Science X Newsletter Wednesday, May 13

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for May 13, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A new electrolyte design that could enhance the performance of Li-ion batteries

A new technique for the radiative cooling of spin ensembles

Artificial intelligence helps researchers produce record-setting catalyst for carbon dioxide-to-ethylene conversion

Ultra-diffuse galaxy VCC 1287 investigated in detail

New, rapid mechanism for atmospheric particle formation

Astronomers find regular rhythms among pulsating stars

Microscopic feather features reveal fossil birds' colors and explain why cassowaries shine

Scientists generate millions of mature human cells in a mouse embryo

Scientists successfully develop 'heat resistant' coral to fight bleaching

Planetary exploration rover avoids sand traps with 'rear rotator pedaling'

Sony designing finger-tracking VR controller

Moths have a secret but vital role as pollinators in the night

Adolescence is ruff for dogs too

Tiny RNA that should attack coronavirus diminish with age, disease

COVID-19's silent spread: Study explores role of symptomless transmission

Physics news

A new technique for the radiative cooling of spin ensembles

Researchers at CEA/CNRS/Université Paris Saclay, University College London and ETH Zurich have recently devised a new method to control the temperature of a spin ensemble by increasing electron spin polarization above its thermal equilibrium value. Their research, featured in Nature Physics, builds on a study they conducted back in 2016.

Inexpensively locating friendly (and unfriendly) radio waves

Electrical engineers at Duke University have devised a low-cost method for passively locating sources of radio waves such as Wi-Fi and cellular communication signals.

Splitting quasiparticles with temperature: The fate of an impurity in a Bose-Einstein condensate

A new theoretical study at Monash University has improved our understanding of the interplay between quantum and thermal fluctuations (or excitations) in quantum matter.

Scientists find another clue to explain unconventional superconductivity

Physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory have successfully performed measurements of an iron-based superconductor in an important but difficult-to-reach regime where critical quantum fluctuations dominate the physics. Using a new sensing technique, they accurately mapped quantum phase transition—a phenomenon that is theorized to be closely coupled to superconductivity—deep inside the superconducting state.

Speeding up long-range coherent LiDAR

Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) comprises an array of techniques using laser light to measure distances by multiplying the time delay between transmitted and received optical signals with the speed of light. Modern 3-D LiDAR sensors combine high lateral/vertical and radial resolution, and are key components in the ongoing evolution of level 4 and 5 self-driving cars.

Atomically thin magnets for next generation spin and quantum electronics

As our smartphones, laptops, and computers get smaller and faster, so do the transistors inside them that control the flow of electricity and store information. But traditional transistors can only shrink so much. Now, researchers at Stevens Institute of Technology have developed a new atomically thin magnetic semiconductor that will allow the development of new transistors that work in a completely different way; they not only can harness an electron's charge but also the power of its spin, providing an alternative path to creating ever smaller and faster electronics.

CUORE underground experiment in Italy carries on despite pandemic

As the COVID-19 outbreak took hold in Italy, researchers working on a nuclear physics experiment called CUORE at an underground laboratory in central Italy scrambled to keep the ultrasensitive experiment running and launch new tools and rules for remote operations.

Room-temperature superionic conduction achieved using pseudorotation of hydride complexes

There is currently a strong demand to replace organic liquid electrolytes used in conventional rechargeable batteries, with solid-state ionic conductors which will enable the batteries to be safer and have higher energy density.

Unique polymer-based fabrication process for low-cost, higher yield reprogrammable photonic integrated circuits

The future looks bright for photonic integrated circuits (PICs) as they look destined for use in quantum computing and deep learning technologies. As PICs carry light signals rather than electrical signals, accurate control of their refractive properties is essential. Traditional techniques for programming photonic devices rely on exposure to light and heat. However, this leads to high power consumption and requires complex control circuits.

Astronomy and Space news

Ultra-diffuse galaxy VCC 1287 investigated in detail

Astronomers have probed an ultra-diffuse galaxy (UDG) known as VCC 1287 with the Keck Cosmic Web Imager (KCWI) in order to investigate its nature. The new results provide essential information about the galaxy's mass and stellar kinematics. The study was presented in a paper published May 6 on

Astronomers find regular rhythms among pulsating stars

By listening to the beating hearts of stars, astronomers have for the first time identified a rhythm of life for a class of stellar objects that had until now puzzled scientists.

