Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Jun 17

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for June 17, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Simultaneous nodal superconductivity and broken time-reversal symmetry in CaPtAs

White nanolight source for optical nanoimaging

Nanosponges could intercept SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection

Tomato's hidden mutations revealed in study of 100 varieties

New study suggests that hard eggshells evolved at least three times in dinosaur family tree

Knock-knock? Who's there? How coral let symbiotic algae in

First egg from Antarctica is big and might belong to an extinct sea lizard

Researchers map out intricate processes that activate key brain molecule

Soap bubbles pollinated a pear orchard without damaging delicate flowers

Peculiar chemical abundance pattern detected in the star RAVE J183013.5−455510

Study sheds light on a classic visual illusion

Astronomers detect regular rhythm of radio waves, with origins unknown

A cosmic baby is discovered, and it's brilliant

Intel, Google, UC Berekely AI team trains robot to do sutures

Seaweed takes scientists on trip 'through time' in the waters of Monterey Bay

Physics news

Simultaneous nodal superconductivity and broken time-reversal symmetry in CaPtAs

In the vast majority of superconducting materials, Cooper pairs have what is known as even parity, which essentially means that their wave function does not change when electrons swap spatial coordinates. Conversely, some unconventional superconductors have been found to contain odd-parity Cooper pairs. This quality makes these unconventional materials particularly promising for quantum computing applications.

Schrödinger's cat explained

In 1935, E. Schrödinger proposed his well-known cat thought experiment suggesting, but not explaining, how a measurement transforms the probable states of an atom into the actual state of a cat (alive or dead). Rather than applying quantum mechanics (the previous approach usually taken), I offer an out-of-the-box, logically consistent explanation using metrology (the science of physical measurement).

A new way to study how elements mix deep inside giant planets

There are giants among us—gas and ice giants to be specific. They orbit the same star, but their environmental conditions and chemical makeup are wildly different from those of Earth. These enormous planets—Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus—can be seen as natural laboratories for the physics of matter at extreme temperatures and pressures.

Experiments expose how powerful magnetic fields are generated in the aftermath of supernovae

In a paper recently published by Physical Review Letters, a team of researchers including scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) detail the first quantitative measurements of the magnetic field structure of plasma filamentation driven by the Weibel instability, using a novel optical Thompson scattering technique.

From custom-built to ready-made photonics

Information technology continues to progress at a rapid pace. However, the growing demands of data centers have pushed electrical input-output systems to their physical limit, which has created a bottleneck. Maintaining this growth will require a shift in how we build computers. The future is optical.

Machine learning qualitatively changes the search for new particles

The ATLAS Collaboration at CERN is exploring novel ways to search for new phenomena. Alongside an extensive research program often inspired by specific theoretical models—ranging from quantum black holes to supersymmetry—physicists are applying new model-independent methods to broaden their searches. ATLAS has just released the first model-independent search for new particles using a novel technique called "weak supervision."

Observation of excess events in the XENON1T dark matter experiment

Scientists from the international XENON collaboration, an international experimental group including the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU), University of Tokyo; the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research (ICRR), University of Tokyo; the Institute for Space-Earth Environmental Research (ISEE), Nagoya University; the Kobayashi-Maskawa Institute for the Origin of Particles and the Universe (KMI), Nagoya University; and the Graduate School of Science, Kobe University, announced today that data from their XENON1T, the world's most sensitive dark matter experiment, show a surprising excess of events. The scientists do not claim to have found dark matter. Instead, they have observed an unexpected rate of events, the source of which is not yet fully understood. The signature of the excess is similar to what might result from a tiny residual amount of tritium (a hydrogen atom with one proton and two neutrons), but could also be a sign of something more exciting—such as the existence of a new particle known as the solar axion or the indication of previously unknown properties of neutrinos.

New quantum sensing technique allows high-resolution nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is a widely used tool for chemical analysis and molecular structure recognition. Because it typically relies on the weak magnetic fields produced by a small thermal nuclear spin polarization, NMR suffers from poor sensitivity compared to other analytical techniques. A conventional NMR apparatus typically uses large sample volumes of about a milliliter—large enough to contain around a million biological cells.

