Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Jun 9

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Spotlight Stories Headlines

A new system to extract key information from scientific texts

Controlling the zeolite pore interior for chemo-selective alkyne/olefin separations

Volcanic activity and changes in Earth's mantle were key to rise of atmospheric oxygen

Scientists lament 'Humpty Dumpty' effect on world's spectacular, rare wildlife

Study finds another reason to wash hands: Flame retardants

Deadly superbug could get a vigorous foe in repurposed antibiotic

Entire Roman city revealed without any digging

Do COVID-19 apps protect your privacy?

Boys' poor reading skills might help explain higher education gender gap

Scientists warn against 'greenwashing' of global coastal developments

Why 'playing hard to get' may actually work

Part of China's Great Wall not built for war: study

Mysterious Australian Night Parrots may not see in the dead of night

National survey shows different bacteria on cell phones and shoes

Biohybrid model uses organic lungs, synthetic muscles to re-create respiration mechanics

Physics news

Method found for making photons repel each other in an ultracold atomic gas

A team of researchers from MIT, Harvard University and the University of Belgrade has found a way to make photons repel each other inside a cloud of ultracold atomic gas. In their paper published in the journal Nature Physics, the group describes experiments they conducted that involved coupling pairs of photons to atomic states and what they learned from them.

Mysterious iron X-ray lines grow stranger with high precision measurements

Two prominent X-ray emission lines of highly charged iron have puzzled astrophysicists for decades because their measured and calculated brightness ratios always disagree. This hinders good determinations of plasma temperatures and densities. New, careful high-precision measurements, together with top-level calculations, now exclude all hitherto proposed explanations for this discrepancy, and thus deepen the problem.

Examining a snapshot of exploding oxygen

For more than 100 years, we have been using X-rays to look inside matter and progressing to ever smaller structures—from crystals to nanoparticles. Now, within the framework of a larger international collaboration on the X-ray laser European XFEL in Schenefeld near Hamburg, physicists at Goethe University have achieved a qualitative leap forward. Using a new experimental technique, they have been able to X-ray molecules such as oxygen and view their motion in the microcosm for the first time.

New multispectral curved compound eye camera developed with ultra-large field of view

Multispectral imaging technology has found wide applications in remote sensing, as it has a relatively high spectral resolution. But the existing technologies have many shortcomings such as low system integration, high complexity, small field of view (FOV), and are not suitable for real-time spectral imaging applications from the atmosphere or from orbit. How to solve this bottleneck? Nature is the best teacher of mankind.

Video: Boiling. We research. You benefit.

Did you know that in microgravity you can better study the boiling process?

For the first time, researchers focus plasmons into nanojet

Researchers of Tomsk Polytechnic University with Russian and Danish teams have been able to experimentally confirm a plasmonic nanojet effect previously forecast in practice. Using a simple method, they focused surface plasmon waves into a jet and captured it with a microscope. In the future, the effect of plasmon compression can make optical electronics competitive and boost the creation of an optical computer. The study was published in Optics Letters.

Astronomy and Space news

Presence of airborne dust could signify increased habitability of distant planets

Scientists have expanded our understanding of potentially habitable planets orbiting distant stars by including a critical climate component—the presence of airborne dust.

Alternating flows and a high-latitude eastward jet explain Saturn's polar hexagon, researchers report

A pair of researchers at Harvard University has developed a computer simulation that may explain Saturn's mysterious polar hexagon. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Rakesh Yadav and Jeremy Bloxham describe the factors that went into developing their simulation and what it showed.

Sunlight cracking rocks on Bennu

Asteroids don't just sit there doing nothing as they orbit the Sun. They get bombarded by meteoroids, blasted by space radiation, and now, for the first time, scientists are seeing evidence that even a little sunshine can wear them down.

Close-up view reveals binary proto-stars in the process of assemblage

High-resolution observations of a young star forming system clearly unveil a pair of proto-stars at their earliest stages of evolution deeply embedded within the source IRAS 16293-2422 in the Ophiuchus molecular cloud. The team led by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics used the ALMA interferometer not only to pin down the source configuration, but also to measure the gas and stellar kinematics, determining the mass of the young binary. The two close proto-stars are somewhat heavier than previously thought and they revolve around each other once in about 400 years.

At the heart of the Milky Way, stars draw closer, threatening planets in their orbit

At the center of our galaxy resides the galactic bulge, a densely packed region of stars, dust and gas. Within this massive structure, which spans thousands of light-years, there are an estimated 10 billion stars, most of which are old red giant stars. Because of this density, astronomers have often wondered if a galactic bulge is a likely place to find stars with habitable planets orbiting them.

From space, Russian cosmonauts fight chess grandmaster to a draw

Two Russian cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station played chess against an Earth-bound grandmaster on Tuesday, in a celebration of the first such game half a century ago.

Tower extension test a success for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope

To test the James Webb Space Telescope's readiness for its journey in space, technicians successfully commanded it to deploy and extend a critical part of the observatory known as the Deployable Tower Assembly.

First Arab mission to Mars designed to inspire youth

The first Arab space mission to Mars, armed with probes to study the Red Planet's atmosphere, is designed to inspire the region's youth and pave the way for scientific breakthroughs, officials said Tuesday.

Parking in a pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has brought the tourism and travel industry to a near-standstill, with nationwide lockdowns significantly impacting the aviation and maritime industry worldwide. Satellite images, captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission, show parked aircraft and anchored vessels in times of COVID-19.

