Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Apr 28

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for April 28, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A new flexible piezoelectric composite for 3-D printing

Porous carbon nanofibers demonstrate exceptional capacitive deionization

Study identifies the most metal-poor stars in the Omega Centauri cluster

Conduct-A-Bot system uses muscle signals to enable more natural human-robot communication

Coal reveals a sophisticated side: Dirty carbon could be used to make a variety of useful devices

Quantum gases won't take the heat

New device simulates feel of walls, solid objects in virtual reality

Hugs and kisses: Research connects affection, attachment style and marriage satisfaction

A step toward a better way to make gene therapies to attack cancer, genetic disorders

Researchers use machine learning to unearth underground Instagram 'pods'

Making sense of the viral multiverse

Model shows recycling could dramatically slash cities' need for fresh water resources

Rat spinal cords control neural function in biobots

A great new way to paint 3-D-printed objects

Beta cells from stem cells: Potential for cell replacement therapy

Physics news

Quantum gases won't take the heat

The quantum world blatantly defies intuitions that we've developed while living among relatively large things, like cars, pennies and dust motes. In the quantum world, tiny particles can maintain a special connection over any distance, pass through barriers and simultaneously travel down multiple paths.

Building block for quantum computers more common than previously believed

Advanced, fault-tolerant quantum computers may be closer to reach than scientists have projected, according to recent advances reported by Johns Hopkins researchers in a new study recently published in Physical Review Letters.

Wide bandgap semiconductor devices based on silicon carbide may revolutionize electronics

Growth of high-quality substrates for microelectronic applications is one of the key elements helping drive society toward a more sustainable green economy. Today, silicon plays a central role within the semiconductor industry for microelectronic and nanoelectronic devices.

Correlations in COVID-19 growth point to universal strategies for slowing spread

Many months since the first COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China, countries continue to explore solutions that are effective at managing the spread of the virus and culturally feasible to implement. Chaos theory analysis has provided insight on how well infection prevention strategies can be adopted by multiple countries.

Textbook formulas for describing heat flow characteristics, crucial in many industries, are oversimplified, study shows

Whether it's water flowing across a condenser plate in an industrial plant, or air whooshing through heating and cooling ducts, the flow of fluid across flat surfaces is a phenomenon at the heart of many of the processes of modern life. Yet, aspects of this process have been poorly understood, and some have been taught incorrectly to generations of engineering students, a new analysis shows.

Scientists explore the power of radio waves to help control fusion reactions

A key challenge to capturing and controlling fusion energy on Earth is maintaining the stability of plasma—the electrically charged gas that fuels fusion reactions—and keeping it millions of degrees hot to launch and maintain fusion reactions. This challenge requires controlling magnetic islands, bubble-like structures that form in the plasma in doughnut-shaped tokamak fusion facilities. These islands can grow, cool the plasma and trigger disruptions—the sudden release of energy stored in the plasma—that can halt fusion reactions and seriously damage the fusion facilities that house them.

Astronomy and Space news

Study identifies the most metal-poor stars in the Omega Centauri cluster

By analyzing spectroscopic data, astronomers have investigated the globular cluster Omega Centauri, aiming to find a population of stars with very low metallicity. The study resulted in the detection of the 11 most metal-poor stars in this cluster. The finding is reported in a paper published April 20 on arXiv.

The weight of the universe

Bochum cosmologists headed by Professor Hendrik Hildebrandt have gained new insights into the density and structure of matter in the universe. Several years ago, Hildebrandt had already been involved in a research consortium that had pointed out discrepancies in the data between different groups. The values determined for matter density and structure differed depending on the measurement method. A new analysis, which included additional infrared data, made the differences stand out even more. They could indicate that this is the flaw in the Standard Model of Cosmology.

TAMA300 blazes trail for improved gravitational wave astronomy

Researchers at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) have used the infrastructure of the former TAMA300 gravitational wave detector in Mitaka, Tokyo, to demonstrate a new technique to reduce quantum noise in detectors. This new technique will increase the sensitivity of the detectors comprising a collaborative worldwide gravitational wave network, allowing them to observe fainter waves.

Hubble captures breakup of comet ATLAS

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has provided astronomers with the sharpest view yet of the breakup of Comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS). The telescope resolved roughly 30 fragments of the fragile comet on 20 April and 25 pieces on 23 April.

Technology news

A new flexible piezoelectric composite for 3-D printing

Researchers at Peking University, Southern University of Science and Technology and the University of Jinan in China have recently designed a ceramic-polymer composite that can be used to print complex 3-D grid architectures. This composite, first presented in a paper published in Nano Energy, was found to exhibit a number of desirable properties, including high flexibility and a high electromechanical energy conversion rate.

Conduct-A-Bot system uses muscle signals to enable more natural human-robot communication

Albert Einstein famously postulated that "the only real valuable thing is intuition," arguably one of the most important keys to understanding intention and communication.

New device simulates feel of walls, solid objects in virtual reality

Today's virtual reality systems can create immersive visual experiences, but seldom do they enable users to feel anything—particularly walls, appliances and furniture. A new device developed at Carnegie Mellon University, however, uses multiple strings attached to the hand and fingers to simulate the feel of obstacles and heavy objects.

Researchers use machine learning to unearth underground Instagram 'pods'

Likes, shares, followers, and comments are the currency of online social networks. Posts with high levels of engagement are prioritized by content curation algorithms, allowing social network "influencers" to monetize the size and loyalty of their audience.

