Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Jul 28

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for July 28, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Lithium metal batteries that perform well at low temperatures

Randomness theory could hold key to internet security

Engineers detect health markers in thread-based, wearable sweat sensors

Recent advances give theoretical insight into why deep learning networks are successful

Compact nanoscale textures reduce contact time of bouncing droplets

Ford puts robotic dogs in driver's seat at manufacturing plant

Study reveals how renegade protein interrupts brain cell function in Alzheimer's disease

How airway cells work together in regeneration and aging

Link between education, income inequality has existed for a century

Mapping crystal shapes could fast-track 2-D materials

New study reveals how day- and night-biting mosquitoes respond differently to colors of light and time of day

Scientists record rapid carbon loss from warming peatlands

Estimated 3 billion animals affected by Australia bushfires: study

New machine learning method allows hospitals to share patient data—privately

Medieval medicine remedy could provide new treatment for modern day infections

Physics news

Ferried across: Figuring out unconventional spin transport in quantum spin liquids

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Yokohama National University (YNU) have uncovered the peculiar mechanism by which spin perturbations travel through a seemingly unpassable region of a quantum spin liquid system. This new insight may represent another building block in next-generation electronics and even quantum computers.

Probing the properties of magnetic quasi-particles

Researchers have for the first time measured a fundamental property of magnets called magnon polarization—and in the process, are making progress towards building low-energy devices.

Black phosphorus future in 3-D analysis, molecular fingerprinting

Many compact systems using mid-infrared technology continue to face compatibility issues when integrating with conventional electronics. Black phosphorus has garnered attention for overcoming these challenges thanks to a wide variety of uses in photonic circuits.

Quest advances to recreate sun's energy on earth

Fourteen years after receiving the official go-ahead, scientists on Tuesday began assembling a giant machine in southern France designed to demonstrate that nuclear fusion, the process which powers the sun, can be a safe and viable energy source on Earth.

CERN experiment reports first evidence for ultra-rare process that could lead to new physics

Scientists at CERN have reported on their first significant evidence for a process predicted by theory, paving the way for searches for evidence of new physics in particle processes that could explain dark matter and other mysteries of the universe.

Solving materials problems with a quantum computer

Quantum computers have enormous potential for calculations using novel algorithms and involving amounts of data far beyond the capacity of today's supercomputers. While such computers have been built, they are still in their infancy and have limited applicability for solving complex problems in materials science and chemistry. For example, they only permit the simulation of the properties of a few atoms for materials research.

France's global nuclear fusion device a puzzle of huge parts

A hugely ambitious project to replicate the energy of the sun is entering a critical phase, as scientists and technicians in southern France begin assembling giant parts of a nuclear fusion device, an international experiment aimed to develop the ultimate clean energy source.

Astronomy and Space news

Astrophysicists investigate the possibility of life below the surface of Mars

Although no life has been detected on the Martian surface, a new study from astrophysicist and research scientist Dimitra Atri at the Center for Space Science at NYU Abu Dhabi finds that conditions below the surface could potentially support it. The subsurface—which is less harsh and has traces of water—has never been explored. According to Atri, the steady bombardment of penetrating galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) might provide the energy needed to catalyze organic activity there.

A growing stellar system directly fed by the mother cloud

For the first time, astronomers have observed a conveyor belt from the outskirts of a star-forming dense cloud directly depositing material near a pair of young forming stars. Scientists at the German Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) and the French Institut de Radioastonomie Millimétrique (IRAM) found that gas motions in the conveyor belt, dubbed a "streamer," mainly obey the gravitational pull of the innermost part of the core, near the protostar pair. The streamer delivers a large amount of gas with chemicals recently produced in the mother cloud surrounding the star-forming region directly to the young protostars at the center of the core. These results are striking evidence that the large-scale environment around forming stars has an important influence on small-scale disk formation and evolution.

Dead star emits never-before seen mix of radiation

A global collaboration of telescopes including ESA's Integral high-energy space observatory has detected a unique mix of radiation bursting from a dead star in our galaxy—something that has never been seen before in this type of star, and may solve a long-standing cosmic mystery.

