Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Aug 5

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for August 5, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Calcium-rich supernova examined with X-rays for first time

Breaking the absorption limit of silicon toward the short-wavelength infrared wavelength range via strain engineering

Radio pulsations detected from the gamma-ray millisecond pulsar PSR J2039−5617

Image cloaking tool thwarts facial recognition programs

Monarchs raised in captivity may be worse at migrating than wild monarchs raised outdoors

Angels in disguise: Angelfishes hybridize more than any other coral reef species

Small trees offer hope for rainforests

Study suggests embryos could be susceptible to coronavirus

Astronauts: SpaceX Dragon capsule 'came alive' on descent

SpaceX completes test flight of Mars rocket prototype

Disparities in a common air pollutant are visible from space

Land use changes may increase disease outbreak risks

The yin and yang of inflammation controlled by a single molecule

Dinosaur relative's genome linked to mammals

'Thermal displacement' reflects how far species must go to follow preferred temperatures

Physics news

Breaking the absorption limit of silicon toward the short-wavelength infrared wavelength range via strain engineering

Silicon is widely used in the microelectronics industry although its photonics applications are restricted to the visible and partial near-infrared spectral range due to its fundamental optical bandgap. Researchers have therefore used recent advances in strain engineering to tailor material properties, including the optical bandgap. In a recent study now published on Science Advances, Ajit K. Katiyar and a group of scientists in electronic engineering and materials science in the Republic of Korea, reported strain-induced shrinkage in the silicon (Si) bandgap. The process facilitated photosensing beyond the fundamental limit within silicon nanomembrane photodetectors (abbreviated Si-NM PD). The team mechanically stretched the Si-NM PD pixels using a maximum strain of 3.5% to enhance photoresponsivity and extended the silicon absorption limit up to 1550 nm with applications suited for lidar sensors and obstacle detection during self-driving. They then developed a deformable three-dimensional (3-D) optoelectronics framework with concave and convex hemispherical architectures for electronic prototypes displaying wide-angle light detection, bioinspired by the biological eyes of insects.

ATLAS experiment reports the observation of photon collisions producing weak-force carriers

During the International Conference on High-Energy Physics (ICHEP 2020), the ATLAS collaboration presented the first observation of photon collisions producing pairs of W bosons, elementary particles that carry the weak force, one of the four fundamental forces. The result demonstrates a new way of using the LHC, namely as a high-energy photon collider directly probing electroweak interactions. It confirms one of the main predictions of electroweak theory—that force carriers can interact with themselves—and provides new ways to probe it.

Physicist proposes way to record shutter speeds of molecule-glimpsing 'cameras'

Capturing frames of photosynthesis and other molecular gymnastics in action means reaching a shutter speed that makes fast look very, very slow—so fast that physicists are just now working their way up to it.

Improved modelling of nuclear structure in francium aids searches for new physics

Thanks to researchers from The University of Queensland, we now know with much greater certainty the nuclear magnetic moments of francium atoms.

Using entangled photons to play "quantum Go"

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in China has developed a form of the board game Go using entangled photons. They have posted a paper to the arXiv preprint server describing their game and explaining why they believe their setup could be used as a baseline for creating other quantum-based games.

Spin wave detective story redux: Researchers find more surprising behavior in a 2-D magnet

A few months ago, a team of scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) reported something surprising about a 2-D magnetic material: Behavior that had long been presumed to be due to vibrations in the lattice—the internal structure of the atoms in the material itself—is actually due to a wave of spin oscillations.

Scientists build ultra-high-speed terahertz wireless chip

To enable data transmission speeds that surpass the 5th Generation (5G) standards for telecommunications, scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and Osaka University in Japan have built a new chip using a concept called photonic topological insulators.

Researchers capture X-ray images with unprecedented speed and resolution

Researchers have demonstrated a new high-resolution X-ray imaging technique that can capture the motion of rapidly moving objects and quickly changing dynamics. The new method could be used for non-destructive imaging of moving mechanical components and to capture biological processes not previously available with medical X-ray imaging.

