Science X Newsletter Tuesday, May 5

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for May 5, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

FLIVVER: An insect-inspired algorithm to estimate the velocity of flying robots

Study: Could dark matter be hiding in existing data?

Life might survive, and thrive, in a hydrogen world: study

A new technique for the 3-D printing multimaterial devices

Coming soon: 16K video over USB-C

Strong X-ray pulsations detected from pulsar 3A 0726-260

Technique could enable cheaper fertilizer production

'Unnecessary' genetic complexity: A spanner in the works?

Recently recovered COVID-19 patients produce varying virus-specific antibodies

Exoplanets: How we'll search for signs of life

Engineers demonstrate next-generation solar cells can take the heat, maintain efficiency

An artificial 'tongue' of gold to taste maple syrup

China says launch of key new space rocket 'successful'

Fossil fuel-free jet propulsion with air plasmas

Identifying light sources using artificial intelligence

Physics news

Study: Could dark matter be hiding in existing data?

Dark matter has so far defied every type of detector designed to find it. Because of its huge gravitational footprint in space, we know dark matter must make up about 85 percent of the total mass of the universe, but we don't yet know what it's made of.

A new technique for the 3-D printing multimaterial devices

Three-dimensional printing techniques could potentially be used to fabricate a variety of objects with complex geometries, including electronic components. Most 3-D printing approaches developed so far, however, have merely proved effective for producing non-functional materials, as printing more sophisticated structures, including electronic devices, would require several stages of production and more demanding procedures.

Fossil fuel-free jet propulsion with air plasmas

Humans depend on fossil fuels as their primary energy source, especially in transportation. However, fossil fuels are both unsustainable and unsafe, serving as the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and leading to adverse respiratory effects and devastation due to global warming.

Identifying light sources using artificial intelligence

Identifying sources of light plays an important role in the development of many photonic technologies, such as lidar, remote sensing, and microscopy. Traditionally, identifying light sources as diverse as sunlight, laser radiation, or molecule fluorescence has required millions of measurements, particularly in low-light environments, which limits the realistic implementation of quantum photonic technologies.

Broadband enhancement relies on precise tilt

Quantum photonics involves a new type of technology that relies on photons, the elementary particle of light. These photons can potentially carry quantum bits of information over large distances. If the photon source could be placed on a single chip and made to produce photons at a high rate, this could enable high-speed quantum communication or information processing, which would be a major advance in information technologies.

Extreme ultraviolet imaging displays potential to enhance study of Alzheimer's disease

Scientists have published highly-detailed images of lab-grown neurons using Extreme Ultraviolet radiation that could aid the analysis of neurodegenerative diseases.

New ultrafast camera takes 70 trillion pictures per second

Just about everyone has had the experience of blinking while having their picture taken. The camera clicks, your eyes shut, and by the time they open again, the photo is ruined. A new ultrafast camera developed at Caltech, were it aimed at your lovely face, could also capture you looking like a dunce with your eyes shut, except instead of taking just one picture in the time it takes you to blink, it could take trillions of pictures.

Four years of calculations lead to new insights into muon anomaly

Two decades ago, an experiment at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory pinpointed a mysterious mismatch between established particle physics theory and actual lab measurements. When researchers gauged the behavior of a subatomic particle called the muon, the results did not agree with theoretical calculations, posing a potential challenge to the Standard Model—our current understanding of how the universe works.

A new law for metamaterials

Metamaterials, which are engineered to have properties not found in nature, have long been developed and studied because of their unique features and exciting applications. However, the physics behind their thermal emission properties have remained unclear to researchers—until now.

Light sensors detect larval pests munching on date palms

A red beetle, classed as the most destructive date palm pest, causes millions of dollars of annual economic losses worldwide. Now, a small team in Saudi Arabia has found a cost-effective approach that uses laser pulses to detect the very early stages of infestation, giving farmers enough time to save their trees.

High density imaging offers solution to counterfeiting

Governments, industry and consumers have faced the issue of counterfeit goods for a long time.

