Science X Newsletter Monday, May 25

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for May 25, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A model that estimates tactile properties of surfaces by analyzing images

Pac-Man reinvented by Nvidia AI on its 40th birthday

Astronomers see 'cosmic ring of fire,' 11 billion years ago

New soliton laser pulses deliver high energy in a trillionth of a second

New double-contrast technique picks up small tumors on MRI

Understanding ceramic materials' 'mortar' may reveal ways to improve them

Solving the space junk problem

Scientists see through glass frogs' translucent camouflage

Antibody designed to recognize pathogens of Alzheimer's disease

Nanoscale optical pulse limiter facilitated by refractory metallic quantum wells

Beta Cephei-type pulsations detected in V453 Cygni

Digital device serves up a taste of virtual food

Galactic crash may have triggered solar system formation

First commercial space taxi a pit stop on Musk's Mars quest

Anti-viral drug remdesivir effective against coronavirus, study finds

Physics news

New soliton laser pulses deliver high energy in a trillionth of a second

Scientists have developed a new type of laser that can deliver high amounts of energy in very short bursts of time, with potential applications in eye and heart surgery or the engineering of delicate materials.

Energy-recovery linear accelerator proposed for next-generation physics research

As physicists developed plans for building an electron-ion collider (EIC)—a next-generation nuclear physics facility to be built at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory for nuclear physics research—they explored various options for accelerating the beams of electrons. One approach, developed by scientists at Brookhaven Lab and Stony Brook University, was to use an energy-recovery linear accelerator (ERL). The ERL would bring the electrons up to the energy needed to probe the inner structure of protons and atomic nuclei, and then decelerate the electrons and reuse most of their energy. The R&D to develop the innovative ERL may end up having a major impact in a different area of physics—high-energy particle physics, where the power needs make its energy-saving features particularly attractive.

Pairing lasers with microwaves makes mind-bogglingly accurate electronic clocks

Time and frequency standards are a key part of technologies we have come to rely on in our daily lives, from GPS navigation and cellphone networks to the electrical power grid. The importance of these systems and the constant drive to improve their performance has led to the development of atomic clocks that keep time and measure frequency with incredible accuracy.

Applying physics to understanding the mystery of consciousness

An international study involving Monash physicists has cornered a new approach to measure consciousness, potentially changing our understanding complex neurological problems.

Researchers observe protons 'playing hopscotch' in a high-pressure form of ice

An international team of researchers from University College Dublin (UCD) and University of Saskatchewan, Canada, have observed 'proton-hopping' movement in a high-pressure form of ice (Ice VII lattices).

Researchers demonstrate high-efficiency emission of dispersive wave in gas-filled hollow-core photonic crystal fibers

In the past decade, anti-resonant, hollow-core photonic crystal fibers (HC-PCFs) have become excellent platforms for studying ultrafast nonlinear optics such as ultrashort pulse compression to the single-cycle regime, efficient generation of tunable dispersive wave (DW) at deep and vacuum ultraviolet wavelengths and soliton-plasma interactions.

Astronomy and Space news

Astronomers see 'cosmic ring of fire,' 11 billion years ago

Astronomers have captured an image of a super-rare type of galaxy—described as a "cosmic ring of fire"—as it existed 11 billion years ago.

Solving the space junk problem

Space is getting crowded. Aging satellites and space debris crowd low-Earth orbit, and launching new satellites adds to the collision risk. The most effective way to solve the space junk problem, according to a new study, is not to capture debris or deorbit old satellites: it's an international agreement to charge operators "orbital-use fees" for every satellite put into orbit.

Beta Cephei-type pulsations detected in V453 Cygni

Using NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), astronomers have detected Beta Cephei-type pulsations in an eclipsing binary system known as V453 Cygni. The finding, detailed in a paper published May 15 on, could be helpful in improving the understanding of the structure and evolution of stars in eclipsing binaries.

