Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Jul 8

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

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Exploring the neural underpinnings of mind wandering

Study determines fundamental parameters of the chemically peculiar star HD 108662

How to precisely edit mitochondrial DNA

Polynesians, Native Americans made contact before European arrival, genetic study finds

Scaling up the quantum chip

Supergenes play a larger role in evolution than previously thought

Researchers build robot scientist that has already discovered a new catalyst

How colliding neutron stars could shed light on universal mysteries

Study shows 'Bystander Effect' not exclusive to humans

Helping drug-delivering particles squeeze through a syringe

New video codec halves streaming time

How long to play dead in order to stay alive?

Animals who try to sound 'bigger' are good at learning sounds

Increase in delirium, rare brain inflammation and stroke linked to COVID-19

Clean energy grids and electric vehicles key to beating climate change and air pollution

Physics news

Scaling up the quantum chip

MIT researchers have developed a process to manufacture and integrate "artificial atoms," created by atomic-scale defects in microscopically thin slices of diamond, with photonic circuitry, producing the largest quantum chip of its type.

Generator developed for harvesting energy from droplets

Scientists of the University of Twente and South China Normal University designed an electrical generator that can harvest energy from impacting droplets and other sources of mechanical energy. Their paper recently appeared in Advanced Materials.

Physicists use oscillations of atoms to control a phase transition

The goal of 'femtochemistry' is to film and control chemical reactions with short flashes of light. Using consecutive laser pulses, atomic bonds can be excited precisely and broken as desired. So far, this has been demonstrated for selected molecules. Researchers at the University of Göttingen and the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry have now succeeded in transferring this principle to a solid, controlling its crystal structure on the surface. The results have been published in the journal Nature.

Old X-rays, new vision: A nano-focused X-ray laser

Imagine taking movies of the fastest chemical processes, or imaging atomic-scale detail of single virus particles without damaging them. Researchers from Japan have advanced the state-of-the-art in such endeavors, by enhancing the utility of a special X-ray laser for nanometer-scale measurements.

Researchers find safeguards for quantum communications

Army researchers developed a new way to protect and safeguard quantum information, moving quantum networks a step closer to reality.

Learning more about particle collisions with machine learning

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland became famous around the world in 2012 with the detection of the Higgs boson. The observation marked a crucial confirmation of the Standard Model of particle physics, which organizes the subatomic particles into groups similar to elements in the periodic table from chemistry.

Astronomy and Space news

Study determines fundamental parameters of the chemically peculiar star HD 108662

Astronomers have carried out a spectroscopic analysis of the atmosphere of a magnetic chemically peculiar star designated HD 108662. The study, described in a paper published June 29 on the arXiv preprint server, resulted in determining fundamental parameters of this star.

How colliding neutron stars could shed light on universal mysteries

An important breakthrough in how we can understand dead star collisions and the expansion of the Universe has been made by an international team, led by the University of East Anglia.

New study detects ringing of the global atmosphere

A ringing bell vibrates simultaneously at a low-pitched fundamental tone and at many higher-pitched overtones, producing a pleasant musical sound. A recent study, just published in the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences by scientists at Kyoto University and the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, shows that the Earth's entire atmosphere vibrates in an analogous manner, in a striking confirmation of theories developed by physicists over the last two centuries.  

NASA adds more safety fixes for Boeing's crew capsule

NASA has added more safety fixes for Boeing's space capsule before it can fly astronauts following a pair of close calls during last year's test flight.

Shock waves from stellar explosions take preferential direction

In a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal, a team led by researchers at École Polytechnique have paved the way to unraveling the mystery as to why many supernova remnants that we observe from Earth are axisymmetric (elongated along one axis) rather than spherical.

Finding NEMO: The future of gravitational-wave astronomy

A new study released today makes a compelling case for the development of "NEMO"—a new observatory in Australia that could deliver on some of the most exciting gravitational-wave science next-generation detectors have to offer, but at a fraction of the cost.

From floating guts to 'sticky' blood – here's how to do surgery in space

Earlier this year, it was reported that an astronaut in space had developed a potentially life-threatening blood clot in the neck. This was successfully treated with medication by doctors on Earth, avoiding surgery. But given that space agencies and private spaceflight companies have committed to landing humans on Mars in the coming decades, we may not be so lucky next time.

7 things to know about the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission

In less than a month, NASA expects to launch the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Loaded with scientific instruments, advanced computational capabilities for landing, and other new systems, the Perseverance rover is the largest, heaviest, most sophisticated vehicle NASA has ever sent to the Red Planet.

Technology news

New video codec halves streaming time

A German research institute announced Tuesday a new video standard that halves the bitrate required for streaming, allowing higher quality images on lower-power devices and opening the door wider to adoption of super high-definition 8K content.

Breakthrough machine learning approach quickly produces higher-resolution climate data

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have developed a novel machine learning approach to quickly enhance the resolution of wind velocity data by 50 times and solar irradiance data by 25 times—an enhancement that has never been achieved before with climate data.

Smart necklace will know you binged on Chunky Monkey

There you are wrist deep into a quart of Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey, digging ever deeper. You can't deny it. Your necklace is recording the ice-cream binge, which it will later dispatch to a coach or dietician.

Record efficiency for printed solar cells

A new study reports the highest efficiency ever recorded for full roll-to-roll printed perovskite solar cells (PSCs), marking a key step on the way to cheaper and more efficient ways of generating solar energy.

Researchers determine how to accurately pinpoint malicious drone operators

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) have determined how to pinpoint the location of a drone operator who may be operating maliciously or harmfully near airports or protected airspace by analyzing the flight path of the drone.