May the force be with you: Detecting ultrafast light by its force

A McGill research team has developed a new technique to detect nano-sized imperfections in materials. They believe this discovery will lead to improvements in the optical detectors used in a wide range of technologies, from cell phones to cameras and fiber optics, as well as in solar cells.

High-sensitivity atomic force microscopy opens up for photosensitive materials

Atomic force microscopy (AFM) brought the atomic scale imaging resolution of scanning tunneling microscopy, a technique that won the Nobel Prize in Physics, to non-conducting surfaces. However, limitations remain when trying to use the technique at its most sensitive with photosensitive samples in liquids. Now researchers at Kanazawa University show how to overcome these constraints, by driving a cantilever a few micrometers in size at megahertz frequencies with stability and control in liquid and without potentially exposing the sample to light.

Manifestation of quantum distance in flat band materials

The geometry of an object indicates its shape or the relationship of its parts to each other. Did you know that the electrons in solids also have geometric structures? In quantum mechanics, an electron in solids takes the form of a wave with periodicity so that the periodic electronic state, so-called the Bloch state, can be characterized by specifying its energy and crystal momentum which is proportional to its wave number. The relationship between the energy and the crystal momentum of electrons is called the band structure of solids. For electrons in solids, the Berry curvature and the quantum metric of Bloch states take the role of the curvature and the distance of an object in geometry.

Astronomy and Space news

Calcium-rich supernova examined with X-rays for first time

Half of all the calcium in the universe—including the very calcium in our teeth and bones—was created in the last gasp of dying stars.

Radio pulsations detected from the gamma-ray millisecond pulsar PSR J2039−5617

Using the Parkes telescope, an international team of astronomers has performed a monitoring campaign of a gamma-ray millisecond pulsar (MSP) known as PSR J2039−5617. The observations detected radio pulsations from this source, which sheds light on the nature of this object. The finding is reported in a paper published July 29 on

Astronauts: SpaceX Dragon capsule 'came alive' on descent

The astronauts on SpaceX's first crew flight said Tuesday that their Dragon capsule "came alive" and sounded like a beast as it descended through the atmosphere to a smooth splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico.

SpaceX completes test flight of Mars rocket prototype

SpaceX on Tuesday successfully completed a flight of less than a minute of the largest prototype ever tested of the future rocket Starship, which the company hopes to use one day to colonize Mars.

Rocket sees curling waves above alaskan sky

The "surfer waves" in this image, forming high above the Alaskan sky, illuminate the invisible currents in the upper atmosphere. They were measured by trimethyl-aluminum gas released during a sounding rocket launch from Poker Flat, Alaska, on Jan. 26, 2018. Scientists photograph the gas, which is not harmful to humans, after it instantaneously ignites when exposed to oxygen. The findings were published in JGR: Space Physics.

Ammonia-rich hail sheds new light on Jupiter's weather

New Juno results suggest that the violent thunderstorms taking place in Jupiter's atmosphere may form ammonia-rich hail, or 'mushballs,' that play a key role in the planet's atmospheric dynamics. This theory, developed using data from Juno's microwave radiometer by the Juno team, is described in two publications led by a researcher at the Laboratoire Lagrange (CNRS/Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur/Université Côte d'Azur) with support from the CNES. The theory sheds light on some puzzling aspects of the meteorology of Jupiter and has implications for how giant planet atmospheres work in general. This, and related findings, are presented in a series of three articles published in the journals Nature and JGR Planets.

Rice researchers use InSight for deep Mars measurements

Using data from NASA's InSight Lander on Mars, Rice University seismologists have made the first direct measurements of three subsurface boundaries from the crust to the core of the red planet.

Lava tubes on Mars and the Moon are so wide they can host planetary bases

The international journal Earth-Science Reviews published a paper offering an overview of lava tubes (pyroducts) on Earth, eventually providing an estimate of the (greater) size of their lunar and Martian counterparts.

Uncovering our solar system's shape

Scientists have developed a new prediction of the shape of the bubble surrounding our solar system using a model developed with data from NASA missions.

'Save Space Camp' drive prompted by virus reaches $1.5M goal

A fundraising drive has reached its goal of bringing in $1.5 million to save Space Camp from closing because of the coronavirus pandemic, organizers said.