Researchers simulate the core of Mars to investigate its composition and origin

Earth-based experiments on iron-sulfur alloys thought to comprise the core of Mars reveal details about the planet's seismic properties for the first time. This information will be compared to observations made by Martian space probes in the near future. Whether the results between experiment and observation coincide or not will either confirm existing theories about Mars' composition or call into question the story of its origin.

New simulations indicate that Jupiter's fourth-largest moon ejects water from its subsurface ocean into space

During a fly-by of Jupiter's moon Europa twenty years ago, NASA's space probe Galileo may have witnessed a plume of water. A group of scientists including researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany have now found new evidence of this event. In computer simulations they strove to reproduce the data gathered by the onboard particle detector that was developed and built at MPS and in the U.S.. This was only successful under the assumption that a water plume was involved. With its crust of frozen water and subsurface ocean, Europa has environmental conditions that could be favorable for simple forms of life. Water plumes would offer future missions to Jupiter the possibility of coming into direct contact with the moon's water reservoir.

Planet hunters discover new 'one in a million' Super-Earth

Astronomers at the University of Canterbury (UC) have found an incredibly rare new Super-Earth planet towards the centre of the galaxy. The planet is one of only a handful that have been discovered with both size and orbit comparable to that of Earth.

Researchers observe iron in exoplanetary atmosphere

An international team of researchers, led by astronomers from the University of Amsterdam, has directly demonstrated the presence of iron in the atmosphere of an exoplanet for the first time. The researchers discovered emission lines of uncharged iron atoms in the light spectrum of KELT-9b. The observation was complicated as the exoplanet is outshined by its bright host star.

The discovery of Comet SWAN by solar-watcher SOHO

Currently crossing the skies above Earth, Comet C/2020 F8 (SWAN) has the potential to become a more prominent naked eye object by late May or early June. Yet it wasn't discovered by someone looking up at the night sky. Instead, the person was looking at a computer screen.

Image: Spacesuit for the ground

Not a spacesuit but a SCAPE suit—standing for "Self Contained Atmospheric Protective Ensemble." Technicians don these suits before filling satellites with the toxic hydrazine fuel used for maneuvers in space. This one was snapped by Portuguese photographer Edgar Martins at ESA's Spaceport in French Guiana.

Where neutrinos come from

Russian astrophysicists have come close to determining the origin of high-energy neutrinos from space. The team compared data on the elusive particles gathered by the Antarctic neutrino observatory IceCube and on long electromagnetic waves measured by radio telescopes. Cosmic neutrinos turned out to be linked to flares at the centers of distant active galaxies, which are believed to host supermassive black holes. As matter falls toward the black hole, some of it is accelerated and ejected into space, giving rise to neutrinos that then coast along through the universe at nearly the speed of light.

Technology news

Planetary exploration rover avoids sand traps with 'rear rotator pedaling'

The rolling hills of Mars or the moon are a long way from the nearest tow truck. That's why the next generation of exploration rovers will need to be good at climbing hills covered with loose material and avoiding entrapment on soft granular surfaces.

Sony designing finger-tracking VR controller

A report by Sony software engineers reveals the company is developing a highly immersive virtual reality motion system likely to be used in its next generation PlayStation controllers.

US wind plants show relatively low levels of performance decline as they age

Wind plants in the United States—especially the newest models—remain relatively efficient over time, with only a 13% drop in the plants' performance over 17 years, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report in the May 13 issue of the journal Joule. Their study also suggests that a production tax credit provides an effective incentive to maintain the plants during the 10-year window in which they are eligible to receive it. When this tax credit window closes, wind plant performance drops.

3-D VR blood flow to improve cardiovascular care

Biomedical engineers at Duke University are developing a massive fluid dynamics simulator that can model blood flow through the full human arterial system at subcellular resolution. One of the goals of the effort is to provide doctors with guidance in their treatment plans by allowing them to simulate a patient's specific vasculature and accurately predict how decisions such as stent placement, conduit insertions and other geometric alterations to blood flow will affect surgical outcomes.

Sony annual net profit slumps, warns of tough year

Sony said on Wednesday its annual net profit tumbled 36.5 percent on lower revenue from games and electronics products, and warned of a tough year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bitcoin rises after eagerly awaited 'halving'

Bitcoin rose Wednesday after undergoing an eagerly awaited adjustment that occurs every few years to limit the amount of the virtual currency on the market, building on a recent coronavirus-driven rally.

German 3-D printing buffs pitch in with virus-fighting network

The high-ceilinged workshop in Darmstadt is usually open to anyone—from hobbyists trying new machinery or techniques to high-tech startup workers tinkering with prototypes.

