Science X Newsletter Friday, May 8

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for May 8, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A model for the origami-inspired folding of a tubular waterbomb

Pulse-driven robot: Motion via solitary waves

Researchers map tiny twists in magic-angle graphene

Can mosquitoes stop quadcopters going bump in the night?

Inspired by cheetahs, researchers build fastest soft robots yet

Potentially fatal combinations of humidity and heat are emerging across the globe

Beer was here! A new microstructural marker for malting in the archaeological record

Gemini gets lucky and takes a deep dive into Jupiter's clouds

China's new spacecraft returns to Earth: official

Computer vision helps scientists study lithium ion batteries

Prehistoric sea creatures evolved pebble-shaped teeth to crush shellfish

Newly discovered mechanism can explain increased risk of dementia

Dendrimers finally have what it takes to break into the laser scene

NASA's Perseverance rover spacecraft put in launch configuration

South Africa's MeerKAT solves mystery of 'X-galaxies'

Physics news

Pulse-driven robot: Motion via solitary waves

Scientists have recently explored the unique properties of nonlinear waves to facilitate a wide range of applications including impact mitigation, asymmetric transmission, switching and focusing. In a new study now published on Science Advances, Bolei Deng and a team of research scientists at Harvard, CNRS and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering in the U.S. and France harnessed the propagation of nonlinear waves to make flexible structures crawl. They combined bioinspired experimental and theoretical methods to show how such pulse-driven locomotion could reach a maximum efficiency when the initiated pulses were solitons (solitary wave). The simple machine developed in the work could move across a wide range of surfaces and steer onward. The study expanded the variety of possible applications with nonlinear waves to offer a new platform for flexible machines.

Controlling quantumness: Simulations reveal details about how particles interact

In everyday life, matter behaves in a predictable, expected way. If you throw a ball, you assume it will travel in a certain direction and have a predictable recoil. What's more, forces exerted on one object would not have an impact on another, independent object.

Scientists demonstrate quantum radar prototype

Physicists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have invented a new radar prototype that uses quantum entanglement as a method of object detection. This successful integration of quantum mechanics into devices could significantly impact the biomedical and security industries. The research is published in the journal Science Advances.

Fiber imaging beyond the limits of resolution and speed

Researchers at ARCNL and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam have developed a compact setup for fast, super-resolution microscopy through an ultrathin fiber. Using smart signal processing, they beat the theoretical limits of resolution and speed. Because the method does not require any special fluorescent labelling, it is promising for both medical applications and characterization of 3-D structures in nanolithography. On May 7th, the results were published in Light: Science & Applications, a scientific journal in the Nature family.

Astronomy and Space news

Gemini gets lucky and takes a deep dive into Jupiter's clouds

Researchers using a technique known as "lucky imaging" with the Gemini North telescope on Hawaii's Maunakea have collected some of the highest resolution images of Jupiter ever obtained from the ground. These images are part of a multi-year joint observing program with the Hubble Space Telescope in support of NASA's Juno mission. The Gemini images, when combined with the Hubble and Juno observations, reveal that lightning strikes, and some of the largest storm systems that create them, are formed in and around large convective cells over deep clouds of water ice and liquid. The new observations also confirm that dark spots in the famous Great Red Spot are actually gaps in the cloud cover and not due to cloud color variations.

China's new spacecraft returns to Earth: official

China's new prototype spacecraft "successfully landed" on Friday, marking an important step in its ambitions to run a permanent space station and send astronauts to the moon.

NASA's Perseverance rover spacecraft put in launch configuration

Engineers working on NASA's Perseverance rover mission at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida have begun the process of placing the Mars-bound rover and other spacecraft components into the configuration they'll be in as they ride on top of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The launch period for the mission opens on July 17—just 70 days from now.

South Africa's MeerKAT solves mystery of 'X-galaxies'

Many galaxies far more active than the Milky Way have enormous twin jets of radio waves extending far into intergalactic space. Normally these go in opposite directions, coming from a massive black hole at the centre of the galaxy. However, a few are more complicated and appear to have four jets forming an 'X' on the sky.

Touching the asteroid Ryugu revealed secrets of its surface and changing orbit

On Feb. 21, 2019, we shot an asteroid.

When baby planets melt: Searching for the histories of planetesimals

Let's start at the beginning. Before humans, before Earth, before any of the planets existed, there were baby planets—planetesimals. Coalesced from dust exploded outward by the solar nebula, these blobs of material were just a few kilometers in diameter. Soon, they too aggregated due to gravity to form the rocky planets in the innermost part of the solar system, leaving the early details about these planetesimals to the imagination.

The cost of space debris: In-space collisions increasingly likely

With hundreds of satellites launched every year, in-space collisions and the creation of fast-moving fragments of space debris—or 'space junk'—are becoming increasingly likely, threatening our continued human and technological presence in space.

Space age for metals, foams and the living

Astronauts donned gloves on the International Space Station to kick off two European experiments on metals and foams, while preparing spacesuits for future work outside their home in space.

