Science X Newsletter Monday, Jun 8

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

Spotlight Stories Headlines

KUBeetle-S: An insect-inspired robot that can fly for up to 9 minutes

Scientists propose new naming system for uncultivated bacteria and archaea

Scientists engineer one protein to fight cancer and regenerate neurons

'Philosophy lab test' finds objective vision impossible

New technique pinpoints locations of individual molecules in their cellular neighborhoods

Variable star RZ Piscium has a low-mass stellar companion, study finds

New experiments show complex astrochemistry on thin ice covering dust grains

Transparent graphene electrodes might lead to new generation of solar cells

Engineers put tens of thousands of artificial brain synapses on a single chip

Shock waves created in the lab mimic astrophysical particle accelerators powered by exploding stars

Titan is migrating away from Saturn 100 times faster than previously predicted

COVID-19 research scandal: Unwanted diversion during pandemic

Researchers eye tech wearables as virus early warning system

Great white shark diet surprises scientists

Pinker flamingos more aggressive

Physics news

New experiments show complex astrochemistry on thin ice covering dust grains

Astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and the University of Jena have obtained a clearer view of nature's tiny deep-space laboratories: tiny dust grains covered with ice. Instead of regular shapes covered thickly in ice, such grains appear to be fluffy networks of dust, with thin ice layers. In particular, that means the dust grains have considerably larger surfaces, which is where most of the chemical reactions take place. Hence, the new structure has fundamental consequences for astronomers' view of organic chemistry in space—and thus for the genesis of prebiotic molecules that could have played an important role for the origin of life on Earth.

Shock waves created in the lab mimic astrophysical particle accelerators powered by exploding stars

When stars explode as supernovas, they produce shock waves in the plasma surrounding them. So powerful are these shock waves, they can act as particle accelerators that blast streams of particles, called cosmic rays, out into the universe at nearly the speed of light. Yet how exactly they do that has remained something of a mystery.

Lightning-fast algorithms can lighten the load of 3-D hologram generation

Researchers from Tokyo Metropolitan University have developed a new way of calculating simple holograms for heads-up displays (HUDs) and near-eye displays (NEDs). The method is up to 56 times faster than conventional algorithms and does not require power-hungry graphics processing units (GPUs), instead running on normal PC computing cores. This opens the way to developing compact, power-efficient augmented reality devices, including 3-D navigation on car windshields and eyewear.

Gently caressing atoms

Oxygen is highly reactive. It accumulates on many surfaces and determines their chemical behavior. At the Vienna University of Technology, scientists study the interaction between oxygen and metal oxide surfaces, which play an important role in many technical applications, from chemical sensors and catalysts to electronics.

Novel probes of the strong force: Precision jet substructure and the Lund jet plane

A hallmark of the strong force at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the dramatic production of collimated jets of particles when quarks and gluons scatter at high energies. Particle physicists have studied jets for decades to learn about the structure of quantum chromodynamics—or QCD, the theory of the strong interaction—across a wide range of energy scales.

Checking out iron under pressure

Iron is the most stable and heaviest chemical element produced by nucleosynthesis in stars, making it the most abundant heavy element in the universe and in the interiors of Earth and other rocky planets.

Researchers develop ultra-sensitive device for detecting magnetic fields

A team of Brown University physicists has developed a new type of compact, ultra-sensitive magnetometer. The new device could be useful in a variety of applications involving weak magnetic fields, the researchers say.

Physicists study mirror nuclei for precision theory test

It's not often in nuclear physics that you can clearly get both sides of the story, but a recent experiment allowed researchers to do just that. They compared very similar nuclei to each other to get a clearer view of how the components of nuclei are arranged and found that there's still more to learn about the heart of matter. The research, carried out at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, was recently published as an editors' suggested read in Physical Review Letters.

Doing more with terahertz: simplifying near-infrared spectroscopy systems

Spectroscopy has roots in early 19th century curiosity about interactions between matter and electromagnetic radiation. Thanks to advances in electronics and materials science, various spectroscopy techniques are now routinely used to study the composition of materials and the nature of their chemical bonds by analyzing how they absorb or reflect electromagnetic waves.

