Science X Newsletter Friday, May 22

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for May 22, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Laser cooling a nanomechanical oscillator close to its ground state

Researchers record world's fastest internet speed from a single optical chip

A stitch in time: How a quantum physicist invented new code from old tricks

Past is prologue: Genetic 'memory' of ancestral environments helps organisms readapt

How a male fly knows when to make a move on a mate

Earliest evidence of Italians' extraordinary genetic diversity dates back to 19,000 years ago

Onboard separation technology set to improve fuel economy

Researchers achieve broadest microcomb spectral span on record

CRISPR a tool for conservation, not just gene editing

New urine testing method holds promise for kidney stone sufferers

Blood flow recovers faster than brain in micro strokes

The European viper uses cloak-and-dazzle method to escape predators

Artificial intelligence can make personality judgments based on photographs

Researchers uncover the arks of genetic diversity in terrestrial mammals

Combinatorial screening approach opens path to better-quality joint cartilage

Physics news

A stitch in time: How a quantum physicist invented new code from old tricks

A scientist at the University of Sydney has achieved what one quantum industry insider has described as "something that many researchers thought was impossible".

Researchers achieve broadest microcomb spectral span on record

Xu Yi, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Virginia, collaborated with Yun-Feng Xiao's group from Peking University and researchers at Caltech to achieve the broadest recorded spectral span in a microcomb.

Researchers demonstrate transport of mechanical energy, even through damaged pathways

Most technologies today rely on devices that transport energy in the form of light, radio, or mechanical waves. However, these wave-guiding channels are susceptible to disorder and damage, either in manufacturing or after they are deployed in harsh environments.

Discovery about the edge of fusion plasma could help realize fusion power

A major roadblock to producing safe, clean and abundant fusion energy on Earth is the lack of detailed understanding of how the hot, charged plasma gas that fuels fusion reactions behaves at the edge of fusion facilities called "tokamaks." Recent breakthroughs by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have advanced understanding of the behavior of the highly complex plasma edge in doughnut-shaped tokamaks on the road to capturing the fusion energy that powers the sun and stars. Understanding this edge region will be particularly important for operating ITER, the international fusion experiment under construction in France to demonstrate the practicality of fusion energy.

Oriented hexagonal boron nitride foster new type of information carrier

Today's computers use the presence or absence of charge (0s and 1s) to encode information, where the physical motion of charges consume energy and cause heat. A novel alternative is to utilize the wave quantum number of electrons by which information encoding is possible without physically moving the carriers. This study shows that manipulation of the wave quantum number is possible by controlling the stacking configuration and the orientation of different two-dimensional materials.

Scientists solve half-century-old magnesium dimer mystery

Magnesium dimer (Mg2) is a fragile molecule consisting of two weakly interacting atoms held together by the laws of quantum mechanics. It has recently emerged as a potential probe for understanding fundamental phenomena at the intersection of chemistry and ultracold physics, but its use has been thwarted by a half-century-old enigma—five high-lying vibrational states that hold the key to understanding how the magnesium atoms interact but have eluded detection for 50 years.

Scientists demonstrate new wavelength shift with diode-pumped continuous-wave Yb:CALGO laser

In 1960, Maiman's first demonstration of the ruby laser initiated the beginning of the laser era. Solid-state lasers still comprise one of the most rapidly developing branches of laser science and has improved amazingly during last six decades while the gain media with good characteristics is essential for realizing a highly efficient solid-state laser.

Research team reports an important step to making optical simulators real-world devices

A group of Skoltech scientists, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Southampton (UK), developed a fully optical approach to control the couplings between polariton condensates in optical lattices. This study is an important step toward the practical application of optical polariton condensate lattices as a platform for simulating condensed matter phases. The research results were published in the journal Physical Review Letters, where the paper was featured on the front cover.

Astronomy and Space news

ALMA spots twinkling heart of Milky Way

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) found quasi-periodic flickers in millimeter-waves from the center of the Milky Way, Sagittarius (Sgr) A*. The team interpreted these blinks to be due to the rotation of radio spots circling the supermassive black hole with an orbit radius smaller than that of Mercury. This is an interesting clue to investigate space-time with extreme gravity.

Space Force is starting to train its soldiers to fight… in space?

On February 19, 2019, the U.S. Space Force (USSF) was officially created with the signing of Space Policy Directive–4. This effectively broke it off from the U.S. Air Force Space Command (AFSC) and made it into the sixth and youngest independent branch of the armed forces. Since then, the USSF has established a headquarters, taken on staff from the U.S. Air Force, and even produced a recruitment video.

Air deliveries bring NASA's Perseverance Mars rover closer to launch

Progress continues to speed along as NASA's Perseverance rover readies for its launch this summer. On May 11, the rover team at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida received the tubes tasked with holding the first samples collected at Mars for eventual return to Earth. A week later, the Atlas V launch vehicle that will hurl Perseverance to the Red Planet arrived at the launch site. Working together, personnel from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and United Launch Alliance in Centennial, Colorado, were also able to extend the rover's launch period by six days, from Jul. 17-Aug. 5 to Jul. 17-Aug. 11.

The bold plan to see continents and oceans on another Earth

What if we could take a picture of an Earth-like planet around another star that was sharp enough to see continents, oceans, and clouds?