Quantum-inspired approach dramatically lowers light power needed for optical coherence tomography

Researchers have shown that a detection technology borrowed from quantum optics can be used to perform optical coherence tomography (OCT) with much lower light power than previously possible. This could greatly improve the imaging quality available from OCT used for medical imaging applications.

Using light turbulence to generate frequency combs from small ring lasers

We've all experienced turbulent air and water, but did you know light can be turbulent too?

New techniques improve quantum communication, entangle phonons

Quantum communication—where information is sent through particles, typically entangled photons—has the potential to become the ultimate secure communication channel. Not only is it nearly impossible to eavesdrop on quantum communication, those who try will also leave evidence of their indiscretions.

Graphics cards farm to help in search of new physics at LHCb

For the first time, data from LHCb, a major physics experiment, will be processed on a farm of GPUs. This solution is not only much cheaper, but it will help decrease the cluster size and process data at speeds up to 40 Tbit/s. The research paper has been published in Computing and Software for Big Science.

Physicists develop a new theory for Bose-Einstein condensates

Bose-Einstein condensates are often described as the fifth state of matter: At extremely low temperatures, gas atoms behave like a single particle. The exact properties of these systems are notoriously difficult to study. In the journal Physical Review Letters, physicists from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and Ludwig Maximilian University Munich have proposed a new theory to describe these quantum systems more effectively and comprehensively.

A step forward in solving the reactor-neutrino flux problem

Joint effort of the nuclear theory group at the University of Jyvaskyla and the international collaborative EXO-200 experiment paves the way for solving the reactor antineutrino flux problems. The EXO-200 collaboration consists of researchers from 26 laboratories and the experiment is designed to measure the mass of the neutrino. As a byproduct of the calibration efforts of the experiment the electron spectral shape of the beta decay of Xe-137 could be measured. This particular decay is optimally well suited for testing a theoretical hypothesis to solve the long-standing and persistent reactor antineutrino anomaly. The results of measurements of the spectral shape were published in Physical Review Letters in June 2020.

A proven method for stabilizing efforts to bring fusion power to Earth

All efforts to replicate in tokamak fusion facilities the fusion energy that powers the sun and stars must cope with a constant problem—transient heat bursts that can halt fusion reactions and damage the doughnut-shaped tokamaks. These bursts, called edge localized modes (ELMs), occur at the edge of hot, charged plasma gas when it kicks into high gear to fuel fusion reactions.

Astronomy and Space news

Peculiar chemical abundance pattern detected in the star RAVE J183013.5−455510

An international team of astronomers has carried out spectroscopic observations of a distant star known as RAVE J183013.5−455510. Results of this observational campaign show that this object exhibits a peculiar chemical abundance pattern. The finding is detailed in a paper accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journal and posted June 8 on

Astronomers detect regular rhythm of radio waves, with origins unknown

A team of astronomers, including researchers at MIT, has picked up on a curious, repeating rhythm of fast radio bursts emanating from an unknown source outside our galaxy, 500 million light years away.

A cosmic baby is discovered, and it's brilliant

Astronomers tend to have a slightly different sense of time than the rest of us. They regularly study events that happened millions or billions of years ago, and objects that have been around for just as long. That's partly why the recently discovered neutron star known as Swift J1818.0-1607 is remarkable: A new study in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters estimates that it is only about 240 years old—a veritable newborn by cosmic standards.

Study suggests bright patches on Titan are dry lake beds

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in the U.S. and one in France has found evidence that suggests the bright patches spotted on Titan's surface 20 years ago are dry lake beds. In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the group describes their study of data on the bright patches and what they learned from it.

Quasar jets are particle accelerators thousands of light-years long

An international collaboration bringing together over 200 scientists from 13 countries has shown that the very high-energy gamma-ray emissions from quasars, galaxies with a highly energetic nucleus, are not concentrated in the region close to their central black hole, but in fact, extend over several thousand light-years along jets of plasma. This discovery shakes up current scenarios for the behavior of such plasma jets. The work, published in the journal Nature on June 18, 2020, was carried out as part of the H.E.S.S collaboration, involving in particular the CNRS and CEA in France, and the Max Planck society and a group of research institutions and universities in Germany.

4,000th comet discovered by solar observatory

On June 15, 2020, a citizen scientist spotted a never-before-seen comet in data from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO—the 4,000th comet discovery in the spacecraft's 25-year history.

