Science X Newsletter Thursday, Jul 16

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for July 16, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

3-D printed batteries handle the squeeze

New transient X-ray source detected in the galaxy NGC 4945

An algorithm that merges online and offline reinforcement learning

Estimating the maximum number of hot dogs that can possibly be eaten in 10 minutes

When should you neuter your dog to avoid health risks?

Reprogramming of immune cells enhances effects of radiotherapy in preclinical models of brain cancer

Scientists uncover SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell immunity in recovered COVID-19 and SARS patients

Devices can reduce fibers produced in laundry cycle by up to 80%

On Antarctica, humanity's small footprint has big impact

New research shows climate was the key factor impacting the movement of the first farmers across Europe

New technology promises to revolutionize nanomedicine

Unusual nanoparticles could benefit the quest to build a quantum computer

Study reveals how a dangerous parasite controls its host cell to spread around the body

Greater flood risks in the coastal region of China due to slower tropical cyclone movement

Solar Orbiter gives scientists unprecedented look at Sun

Physics news

Physicists engineer an optical mirror made of only a few hundred atoms

Physicists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) have engineered the lightest optical mirror imaginable. The novel metamaterial is made of a single structured layer that consists only of a few hundred identical atoms. The atoms are arranged in the two dimensional array of an optical lattice formed by interfering laser beams. The research results are the first experimental observations of their kind in an only recently emerging new field of subwavelength quantum optics with ordered atoms. So far, the mirror is the only one of its kind. The results are today published in Nature.

Researchers observe new, very short-lived neptunium isotope

In a recent study, researchers at the Institute of Modern Physics (IMP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and their collaborators reported the first discovery of 222Np, a new very short-lived neptunium (Np) isotope, and validated the N = 126 shell effect in Np isotopes.

Streamlining quantum information transmission

The quantum realm holds the key to the next revolution in communication technology as we know it. With the promise of unprecedented performance and impenetrable security, quantum technology is taking its first steps towards the ultimate goal of applications such as highly encrypted yet nearly fast-as-light financial transactions. However, the ability for quantum computers to communicate with one another has been limited by the resources required for such exchanges, constraining the amount of information that can be traded, as well as the amount of time it can be stored.

Regular arrays of silicon nanoparticles key to improving light emissions in nanophotonic devices

Nanophotonics considers how light and matter at the nanoscale interact with each other, with findings in the field being important for nanofabrication techniques and in future photonic devices. Until recently, metallic nanoparticles have been predominantly used in nanophotonic devices. Nowadays though, semiconductor materials such as silicon are being considered for the nanoparticles.

Exotic neutrinos will be difficult to ferret out

An international team tracking 'new physics' neutrinos has checked the data of all the relevant experiments associated with neutrino detections against Standard Model extensions proposed by theorists. The latest analysis, the first with such comprehensive coverage, shows the scale of challenges facing right-handed neutrino seekers, but also brings a spark of hope.

Physicists celebrate Japan collider record

University of Cincinnati physicists celebrated a new world record as part of a research team working on a Japanese particle collider.

Astronomy and Space news

New transient X-ray source detected in the galaxy NGC 4945

Using the Suzaku satellite, Japanese astronomers have detected a transient X-ray source in a nearby galaxy known as NGC 4945. The newly discovered source, designated Suzaku J1305−4930, appears to be a black hole binary. The finding is detailed in a paper published July 8 on the arXiv pre-print repository.

Solar Orbiter gives scientists unprecedented look at Sun

Scientists said Thursday they had obtained the closest ever images taken of the Sun as part of a pan-European mission to study solar winds and flares that could have far-reaching impacts back on Earth.

Close-ups of the sun

Only a few months after its launch, ESA's Solar Orbiter has captured images of the sun from a previously unattainable distance. Among other things, these images reveal structures in the sun's atmosphere that could possibly be interpreted as so-called nanoflares, very small bursts of radiation. The images from the six remote sensing instruments published today were taken in the days before and after 15 June, when the spacecraft reached the point closest to the sun on its current orbit. Only 77 million kilometres separated the probe from our star. Although this early mission phase is primarily aimed at commissioning the instruments, the data already provide impressive evidence of Solar Orbiter's uniquely comprehensive view of the sun—from the magnetic fields at the surface to the particles streaming into space. The Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany is an important partner of the mission and is significantly involved in four of the instruments.

How galaxies die: New insights into the quenching of star formation

Astronomers studying galaxy evolution have long struggled to understand what causes star formation to shut down in massive galaxies. Although many theories have been proposed to explain this process, known as "quenching," there is still no consensus on a satisfactory model.

In a first, astronomers watch a black hole's corona disappear, then reappear

It seems the universe has an odd sense of humor. While a crown-encrusted virus has run roughshod over the world, another entirely different corona about 100 million light years from Earth has mysteriously disappeared.

Spacewalking astronauts closing in on final battery swaps

A pair of spacewalking astronauts tackled the final set of battery swaps outside the International Space Station on Thursday.

