Science X Newsletter Wednesday, May 6

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Spotlight Stories Headlines

Manufacturing-friendly SiC boasts quantum credentials at telecom wavelengths

A technique to produce patterned transition metal ditelluride layers for 2-D devices

Study shows wetter climate is likely to intensify global warming

Cold air rises—what that means for Earth's climate

Astronomers probe the emission from a nearby pulsar wind nebula

Amphibian study shows stress increases vulnerability to virus

Otters juggle stones when hungry, research shows

Mutations in SARS-CoV-2 offer insights into virus evolution

Liquid metal research invokes 'Terminator' film—but much friendlier

Decoding the skies: The impact of water vapor on afternoon rainfall

Inhibiting thrombin protects against dangerous infant digestive disease

Unraveling one of prion disease's deadly secrets

China plans to complete space station by 2022

Fluorescent technique brings aging polymers to light

Astronomers find closest black hole to Earth

Physics news

Manufacturing-friendly SiC boasts quantum credentials at telecom wavelengths

Decoherence is the bane of quantum technologies. In coherent systems, the phase of the wave functions representing the quantum states of particles in the system have definite relations between each other. This allows quantum devices to operate in a meaningful way that differs from classical devices. However, interacting with the world around us rapidly leads to decoherence, which makes it harder to exploit quantum effects for enhancing computation efficiency or communication security. Research has shown that quantum systems with impressively long coherence times are possible in diamond, but diamond is far from the favorite for manufacturers. Now, researchers at the University of Science and Technology in Hefei and Wuhan University in China have demonstrated SiC can boast some of the quantum merits of diamond with the additional advantage of optical control at the wavelengths used by the telecommunications industry.

Shedding new light on nanolasers using 2-D semiconductors

In his latest line of research, Cun-Zheng Ning, a professor of electrical engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, and his peers explored the intricate balance of physics that governs how electrons, holes, excitons and trions coexist and mutually convert into each other to produce optical gain. Their results, led by Tsinghua University Associate Professor Hao Sun, were recently published in the Nature publication Light: Science & Applications.

Scientists 'at the bleeding edge' with upgrade to CMS detector

The huge detectors providing a window to the world's tiniest particles are set for a $153 million upgrade, and a team of Purdue University scientists will play a key role—continuing the university's decades-long legacy with the historic experiments at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN.

Astronomy and Space news

Astronomers probe the emission from a nearby pulsar wind nebula

Astronomers from South Korea and China have performed a deep X-ray spectral imaging of a bow-shock pulsar wind nebula (PWN) associated with a nearby pulsar designated PSR B1929+10. The new study, published April 29 on, presents the deepest investigation of the system, disclosing important information about the emission from this PWN.

China plans to complete space station by 2022

China plans to send four crewed space missions and the same number of cargo craft to complete work on its permanent space station within about two years, officials said after the launch of a newly designed spacecraft aboard the latest heavy-lift rocket.

Astronomers find closest black hole to Earth

A team of astronomers from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and other institutes has discovered a black hole lying just 1000 light-years from Earth. The black hole is closer to our Solar System than any other found to date and forms part of a triple system that can be seen with the naked eye. The team found evidence for the invisible object by tracking its two companion stars using the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. They say this system could just be the tip of the iceberg, as many more similar black holes could be found in the future.

Ancient river systems on Mars seen in unparalleled detail

Researchers have spent decades looking for evidence of ancient water on Mars. As technology has progressed, more evidence has come to light that rivers, lakes and even oceans were once abundant on the red planet.

China's space test hits snag with capsule 'anomaly'

A cargo capsule that was part of a key test in China's space programme experienced an "anomaly" Wednesday during its return trip, the space authority said.

Mission Impossible to Mission Control: Tom Cruise to film in space

Tom Cruise will film his next Hollywood blockbuster on location—250 miles up in the air and orbiting the Earth once every 90 minutes.