From lab to space: Discovery of a new organic molecule in an interstellar molecular cloud

Laboratory experiments performed at the Center for Astrochemical Studies (CAS) of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) in Munich, together with astronomical observations conducted by the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF), lead to the identification of a new molecule in the molecular cloud known as G+0.693-0.027, close to the galactic center. The newly discovered molecule is called propargylimine: according to the experts, this chemical species may play a fundamental role in the formation of amino acids, among the key ingredients for life as we know it.

When Vega met satellites

The upper composite containing 53 separate satellites being attached to the rest of the Vega launcher, ahead of Friday morning's launch from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.

Technology news

Intel, Google, UC Berekely AI team trains robot to do sutures

The next time you go to a hospital for surgery, the surgeon's assistant may be a robot.

New method makes more data available for training self-driving cars

For safety's sake, a self-driving car must accurately track the movement of pedestrians, bicycles and other vehicles around it. Training those tracking systems may now be more effective thanks to a new method developed at Carnegie Mellon University.

Catching semiconductor defects before they multiply

From smartphones to laptops, in today's digital world, we rely on connectivity. One of the components underlying the smooth operation of these machines are silicon chips—semiconductors, which are an essential part of electronic circuits. They are also expensive.

Manipulating tiny skyrmions with small electric currents

A research group from the RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science has managed to manipulate and track the movement of individual magnetic vortices called skyrmions, which have been touted as strong candidates to act as information carriers in next-generation storage devices and as synapses for neuromorphic computing. They were able to move and measure skyrmions of 80 nanometers in size, using a small electric current 1000 times weaker than those used for drives of magnetic domain walls in racetrack memory.

'SlothBot in the Garden' demonstrates hyper-efficient conservation robot

For the next several months, visitors to the Atlanta Botanical Garden will be able to observe the testing of a new high-tech tool in the battle to save some of the world's most endangered species. SlothBot, a slow-moving and energy-efficient robot that can linger in the trees to monitor animals, plants, and the environment below, will be tested near the Garden's popular Canopy Walk.

New discovery allows 3-D printing of sensors directly on expanding organs

In groundbreaking new research, mechanical engineers and computer scientists at the University of Minnesota have developed a 3-D printing technique that uses motion capture technology, similar to that used in Hollywood movies, to print electronic sensors directly on organs that are expanding and contracting. The new 3-D printing technique could have future applications in diagnosing and monitoring the lungs of patients with COVID-19.

Robots: allies during virus crisis, enemies later?

When human contact needs to be kept to a minimum, robots can save lives and factories. But when the coronavirus crisis is over, will they amplify job losses?

Scooters, e-bikes gain traction as virus lockdowns ease

Electric bikes and scooters, dismissed before the pandemic as a curiosity or nuisance, are getting fresh traction in cities seeking new transportation options as they emerge from lockdowns.

Oracle shares slump on earnings hit by pandemic

Oracle shares fell Tuesday after the business software company reported its earnings took a hit from the pandemic's toll on hotels, shops and other enterprises that rely on its cloud computing offerings.

Lufthansa warns rescue threatened as billionaire weighs in

European airline giant Lufthansa warned Wednesday that a billionaire investor could block a nine-billion-euro ($10.1 billion) pandemic rescue plan agreed with the German state.

Pokemon Go wants to 3-D scans the whole world for 'planet-scale augmented reality experiences'

In 2016, the mobile game Pokémon Go sent hundreds of millions of players wandering the streets in search of virtual monsters. In the process it helped popularize augmented reality (AR) technology, which overlays computer-generated imagery on real-world environments.

Researchers develop a compact 28 GHz transceiver supporting dual-polarized MIMO

Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and NEC Corporation have jointly developed a 28-GHz phased-array transceiver supporting dual-polarized MIMO for 5G radio units. Advances in 5G will benefit an array of industries ranging from healthcare, manufacturing and transportation to education and entertainment that require high bandwidth and high-quality connectivity.

Tech firms are winning the AI race because they understand data – other sectors need to catch up

Artificial intelligence is already powering much of the technology helping to drive the modern economy. AI is now an essential part of how we use the internet but can also be found in stock exchanges, advanced factories and automated warehouses. It is starting to drive our cars and even vacuum our floors. And yet only a fraction of companies which stand to significantly benefit from AI are exploiting this approach to help deliver their products and services.