Programmable balloons pave the way for new shape-morphing devices

Balloon shaping isn't just for kids anymore. A team of researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) has designed materials that can control and mold a balloon into pre-programmed shapes. The system uses kirigami sheets—thin sheets of material with periodic cuts—embedded into an inflatable device. As the balloon expands, the cuts in the kirigami sheet guide the growth, permitting expansion in some places and constricting it in others. The researchers were able to control the expansion not only globally to make large-scale shapes, but locally to generate small features.

Researchers propose novel correction method for gas sensor drift problem

Sensor drift is one of the most severe problems that gas sensors suffer from. Aging and poisoning of gas sensors as well as uncontrollable factors such as humidity and temperature variations may cause this problem.

Researchers find ways of securing 'internet of things' security problems in the smart home

So…you've built your smart home, it's got smart heating and lighting, all the latest smart communications and entertainment systems, and of course, smart power generation to make it smart and green. But, how do you keep it secure and stop forced digital or physical entry? Well, you need smart security too, of course.

Uber and Lyft overcharge riders going to and from disadvantaged areas

Thinking of calling a rideshare service? Uber and Lyft passengers going to and from low-income and non-white neighborhoods may pay higher prices, researchers at the George Washington University recently found.

Owners of electric vehicles to be paid to plug into the grid to help avoid blackouts

Electric vehicles can help keep the air clean in our cities—as we've seen recently with the reduction of traffic through COVID-19 lockdowns—but they face two obstacles.

China could be using TikTok to spy on Australians, but banning it isn't a simple fix

In an age of isolation, video sharing platform TikTok has emerged as a bonding force for many. But recent headlines allege the service, owned by Beijing-based company ByteDance, is feeding users' data to the Chinese Communist Party.

Do humans dream of androids dreaming?

The first question many people ask about artificial intelligence (AI) is, "Will it be good or bad?"

EU's energy plan backs hydrogen, but NGOs sense 'hype'

The EU wants to put hydrogen at the centre of its ambition to achieve a carbon neutral Europe by 2050, its executive arm said Wednesday, but critics say that current extraction technology is far from green.

United Airlines says could lay off as many as 36,000 employees

United Airlines warned Wednesday it could lay off as many as 36,000 workers on October 1 as the US carrier fights for survival amid the coronavirus crisis.

TikTok launches new ad platform as scrutiny increases

Fast-growing video-sharing app TikTok on Wednesday launched a self-serve ad platform, underscoring its ambition to compete with rival social platforms even as it faces new scrutiny in the US and elsewhere.

New method for simulating yarn-cloth patterns to be unveiled at ACM SIGGRAPH

The simulation of woven and knitted fabrics is an ongoing problem in computer graphics. Simulating the way a fabric drapes or moves while being worn, while accurately modeling low-level effects such as the stiffness and stretch of individual yarns, is a complicated challenge that requires sophisticated computational modeling.

AirAsia's future in doubt due to virus; share price tumbles

The future of top regional budget carrier AirAsia is in "significant doubt" after the collapse in travel demand caused by coronavirus, its auditor warned, sending the airline's share price tumbling nearly 18 percent on Wednesday.

With social media in tumult, startup Parler draws conservatives

Amid rising turmoil in social media, recently formed social network Parler is gaining with prominent political conservatives who claim their voices are being silenced by Silicon Valley giants.

Microsoft, Zoom join pause on Hong Kong data requests

Microsoft and Zoom on Tuesday joined other major internet firms that have stopped considering requests by Hong Kong's government for information on users in the wake of China's imposition of a sweeping new security law.

Reducing radioactive waste in processes to dismantle nuclear facilities

Recent years have seen a move into a phase to decommission and dismantle nuclear power stations and facilities, above all in Europe. By 2015, 156 reactors at nuclear facilities across the world had been shut down or were being decommissioned, and by 2050 over half of the current nuclear capacity of 400 GW across the world is programmed to be decommissioned so that it can be dismantled. "In Europe this will result in an increase in radioactive waste while current storage facilities have limited capacity. Optimizing this management is crucial," said the UPV/EHU professor Margarita Herranz.

Facebook civil rights audit: 'Serious setbacks' mar progress

A two-year audit of Facebook's civil rights record found "serious setbacks" that have marred the social network's progress on matters such as hate speech, misinformation and bias.

Huawei urges UK not to rush into 5G decision

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei urged Britain on Wednesday not to rush into taking any costly decision to phase out its equipment from the UK's 5G network because of US sanctions.

Collaborative virtual reality environments for the home office

Simulations using supercomputers or construction data from CAD systems are normally visualized and analyzed in a Cave 3-D facility. In an era of "social distancing" resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, however, this is not always possible.

Police partnerships with Amazon Ring raise alarms about racial bias, privacy

As nationwide protests force a deep examination of police tactics and funding, technology companies say they are re-evaluating their relationship with law enforcement as well. Amazon has halted police use of its facial recognition technology for one year and the website Nextdoor has stopped forwarding tips to police.

Quiet and green: Why hydrogen planes could be the future of aviation

Today, aviation is responsible for 3.6% of EU greenhouse gas emissions. Modern planes use kerosene as fuel, releasing harmful carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But what if there was another way?

Ryanair cabin crew agree pay cuts to save jobs

Budget airline Ryanair has agreed to retain the jobs of all UK-based cabin crew in return for pay cuts, it was announced by trade unions on Wednesday.

Airbus deliveries down 50 pct in first half of 2020

Airbus on Wednesday said January-June plane deliveries slumped by half to 196 aircraft compared with the first six months of 2019, highlighting the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

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