Galactic crash may have triggered solar system formation

The formation of the Sun, the Solar System and the subsequent emergence of life on Earth may be a consequence of a collision between our galaxy, the Milky Way, and a smaller galaxy called Sagittarius, discovered in the 1990s to be orbiting our galactic home.

First commercial space taxi a pit stop on Musk's Mars quest

It all started with the dream of growing a rose on Mars.

SpaceX's 1st astronaut launch breaking new ground for style

The first astronauts launched by SpaceX are breaking new ground for style with hip spacesuits, gull-wing Teslas and a sleek rocketship—all of it white with black trim.

China space programme targets July launch for Mars mission

China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious plans for a Mars mission which will include landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the red planet, the company in charge of the project has said.

Image: Hubble sees stellar glitter in a cosmic void

Unlike a spiral or elliptical galaxy, the galaxy KK 246 looks like glitter spilled across a black velvet sheet. KK 246, also known as ESO 461-036, is a dwarf irregular galaxy residing within the Local Void, a vast region of empty space. This lonely galaxy is the only one known for certain to reside in this enormous volume, along with 15 others that have been tentatively identified.

1st test launch by Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit postponed

Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit postponed its first space launch Sunday due to a technical problem.

SpaceX ready to launch astronauts into space for the first time

In the beginning, everyone was skeptical. But Elon Musk's SpaceX defied expectations—and on Wednesday hopes to make history by ferrying two NASA astronauts into space, the first crewed flight from US soil in nine long years.

Milestones of US human spaceflights

Here are key milestones in the history of crewed US spaceflights, which resume on May 27 with the first transport of US astronauts to the International Space Station for nine years.

Rocketman (and woman): Elon and Gwynne, the pair who made SpaceX

Space Exploration Technologies Corp.—commonly known as SpaceX—is slated to send two astronauts into space on Wednesday. Despite not yet being 20 years old, the company has already developed a creation myth: on September 28, 2008, its first rocket Falcon 1 launched for the fourth time.

NASA astronauts go back to the future with capsule launch

It's back to the future as NASA astronauts launch again from the U.S.—aboard a retro-style "Right Stuff" capsule.

Could theorized Planet 9 be a primordial black hole? Researchers propose method to find out

There are eight classical planets in our solar system, from speedy Mercury to distant Neptune. There are also numerous dwarf planets, such as Pluto and Ceres. While we continue to find more dwarf planets, there are some hints that another large planet could lurk far beyond Neptune. This Planet Nine is thought to be a "super-Earth," about five times the mass of our planet, which would make it about twice as large as Earth. But despite several searches for the planet, it has not yet been found.

Video: One billion stars and counting—the sky according to Gaia's second data release

Launched in 2013, ESA's Gaia satellite has been scanning the sky to measure the positions, distances and motions of more than one billion stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way. The goal of the mission is to create the most detailed galactic map ever made, in order to investigate the Milky Way's past and future history like never before.

Technology news

A model that estimates tactile properties of surfaces by analyzing images

The ability to estimate the physical properties of objects is of key importance for robots, as it allows them to interact more effectively with their surrounding environment. In recent years, many robotics researchers have been specifically trying to develop techniques that allow robots to estimate tactile properties of objects or surfaces, which could ultimately provide them with skills that resemble the human sense of touch.

Pac-Man reinvented by Nvidia AI on its 40th birthday

Forty years ago Friday the most popular video game of all time was released.

Digital device serves up a taste of virtual food

We're used to measuring our digital devices by how fast they are, how clear the sound is, how crisp the display is, how large the storage capacity is.

Virus-hit Hertz declares bankruptcy in US and Canada

Global car rental company Hertz became the latest economic casualty of the coronavirus pandemic Friday, filing for bankruptcy in the US and Canada after more than a century in business.

Mitsubishi Aircraft closing overseas locations, cutting jobs

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is cutting hundreds of jobs in Washington state and shuttering its U.S. operations for the troubled SpaceJet project, the company said Friday.