China car sales begin recovery after virus plunge

The lifting of coronavirus lockdowns in China has given the stuttering auto industry a jumpstart, with sales rising for the first time in two years as buyers return as the health crisis eases.

Virus-isolated silver surfers ride a new tech wave

Before entering coronavirus lockdown with the rest of Britain in March, 73-year-old Pamela Cox had never shopped or banked online. Zoom was something you did with a camera lens.

Rocky road ahead for 'sharing economy' platforms amid pandemic

"Sharing economy" firms like Uber and Airbnb were seeing surging growth and predictions they would reshape several economic sectors. Then the pandemic hit.

Can renewable energy really replace fossil fuels?

As global temperatures and energy demand rise simultaneously, the search for sustainable fuel sources is more urgent than ever. But how can renewable energy possibly scale up to replace the vast quantities of oil and gas we consume?

Brain signal measurement using printed tattoo electrodes

In 2015 Francesco Greco, head of the Laboratory of Applied Materials for Printed and Soft electronics (LAMPSe) at the Institute of Solid State Physics at Graz University of Technology, developed so-called "tattoo electrodes" together with Italian scientists.

Google killing Google Play Music for YouTube Music in 2020

Google is killing off its Google Play Music in 2020 and transitioning existing customers to its other music service, YouTube Music.

Yes, websites really are starting to look more similar

Over the past few years, articles and blog posts have started to ask some version of the same question: "Why are all websites starting to look the same?"

China tech giant Tencent's net profit jumps during pandemic

Chinese internet giant Tencent reported Wednesday a sharp rise in first-quarter net profit after a surge in demand for its online games as the coronavirus pandemic forces people to stay home.

VW says to suspend production again as car sales drop

German carmaker Volkswagen will suspend production lines that have only just reopened after the lifting of coronavirus restrictions due to lower demand, according to an internal message seen by AFP on Wednesday.

Buzz off: Italian start-up offers social distancing bracelets

As the world embraces a new post-pandemic reality, an Italian start-up has come up with a novel way to maintain social distancing: an electronic bracelet that informs users when they are too close to others.

New software stops ransomware attacks

Engineers from SMU's Darwin Deason Institute for Cybersecurity have developed software that detects ransomware attacks before attackers can inflict catastrophic damage.

Amazon calls for US federal law to ban price gouging

Amazon called Wednesday for a US federal law to prohibit price gouging during a national emergency, saying new standards are needed to prevent profiteering from situations like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Uber to require face masks for drivers, riders

Uber said Wednesday it was making face masks mandatory for drivers and passengers, as part of new health and safety protocols aiming to instill confidence in the ride-hailing service as people emerge from coronavirus lockdowns.

Texas high courts hit by ransomware attack, refuse to pay

Texas courts have been hit with a ransomware attack that took down the website and case management systems for the state's appellate and high courts.

Facebook to pay moderators $52M for psychological damages

Facebook has agreed to pay $52 million to its content moderators whose job has them viewing graphic and disturbing posts and videos on its platforms.

Virus consipracy-theory video shows challenges for big tech

One by one, tech companies across Silicon Valley scrambled to take down a slickly produced video of a discredited researcher peddling a variety of conspiracy theories about the coronavirus.

Review: 'Streets of Rage 4' does justice to cult beat-'em-up series

A childhood hatred of Sega kept me away from "Streets of Rage." It's a franchise that I know vaguely but never played thanks to the console wars of the 1990s.

Facebook removes 2.5 million posts selling masks, COVID-19 kits

Facebook Inc. said it has removed 2.5 million posts since March 1 offering masks, sanitizers, cleaning wipes and COVID-19 test kits, in an attempt to prevent users from price-gouging or selling counterfeit and dangerous products.

Keep a phone charger and long cable on hand for emergencies

I have a family member who's had more than her share of hospital visits lately, and trying to communicate with her has been a challenge some days.

GrubHub shares surge off reports of acquisition offer by Uber

Might two major forces in the restaurant delivery business come together?

Tech company that makes iPhone cables has pivoted to ventilators amid coronavirus crisis

The company that makes your iPhone charging cable and home router is joining in on the coronavirus fight. Belkin International has started making what it calls "low-cost" ventilators at manufacturing plants in Providence, Rhode Island.

US says China trying to steal COVID-19 vaccine research

US authorities warned Wednesday that Chinese hackers were attempting to steal coronavirus data on treatments and vaccines, adding fuel to Washington's war with Beijing over the pandemic.

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