicles today come with their fair share of bells and whistles, ranging from adaptive cruise-control features to back-up cameras. These advanced driver-assistance systems, or ADAS, are in place to make driving easier and safer. However, increasing evidence shows that older seniors, who are also an age group at higher risk for motor vehicle crashes, do not use many of these driver-assistance technologies.

Delta's 1Q was bad, but it will get worse for US airlines

The biggest and most profitable U.S. airline just posted its first quarterly loss in more than five years. Now things are going to get really bad.

Nation-backed hackers tune attacks to COVID-19 fears: Google

Google on Wednesday warned that nation-backed hackers are exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to target health care organizations and those working to fight the pandemic.

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