Science X Newsletter Monday, Aug 3

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for August 3, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A new test to investigate the origin of cosmic structure

THEaiTRE: A theatre play written entirely by machines

Interstellar medium of SDSS J2310+1855 explored with ALMA

Perovskite mineral supports solar-energy sustainability

Iron-rich meteorites show record of core crystallization in system's oldest planetesimals

Early Mars was covered in ice sheets, not flowing rivers: study

Energy demands limit our brains' information processing capacity

Social bonds in adulthood don't mediate early life trauma

Your hair knows what you eat and how much your haircut costs

Scientists discover secret behind Earth's biodiversity hotspots

Unequal neutron-star mergers create unique 'bang' in simulations

Scientists discover new class of semiconducting entropy-stabilized materials

New printing process advances 3-D capabilities

New studies show how to save parasites and why it's important

SpaceX capsule and NASA crew make 1st splashdown in 45 years

Physics news

A new test to investigate the origin of cosmic structure

Many cosmologists believe that the universe's structure is a result of quantum fluctuations that occurred during early expansion. Confirming this hypothesis, however, has proven highly challenging so far, as it is hard to discern between quantum and classical primordial fluctuations when analyzing existing cosmological data.

New method to measure vibrational frequencies in molecular hydrogen ions

An international research collaboration headed by VU-scientist Jeroen Koelemeij developed a new method to measure vibrational frequencies in the molecular hydrogen ion at four hundred times higher precision than before. The results improve the understanding of the fundamental laws of physics and particles such as the proton—topics which have recently been subject to debate. The outcomes of the study were published in Science last week.

Scientists find new deformation mechanism of bulk metallic glass composites

Bulk metallic glass composites (BMGCs) containing in-situ formed β-Ti dendrites are promising for many applications. However, it remains challenging to effectively tune their microstructures and mechanical properties for application.

Can a quantum strategy help bring down the house?

In some versions of the game blackjack, one way to win against the house is for players at the table to work as a team to keep track of and covertly communicate amongst each other the cards they have been dealt. With that knowledge, they can then estimate the cards still in the deck, and those most likely to be dealt out next, all to help each player decide how to place their bets, and as a team, gain an advantage over the dealer.

Calculating the benefits of exascale and quantum computers

A quintillion calculations a second. That's one with 18 zeros after it. It's the speed at which an exascale supercomputer will process information. The Department of Energy (DOE) is preparing for the first exascale computer to be deployed in 2021. Two more will follow soon after. Yet quantum computers may be able to complete more complex calculations even faster than these up-and-coming exascale computers. But these technologies complement each other much more than they compete.

Astronomy and Space news

Interstellar medium of SDSS J2310+1855 explored with ALMA

Using the ALMA Observatory, an international team of astronomers has conducted an observational campaign of interstellar medium (ISM) in a host galaxy of a high-redshift quasar known as SDSS J231038.88+185519.7 (SDSS J2310+1855 for short). Results of the observations, published July 24 on, could improve the knowledge of the properties and nature of this quasar.

Early Mars was covered in ice sheets, not flowing rivers: study

A large number of the valley networks scarring Mars's surface were carved by water melting beneath glacial ice, not by free-flowing rivers as previously thought, according to new UBC research published today in Nature Geoscience. The findings effectively throw cold water on the dominant "warm and wet ancient Mars" hypothesis, which postulates that rivers, rainfall and oceans once existed on the red planet.

Unequal neutron-star mergers create unique 'bang' in simulations

When two neutron stars slam together, the result is sometimes a black hole that swallows all but the gravitational evidence of the collision. However, in a series of simulations, an international team of researchers including a Penn State scientist determined that these typically quiet—at least in terms of radiation we can detect on Earth—collisions can sometimes be far noisier.

SpaceX capsule and NASA crew make 1st splashdown in 45 years

Two NASA astronauts returned to Earth on Sunday in a dramatic, retro-style splashdown, their capsule parachuting into the Gulf of Mexico to close out an unprecedented test flight by Elon Musk's SpaceX company.

Machine learning finds a surprising early galaxy

New results achieved by combining big data captured by the Subaru Telescope and the power of machine learning have discovered a galaxy with an extremely low 1.6% oxygen abundance, breaking the previous record of the lowest abundance. The measured oxygen abundance suggests that most of the stars in this galaxy formed very recently.

Differences between discs of active and non-active galaxies detected for the first time

A study led by researchers at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) comparing the discs of several pairs of spiral galaxies, active and non-active, concludes that in the active discs, the rotational motion of the stars is of greater importance.

Searching for where very unequal mass black hole binaries come from

The direct detection of gravitational waves from at least eleven sources during the past five years has offered spectacular confirmation of Einstein's model of gravity and space-time, while the modeling of these events has provided information on star formation, gamma-ray bursts,neutron stars, the age of the universe, and even verification of ideas about how very heavy elements are produced. The majority of these gravitational wave events arose from the merger of two black holes of comparable masses in an orbiting pair. Near-equal mass pairs are strongly preferred in models of binary black hole formation, whether they result from the evolution of isolated binary stars or from the dynamical pairing of two black holes. This year, however, the LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave observatories reported the first detection of a very unequal mass pair of black holes, GW190412, whose estimated masses are about 30 and eight solar masses. The question, then, is how were they formed?