The Sun is less active magnetically than other stars

Our sun is the source of life on Earth. Its calm glow across billions of years has allowed life to evolve and flourish. This does not mean the sun doesn't have an active side. We have observed massive solar flares, such as the 1859 Carrington event, which produced northern lights as far south as the Caribbean, and drove electrical currents in telegraph lines. If such a flare occurred in Earth's direction today, it would devastate our electrical infrastructure. But fortunately for us, the sun is mostly calm—unusually calm when compared to other stars.

Perseverance Mars rover scientists train in the Nevada desert

Billions of years ago, the Martian surface could have supported microbial life as we know it. But did such life ever actually exist there? NASA and its Mars 2020 mission hope to find out with the Perseverance rover, which launches to the Red Planet this summer.

Pentagon announces new mission for secretive space drone

The US Air Force said Wednesday it would be sending its high-tech X-37B space drone back into orbit this month—the sixth trip for the reusable vehicle that maneuvers around the Earth on secretive missions.

Technology news

A technique to produce patterned transition metal ditelluride layers for 2-D devices

Researchers at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in South Korea have recently introduced a method to produce thin and patterned transition metal ditelluride films to be integrated in 2-D metal semiconductors. Their synthesis technique, presented in a paper published in Nature Electronics, could mitigate the challenges associated with the high contact resistance of existing electronics based on 2-D materials.

New algorithms help scientists connect data points from multiple sources to solve high risk problems

Open source graph machine learning library StellarGraph has today launched a series of new algorithms for network graph analysis to help discover patterns in data, work with larger data sets and speed up performance while reducing memory usage.

Scientists discover dynamics of electrochemical interfaces at the atomic scale

The quest to find viable alternatives to fossil fuels in energy production has experienced a recent revolution as scientists search for materials that do not require precious metals to produce active and stable reactions.

AI devising a more equitable tax system

Everybody loves to hate taxes. And unless you are lucky enough to live in one of a small handful of countries with no income tax—Bermuda, Monaco or the United Arab Emirates, for instance—you likely dread Tax Day when you dig deep into your pockets and send a chunk of your hard-earned cash to government coffers.

Japan computer-savvy teen designs app to fight pandemic

Curbing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic rests on knowing where infected people have been and who they've come in contact with so they can be tested and treated.

Video game titans earnings climb as people play at home

US video game titans Activision and Electronic Arts on Tuesday reported strong earnings as people staying home due to the coronavirus pandemic turn to games such as "Call of Duty."

System designed to improve database performance for healthcare, IoT

Sometimes it is best to work smarter and not harder. The same holds true when it comes to peak performance for databases.

Two apps to help you locate broadcast towers

I have been having some pixelization on my TV picture in the past week or so, and I finally got frustrated enough to get the ladder out of the garage and climb up on the roof to adjust my antenna.

Hastily introduced 'fake news' laws could damage efforts to counter disinformation, UNESCO reports warn

Measures designed to curb the spread of disinformation related to the coronavirus could criminalize legitimate journalism, reports published by UNESCO have warned.

Could hotel service robots help the hospitality industry after COVID-19?

Dr. Tracy Xu, lecturer in hospitality at the University of Surrey's School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, has published a paper in the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management derived from interviews with 19 hotel HR experts to identify the key trends and major challenges that will emerge in the next 10 years and how leaders should deal with the challenges brought about by service robot technologies.

How artificial intelligence can save journalism

The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented crisis in journalism that could decimate media organizations around the world.

Recommending Ring doorbells is as tough as ever, but new security changes are a plus

Where does a product reviewer's responsibility end?

Strained health systems struggle to keep up with hackers

New research published by Intelligence and National Security has found that training programs and tighter regulations would strengthen the cybersecurity of Australian health systems.

People think robots are pretty incompetent and not funny, new study says

Dang robots are crummy at so many jobs, and they tell lousy jokes to boot. In two new studies, these were common biases human participants held toward robots.

