Science X Newsletter Friday, Jun 5

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for June 5, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A system for the nonreciprocal transmission of microwave acoustic waves

If transistors can't get smaller, then software developers have to get smarter

Chance of finding young Earth-like planets higher than previously thought

Research shows promising advances to inexpensive and durable smart window technology

Scientists develop unique polymer coating to tackle harmful fungi

Manipulating metals for adaptive camouflage

Heat-trapping carbon dioxide in air hits new record high

Shocker! Japan firms' electrifying fabric zaps bacteria

How is a metal formed?

Uncovering the tricks of game changer antibiotic teixobactin

Ultrastable, selective catalyst for propane dehydrogenation developed

Astronomers unveil the magnetic field of the solar corona

Study paves way for faster, more accurate therapies for hard-to-treat leukemia patients

Replacement for PFAS found in soil in New Jersey

Microglia in the olfactory bulb have a nose for protecting the brain from infection

Physics news

Scientists iron out the physics of wrinkling

When we think of wrinkles, we usually envision the lines etched into our skin, for some an unwelcome reality and for others a proud sign of a life well-lived. In material science, wrinkles can also be either wanted or unwanted. But the physical factors that cause wrinkling to occur are not yet fully understood.

'Whispering gallery' effect controls electron beams with light

When you speak softly in one of the galleries of St Paul's cathedral, the sound runs so easily around the dome that visitors anywhere on its circumference can hear it. This striking phenomenon has been termed the 'whispering gallery' effect, and variants of it appear in many scenarios where a wave can travel nearly perfectly around a structure. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now harnessed the effect to control the beam of an electron microscope by light. The results were published in Nature.

Physicists create quantum-inspired optical sensor

Researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, joined by a colleague from Argonne National Laboratory, U.S., have implemented an advanced quantum algorithm for measuring physical quantities using simple optical tools. Published in Scientific Reports, their study takes us a step closer to affordable linear optics-based sensors with high performance characteristics. Such tools are sought after in diverse research fields, from astronomy to biology.

New discovery advances optical microscopy

New Illinois ECE research is advancing the field of optical microscopy, giving the field a critical new tool to solve challenging problems across many fields of science and engineering including semiconductor wafer inspection, nanoparticle sensing, material characterization, biosensing, virus counting, and microfluidic monitoring.

Researchers experimentally prove flat mirror ability to focus light

For the first time, researchers of Tomsk Polytechnic University jointly with teams from Taiwan and Spain have experimentally confirmed the flat focusing mirror effect, which they previously predicted. Physical properties of the effect and simplicity of its reproduction make it promising for application in microelectronics, photonics, and on-chip systems, where a single microcircuit functions as an entire device. The study results are presented in Scientific Reports.

Cracking open the proton

Physicists around the world are cracking open the proton, within the nucleus of the atom, to see what's inside.

Scientists demonstrate ion implantation advantages for the use of silicon in optoelectronics

Silicon is the main material in electronic engineering. All information and computing technologies that play a key role in modern civilization are based on silicon: computers, communications, astronautics, biomedicine, robotics and much more.

Astronomy and Space news

Chance of finding young Earth-like planets higher than previously thought

Research from the University of Sheffield has found that the chance of finding Earth-like planets in their early stages of formation is much higher than previously thought.

Astronomers unveil the magnetic field of the solar corona

While the world has been dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy (IfA) have been hard at work studying the solar corona, the outermost atmosphere of the sun which expands into interplanetary space. This stream of charged particles radiating from the surface of the sun is called the solar wind and expands to fill the entire solar system.

A new catalog of infrared dark clouds

Infrared dark clouds (IRDCs) are dark patches of cold dust and gas seen in the sky against the bright diffuse infrared glow of warm dust in our galaxy. These IRDCs, massive and rich in molecules, are natural sites for star birth—one of the main reasons why astronomers are actively studying them. IRDCs were first detected by two early space infrared missions, the Infrared Space Observatory and the Midcourse Space Experiment, but the IRAC camera on Spitzer revolutionized the field with its dramatically enhanced sensitivity and spatial resolution. IRAC had completed several surveys of the Milky Way before being shut off last February, and astronomers have been using the infrared images to identify and analyze the characteristics of IRDCs. The Submillimeter Array and ALMA facilities, operating with high sensitivity and resolution at submillimeter wavelengths where the cold molecular gas can be characterized, have enabled astronomers to follow up on these newly discovered sources and to determine the gas temperatures, densities and motions, leading to advances in our understanding of the earliest stages of star formation in these stellar nurseries.

Spying a rare 'ring of fire' around Venus at inferior conjunction

Amazing things happen in the day-to-day sky that often go unnoticed during our normal routine. Just such a curious 'non-event' happened this week, when Venus reached inferior conjunction between the Earth and the sun on its race from the dusk to the dawn sky. And what's even more amazing is the fact that some skilled observers followed this passage and caught sight of Venus as a tiny blazing 'ring of fire' silhouetted against the dazzling sky.

Hubble catches cosmic snowflakes

Almost like snowflakes, the stars of the globular cluster NGC 6441 sparkle peacefully in the night sky, about 13,000 light-years from the Milky Way's galactic center. Like snowflakes, the exact number of stars in such a cluster is difficult to discern. It is estimated that together the stars have 1.6 million times the mass of the Sun, making NGC 6441 one of the most massive and luminous globular clusters in the Milky Way.

ESA moves ahead on low-cost reusable rocket engine

ESA's Prometheus is the precursor of ultra-low-cost rocket propulsion that is flexible enough to fit a fleet of new launch vehicles for any mission and will be potentially reusable.