DESI team prepares for telescope instrument's restart after unexpected shutdown

The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), installed on an Arizona mountaintop, was quickly moving through its testing stages and making headway toward the start of its 5-year observing run as project participants from around the world traveled to attend a DESI collaboration meeting in Tucson, Arizona, in early March.

NASA's newest test pilots are veteran astronauts, friends

The two astronauts who will test drive SpaceX's brand new rocketship are classmates and friends, veteran spacefliers married to veteran spacefliers, and fathers of young sons.

NASA gives go-ahead for first crewed SpaceX flight on May 27

NASA gave the green light on Friday to next week's launch of two astronauts aboard a SpaceX vessel—the first crewed space flight from US soil in nine years and a crucial step towards ending American dependence on Russian rockets.

Technology news

Researchers record world's fastest internet speed from a single optical chip

Researchers from Monash, Swinburne and RMIT universities have successfully tested and recorded Australia's fastest internet data speed, and that of the world, from a single optical chip—capable of downloading 1000 high definition movies in a split second.

Onboard separation technology set to improve fuel economy

A technology developed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory could pave the way for increased fuel economy and lower greenhouse gas emissions as part of an octane-on-demand fuel-delivery system.

Artificial intelligence can make personality judgments based on photographs

Russian researchers from HSE University and Open University for the Humanities and Economics have demonstrated that artificial intelligence is able to infer people's personality from 'selfie' photographs better than human raters do. Conscientiousness emerged to be more easily recognizable than the other four traits. Personality predictions based on female faces appeared to be more reliable than those for male faces. The technology can be used to find the 'best matches' in customer service, dating or online tutoring.

Internet traffic is growing 25% each year. We created a fingernail-sized chip that can help the NBN keep up

Our internet connections have never been more important to us, nor have they been under such strain. As the COVID-19 pandemic has made remote working, remote socialisation, and online entertainment the norm, we have seen an unprecedented spike in society's demand for data.

Tech giants are embracing remote work. Others may follow

For a preview of the future of office work, watch how the biggest tech companies are preparing for a post-pandemic world.

A self-improving pyramid stereo network for intelligent transport systems

In autonomous driving, stereo vision-based depth estimation technology can help to accurately estimate the distance of obstacles, which is crucial for correct path planning of the vehicle.

Good start, but room for improvement: Experts rate Australia's emissions technology plan

Energy Minister Angus Taylor yesterday released his government's emissions reduction technology plan, setting out priorities for meeting Australia's climate targets while growing the economy.

New and improved drone mapping software

For his thesis, an EPFL Ph.D. student has enhanced the accuracy and reliability of drone mapping—a technique that is gaining traction across many sectors of society.

Patented technology designed to stop tiny errors from crashing large health care, supply chain systems

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced public health, supply chain, transportation, government, economic and many other entities to interact in real time. One of the challenges in large systems interacting in this way is that even tiny errors in one system can cause devastating effects across the entire system chain.

Facebook, Amazon chiefs see wealth balloon amid pandemic: report

The fortunes of US billionaires rose 15 percent in the two months since the coronavirus pandemic hit, a study found, with Amazon boss Jeff Bezos and Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg seeing massive gains.

DOE says supercomputers handling COVID-19 data are hacker targets

Energy Department officials said they have noticed a spike in cyberattacks on national laboratories and that foreign nations are interested in U.S. coronavirus research.

Facebook employees could receive pay cuts as they continue to work from home

Facebook employees, who will continue to work from home for an expected five to ten years, will receive cuts if they move to less expensive areas.

Coronavirus pandemic claims another victim: Robocalls

Have you been missing something amid the lockdowns and stay-at-home orders? No, not human contact. Not even toilet paper.

US video game industry sees record April sales: survey

Spending on video games in the US jumped to a new April record as locked-down consumers sought refuge in play, industry figures released Friday showed.

IBM cuts jobs around U.S. as new CEO looks for revival

IBM Ginni Rometty. Rometty remains IBM's executive chairwoman through the end of the year.

Tech privacy firm warns contact tracing app violates policy

A contact tracing app pushed by the governors of North Dakota and South Dakota as a tool to trace exposure to the coronavirus violated its own privacy policy by sharing location and user identification information with third-party businesses, according to a report from a tech privacy company.

COVID conflict in close quarters: Expert says issues at Amazon will persist

Whether physical distancing measures are implemented by businesses as people start to return to work, Amazon workers will continue to work in close quarters both during and after the coronavirus crisis subsides.

Killer apps: New book explores media systems and the rise of military automation

A U of T Mississauga researcher is challenging naïve assumptions that technology can be easily controlled or grounded by policy and law, arguing that all technologies will be weaponized as the military establishment continues to seek increasingly sophisticated systems.

Alibaba profit tumbles, but revenue surprises despite virus

Chinese e-commerce leader Alibaba said Friday its net profit fell 88 percent in the first quarter of the year, but revenue beat analyst forecasts despite the disruptions caused by the coronavirus.

T-Mobile sees pandemic as opportunity to connect with first-responders with free service, phones

T-Mobile really wants to connect with local and state police, fire and emergency medical departments—by offering them free cellular service, including 5G connectivity.

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