Science X Newsletter Friday, Jul 31

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for July 31, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Scientists test a 'bispecific' antibody that helps T cells zero in on treatment-resistant cancers

Texas cave sediment upends meteorite explanation for global cooling

Surprising number of exoplanets could host life

Nanoparticle meta-grid for enhanced light extraction from light-emitting devices

Team finds special engines and fuels could cut air emissions and water use

Researchers discover stem cells in the optic nerve that enable preservation of vision

How human sperm really swim: New research challenges centuries-old assumption

North Atlantic climate far more predictable following major scientific breakthrough

Reduced coral reef fish biodiversity under temperatures that mirror climate predictions

Nano-sponges of solid acid transform carbon dioxide to fuel and plastic waste to chemicals

A centerpiece of the 3-D human brain atlas published

Cell competition in the thymus is crucial in a healthy organism

How to improve climate modeling and prediction

Study shows devastating cost of failure to coordinate economic reopenings

Shock waves might offer the jolt needed to reach Mars

Physics news

Nanoparticle meta-grid for enhanced light extraction from light-emitting devices

A tailored layer of plasmonic nanoparticles can be introduced into the epoxy casing of a light-emitting diode (LED) to improve the device's light output, to benefit energy savings and boost the LED lifetime. In a new report on Nature Light: Science & Applications, Debrata Sikdar and a team of scientists in chemistry, electronics and physics at the Imperial College London and the Indian Institute of Technology, showed the benefits of including a two-dimensional (2-D) array of silver nanoparticles known as a 'meta-grid' to the lens shaped epoxy packaging. They tested their theory using computer simulations and demonstrated the ability to improve light extraction from the nanoparticle meta-grid based LED. The alternative approach can be customized to suit a specific color of emission, the authors proposed a few additional schemes to implement the strategy into the existing LED manufacturing technology.

Shock waves might offer the jolt needed to reach Mars

Applying shockwaves can improve conditions for fluid mixing in supersonic combustion engines, paving the way for flights at speeds five times faster than the speed of sound.

Physicists find misaligned carbon sheets yield unparalleled properties

A material composed of two one-atom-thick layers of carbon has grabbed the attention of physicists worldwide for its intriguing—and potentially exploitable—conductive properties.

Study reports a transition from spontaneous to stimulated Hawking radiation in a sonic black hole

In 2014 and 2016, Jeff Steinhauer of Technion, Israel, successfully conducted two significant experiments. The first one demonstrated stimulated Hawking radiation in a sonic black hole laser (SBHL). The next one showed spontaneous Hawking radiation from a sonic black hole (SBH). Both experiments were performed in an ultra-cold Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) of rubidium atoms at nano-Kelvin temperature, an extreme form of quantum fluid almost at absolute zero temperature.

Ultra-fast laser-based writing of data to storage devices

Modern life revolves around data, which means that we need new, fast, and energy-efficient methods to read and write data on our storage devices. Optical-based approaches, which use laser pulses to write data instead of magnets, have received considerable attention over the past decade following the development of all-optical switching (AOS) for magnetic materials. While fast and energy efficient, AOS has issues with precision. Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology have devised a new method to accurately write data to a cobalt-gadolinium (Co/Gd) layer with a laser pulse using a ferromagnetic material as a reference to help with the writing process. Their research is published in Nature Communications.

Sharing a secret... the quantum way

Researchers at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, have demonstrated a record setting quantum protocol for sharing a secret amongst many parties. The team created an 11-dimensional quantum state and used it to share a secret amongst 10 parties. By using quantum tricks, the secret can only be unlocked if the parties trust one another. The work sets a new record for the dimension of the state (which impacts on how big the secret can be) and the number of parties with whom it is shared, and is an important step towards distributing information securely across many nodes in a quantum network.

When Dirac meets frustrated magnetism

The fields of condensed matter physics and materials science are intimately linked because new physics is often discovered in materials with special arrangements of atoms. Crystals, which have repeating units of atoms in space, can have special patterns which result in exotic physical properties. Particularly exciting are materials which host multiple types of exotic properties because they give scientists the opportunity to study how those properties interact with and influence each other. The combinations can give rise to unexpected phenomena and fuel years of basic and technological research.