Astronomy and Space news

Variable star RZ Piscium has a low-mass stellar companion, study finds

Using ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), an international team of astronomers has uncovered the presence of a low-mass stellar companion to a young variable star known as RZ Piscium. The newly detected object is about eight times less massive than the sun, and orbits the primary star at a distance of around 23 AU. The finding is reported in a paper published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. A pre-publication version is available on

Titan is migrating away from Saturn 100 times faster than previously predicted

By Earthly standards, Saturn's moon Titan is a strange place. Larger than the planet Mercury, Titan is swaddled in a thick atmosphere (it is the only moon in the solar system to have one) and covered in rivers and seas of liquid hydrocarbons like methane and ethane. Beneath these is a thick crust of water ice, and beneath that may be a liquid water ocean that could potentially harbor life.

International effort reveals 157 day cycle in unusual cosmic radio bursts

An investigation into one of the current great mysteries of astronomy has come to the fore thanks to a four-year observing campaign conducted at the Jodrell Bank Observatory.

Ancient asteroid impacts created the ingredients of life on Earth and Mars

A new study published in Scientific Reports reveals that asteroid impact sites in the ocean may possess a crucial link in explaining the formation of the essential molecules for life. The researchers discovered the emergence of amino acids that serve as the building blocks for proteins—demonstrating the role of meteorites in bringing life's molecules to Earth, and potentially Mars.

Fix for Mars lander 'mole' may be working

Representatives from NASA's InSight project have reported via Twitter that efforts by the team at the German Aerospace Center (GAC) to push a probe called the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (more affectionately known as "the mole") down into the Martian soil has finally met with some success. The group at GAC has been documenting the work being done to overcome problems with deploying the probe on the project website.

Astronomers find elusive target hiding behind dust

Astronomers acting on a hunch have likely resolved a mystery about young, still-forming stars and regions rich in organic molecules closely surrounding some of them. They used the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) to reveal one such region that previously had eluded detection, and that revelation answered a longstanding que:stion.

Cosmic quasars embrace 1970s fashion trend

Researchers from Russia, Germany, Finland and the U.S. have studied more than 300 quasars—spinning black holes that produce beams of plasma. The team has found that the shape of these so-called astrophysical jets changes from parabolic to conical at some distance from the black hole, reminiscent of the iconic flared jeans of the '70s. By effectively measuring these "cosmic pants," the researchers aim to interpret the workings of the central engine that accelerates matter to nearly the speed of light at the centers of remote active galaxies. The study is reported in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

First global map of rockfalls on the moon

A research team from ETH Zurich and the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen counted over 136,000 rockfalls on the moon caused by asteroid impacts. Even billions of years old landscapes are still changing.

SpaceX opens era of amateur astronauts, cosmic movie sets

SpaceX's debut astronaut launch is the biggest, most visible opening shot yet in NASA's grand plan for commercializing Earth's backyard.

China will begin constructing its space station in 2021

The Chinese space agency is building a brand new space station, and they're going about it in a suitably impressive way: an ambitious schedule of 11 planned launches crammed into only two years. When it's done, the 66-ton space station will host crews of three astronauts for up to six months at a time, lasting for a planned 10 years before de-orbiting.

Technology news

KUBeetle-S: An insect-inspired robot that can fly for up to 9 minutes

Researchers at Konkuk University in South Korea recently created KUBeetle-S, a flying robot inspired by a species of horned beetle called Allomyrina dichotoma, which is among the largest insects on the planet. Allomyrina dichtoma weighs approximately 5 to 10 g and has a wing loading of 40 N/m2, which is remarkably high when compared to average insect wing loadings (typically around 8 N/m2).

Researchers eye tech wearables as virus early warning system

Can your Fitbit or Apple Watch detect a coronavirus infection before the onset of symptoms?

Artificial brains may need sleep too

No one can say whether androids will dream of electric sheep, but they will almost certainly need periods of rest that offer benefits similar to those that sleep provides to living brains, according to new research from Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Researchers advance fuel cell technology

Washington State University researchers have made a key advance in solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) that could make the highly energy-efficient and low-polluting technology a more viable alternative to gasoline combustion engines for powering cars.