Virgin seeks to revive supersonic commercial flight—but faster

Space tourism company Virgin Galactic on Monday announced a partnership with engine-maker Rolls-Royce to build a supersonic commercial airplane that flies at three times the speed of sound.

Lucy mission one step closer to the Trojan asteroids

NASA's Lucy mission, led by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), has achieved an important milestone by passing its System Integration Review and clearing the way for spacecraft assembly. This NASA Discovery Program class mission will be the first to explore Jupiter's Trojan asteroids, ancient small bodies that share an orbit with Jupiter and hold important insights to understanding the early solar system.

ALMA captures stirred-up planet factory

Planet-forming environments can be much more complex and chaotic than previously expected. This is evidenced by a new image of the star RU Lup, made with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).

Black hole fails to do its job

Astronomers have discovered what can happen when a giant black hole does not intervene in the life of a galaxy cluster. Using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes they have shown that passive black hole behavior may explain a remarkable torrent of star formation occurring in a distant cluster of galaxies.

Hurricane might delay SpaceX-NASA return trip from ISS

The first US astronauts to reach the International Space Station on an American spacecraft in nearly a decade might not come home this weekend as scheduled because of Hurricane Isaias, NASA said Friday.

NASA astronauts aim for Florida coast to end SpaceX flight

The first astronauts launched by Elon Musk's SpaceX company departed the International Space Station on Saturday night for the final and most important part of their test flight: returning to Earth with a rare splashdown.

Hubble peeks at stellar treats

Looking its best ever is the star cluster NGC 2203, here imaged by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Aside from its dazzling good looks, this cluster of stars contains lots of astronomical treats that have helped astronomers puzzle together the lifetimes of stars. 

Six things to know about NASA's Ingenuity Mars helicopter

When NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida later this summer, an innovative experiment will ride along: the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. Ingenuity may weigh only about 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms), but it has some outsize ambitions.

Virgin Orbit determines cause of rocket launch failure

Virgin Orbit said Monday it has determined what caused the failure of its debut rocket launch and is working toward a second flight that will carry small satellites for NASA.

Semiconductor manufacturing techniques employed for new gamma-ray detector

NASA astrophysicists and engineers are adapting detectors used by earthbound supercolliders and creating them the same way electronics companies produce all modern consumer devices, including cell phones and laptops.

Natural starshades would help astronomers image exoplanets

In the past few decades, the study of extrasolar planets has grown by leaps and bounds, with the confirmation of over 4000 exoplanets. With so many planets available for study, the focus of exoplanet researchers is shifting from discovery to characterization. In the coming years, new technologies and next-generation telescopes will also enable direct imaging studies, which will vastly improve our understanding of exoplanet atmospheres.

Technology news

THEaiTRE: A theatre play written entirely by machines

Researchers at Charles University, Švanda Theater and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague are currently working on an intriguing research project that merges artificial intelligence and robotics with theater. Their project's main objective is to use artificial intelligence to create an innovative theatrical performance, which is expected to premiere in January 2021.

Perovskite mineral supports solar-energy sustainability

When it comes to the future of solar energy cells, say farewell to silicon, and hello to calcium titanium oxide—the compound mineral better known as perovskite.

An automated health care system that understands when to step in

In recent years, entire industries have popped up that rely on the delicate interplay between human workers and automated software. Companies like Facebook work to keep hateful and violent content off their platforms using a combination of automated filtering and human moderators. In the medical field, researchers at MIT and elsewhere have used machine learning to help radiologists better detect different forms of cancer.

Google suggests trust tokens as part of ending support of third-party cookies

Google has announced that as part of its effort to provide users with more ad transparency, it will begin testing the idea of using "trust tokens" which, unlike cookies, will allow website owners to authenticate users to advertisers without giving up their identities. The effort is part of its Privacy Sandbox initiative launched in response to user complaints about advertisers and unknown agents tracking their actions on the internet.

Simplified circuit design could revolutionize how wearables are manufactured

Researchers have demonstrated the use of a ground-breaking circuit design that could transform manufacturing processes for wearable technology.

Computers on verge of designing their own programs

Computer programmers may soon design the ultimate program: A program that designs programs.

Plug it in: Electric car charging station numbers are rising

When the electric car revolution arrives, will there be enough places to plug in?

Samsung, Apple to boost cellphone manufacturing in India

Three contract manufacturers for Apple iPhones and South Korea's Samsung have applied for large-scale electronics manufacturing rights in India under a $6.5 billion incentive scheme announced by the government, a minister said Saturday.

Microsoft confirms talks seeking to buy US arm of TikTok

Microsoft confirmed Sunday it is in talks with Chinese company ByteDance to acquire the U.S. arm of its popular video app TikTok and has discussed with President Donald Trump his concerns about security and censorship surrounding such an acquisition.