Astronomy and Space news

Surprising number of exoplanets could host life

Earth. A new study shows other stars could have as many as seven Earth-like planets in the absence of a gas giant like Jupiter.

New analysis method predicts disruptive solar flares

Solar flares—violent explosions on the surface of the sun—can send blasts of radiation hurtling toward Earth. While the planet's magnetic field protects humans on the surface, powerful solar flares can disable satellites, power grids and radio communications. But scientists aren't sure exactly what triggers solar flares, which makes it difficult to predict when one will occur. One theory suggests these massive explosions can be set off by small disturbances in the sun's magnetic field. Now, researchers have applied that theory to develop a novel method of predicting solar flares before they happen. This method could make the forecasting of solar flares more accurate and reliable than ever before.

NASA's Webb Telescope will study Jupiter, its rings, and two intriguing moons

Jupiter, named for the king of the ancient Roman gods, commands its own mini-version of our solar system of circling satellites; their movements convinced Galileo Galilei that Earth is not the center of the universe in the early 17th century. More than 400 years later, astronomers will use NASA's James Webb Space Telescope to observe these famous subjects, pushing the observatory's instruments to their fullest capabilities and laying the groundwork for far-reaching scientific discovery.

US astronauts pack up for rare splashdown in SpaceX capsule

Two U.S. astronauts about to make the first splashdown return in 45 years said Friday they'll have seasick bags ready to use if needed.

China celebrates completion of rival sat navigation system

China is celebrating the completion of its BeiDou Navigation Satellite System that could rival the U.S. Global Positioning System and significantly boost China's security and geopolitical clout.

NASA's Perseverance rover bound for Mars to seek ancient life

NASA's latest Mars rover Perseverance launched Thursday on an astrobiology mission to look for signs of ancient microbial life on the Red Planet—and to fly a helicopter-drone on another world for the first time.

Video: Flight over the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover landing site

This video shows Jezero crater, the landing site of the NASA Mars 2020 Perseverance rover on the Red Planet, based on images from ESA's Mars Express mission. The planned landing area is marked with an orange ellipse.

Technology news

Team finds special engines and fuels could cut air emissions and water use

Advanced fuels and new engine designs could reduce emissions and water use over the next 30 years, according for a new study led by Argonne scientists.

New algorithms could reduce polarization driven by information overload

As the volume of available information expands, the fraction a person is able to absorb shrinks. They end up retreating into a narrow slice of thought, becoming more vulnerable to misinformation, and polarizing into isolated enclaves of competing opinions. To break this cycle, computer scientists say we need new algorithms that prioritize a broader view over fulfilling consumer biases.

Amazon closer to launching satellites, upping internet reach is one step closer to space.

Will next AirPods feature bone conduction?

Will Apple's next big air bud project be called iBone?

Facebook quarterly profit rockets despite ad boycott, pandemic

Facebook reported Thursday that its quarterly profit had nearly doubled and users grew despite a boycott by advertisers and the pandemic-induced economic turmoil.

Amid the pandemic, Big Tech reports mixed earnings

Big Tech companies reported mixed quarterly earnings on Thursday, a day after their top executives faced a tough congressional grilling over their market power and alleged monopolistic practices.

Australia unveils law forcing tech giants to pay for news

Australia unveiled a draft law Friday to force Google and Facebook to pay news media for their content or face huge fines in one of the most aggressive moves by any government to curb the power of the US digital giants.

Google parent Alphabet profit dives as virus hits ad market

Google parent Alphabet reported a rare drop in revenue and profit on Thursday in a quarterly update that nonetheless topped market expectations.

Researchers develop eco-friendly color thin-film solar cells

Research on solar cells to secure renewable energy sources are ongoing around the world. The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) in South Korea succeeded in developing eco-friendly color Cu(In,Ga)Se2 (CIGS) thin-film solar cells.

Twitter says hackers used phone to fool staff, gain access

Twitter says the hackers responsible for a recent high-profile breach used the phone to fool the social media company's employees into giving them access.

There aren't enough batteries to electrify all cars: Focus on trucks and buses instead

We need to change our transportation system, and we need to do it quickly.