For university classrooms, are telepresence robots the next best thing to being there?

Telepresence robots help university students learning remotely to feel more a part of the class, new research by Oregon State University suggests.

New smart parking software cuts congestion, emissions

New smart parking software developed by Cornell University researchers, which matches drivers with parking garage spots based on travel time and other factors, could reduce congestion and emissions while saving drivers the time of circling to look for available spots.

Apple patents socially-distant selfies

Apple has been granted a patent for software that creates socially-distant group selfies.

Zuckerberg promises Facebook policy review

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on Friday promised to review the social network's policies that led to its decision to not moderate controversial messages posted by US President Donald Trump.

TikTok lookalike Zynn brings Chinese video app rivalry to US

Chinese short video app makers have taken their rivalry overseas, with TikTok facing stiff competition from a newcomer that has surged in popularity abroad—by paying users to keep scrolling.

Personal mobility machine needs no help at Tokyo airport

An autonomous mobility system that works like a wheelchair without anyone pushing it is scuttling around a Tokyo airport to help with social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With the increase in remote work, businesses need to protect themselves against cyberattacks

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown have forever changed how we socialize and conduct business. More and more, our personal and professional lives will be online.

Mechanical engineers develop coronavirus decontamination robot

S tudies show that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is readily destroyed when exposed to ultraviolet light and heat while on surfaces, such as countertops, chairs, walls and floors. This vulnerability sparked an idea in the mind of University of Virginia mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Tomonari Furukawa, who last year designed a roving robot to operate semi-autonomously in hazardous areas.

China's Huawei launches ad blitz as UK reconsiders its role

Huawei has launched an advertising campaign in Britain as officials reconsider the Chinese technology company's role in supplying equipment for the country's next-generation high speed mobile networks.

Smart meters have little impact on people's energy usage habits, research finds

When the Smart Meter Rollout Programme launched a decade ago, it was touted as a way of helping consumers cut down on their energy usage, but new research has found that environmental concerns have little impact on reducing energy consumption.

'Mole-bot' optimized for underground and space exploration

Mole-bot, a drilling biomimetic robot designed by KAIST, boasts a stout scapula, a waist inclinable on all sides, and powerful forelimbs. Most of all, the powerful torque from the expandable drilling bit mimicking the chiseling ability of a mole's front teeth highlights the best feature of the drilling robot.

Switching from aluminum to zinc alloys could improve sustainability of automotive parts

A new study reveals that switching from aluminum to zinc alloys in the production of automotive parts could greatly enhance their longevity and sustainability.

Researchers see risks in online vote system for 3 US states

An online voting system approved in three US states is vulnerable to manipulation by hackers and may not protect ballot secrecy, according to an analysis by security researchers.

Former Audi boss faces German 'dieselgate' trial in September

Former Audi chief executive Rupert Stadler will go on trial for fraud on September 30, a German court said Monday, making him the first auto boss to appear in the dock over the "dieselgate" emissions cheating scandal.

Sony to unveil PS5 games in online event

Sony unveiled plans to showcase games tailored for its planned PlayStation 5 consoles Thursday in a sign of a ramped up effort for the year-end holiday season.

BP to cut 10,000 jobs worldwide amid virus pandemic

Oil and gas company BP announced Monday that it will slash its global workforce by 10,000 jobs as the COVID-19 pandemic slams the energy industry.

Austrian Airlines to get 600-mln-euro rescue package

Austrian Airlines will receive a 600-million-euro ($677 million) rescue package to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the government said Monday, but also announced new rules to make aviation more climate-friendly.

Scientists funded by Chan-Zuckerberg urge Facebook to do better

Scientists funded by Mark Zuckerberg's philanthropy are calling on Facebook Inc. to create and enforce stricter policies on misinformation and harmful language following the social network's handling of President Donald Trump's posts suggesting violence against protesters.

Researchers enhance communications for multi-agent teaming

Army researchers are collaborating to enhance multi-agent teaming capabilities for the Soldier that will lead to improved situational awareness and communication capabilities on the battlefield.

Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess giving up managing VW brand

Volkswagen's CEO is giving up managing the company's core VW brand in order to concentrate more on the group as a whole, the German automaker said Monday.

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