Researchers explore quantum computing to discover possible COVID-19 treatments

Quantum machine learning, an emerging field that combines machine learning and quantum physics, is the focus of research to discover possible treatments for COVID-19, according to Penn State researchers led by Swaroop Ghosh, the Joseph R. and Janice M. Monkowski Career Development Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Engineering. The researchers believe that this method could be faster and more economical than the current methods used for drug discovery.

Astronomy and Space news

Life might survive, and thrive, in a hydrogen world: study

As new and more powerful telescopes blink on in the next few years, astronomers will be able to aim the megascopes at nearby exoplanets, peering into their atmospheres to decipher their composition and to seek signs of extraterrestrial life. But imagine if, in our search, we did encounter alien organisms but failed to recognize them as actual life.

Strong X-ray pulsations detected from pulsar 3A 0726-260

Using AstroSat satellite, Indian astronomers have detected strong X-ray pulsations from an X-ray binary pulsar known as 3A 0726-260. The discovery, presented in a paper published April 26 on the arXiv pre-print repository, sheds more light on the nature of this poorly studied object.

Exoplanets: How we'll search for signs of life

Whether there is life elsewhere in the universe is a question people have pondered for millennia; and within the last few decades, great strides have been made in our search for signs of life outside of our solar system.

China says launch of key new space rocket 'successful'

China on Tuesday successfully launched a new rocket and prototype spacecraft, state media said, in a major test of the country's ambitions to operate a permanent space station and send astronauts to the Moon.

Astronomers find Jupiter-like cloud bands on closest brown dwarf

A team of astronomers has discovered that the closest known brown dwarf, Luhman 16A, shows signs of cloud bands similar to those seen on Jupiter and Saturn. This is the first time scientists have used the technique of polarimetry to determine the properties of atmospheric clouds outside of the solar system, or exoclouds.

Building satellites amid COVID-19

During these unprecedented times of the COVID-19 lockdown, trying to work poses huge challenges for us all. For those that can, remote working is now pretty much the norm, but this is obviously not possible for everybody. One might assume that like many industries, the construction and testing of satellites has been put on hold, but engineers and scientists are finding ways of continuing to prepare Europe's upcoming satellite missions such as the next Copernicus Sentinels.

Pursuing the future of lunar habitation

Shirley Dyke doesn't see the moon as a crater-covered sphere. She expects lunar dwellings to begin emerging in a decade, helping reach out to further space habitation.

Study reveals how spaceflight affects risk of blood clots in female astronauts

A study of female astronauts has assessed the risk of blood clots associated with spaceflight.

Technology news

FLIVVER: An insect-inspired algorithm to estimate the velocity of flying robots

Nature is one of the most valuable sources of inspiration for researchers developing new robots and computational techniques. For instance, in recent years, research teams worldwide have tried to artificially replicate the behaviors observed in insects and the biological mechanisms underpinning them in tiny robots.

Coming soon: 16K video over USB-C

USB4 will fully support the latest implementation of DisplayPort 2's warp-speed standards.

Engineers demonstrate next-generation solar cells can take the heat, maintain efficiency

Perovskites with their crystal structures and promising electro-optical properties could be the active ingredient that makes the next generation of low-cost, efficient, lightweight and flexible solar cells.

Wirelessly charging electric cars as they drive

Stanford engineers have taken a big step toward making it practical for electric cars to recharge as they speed along futuristic highways built to "refuel" vehicles wirelessly.

Supercapacitor promises storage, high power and fast charging

A new supercapacitor based on manganese oxide could combine the storage capacity of batteries with the high power and fast charging of other supercapacitors, according to researchers at Penn State and two universities in China.

Scientists take steps to create a 'racetrack memory,' potentially enhancing data storage

A team of scientists has taken steps to create a new form of digital data storage, a "Racetrack Memory," which opens the possibility to both bolster computer power and lead to the creation of smaller, faster, and more energy efficient computer memory technologies.

Cut-and-paste enters era of augmented reality

It was in 1901 that an author of children's books imagined an electronic image that could float over people and provide information about them. L. Frank Baum, who a year earlier penned "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," referred to that image as a character marker. In fact, it is the first known reference to what 120 years later would commonly be referred to as augmented reality.