Next-generation batteries take major step toward commercial viability

Lithium-sulfur batteries have been hailed as the next big step in battery technology, promising significantly longer use for everything from cellphones to electric vehicles on a single charge, while being more environmentally sustainable to produce than current lithium-ion batteries. However, these batteries don't last as long as their lithium-ion counterparts, degrading over time.

Apple steering towards smart automobile windows

A recent patent filing offers a window into future forays by Apple into automotive design. Apple is exploring artificial intelligence systems that will enable future motorists to enjoy windows that continuously change characteristics as they drive.

Digital-ad downturn may complicate life for Google, Facebook

Demand for digital advertising is shriveling after a decade of explosive growth amid the pandemic-fueled downturn. That could complicate things for Google and Facebook, who for the first time may have to contend with revenues that are actually shrinking.

Game on: Japan group offers retro consoles to cooped-up kids

A group of Japanese retro video game enthusiasts is hoping that lockdown-induced boredom will convert today's children into fans of yesteryear's games, offering 100 classic Nintendo consoles.

US airlines announce new policies to slow coronavirus spread

Major US airlines announced Monday new health and safety measures to protect in-flight personnel and passengers from the coronavirus, even as states begin lifting restrictions.

How artificial intelligence is helping scientists find a coronavirus treatment

More than 50,000 academic articles have been written about COVID-19 since the virus appeared in November.

Expert discusses the major surge in internet traffic triggered by physical distancing

With various physical distancing guidelines in place throughout the world as a means to curb the spread of COVID-19, the internet has experienced a dramatic spike in overall traffic. MIT Professor Tom Leighton is chief executive officer and co-founder of Akamai Technologies, a global content delivery network, cybersecurity, and cloud service company that provides web and internet security services. At MIT he specializes in applied mathematics in the Department of Mathematics and is a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). The Department of Mathematics Communications spoke to Leighton about his company's response to the world's increased reliance on the internet during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cybersecurity experts examine COVIDSafe tracing app

Cybersecurity expert, Dr. Suranga Seneviratne believes the government app adequately addresses privacy concerns and can be considered low-risk given it cannot access sensitive data, such as personal contacts and location.

Love under lockdown: Facebook 'virtual dates' to help users find quarantine dream partner

Facebook is bolstering its dating service to help members find love while under lockdown orders.

Apple reportedly delaying production of its 2020 iPhones

Apple is reportedly delaying production of this year's crop of iPhones, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on businesses around the world.

Verizon, AT&T and Comcast extend no late fee, termination policies through June 30

Verizon, the nation's largest wireless company, said Monday it had extended their offers not to terminate service nor charge late fees to customers who are struggling with their monthly bills because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Machine learning tool could provide unexpected scientific insights into COVID-19

A team of materials scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) - scientists who normally spend their time researching things like high-performance materials for thermoelectrics or battery cathodes—have built a text-mining tool in record time to help the global scientific community synthesize the mountain of scientific literature on COVID-19 being generated every day.

YouTube expands fact-check panels in move against misinformation

YouTube on Tuesday began adding fact-check panels to search results in the US for videos on hot-topic claims shown to be bogus.

Team converts heat into electricity to power autonomous robots for months

An energy-efficient generator intended to power private residences could power autonomous military vehicles for months, according to Army researchers.

Google's growth slows as pandemic infests advertising market

Google reported its weakest revenue growth in nearly five years in the first quarter as the pandemic-driven recession began to shrivel its advertising sales.

US auto factories likely to stay closed another 2 weeks

Fiat Chrysler is backing off a planned May 4 restart at its North American factories because some U.S. states still will have stay-home orders in place.

Japan's ANA net profit dives 75% as virus hits air travel

Japanese airline ANA Holdings said Tuesday its annual net profit dived 75 percent, hit by massive falls in demand and cancellations caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

SAS airline slashes 5,000 jobs over corona crisis

Scandinavian airline SAS said Tuesday it would lay off up to 5,000 employees as the new coronavirus pandemic has wiped out demand for air travel which would not return to normal for "some years".

Amazon defends virus safety efforts amid fresh protests

Amazon on Monday defended its coronavirus safety efforts as it faced renewed protests from warehouse workers, which have drawn support from some of the US giant's technology employees.

Amazon extends closure of French warehouses to May 5

US online retail giant Amazon said Monday it will keep its French warehouses closed until May 5, after an appeals court confirmed a ruling restricting its deliveries during the coronavirus pandemic.

Low-cost carrier Wizz Air to restart flights from Vienna from Friday

Low-cost carrier Wizz Air said Tuesday it plans to restart flights from Vienna to 20 destinations over the coming weeks, with the first services running from Friday.

How to go carbon neutral: Lessons from a Danish island

When fish stocks crashed in the Baltic in the late 1990s, the islanders of Bornholm, Denmark, realised they had to reinvent themselves. Their rocky outcrop, some 200km east of Copenhagen, had been in decline for years. Its 40,000-plus inhabitants needed a new path, and they chose to pursue sustainability.

British Airways set to cut up to 12,000 jobs

British Airways is set to slash up to 12,000 jobs as part of a restructuring plan as the carrier grapples with the fallout of the novel coronavirus pandemic, its parent company IAG said Tuesday.

Hey, Alexa, who else is listening right now?

Voice-activated speakers like Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri and Google Home are becoming ubiquitous in homes, cars and offices.

Aviation industry warns of cargo capacity shortfall

The global aviation industry warned Tuesday of a severe cargo capacity shortage as airlines around the world slash jobs and suffer plunges in profits due to the coronavirus crisis.

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