Mapping the solar system: from the moon to Bennu

As NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft prepares to briefly touch down and collect a sample from the asteroid Bennu in October, the mission's science team, led by the University of Arizona, has worked meticulously to create the highest resolution global map of any planetary body, including Earth. The endeavor is the latest in the university's long history of celestial imaging and mapping—one that began with the first lunar landings.

AI upscales Apollo lunar footage to 60 FPS

As exciting and thrilling as it is to watch all the historic footage from the Apollo moon landings, you have to admit, the quality is sometimes not all that great. Even though NASA has worked on restoring and enhancing some of the most popular Apollo footage, some of it is still grainy or blurry.

New research of oldest light confirms age of the universe

Just how old is the universe? Astrophysicists have been debating this question for decades. In recent years, new scientific measurements have suggested the universe may be hundreds of millions of years younger than its previously estimated age of approximately 13.8 billions of years. Now new research published in a series of papers by an international team of astrophysicists, including Neelima Sehgal, Ph.D., from Stony Brook University, suggest the universe is about 13.8 billion years old. By using observations from the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) in Chile, their findings match the measurements of the Planck satellite data of the same ancient light.

Video: Closer than ever: Solar Orbiter's first views of the sun

The first images from ESA's Solar Orbiter are already exceeding expectations and revealing interesting new phenomena on the sun.

New insights into the origins of our universe

New data released today by the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) in Chile indicate our universe is around 13.8 billion years old, matching the measurements made by the Planck satellite in 2015, and calling into question the 2019 findings of another research group that determined the age of the universe to be much younger than what the Planck satellite had predicted. That study had measured the movement of galaxies to come up with their number, while the ACT measured polarized light to reach its conclusions.

A population of asteroids of interstellar origin inhabits the Solar System

A study conducted by scientists at São Paulo State University's Institute of Geosciences and Exact Sciences (IGCE-UNESP) in Rio Claro, Brazil, has identified 19 asteroids of interstellar origin classified as Centaurs, outer Solar System objects that revolve around the Sun in the region between the orbits of Jupiter and Neptune.

Space station power upgrades nearly finished after spacewalk

Spacewalking astronauts completed their part of a three-year power upgrade to the International Space Station on Thursday, replacing six more outdated batteries with powerful new ones.

Giant Hawaii telescope builders say no construction in 2020

Scientists planning to build one of the world's largest telescopes on a Hawaii mountain said Wednesday construction won't begin until at least next year.

Image: Comet NEOWISE seen in an aurora-filled sky

Comet NEOWISE is visible in an aurora-filled sky in this photo by Aurorasaurus Ambassador Donna Lach. The photo was taken early on July 14, 2020, in western Manitoba, Canada. The purple ribbon-like structure to the left is STEVE, an aurora-related phenomenon discovered with the help of citizen scientists working with the Aurorasaurus project. The bright streak near the top of the image is a meteor.

Technology news

An algorithm that merges online and offline reinforcement learning

In recent years, a growing number of researchers have been developing artificial neural network (ANN)- based models that can be trained using a technique known as reinforcement learning (RL). RL entails training artificial agents to solve a variety of tasks by giving them "rewards" when they perform well, for instance, when they classify an image correctly.

New DDR5 SDRAM standard sees performance boost, dual-channel DIMM

They were two years behind schedule but the industry group overseeing memory technology development and standardization has finally announced the officials specs for the new DDR5 SDRAM standard.

Balancing supply and demand in the electricity market

Texas has emerged as a leader in alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind. As the state moves toward a "smart grid" delivery system, the companies that provide energy services are rushing to determine the best ways to balance supply and demand.

American Airlines notifies 25,000 workers of potential layoffs

American Airlines is notifying 25,000 workers that they could be furloughed beginning October 1, executives said Wednesday, the latest major carrier to warn about massive layoffs.

Tech under threat as EU court rules on Facebook case

The EU's top court will take a decision on Thursday that threatens to throw global internet traffic into chaos, as judges decide on the legality of Facebook's data transfers between the US and Europe.

Twitter hit by major hack targeting high-profile users

Twitter is investigating a massive hack in which high-profile users from Elon Musk to Joe Biden had their accounts hijacked by scammers, who the social network believes targeted its employees to gain access to internal systems.

The Twitter hack targeted the rich and famous. But we all lose if trusted accounts can be hijacked

The list of US figures whose Twitter accounts were hijacked by scammers on Wednesday US time reads like a Who's Who of the tech and celebrity worlds: Tesla boss Elon Musk, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, former president Barack Obama, current Democratic nominee Joe Biden, celebrities Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, billionaires Warren Buffett and Mike Bloomberg, the corporate accounts of Apple and Uber, and more besides.

Workers engage with the Internet of Things

The concept of an Internet of Things—connected devices, sensors, controllers, and other equipment—is rapidly evolving. It has certainly moved on apace since the early whimsical hyperbole surrounding an internet-connected coffee machine or the smart refrigerator. Indeed, the IoT is now pervading almost every business sector. Work published in the International Journal of Business and Systems Research has looked at how employees might become more engaged in IoT technology in the workplace.