Here come COVID-19 tracing apps—and privacy trade-offs

As governments around the world consider how to monitor new coronavirus outbreaks while reopening their societies, many are starting to bet on smartphone apps to help stanch the pandemic.

Top German court to hear first 'dieselgate' case

Herbert Gilbert is just one of tens of thousands of drivers who have sued Volkswagen for cheating emissions tests, but he will make legal history Tuesday when his "dieselgate" case becomes the first to reach Germany's top court.

General Electric to cut 10,000 aviation jobs

General Electric announced Monday it will cut an additional 10,000 jobs from its aviation sector as the coronavirus pandemic decimates the industry, forcing companies to cancel orders.

Fiat Chrysler swings to loss as virus hits production, sales

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on Tuesday reported a first-quarter net loss of 1.7 billion euros ($1.84 billion) due to a steep decline in car sales triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, and said the impact on the second-quarter would be even more severe.

Hydrogen and nanomaterials may transform energy industry

Hydrogen as a zero-carbon energy carrier has the potential to fundamentally transform the global energy landscape—but the production must benefit the environment, according to experts at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Selfishness is not the way forward: Researcher makes the case for shared spectrum

"Radio frequencies are a natural resource, and as such, there is fierce competition on who gets to use them. It really is a fight over natural resources, and we must work toward a more fair and sustainable use of the radio spectrum," says Marja Matinmikko-Blue, senior research fellow and adjunct professor from the University of Oulu.

Feeling COVID-19 stress? Video games could be the cure, says computer scientist

Landing silently on a roof in the middle of hostile territory, your team—a rag-tag band of friends from across the globe—weaves through a complex maze to slip undetected into the opposing team's base. Quickened footsteps nearby. A radio crackles. Have you been detected?

TV viewing has surged during lockdown, but has become too technical for some

As we find ourselves largely confined to our homes, it is unsurprising that television viewing has sky-rocketed. Watching live broadcasts in the UK has increased by 17% since the coronavirus lockdown, halting years of decline.

Energy of the future: Photosynthetic hydrogen from bacteria

The transition from fossil fuels to a renewable energy supply is one of the most important global challenges of the 21st century. In order to achieve the internationally-agreed target of limiting global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees, the international community must drastically reduce global CO2 emissions. Although Germany was long considered a pioneer in this energy transition, a wide-ranging switch to renewable energies in the energy sector still remains a future scenario here. In this regard, hydrogen could play an important role in the future as a promising, potentially climate-neutral energy source. Used in fuel cells, it provides energy for various applications, and only produces water as a waste product. At the moment, hydrogen is primarily obtained from the electrolysis of water—and this process initially requires energy input, which has so far mostly come from fossil fuels. A climate-neutral hydrogen economy, i.e. the use of so-called green hydrogen, requires that hydrogen production is based exclusively on renewable energy. Researchers are trying to exploit such a sustainable energy source, for example by means of photosynthesis. Ever since, photosynthesis has provided mankind with energy from sunlight, either in the form of food or as fossil fuels. In both cases, solar energy is initially stored in carbon compounds, such as sugar. If these carbon compounds are exploited, CO2 is liberated. Photosynthetic CO2 fixation is essentially reversed in order to recover the solar energy from the carbon compounds.

Bye-bye butterfly keyboard: Apple unveils 13-inch MacBook Pro with a better typing experience

Apple announced a new 13-inch MacBook Pro on Monday, and the most radical revision is an updated keyboard used on the company's 16-inch model from 2019.

Apple, Google will warn you if you've been exposed to COVID-19

Apple and Google, which control the world's most popular smartphone operating systems, gave a first look Monday at how public health apps will alert you if you've been exposed to the coronavirus.

Firms perceived to fake social responsibility become targets for hackers, study shows

Data breaches have become daily occurrences. Research firm Cybersecurity Ventures reveals that in 2018 hackers stole half a billion personal records—a 126 percent jump from 2017—and more than 3.8 million records are stolen in breaches every day, including recently the World Health Organization.