Study: Energy giants hinder reforms that would help renewables, lower power bills

Australia's energy market is outdated. It doesn't encourage competition and that's holding back the transition to renewable energy. Important reforms to modernize the market are on the way, but big energy companies are seeking to use the cover of COVID-19 to prevent the change.

Brainsourcing automatically identifies human preferences

Researchers at the University of Helsinki have developed a technique using artificial intelligence to analyze opinions and draw conclusions from the brain activity of groups of people. This technique, which the researchers call "brainsourcing," can be used to classify images or recommend content, something that has not been demonstrated before.

Facebook lets users block political ads, aiming to quell outcry

Facebook is allowing users to turn off all political ads in a move aimed at quelling criticism of the leading social network's hands-off approach to election misinformation.

US senators unveil bill to limit Big Tech legal protections

Four Republican senators introduced a bill Wednesday aimed at limiting legal protections of Big Tech platforms if they "selectively" suppress certain content, stepping up a political battle with social media.

Computer scientists study data security in Internet website tracking

Tracking our browsing behavior is part of routine Internet use. Companies use it to adapt ads to the personal needs of potential clients or to measure their range. Many providers of tracking services advertise secure data protection by generalizing datasets and anonymizing data in this way. Computer scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Technische Universität Dresden (TUD) have now studied how secure this method is and reported their findings in a scientific paper for the IEEE Security and Privacy Conference.

Adhesive film turns smartwatch into biochemical health monitoring system

UCLA engineers have designed a thin adhesive film that could upgrade a consumer smartwatch into a powerful health-monitoring system. The system looks for chemical indicators found in sweat to give a real-time snapshot of what's happening inside the body. A study detailing the technology was published in the journal of Science Advances.

Driver free but virus fee? Robo-car firms hit new speed bump

The latest challenge for the autonomous vehicle industry: How to assure passengers that the car they are getting in is virus free, even if it doesn't have a driver.

Twitter adds option to share spoken tweets

Twitter on Wednesday said it is adding an option to speak tweets of up to 140 seconds in length instead of just writing posts.

Norwegian Air returns to European skies

Low-cost airline Norwegian announced Wednesday it was reopening 76 European and domestic routes starting July 1, after months of keeping most of its fleet grounded due to the new coronavirus.

Reliable, high-speed MTJ technology for 1X nm STT-MRAM and NV-logic has wide applications

Professor Tetsuo Endoh, leading a group of researchers at Tohoku University, has announced the development of an MTJ (Magnetic Tunnel Junction) with 10 ns high-speed write operation, sufficient endurance (>1011), and with highly reliable data retention over 10 years at 1X nm size. Realizing a 1X nm STT-MRAM (Spin Transfer Torque-Magnetoresistive Random Access Memory) and NV(Non-Volatile)-Logic has wide application to a variety of fields.

Israeli financial tech had record year in 2019: report

Israel's financial technology industry had a bumper 2019, with investment in this market doubling year-on-year to a record $1.8 billion, a report said on Wednesday.

Microlandscaped abrasive tools deliver perfect grinding results

Tiny pyramids and cubes precisely aligned in rows and columns or radial lines of minute raised dots—these microscopic structures whose size is similar to the width of a human hair, are enabling engineers to design novel grinding tools made from cemented carbides. Engineering professor Dirk Bähre and his team at Saarland University are using lasers to create carefully configured, micrometer-scale grinding surfaces. High-precision copies of these laser-generated surface patterns can then be produced cost-effectively and in large numbers using electrochemical machining.

Facebook removes another 900 accounts linked to hate groups

Facebook has removed another 900 social media accounts linked to white supremacy groups after members discussed plans to bring weapons to protests over police killings of black people.

FAA chief accused of stonewalling Senate MAX probe

Senators from both parties accused the top US aviation regulator of stonewalling Wednesday on inquiries into the 737 MAX crashes as they introduced legislation to revamp the plane certification process.

US wants undersea data cable to skip Hong Kong

US Justice Department officials on Wednesday recommended that a high-capacity undersea data cable system proposed by Google and Facebook bypass Hong Kong, citing potential national security concerns following China's moves to exert greater control in the territory.

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