Virgin Galactic shows off passenger spaceship cabin interior

Passengers flying Virgin Galactic on suborbital trips into space will be able to see themselves floating weightless against the backdrop of the Earth below while 16 cameras document the adventures, the company said Tuesday.

According to globular clusters, the universe is 13.35 billion years old

It is a widely accepted theory today that when the first stars formed in our universe approximately 13 billion years ago, they quickly came together to form globular clusters. These clusters then coalesced to others to form the first galaxies, which have been growing through mergers and evolving ever since. For this reason, astronomers have long suspected that the oldest stars in the universe are to be found in globular clusters.

New technique enables mineral ID of precious Antarctic micrometeorites

The composition of Antarctic micrometeorites and other tiny but precious rocks such as those from space missions—is really hard to analyze without some sample loss. But a new technique should make it easier, cheaper and faster to characterize them while preserving more of the sample. The findings were published on the peer reviewed journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science on May 21.

China's Mars probe photographs Earth en route to Red Planet

China's first Mars probe has beamed back a photo of the Earth and the Moon as it heads toward its destination, the country's space agency said Tuesday.

Space dust fossils are providing a new window onto Earth's past

To be a meteorite hunter means to search for the unutterably rare. On any given patch of land the size of Wales, an average of two olive-sized space rocks will fall in a year. Scientists and collectors are forced to go to extreme lengths to find them, searching in deserts and Antarctica where they have a chance of spotting the stones against a plain background. But if that sounds like a challenge, then how about hunting meteorites that fell to Earth millions of years ago?

Technology news

Lithium metal batteries that perform well at low temperatures

Lithium (Li) batteries, or lithium metal batteries, use metallic lithium as an anode. Over the past few decades, rechargeable Li batteries have been used to power a wide variety of electronic devices, including toys, portable consumer devices and electric vehicles.

Randomness theory could hold key to internet security

Is there an unbreakable code?

Engineers detect health markers in thread-based, wearable sweat sensors

Engineers at Tufts University have created a first-of-its-kind flexible electronic sensing patch that can be sewn into clothing to analyze your sweat for multiple markers. The patch could be used to to diagnose and monitor acute and chronic health conditions or to monitor health during athletic or workplace performance. The device, described today in the journal NPJ Flexible Electronics, consists of special sensing threads, electronic components and wireless connectivity for real time data acquisition, storage and processing.

Recent advances give theoretical insight into why deep learning networks are successful

Deep learning systems are revolutionizing technology around us, from voice recognition that pairs you with your phone to autonomous vehicles that are increasingly able to see and recognize obstacles ahead. But much of this success involves trial and error when it comes to the deep learning networks themselves. A group of MIT researchers recently reviewed their contributions to a better theoretical understanding of deep learning networks, providing direction for the field moving forward.

Ford puts robotic dogs in driver's seat at manufacturing plant

A Ford plant in Michigan has gone to the dogs.

Machine learning predicts satisfaction in romantic relationships

The most reliable predictor of a relationship's success is partners' belief that the other person is fully committed, a Western University-led international research team has found.

Researchers find novel way to "Etch-a-Sketch" critical p-n nano-junctions for 2-D semiconductor diodes

Fascinating opportunities are emerging from a new class of materials named two-dimensional (2-D) semiconductors, which are only one atom thick. 2-D materials are poised to have a bright future in the electronics and optoelectronics industry, as well as in Internet of Things devices. Any cell phone, computer, electronic device, and even solar cells, are all composed of the same basic electronic building block, the diode. Unfortunately, a major obstacle for the wide application of 2-D materials in industry is the unsolved challenge of the scalable and robust nanofabrication of the core element of a diode, which is a "p-n junction".

Share surge propels Taiwan chip giant TSMC into top ten

Taiwanese chip giant TSMC on Tuesday briefly became the world's tenth largest company thanks to a two-day surge in its stock price that has propelled the island's exchange to a record high.

Government urgently needs to gauge public perception of new track and trace app

Governments urgently need to understand public priorities before they roll out track and trace, according to new research.