Data privacy: Stricter European rules will have repercussions in Australia as global divisions grow

A big year for privacy just got bigger. On July 16, Europe's top court ruled on the legality of two mechanisms for cross-border transfers of personal data.

Using games to study law of motions in mind

At Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, researchers have successfully established relationships between games and law of motions in mind through analogy of physics and game refinement theory.

The behavior of coral reefs is simulated in order to optimize space in industrial plants

Many factors must be kept in mind when designing a hospital, a factory, a shopping center or any industrial plant, and many questions can arise before deciding on the floor plans. What is the best placement for each different space? What distribution is the most appropriate in order to improve efficiency in these large areas? University of Cordoba researchers Laura GarcĂ­a and Lorenzo Salas are trying to provide an answer to these questions, and to do so, they have turned to the marine world to simulate the behavior of coral reefs.

Facial recognition, thermal imaging part of future with coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic has inspired a new wave of technology closely tied to Ohio businesses, including thermal imaging and facial recognition software which can detect fevers among employees, a common symptom of the virus.

Facebook challenges YouTube with licensed music videos

Facebook on Friday added licensed music videos to the social network in the US, challenging YouTube for the attention of online audiences.

Brussels tasks Germany's SAP with linking EU virus apps

The European Commission has tasked German software giant SAP to develop a way to link at least 18 national virus-tracing apps to share data across EU borders, officials said Friday.

Florida teen charged in massive Twitter hack, Bitcoin theft

A Florida teen hacked the Twitter accounts of prominent politicians, celebrities and technology moguls to scam people around globe out of more than $100,000 in Bitcoin, authorities said Friday.

Ford's results not as grim as expected for virus-marred 2Q

Ford Motor Co. posted results on Thursday that were not as grim as expected for its second quarter that saw its U.S. factories shuttered for half the period to combat the spread of the coronavirus and car buyers sheltering in place.

British Airways parent IAG swoops for more cash to survive crisis

Airline giant IAG, the owner of British Airways and Spanish carrier Iberia, on Friday logged a 3.8-billion-euro ($4.5 billion) first-half net loss—and launched a capital-raising to help it navigate the demand-destroying coronavirus crisis.

Dutch airline KLM says to shed up to 5,000 jobs due to virus

Dutch airline KLM said Friday it would shed up to 5,000 jobs due to a "crisis of unprecedented magnitude" caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Nokia profit up despite pandemic as new CEO takes over

Nokia has reported better than expected second-quarter earnings on the back of improved margins for telecoms equipment and software despite the coronavirus crisis causing a substantial drop in revenue.

Fiat Chrysler muscles through, green shoots in North America

Fiat Chrysler overcame coronavirus-related factory shutdowns to post losses that were not as bad as feared, and the company predicted improving conditions for the remainder of 2020.

New high-capacity embedded memory uses half as much silicon

Researchers at EPFL and Bar Ilan University have developed a new type of embedded memory that takes up half as much space as traditional memory—and uses less energy—to store a given amount of data. The technology is being marketed through a new spin-off called RAAAM.

EU approves Alstom buying Bombardier Transport

The European Commission gave French engineering giant Alstom the green light to buy Canadian train-maker Bombardier Transport on Friday, a year-and-a-half after blocking a mega-merger with Germany's Siemens.

India's Tata Motors posts major loss as lockdowns hit sales

India's Tata Motors on Friday reported a major quarterly loss as coronavirus lockdowns hit sales in domestic and international markets including Europe and China.

Air Canada takes huge loss amid pandemic travel shutdown

Air Canada on Friday announced a loss of more than CAN$1.7 billion (US$1.27 billion) in the second quarter due to the "devastating effects" of the coronavirus pandemic.

Spirit Airlines warns of layoffs, ExpressJet's fate in doubt

Spirit Airlines has warned up to 30% of its employees that they will lose their jobs in October, and regional carrier ExpressJet's future is in doubt after losing a key contract as the virus pandemic continues to hammer the airline industry.

Trump to order Chinese firm to divest TikTok: reports

President Donald Trump was preparing an order requiring the fast-growing social media app TikTok to be divested from its Chinese parent firm on national security grounds, media reports said Friday.

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