Computational imaging benefits from untrained neural network

Computational imaging (CI) techniques exploit optical device and calculation algorithms to reconstruct object information. A key goal of CI is to develop more advanced algorithms in order to simplify hardware equipment and improve imaging quality.

Uber cuts 3,700 jobs amid pandemic slump

Uber said Wednesday it was cutting 3,700 jobs amid a huge slump in its ride-hailing operations during the pandemic.

NY Times sees record gain in digital subscriptions

The New York Times saw a record gain in digital subscriptions in the past quarter and doubled its online readership in March even as the pandemic cut into its advertising revenues.

Free and open-source hardware enables more bang for your buck in research funding

FOSH is rapidly gaining momentum as part of a global "open design movement," whereby the free release of information on customized research hardware, such as design, schematics and bill of materials are easily accessible anywhere with an internet connection.

Gaming becomes king of entertainment in pandemic lockdown

You are facing a pandemic lockdown with no seeming escape.

Facebook reveals members of its 'supreme court' for content

Facebook on Wednesday announced the first members of its independent "supreme court" empowered to make binding decisions about what content should be allowed or removed at the social network and Instagram.

Study finds stronger links between automation and inequality

Modern technology affects different workers in different ways. In some white-collar jobs—designer, engineer—people become more productive with sophisticated software at their side. In other cases, forms of automation, from robots to phone-answering systems, have simply replaced factory workers, receptionists, and many other kinds of employees.

Google, Gates Foundation join digital payments initiative

A new nonprofit charity unveiled plans Wednesday to promote digital payments for people outside the financial system, with support from Google and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Who's who on Facebook panel for content decisions

Here is a list of the members of the Facebook "supreme court" announced Wednesday, who will consider difficult decisions on what content to allow or remove from the world's largest social media platform.

Loon teams with AT&T to provide internet in disasters

A unit of Google-parent Alphabet devoted to delivering wireless internet from high-flying balloons has teamed with US telecom giant AT&T to provide service to places hit by disasters.

Stung by virus, long-haul carrier Qatar Airways cuts jobs

Long-haul carrier Qatar Airways said Wednesday it will lay off staff as the coronavirus pandemic largely has grounded the global aviation industry.

Samsung heir apologises over corruption scandal

The heir to the Samsung empire bowed in apology Wednesday for company misconduct including a controversial plan for him to ascend to the leadership of the world's largest smartphone maker.

Morocco launches fleet of drones to tackle virus from the sky

Morocco has rapidly expanded its fleet of drones as it battles the coronavirus pandemic, deploying them for aerial surveillance, public service announcements and sanitisation.

German car sales plunge in April as virus hits key industry

Some 61 percent fewer new cars were registered on German roads in April 2020 than a year ago, official data showed Wednesday, as Europe's automobile powerhouse matched its neighbours' plunging sales for the industry.

Q&A: Home network can cause video delays on Zoom

Q: During Zoom video calls, my screen image follows my actual movements very slowly. If I move my head or speak, there's sometimes a delay of two seconds or more before it happens on my screen. (This didn't happen during a Microsoft Teams video call.) Other people in the Zoom meeting say they don't have the same problem. I've updated Zoom and my Windows 10 PC, but nothing helps. What's wrong?

Review: Solid 'Gears Tactics' can't quite find an identity

To prove that tastes moves in cycles, tactical turn-based strategy games have seen a resurgence again. Sparked by the success of "XCOM: Enemy Unknown," more titles have tried to find their niche in the category.

General Motors profits dive, aims to reopen US plants May 18

General Motors said Wednesday it aims to reopen most US and Canadian manufacturing operations on May 18 as it reported a steep drop in first-quarter earnings due to the coronavirus.

US complies with WTO ruling on Boeing to avoid EU sanctions

The United States formally notified the World Trade Organization on Wednesday of the elimination of a state tax break for aerospace giant Boeing to avoid retaliation by the European Union.

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