Pandemic gives Dubai chance to put tech to the test

From smart police helmets to research labs, the novel coronavirus has given Dubai an opportunity to test its technological and scientific clout as it shapes its approach to the pandemic.

US virus tracking: a patchwork of apps, human tracers

Digital or manual? Bluetooth or GPS? Centralized or decentralized?

Top German court grants buybacks for VW diesel car owners (Update)

A top German court ruled Monday that Volkswagen must buy back a diesel car it modified to appear less polluting, a decision that could influence the outcome of tens of thousands of other "dieselgate" cases.

Are you still watching? Netflix to start canceling inactive accounts, if members don't confirm.

Netflix users who don't want to see their subscriptions canceled should make sure to answer if they're still watching.

Do this before you upgrade your phone: Back up your data and wipe it clean

Tempted to upgrade to a shiny new iPhone or Galaxy device? Or perhaps you're waiting for the Google Pixel 4a announcement?

International collaboration powers quest for next-generation solar cells

The next generation of solar cells, made from flexible, wearable material, may soon charge our devices on the go, or provide critical electricity when other power sources are not available, like during a natural disaster.

The coronavirus pandemic highlights the need for a surveillance debate beyond 'privacy'

The coronavirus pandemic has stirred up a surveillance storm. Researchers rush to develop new forms of public health monitoring and tracking, but releasing personal data to private companies and governments carries risks to our individual and collective rights. COVID-19 opens the lid on a much-needed debate.

Artificial intelligence for optimized mobile communication

While many European states are currently setting up the 5th generation of mobile communication, scientists are already working on its optimization. Although 5G is far superior to its predecessors, even the latest mobile communication standard still has room for improvement: Especially in urban areas, where a direct line of sight between emitter and transceiver is difficult, the radio link does not yet function reliably. Within the recently launched EU project ARIADNE, eleven European partners are researching how an advanced system architecture "beyond 5G" can be developed by using high frequency bands and artificial intelligence.

Swiss contact-tracing app uses Google, Apple APIs: Trial begins as country opens up

Today sees the start of the pilot phase for the long-awaited tracing app jointly developed by teams at ETH Zurich and EPF Lausanne on behalf of the federal government. Switzerland is the first country in the world to use APIs from Google and Apple.

Qatar virus tracing app stirs rare privacy backlash

Privacy concerns over Qatar's coronavirus contact tracing app, a tool that is mandatory on pain of prison, have prompted a rare backlash and forced officials to offer reassurance and concessions.

Virus-hit Fiji Airways cuts workforce by half

Pandemic-hit Fiji Airways fired more than half its workforce Monday, as travel restrictions put the islands' vital tourism sector in deep freeze and reduced the national carrier's revenue to "virtually zero".

CEO buys ailing New Zealand media giant for one dollar

Struggling New Zealand media giant Stuff Limited was sold in a management buy-out deal for the symbolic fee of NZ$1.00 (US$0.61), the group's Australian owners Nine Entertainment announced Monday.

Biden wants Amazon to 'start paying their taxes'

Former Vice President Joe Biden has renewed his criticism of e-commerce giant Amazon, once again turning the company into a political football that has been kicked around by presidential candidates on various issues, including taxes and delivery charges.

German govt to climb aboard at Lufthansa in virus rescue

Berlin will climb aboard airline giant Lufthansa as its largest shareholder in a nine-billion-euro ($9.8 billion) rescue if investors and competition authorities agree, as the coronavirus-stricken carrier faces an arduous years-long recovery from the pandemic.

ELASTIC software architecture advances urban mobility in Florence

Current trends in the field of big data analytics in the context of smart cities show a need for original software ecosystems upon which advanced mobility functionalities can be developed. These new architectures need to be able to collect and process a vast amount of data, coming from geographically dispersed data sources, and convert it to valuable knowledge for the public sector, private enterprises and citizens.

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