Using the past to predict the future: The case of Typhoon Hagibis

The past is often the window to our future, especially when it comes to natural disasters. Using data from the 2018 floods that struck southwestern Japan to calibrate a machine learning model, researchers from the International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) at Tohoku University and the Japan-Peru Center for Earthquake Engineering Research and Disaster Mitigation (CISMID), have successfully identified the flooding caused by Typhoon Hagibis.

Ransomware criminals are targeting US universities

As COVID-19 cases in the U.S. continue to climb, government and higher education leaders have been focused on doing what it takes to protect campus communities from the global pandemic.

Recognising fake images using frequency analysis

They look deceptively real, but they are made by computers: so-called deep-fake images are generated by machine learning algorithms, and humans are pretty much unable to distinguish them from real photos. Researchers at the Horst Görtz Institute for IT Security at Ruhr-Universität Bochum and the Cluster of Excellence "Cyber Security in the Age of Large-Scale Adversaries" (Casa) have developed a new method for efficiently identifying deep-fake images. To this end, they analyse the objects in the frequency domain, an established signal processing technique.

Taxis drive smart city creation

As the world has advanced technologically, the word "smart" has been applied to everything from smartphones to smart homes. Everything is "smart" now, including cities. A smart city utilizes various Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to collect data around the city, which is analyzed to better run and manage the city's resources and services. Some applications include traffic congestion, noise, and pollution control, among others.

Engineer creates a battery-less remote image sensor, and teaches it time management

Imagine a small, inexpensive device that could look at a parking lot to see which spaces are filled and which are not. Or one that could find traffic jams and reroute others away from it. Maybe such a device could even keep an eye out for dangerous situations in public places. Brandon Lucia, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, along with his Ph.D. student Harsh Desai and collaborators from the University of Trento in Italy, imagined a device like this, and they named it Camaroptera, after a tiny, industrious bird.

Using artificial intelligence to enhance complex systems

EPFL researchers have invented a way of automatically working out what data needs to be put into a complex system—such as a fiber optic network—in order to get the desired result. Their solution could prove especially useful in robotics, medicine and image projection.

Scientists use machine learning to optimize hydraulic fracturing design for oil wells

Skoltech researchers and their industry colleagues have created a data-driven model that can forecast the production from an oil well stimulated by multistage fracturing technology. This model has high commercialization potential, and its use can boost oil production via optimized fracturing design. The research, supported by Gazprom Neft Science and Technology Center, was published in the Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering.

AI agents can learn to communicate effectively

A multi-disciplinary team of researchers from Chalmers and University of Gothenburg has developed a framework to study how language evolves as an effective tool for describing mental concepts. In a new paper, they show that artificial agents can learn how to communicate in an artificial language similar to human language. The results have been published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

Clues to COVID-19 treatments could be hiding in existing data

If you want to research historical events for a college essay, learn about tropical fish, or even translate text into a different language, you can type keywords into an internet search engine and get almost instant results drawn from diverse, international sources on that subject.

Twitter racing to unravel mystery cyberattack

As Twitter Inc. grapples with the worst security breach in its 14-year history, it must now uncover whether its employees were victims of sophisticated phishing schemes or if they deliberately allowed hackers to access high-profile accounts.

Wherever the sun shines: Bringing solar to low- and middle-income communities

A new guidebook from Yale outlines the barriers and potential benefits of bringing rooftop solar to more low- and middle-income (LMI) households.

EU court cancels US data-sharing pact over snooping concerns

The European Union's top court ruled Thursday that an agreement that allows thousands of companies—from tech giants to small financial firms—to transfer data to the United States is invalid because the American government can snoop on people's data.

Websites used woman's image to illustrate online stories about workplace harassment. Now she's suing them

With cameras everywhere these days, you never know where your image might turn up.

IBM Watson helps deliver fast and trusted information on COVID-19

IBM today announced that it is collaborating with United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN) Youth Philippines' to deliver fast and trusted COVID-19 information to the Filipinos by using IBM Watson Assistant, a conversational AI solution designed and trained to understand natural language and interact with users to provide responses to COVID-19 questions. Since deployment, the average daily conversations the virtual agent using IBM Watson Assistant is having has increased by 1050% as compared to the previous QA platform UN SDSN Youth Philippines was using.

UK, US, Canada accuse Russia of hacking virus vaccine trials

Britain, the United States and Canada accused Russia on Thursday of trying to steal information from researchers seeking a COVID-19 vaccine.

We could lose $30 billion in weeks from cyberwar. But the real loss is the erosion of public trust

The Australian Cyber Security Growth Network (AustCyber) on Monday released a report modeling the potential impact of cyberattacks and sustained digital outages on Australia.

EU's Vestager vows to continue tax fight after Apple ruling

The EU's top competition official vowed Thursday to fight on to make big companies pay more tax, after Brussels suffered a major legal defeat in a long-running tussle with Apple.

Apple expands coding partnership with Black schools as tech firms grapple with lack of diversity

Apple is expanding its coding partnership with historically black colleges and universities as big tech firms face increased scrutiny surrounding diversity and inclusion.

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