Amid pandemic, mopeds have a moment in car-loving US

Long associated with narrow, cobbled streets in Europe and congested Asian megacities, scooters are now becoming a common sight in car-loving America as commuters shun public transport because of the coronavirus pandemic.

TikTok must be sold or blocked in US, says Mnuchin

TikTok must either be sold or blocked in the US due to national security concerns, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday in the latest ominous US warning to the Chinese-owned app.

Using AI to predict new materials with desired properties

Scientists in Japan have developed a machine learning approach that can predict the elements and manufacturing processes needed to obtain an aluminum alloy with specific, desired mechanical properties. The approach, published in the journal Science and Technology of Advanced Materials, could facilitate the discovery of new materials.

Creative destruction: The COVID-19 economic crisis is accelerating the demise of fossil fuels

Creative destruction "is the essential fact about capitalism," wrote the great Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter in 1942. New technologies and processes continuously revolutionize the economic structure from within, "incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one."

Congress and technology: Do lawmakers understand Google and Facebook enough to regulate them?

Many of us have had the feeling that technology, which continues to change at an ever-dizzying pace, may be leaving us behind. That was embodied this past week during a Congressional hearing, nominally convened to investigate antitrust concerns of four big tech titans: Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. plans to go public via merger

Seattle-based plans to merge with a publicly traded company that has no operations, gaining a listing on Nasdaq and about $200 million in new capital.

Apple buys startup to turn iPhones into payment terminals

Apple Inc. has acquired Mobeewave Inc., a startup with technology that could transform iPhones into mobile payment terminals, according to people familiar with the matter.

Researchers develope new method to defend against smart home cyberattacks

Instead of relying on customers to protect their vulnerable smart home devices from being used in cyberattacks, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and National University of Singapore (NUS) researchers have developed a new method that enables telecommunications and internet service providers to monitor these devices.

Google buys $450M stake in ADT to give Nest a new perch

Google is paying $450 million for a nearly 7% stake in longtime home and business security provider ADT Inc., a deal that will open new opportunities for one of the internet's most powerful companies to extend the reach of its Nest cameras and voice-activated voice assistant.

Google unveils cheaper Pixel smartphone, teases 5G

Google on Monday unveiled a new, more affordable Pixel smartphone and said it would launch models tailored for super-fast 5G networks later this year.

LATAM airline to lay off 2,700 crew

Latin America's biggest airline, the Brazilian-Chilean group LATAM, said Friday it was laying off at least 2,700 crew to cope with the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the aviation industry.

Media scion James Murdoch quits News Corp board

Former 21st Century Fox chief executive James Murdoch, son of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, has resigned from News Corp's board, according to a document released Friday by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

JAL logs $885 million quarterly loss on pandemic

Japan Airlines on Monday said it suffered a deep quarterly net loss of $885 million as the coronavirus pandemic halted air travel around the world.

TikTok parent working flat out for 'best outcome': report

The founder of Bytedance, which owns social media giant TikTok, said Monday his teams were working around-the-clock "for the best outcome" as talks on the sale of its US operation to Microsoft continue, Chinese media reported.

Apple's Tim Cook had the best week in tech

When you're asked to meet with elected officials via teleconference in Washington, D.C., (along with key competitors) and they don't ask too many questions to you, it's a given that you had a really good week.

LG Velvet review: The smartphone is sexy, the tech is cool, the camera could be improved

LG's latest Velvet smartphone has rolled out in the U.S. as the Korean tech giant adopts a new design language and device naming scheme. The phone comes loaded with stylish hardware and sleek fingerprint-reading technology.

Protection against terrorist attacks with homemade explosives

Terrorist attacks often feature the use of homemade explosives. For the police and security forces to be able to take appropriate precautions and assess the damage after an attack, they need access to the right kind of tools. A research team from the Fraunhofer Institute for High-Speed Dynamics, Ernst-Mach-Institut, EMI, has now developed a sophisticated risk-analysis system to help prevent such attacks. At the same time, the software-based system assists with the forensic investigation of such incidents. It can therefore support the police to foil attacks with homemade explosives and protect the public at major gatherings and other events.

French trial ordered for alleged Russian bitcoin fraudster

A judge in Paris has ordered a French trial for Alexander Vinnik, a Russian suspected of money laundering on the bitcoin exchange BTC-e, also wanted by Washington and Moscow, his lawyer and other sources told AFP.

Open source for a global 'energiewende'

Computer models are essential for achieving energy turnaround also known as "Energiewende". Simulations can help in the planning of capacities for generating, transporting, and storing energy, taking into account dynamic parameters such as the weather and energy consumption. Scientists from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) had a crucial part in developing the corresponding modeling tools that the Helmholtz Association (HGF) has recently made available on an Internet platform—free of charge and open source. This Helmholtz Energy Computing Initiative (HECI) aims at facilitating the cooperation when implementing climate-protection measures in energy systems.

US CEOs urge Congress to provide help to small businesses

More than 100 American business leaders sent a letter to top Congressional lawmakers on Monday urging them to lay aside partisan bickering and approve emergency aid for small businesses suffering during the coronavirus pandemic.

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