Both conservatives and liberals want a green energy future, but for different reasons

Political divisions are a growing fixture in the United States today, whether the topic is marriage across party lines, responding to climate change or concern about coronavirus exposure. Especially in a presidential election year, the vast divide between conservatives and liberals often feels nearly impossible to bridge.

From expressions to mind wandering: Using computers to illuminate human emotions

A common view of human emotions is that they are too idiosyncratic and subjective to be studied scientifically. But as is being presented at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS) virtual meeting today, cognitive neuroscientists are using contemporary, data-driven computational methods to overturn old ideas about the structure of emotions across humanity.

Top German court opens door to 'dieselgate' compensation

A top German court said Tuesday that a driver whose car was equipped with illegal emissions cheating software may be entitled to some compensation from Volkswagen, possibly paving the way for payouts to tens of thousands of other "dieselgate" plaintiffs.

Aviation industry opposes leaving middle seat empty

The global aviation body said Tuesday that the risk of catching COVID-19 on a plane was low and there was no need to leave the middle seat empty once the industry takes off again.

Robots help some firms, even while workers across industries struggle

Overall, adding robots to manufacturing reduces jobs—by more than three per robot, in fact. But a new study co-authored by an MIT professor reveals an important pattern: Firms that move quickly to use robots tend to add workers to their payroll, while industry job losses are more concentrated in firms that make this change more slowly.

California sues Uber, Lyft over alleged labor law violations

California is suing ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft, alleging they misclassified their drivers as independent contractors under the state's new labor law.

UK and US warn of cyber threat to health sector fighting virus

Britain and the United States warned Tuesday of a rise in cyber attacks against health professionals involved in the coronavirus response by organised criminals "often linked with other state actors".

Microsoft to invest $1 bln in Poland cloud

Microsoft on Tuesday announced it would invest one billion dollars in Poland to expand its operations, including the creation of a new regional cloud-computing data hub.

More than 30 firms join alliance calling for 'open' 5G systems

More than 30 technology and telecom firms unveiled an alliance Tuesday to press for "open and interoperable" 5G wireless systems that eliminate the need for a single supplier.

Novel research speeds up threat detection, prevention for Army missions

Threat detection and prevention are essential to ensuring the safety and security of warfighters. Researchers have developed a way to speed up the processing of extremely large graphs and data, making the most efficient use of modern Army computational resources before and during Soldier deployment.

UK car sales crash to 1946 low as virus slams economy

Sales of new cars in Britain plunged 97 percent in April, striking the lowest level since 1946, as coronavirus fallout slams the brakes on economic output, data revealed Tuesday.

SAS airline wins state-guaranteed credit line

Scandinavian airline SAS said Tuesday it had secured a government-backed credit line to help it navigate the impact of the new coronavirus.

Detroit automakers look to restart N. America plants May 18

Major U.S. automakers are planning to reopen North American factories within two weeks, potentially putting thousands of workers back on the assembly line as part of a gradual return to normality.

Reducing the net risk to children

Keeping children safe online should be a major priority of internet providers, content creators, and the authorities. Writing in the International Journal of Web Based Communities, a team from India has surveyed international efforts.

Long-term developments of energy pricing and consumption in industry

Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have collaborated with British economists to study how energy consumption by Swiss industry develops depending on energy pricing. To this end, they examined in particular the prices and consumption of both electricity and natural gas over the past decades. One result: For the most part, price increases have only long-term effects on energy consumption. Furthermore, the researchers worked out possible scenarios for future development up to the year 2050 in which they address, among other things, aspects of climate protection. Today the researchers are publishing their results in the report "Swiss Industry: Price Elasticities and Demand Developments for Electricity and Gas."

Virgin Atlantic cuts over 3,000 jobs on virus impact

Virgin Atlantic will cut over 3,000 jobs —around a third of staff—as the coronavirus pandemic grounds planes worldwide, the British carrier part-owned by tycoon Richard Branson announced Tuesday.

Aibnb laying off 1,900 employees due to travel decline

Airbnb is laying off 25% of its workforce as it confronts a steep decline in global travel due to the new coronavirus.

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