U.S. agency: Pandemic masks thwarting face recognition tech

Having a tough time recognizing your neighbors behind their pandemic masks? Computers are finding it more difficult, too.

Volkswagen has paid $9.5 bn to US drivers over 'dieselgate'

Volkswagen has paid some $9.5 billion since 2016 to US motorists misled by devices installed by the German automaker to cheat emission standards, the US federal consumer protection authority said Monday.

Nissan forecasts $6.4 bn annual net loss as virus bites

Crisis-hit Japanese automaker Nissan warned on Tuesday of a massive $6.4 billion net loss for the current fiscal year as it reels from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

ITER: Start of new project in France paves way for fusion energy era

French President Emmanuel Macron and leaders from the European Union, China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the United States have declared the start of a new energy era today with the official start of the assembly of the world's largest fusion device at ITER in Southern France.

Microsoft tests hydrogen fuel cells for backup power at datacenters

In a worldwide first that could jumpstart a clean energy economy built around the most abundant element in the universe, hydrogen fuel cells have powered a row of datacenter servers for 48 consecutive hours, Microsoft announced Monday.

AI algorithm detects deepfake videos with high accuracy

Artificial intelligence (AI) contributes significantly to good in the world. From reducing pollution to making roads safer with self-driving cars to enabling better healthcare through medical big-data analysis, AI still has plenty of untapped potential. Unfortunately, just like any technology in the world, AI can be used by those with less noble intentions.

What does the future of artificial intelligence mean for humans?

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

Ceramic skins insulate and protect city buildings and inhabitants

Dr. Mehrnoush Latifi Khorasgani is a lecturer in architecture at the Swinburne School of Design, and Theme Leader of the Smart Skins Smart(er) Cities research stream for Future Urban Infrastructure at the Swinburne Smart Cities Research Institute. She exhibited her Fireless Skin, a non-flammable skin for buildings, in a group exhibition with fellow designers and academics during Melbourne Design Week.

How to hide from a drone – the subtle art of 'ghosting' in the age of surveillance

Drones of all sizes are being used by environmental advocates to monitor deforestation, by conservationists to track poachers, and by journalists and activists to document large protests. As a political sociologist who studies social movements and drones, I document a wide range of nonviolent and pro-social drone uses in my new book, "The Good Drone." I show that these efforts have the potential to democratize surveillance.

'SoundWear' a heads-up sound augmentation gadget helps expand children's play experience

In this digital era, there has been growing concern that children spend most of their playtime watching TV, playing computer games, and staring at mobile phones with 'head-down' posture even outdoors.

Tencent offers buy out of Chinese search engine Sogou

Chinese tech giant Tencent has offered to buy search engine Sogou in a deal worth around $2 billion, sending the latter's share price soaring 48 percent in New York.

Facebook says EU antitrust probe invades employee privacy

Facebook on Monday said it is asking EU courts to review "exceptionally broad" requests by antitrust regulators there that would scoop up employees' personal information.

Chinese airlines offer unlimited flights to revive industry

China Southern on Tuesday became the latest Chinese airline to offer ultra-cheap, all-you-can-fly deals aimed at reigniting air travel following coronavirus lockdowns.

COVID-19 is transforming how companies use digital technology

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions of people to work from home, making workers and corporations alike more dependent on the digital technology that has long enabled them to handle both personal and professional tasks from their smartphones, laptops, and personal computers.

Australia's consumer watchdog is suing Google for misleading millions. But calling it out is easier than fixing it

Australia's consumer watchdog is suing Google for allegedly misleading millions of people after it started tracking them on non-Google apps and websites in 2016.

In reversal, CES gadget show won't be in-person after all

CES, one of the world's biggest technology conferences, will be a virtual event in January due to the coronavirus pandemic, a reversal from May when organizers said it would go on as a smaller gathering in Las Vegas.

Pandemic drives average age of cars in US to a record high

Drivers are holding on to cars and trucks longer during the coronavirus pandemic.

Air travel not expected to recover until 2024

Global air travel is recovering more slowly than expected and it will take until 2024 to return to pre-pandemic levels, the trade association for the airline industry said Tuesday.

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