Technology news

A new system to extract key information from scientific texts

Scientific texts, such as research articles or reviews, can sometimes be difficult to analyze and understand, particularly for non-expert readers. In recent years, engineers have thus tried to develop approaches that can automatically extract the most important information from dense scientific texts, which can then be used to guide readers and aid their understanding of the texts.

Do COVID-19 apps protect your privacy?

Mobile apps are helping track the spread of COVID-19 to contain the outbreak, but the apps also raise concerns about personal privacy.

A supernumerary robotic arm adds functionality for carrying out common tasks

A team of researchers at Université de Sherbrooke with assistance from a group at Exonetik Inc., has created a wearable supernumerary robotic arm that adds functionality for common human tasks. In their paper published in IEEE Spectrum, the group describes their robotic arm, its abilities and their plans for expanding its functionality.

What do electric vehicle drivers think of the charging network they use?

With electric vehicles making their way into the mainstream, building out the nationwide network of charging stations to keep them going will be increasingly important.

Water vapor in the atmosphere may be prime renewable energy source

The search for renewable energy sources, which include wind, solar, hydroelectric dams, geothermal, and biomass, has preoccupied scientists and policymakers alike, due to their enormous potential in the fight against climate change. A new Tel Aviv University study finds that water vapor in the atmosphere may serve as a potential renewable energy source in the future.

Homeland Security warns of Windows worm

The Homeland Security's cybersecurity advisory division is cautioning Windows 10 users of the possibility of a wave of cyberattacks due to the recent publication of an exploit code.

Fuel and engine research brings cleaner, more efficient cars and trucks closer to finish line

Typically, passenger cars and light-duty (LD) trucks account for 55% of U.S. transportation energy use. While the coronavirus pandemic has temporarily curtailed the amount of time most Americans spend behind the wheel, sharp increases in demand for deliveries have pressed some commercial trucks—which usually account for more than 25% of transportation-related fuel consumption—into overtime.

'Bat-like' sensor could help social distancing as lockdown lifts

A disruptive Scottish start-up company based in the Edinburgh Business School Incubator has developed a sensor which allows an Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) to understand the physical world around it.

Workplaces are turning to devices to monitor social distancing, but does the tech respect privacy?

As we emerge from the coronavirus lockdown, those of us who still have a workplace may not recognize it. Businesses, eager to limit liability for employees and customers, are considering a variety of emerging technologies for limiting pandemic spread.

Japanese carmaker Honda hit by cyberattack

Japanese carmaker Honda said Tuesday that it has been hit by a cyberattack that disrupted its business in several countries, though it expects the overall impact to be contained.

IBM quits facial recognition, joins call for police reforms

IBM is getting out of the facial recognition business, saying it's concerned about how the technology can be used for mass surveillance and racial profiling.

Airlines headed for $84 bln net loss in 2020: IATA

International airlines are in line to make a combined net loss of more than $84 billion this year in the wake of the coronavirus crisis which has decimated air travel, the International Air Transport Association said Tuesday.

Google Maps to display virus-related transit alerts

A new version of Google's mapping service being rolled out will display pandemic-related transit alerts and let people know when buses or trains might be crowded.

Apple reportedly has plans to enable zero-interest installment plans for iPad, Mac

Apple is reportedly set to allow Apple Card users to purchase some of the company's most popular products via zero-interest, monthly installment plans.

Apple plans to announce move to its own Mac chips at WWDC

Apple Inc. is preparing to announce a shift to its own main processors in Mac computers, replacing chips from Intel Corp., as early as this month at its annual developer conference, according to people familiar with the plans.

France pledges 15 bn euros for stricken aviation firms

The French government on Tuesday pledged 15 billion euros ($16.9 billion) for the country's aviation industry, where thousands of jobs are on the line as the coronavirus crisis hammers the travel industry.

Cathay Pacific unveils US$5 billion bailout plan

Troubled Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific announced a HK$39 billion ($5 billion) government-led bailout plan on Tuesday as it battles a crippling downturn caused by the coronavirus.

Samsung heir avoids arrest over controversial merger

A South Korean court on Tuesday declined to issue an arrest warrant for the heir to the country's Samsung empire over a controversial merger of two business units seen as a key step to his succession.

New solutions for fabric biogas storage systems yield durable, high volume design

Biogas plants produce methane from agricultural residues. This energy carrier is then mostly stored in membrane gas holders. In Germany, however, these storage systems are often outdated. Via leaks, methane is released into the atmosphere, where it damages the climate. With an improved design, effective standards, and optimized operation concepts, however, these systems might be highly useful for the energy transition, scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) think. Within a research project funded by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), they studied fabric gas holders.

Data management system developed to bridge the gap between databases and data science

Relational databases are used to store information or data in such a way that it preserves relations between the data. This property makes it a useful tool for data scientists. There is, however, a gap between the relational database research community and data scientists. This leads to inefficient use of databases in data science. Ph.D. student Mark Raasveldt tried to bridge the gap between the relational databases and data science. Ph.D. defense 9 June 2020.

Q&A: How to avoid social media disinformation campaigns

The issue of how to manage content on social media platforms seemed to reach a tipping point when Twitter placed a fact check label on a tweet by President Donald Trump that referenced mail-in voting. The company has also added a label identifying content as glorifying violence to tweets by the president and Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.

Working from home: Tweaking this can help you sound sharper in video meetings

Working from home now means taking lots of virtual meetings. And if you find that your colleagues can't hear you very well, or complain about distracting background noise (think kids, music, doorbells), we've got a great tip for you.

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