Science X Newsletter Friday, Jul 10

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for July 10, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Using astrocytes to change the behavior of robots controlled by neuromorphic chips

Liquid crystals create easy-to-read, color-changing sensors

Sea surface temperature has a big impact on coral outplant survival

Scientists discover protective Alzheimer's gene and develop rapid drug-testing platform

Study sheds light on bushfires' microclimate impact

Eyes on the stars: UAE's Mars probe a first for the Arab world

A trio of Mars missions in the starting blocks

Deep learning enables early detection and classification of live bacteria using holography

Farmers' climate change conundrum: Low yields or revenue instability

Magnetic memory states go exponential

Scientists propose plan to determine if Planet Nine is a primordial black hole

Study reveals circuit mechanism underlying nociceptive information processing

Q&A: A magnificent new sponge from the deep gets a name

Detection of electrical signaling between tomato plants raises interesting questions

Study finds fatty acid that kills cancer cells

Physics news

Magnetic memory states go exponential

In a new study, a group of researchers led by Prof. Lior Klein, from the physics department and the Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials at Bar-Ilan University, has shown that relatively simple structures can support an exponential number of magnetic states—much greater than previously thought. They have additionally demonstrated switching between the states by generating spin currents. Their results may pave the way to multi-level magnetic memory with an extremely large number of states per cell; it could also have application in the development of neuromorphic computing, and more. Their research appears as a featured article on the cover of a June issue of Applied Physics Letters.

Best evidence yet for existence of anyons

A small team of researchers at Purdue University has found the strongest evidence yet of the existence of abelian anyons. They have written a paper describing experiments they conducted designed to reveal the existence of the quasiparticles and have uploaded it to the arXiv preprint server while they await peer review.

New research shows that laser spectral linewidth is classical-physics phenomenon

New ground-breaking research from the University of Surrey could change the way scientists understand and describe lasers—establishing a new relationship between classical and quantum physics.

Astronomy and Space news

Eyes on the stars: UAE's Mars probe a first for the Arab world

The oil-rich United Arab Emirates has built a nuclear power programme and sent a man to space, and now plans to join another elite club by sending a probe to Mars.

A trio of Mars missions in the starting blocks

"We have lift-off, we have lift-off!"

Scientists propose plan to determine if Planet Nine is a primordial black hole

Scientists at Harvard University and the Black Hole Initiative (BHI) have developed a new method to find black holes in the outer solar system, and along with it, determine once-and-for-all the true nature of the hypothesized Planet Nine. The paper, accepted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters, highlights the ability of the future Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) mission to observe accretion flares, the presence of which could prove or rule out Planet Nine as a black hole.

Image: Hubble sees sculpted galaxy

Captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, this image shows NGC 7513, a barred spiral galaxy. Located approximately 60 million light-years away, NGC 7513 lies within the Sculptor constellation in the Southern Hemisphere.

Comet streaking past Earth, providing spectacular show

A newly discovered comet is streaking past Earth, providing a stunning nighttime show after buzzing the sun and expanding its tail.

Two bizarre brown dwarfs found with citizen scientists' help

With the help of citizen scientists, astronomers have discovered two highly unusual brown dwarfs, balls of gas that are not massive enough to power themselves the way stars do.

NASA's Perseverance rover attached to Atlas V rocket

NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has been attached to the top of the rocket that will send it toward the Red Planet this summer. Encased in the nose cone that will protect it during launch, the rover and the rest of the Mars 2020 spacecraft—the aeroshell, cruise stage, and descent stage—were affixed to a United Launch Alliance Atlas V booster on Tuesday, July 7, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Central Florida.

Technology news

Using astrocytes to change the behavior of robots controlled by neuromorphic chips

Neurons, specialized cells that transmit nerve impulses, have long been known to be a vital element for the functioning of the human brain. Over the past century, however, neuroscience research has given rise to the false belief that neurons are the only cells that can process and learn information. This misconception or 'neurocomputing dogma' is far from true.

An evaluation metric for determining if a chatbot is just chatty, or engaging

From purchases to therapy to friendship, it seems as though theres a chatbot for just about everything.

Google Maps displays traffic light locations

For millions of motorists around the globe, GPS traffic guidance has become indispensable. This week, Google confirmed it has been testing a feature that will make getting to where you want to go even easier: traffic light locations.

Long road ahead for fully self-driving cars, despite Tesla claim

The road to fully self-driving vehicles remains riddled with obstacles, with years of refinements likely needed, despite Tesla founder Elon Musk's claim to be able to produce one this year.

Microsoft Teams launches Together mode, places participants in a shared background

Microsoft Teams' new update could make work meetings a bit more fun.

Facial recognition technology is expanding rapidly across Australia. Are our laws keeping pace?

Facial recognition technology is increasingly being trialed and deployed around Australia. Queensland and Western Australia are reportedly already using real-time facial recognition through CCTV cameras. 7-Eleven Australia is also deploying facial recognition technology in its 700 stores nationwide for what it says is customer feedback.

Twitter and the way of the hashtag

Perhaps no single character has been as iconic a symbol of Twitter as the now-ubiquitous hashtag.

China auto sales off 22.4% in first half of 2020

China's auto sales rose 1.8% in June over a year earlier but fell by double digits for the first half of 2020 after the country shut down to fight the coronavirus, an industry group reported Friday.

Construction: How to turn 36 seconds into $5.4 billion

A team of researchers from Aarhus University have, for the first time ever, linked 40 years of productivity data from the construction industry with the actual work done. The results show that productivity in the construction industry has been declining since the 1970s. The results also explain the decline and how to achieve far more efficient construction in North America and Europe.

Facebook repairs bug that prompted brief app outages (Update)

Popular smartphone apps including Spotify and Pinterest suffered outages Friday for a few hours due to a bug in Facebook's systems.

Reports: Amazon bars video app TikTok on workers' phones

Amazon has told employees to delete the popular video app TikTok from phones on which they use Amazon email, citing security risks from the China-owned app, a new CEO, t op Disney executive Kevin Mayer, which experts said could help it navigate U.S. regulators. And it is stopping operations in of Hong Kong because of a new Chinese national security law that led Facebook, Google and Twitter to also stop providing user data to Hong Kong authorities.

Building a better battery, faster

Battery experts at PNNL and elsewhere focus on developing rechargeable lithium-metal batteries because of their high energy density. Lithium-metal batteries have the potential to double the energy of lithium-ion batteries commonly used today in electric vehicles and cell phones. But the right combination of component materials and design is tricky.

Spying claims are latest twist in Germany's Wirecard thriller

The plot thickens in the spectacular collapse of payment provider Wirecard: the Austrian man at large over Germany's worst financial fraud scandal may also have had links to secret services.

Large-scale facial recognition is incompatible with a free society

In the US, tireless opposition to state use of facial recognition algorithms has recently won some victories.

Software suite expedites reproducible computer simulations

Science moves forward when researchers verify their and others' results.

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