New 'planetary quarantine' report reviews risks of alien contamination of Earth

In Michael Crichton's 1969 novel The Andromeda Strain, a deadly alien microbe hitches a ride to Earth aboard a downed military satellite and scientists must race to contain it. While fictional, the plot explores a very real and longstanding concern shared by NASA and world governments: that spacefaring humans, or our robotic emissaries, may unwittingly contaminate Earth with extraterrestrial life or else biologically pollute other planets we visit.

JPSS-2 satellite instrument passes readiness test

The Cross-Track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) instrument built to fly on the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)-2 satellite is ready to ship to the spacecraft. CrIS has passed all of its readiness tests, completing its pre-ship review. Pre-ship review is the final step before instruments are shipped to and integrated onto the spacecraft. CrIS is the future satellite's final instrument to be ready for spacecraft integration.

Space agency: Human urine could help make concrete on moon

The European Space Agency said Friday that human urine could one day become a useful ingredient in making concrete to build on the moon.

Technology news

A model for the origami-inspired folding of a tubular waterbomb

In recent years, research teams worldwide have been trying to apply origami-folding strategies to mechanical structures, as this could allow them to change their shape both rapidly and efficiently. A key advantage of origami, the Japanese art that entails folding pieces of paper to form structures, is that its strategies tend to work regardless of the size and composition of the material that is being folded.

Can mosquitoes stop quadcopters going bump in the night?

Scientists have used the principles that guide a mosquito's nocturnal flight to develop a quadcopter equipped with an elegant collision-avoidance sensory system.

Inspired by cheetahs, researchers build fastest soft robots yet

Inspired by the biomechanics of cheetahs, researchers have developed a new type of soft robot that is capable of moving more quickly on solid surfaces or in the water than previous generations of soft robots. The new soft robotics are also capable of grabbing objects delicately—or with sufficient strength to lift heavy objects.

Wristband monitors personal exposure to air pollution

Whether it comes from second-hand cigarette smoke, motor vehicle exhaust, building materials or the fumes from household cleaning supplies, toxic air is all around us.

Next up: Charge earbuds wirelessly with NFC

It's going to get a lot easier to wirelessly charge earbuds and smart watches following the release of upgraded specifications for Near Field Commincation (NFC) technology.

Data science drives new maps to predict the growth of cities over next century

University of Delaware data scientist Jing Gao is fascinated by the ways that cities and towns grow over time. This concept is known as urbanization.

Google updates Read Along and Google Lens apps

Google this week announced upgrades to two programs: one will assist users researching words and expressions and learning foreign languages, and the other will help children who are learning to read.

Study: WeChat content outside China used for censorship

Documents and images shared by users outside China on WeChat, the country's most popular social media platform, are being monitored and cataloged for use in political censorship in China, a new report says.

Virus tracing app raises privacy concerns in India

As India enters an extended coronavirus lockdown, the government is actively pursuing contact tracing to help control infections. At the heart of the effort in the country of 1.3 billion people is a government-run smartphone app that uses location services to evaluate infection risk and which critics say endangers civil liberties.

Uber loses $2.9 billion, offloads bike and scooter business

Uber lost $2.9 billion in the first quarter as its overseas investments were hammered by the coronavirus pandemic, but the company is looking to its growing food delivery business and aggressive cost-cutting to ease the pain.

NASA to demonstrate first in-space manufacturing for space mirrors

Large telescopes that could be used for detecting and analyzing Earth-like planets in orbit around other stars or for peering back in time to observe the very early universe may not necessarily have to be built and assembled on the ground. In the future, NASA could construct them in space.

A pioneering study into the description of the architecture for a new standard for telecommunications

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is a United Nations Organization agency commissioned to regulate international telecommunications between different operating administrations and businesses. Pursuant to specific recommendations by this organization, on 1 July, standard Y.3172, an architecture for machine learning in future networks (5G and beyond), was approved for telecommunications networks. This new standard defines a logical network architecture that has been designed to include machine learning mechanisms intrinsically.

Lufthansa to resume some European services in June

German airline giant Lufthansa said Friday it will fly twice as many aircraft in June as in recent weeks and return to some European destinations, but the flight plan remains a shadow of pre-coronavirus operations.

YouTube TV subscribers getting access to Viacom channels including VH1, BET, MTV and others

Popular cable brands such as Comedy Central, BET, VH1 and CMT are all headed for YouTube TV this summer in a deal made possible by the Viacom and CBS merger that happened last year.

Apple dominates the smartwatch market as sales rise despite COVID-19 pandemic, report says

Smartwatch sales continued to climb during the start of the coronavirus crisis with Apple selling more than three times as many devices as its competitors, according to a new report by research firm Strategy Analytics.

Google, Facebook extend work-from-home plans

Google and Facebook have told most employees to keep working from home for the rest of the year as part of a response by the tech giants to the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

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