Image: Arm out to asteroid

This robotic arm, moving along a 33-m-long track, forms ESA's GNC Rendezvous, Approach and Landing Simulator, used to simulate close approach to targets such as drifting satellites or asteroids.

Technology news

A system for the nonreciprocal transmission of microwave acoustic waves

Acoustic waves have been found to be highly versatile and promising carriers of information between chip-based electronic devices. This characteristic is ideal for the development of a number of electronic components, including microwave filters and transducers.

If transistors can't get smaller, then software developers have to get smarter

In 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore predicted that the number of transistors that could fit on a computer chip would grow exponentially —- and they did, doubling about every two years. For half a century Moore's Law has endured: computers have gotten smaller, faster, cheaper and more efficient, enabling the rapid worldwide adoption of PCs, smartphones, high-speed Internet and more.

Research shows promising advances to inexpensive and durable smart window technology

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have developed an improved method for controlling smart tinting on windows that could make them cheaper, more effective and more durable than current options on the market. The research, led by Professor Mike McGehee in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, is described in a new paper this week in Joule and uses a reversible metal electrodeposition process that is different from the current industry standards.

Shocker! Japan firms' electrifying fabric zaps bacteria

It's a shocking idea: a fabric that can produce small amounts of electricity powered by movement, allowing your clothing to zap microbes and bacteria as you go about your day.

Bioactive inks printed on wearable textiles can map conditions over the entire surface of the body

Researchers at Tufts University's School of Engineering have developed biomaterial-based inks that respond to and quantify chemicals released from the body (e.g. in sweat and potentially other biofluids) or in the surrounding environment by changing color. The inks can be screen printed onto textiles such as clothes, shoes, or even face masks in complex patterns and at high resolution, providing a detailed map of human response or exposure. The advance in wearable sensing, reported in Advanced Materials, could simultaneously detect and quantify a wide range of biological conditions, molecules and, possibly, pathogens over the surface of the body using conventional garments and uniforms.

Google Search shaves seconds with snippet-to-source feature

The columnist George Will once said of baseball that it is a game "measured in inches and seconds."

Synthetic signatures and automatic autographs

One's signature, or autograph if one is famous, is a unique identifier for many people. It is used to sign documents from business contracts, cheques, a marriage license and everything in between. However, for those whose native "pen", as opposed to tongue, is not based in an alphabet that can be written cursively, wherein letters are joined or ligatured in freehand, a signature is often off the cards for them.

Cybercriminals are now targeting critical electricity infrastructure

Amid the constant stream of news on the coronavirus pandemic, one event passed relatively unnoticed. On the afternoon of May 14, a company named Elexon was hacked. You probably haven't heard of it, but Elexon plays a key role in the UK's electricity market, and though the attack did not affect the electricity supply itself, as an academic who researches cybersecurity in the electricity system, I am worried. This near miss reveals just how vulnerable our critical infrastructure is to such attacks—especially during a pandemic.

Google sued for at least $5 billion over claimed 'Incognito mode' grab of 'potentially embarrassing' browsing data

A trio of Google users has filed a lawsuit seeking billions of dollars in damages for millions of people allegedly tricked into giving up their web-use data by promises of "private browsing" in "Incognito mode."

Need for speed in COVID–19 digital contact tracing

Australia's COVIDSafe app needs to be faster and have higher uptake rates to be effective as the nation's digital contact tracing solution, according to a working paper released by The University of Queensland's Institute for Social Science Research.

How West Africa can expand power supply and meet climate goals

Not too long ago, when the idea of solar and wind energy was still hotly debated, critics used to point out the limitations of these energy sources: the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow. But nowadays many countries' electricity grids are strongly supplied by renewable energy.

Researchers call for new federal authority to regulate facial recognition tech

A group of artificial intelligence experts including computer vision researcher and lead author Erik Learned-Miller of the University of Massachusetts Amherst's College of Information and Computer Sciences recently proposed a new model for managing facial recognition technologies at the federal level.

Reddit co-founder leaves board, urges black replacement

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian announced his resignation from the board of the social media site and urged the board to replace him with a black candidate.

UK car dealership motors out of virus lockdown

At the Vauxhall car showroom in Chingford, just northeast of London, business is motoring ahead after Britain lifted lockdown restrictions this week on the coronavirus-ravaged sector.

Luxury carmaker Bentley to axe 1,000 UK jobs

German-owned luxury car brand Bentley on Friday said it would axe around 1,000 jobs in the UK as the market weathers the coronavirus-induced downturn.

The politics behind how governments control coronavirus data

COVID-19 has affected almost every country around the globe. The World Health Organization has confirmed cases in 216 countries and territories, a total that represents more than 85 percent of 251 entities recognized by the United Nations. Yet each government has responded differently to the coronavirus pandemic —including how data on the disease have been shared with each country's citizens.

Apple's Tim Cook publishes open letter on racism, says company 'must do more'

Apple CEO said his company "must do more" to fight racism and promote diversity.

Apple says it's locking and tracking some looted iPhones

Looters who managed to make off with iPhones stolen from Apple stores during the days of civil unrest and rioting over the past week are likely to be in for a surprise.

Elon Musk says it's 'time to break up Amazon'

Elon Musk ended his brief respite from tweeting Thursday when he went on Twitter to say that he thinks its time for Amazon to be broken up.

The importance of building trust in contact tracing apps

In the very real need for speed around excellent contact tracing in the COVID-19 environment, the voice of the people is getting lost, according to Associate Professor Anna Brown.

Cheaper, lighter and more energy-dense: The promise of lithium-sulphur batteries

Lithium-sulphur batteries, which are lighter and cheaper than today's models, may be the next generation of power cells that we use in electric cars or mobile phones—if scientists can get them to last for longer.

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