The universe is the same everywhere we look—even more than cosmologists predicted

No matter which direction you look in the universe, the view is basically the same if you look far enough. Our local neighborhood is populated with bright nebulae, star clusters and dark clouds of gas and dust. There are more stars toward the center of the Milky Way than there are in other directions. But across millions and billions of light-years, galaxies cluster evenly in all directions, and everything starts to look the same. In astronomy, we say the universe is homogeneous and isotropic. Put another way, the universe is smooth.

Technology news

Image cloaking tool thwarts facial recognition programs

Researchers at the University of Chicago were not happy with the creeping erosion of privacy posed by facial recognition apps. So they did something about it.

Baking and boiling botnets could drive energy market swings and damage

Evil armies of internet-connected EV chargers, ovens, hot-water heaters, air-conditioners, and other high-wattage appliances could be hijacked to slightly manipulate energy demand, potentially driving price swings and creating financial damage to deregulated energy markets, warns a new report scheduled to be presented Aug. 5 at the Black Hat U.S. 2020 conference.

Break it down: A new way to address common computing problem

In this era of big data, there are some problems in scientific computing that are so large, so complex and contain so much information that attempting to solve them would be too big of a task for most computers.

Fabrication advance: Spray-on clear coatings for cheaper smart windows

A simple method for making clear coatings that can block heat and conduct electricity could radically cut the cost of energy-saving smart windows and heat-repelling glass.

Tiniest secrets of integrated circuits revealed with new imaging technique

The life-givers of integrated circuits and quantum devices in silicon are small structures made from patches of foreign atoms called dopants. The dopant structures provide charge carriers that flow through the components of the circuit, giving the components their ability to function. These days the dopant structures are only a few atoms across and so need to be made in precise locations within a circuit and have very well-defined electrical properties. At present manufacturers find it hard to tell in a non-destructive way whether they have made their devices according to these strict requirements. A new imaging paradigm promises to change all that.

Social network analysis provides new insights on strategies to disrupt the Sicilian Mafia

New simulations suggest that law enforcement efforts to disrupt Sicilian Mafia activity could benefit from analytical strategies that capture the shortest paths of information flow that Mafia members maintain to minimize risk of interception. Lucia Cavallaro of the University of Derby, U.K., Annamaria Ficara of the University of Palermo, Italy, and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on August 5, 2020.

Drivers respond to vehicle pre-crash warnings with levels of attentive 'gaze'

A collision avoidance system, or pre-crash alert generated by a vehicle, can often be found as an optional safety feature in today's vehicles to help reduce possible accidents and save lives. However, these systems are not always tested in a real-world environment prior to the vehicle being owned and operated.

Assembling offshore wind turbines

The United States offshore wind energy industry is growing, with planned commitments to build 26 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind projects along the East Coast from now through 2035. This is the clean power equivalent of 26 nuclear power plants, or roughly 10 times the average electric energy used by the entire state of Delaware.

Geothermal brines could propel California's green economy

Deep beneath the surface of the Salton Sea, a shallow lake in California's Imperial County, sits an immense reserve of critical metals that, if unlocked, could power the state's green economy for years to come. These naturally occurring metals are dissolved in geothermal brine, a byproduct of geothermal energy production. Now the race is on to develop technology to efficiently extract one of the most valuable metals from the brine produced by the geothermal plants near the Salton Sea: lithium.

Samsung upgrades folding smartphone in move to rev up sales

Samsung on Wednesday unveiled a second-generation folding smartphone along with other new gadgetry aiming to jump-start sales in a market hit hard by the global pandemic.

Instagram adds video clips in challenge to TikTok

Instagram on Wednesday added a new short-form video feature to the image-focused platform in a direct challenge to TikTok, which is in the crosshairs of US President Donald Trump.

Incorporating solar harvesting into the side of buildings could enhance energy sustainability

If builders could incorporate solar harvesting into the siding of a building, the amount of energy from the grid that a structure would need may significantly decrease.

Samsung's new phones test consumer demand for pricey gadgets

Samsung aims to lift its sinking smartphone sales with three new models that will test consumer willingness to buy high-priced gadgets during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

NYTimes wins new digital subscribers as ad revenue craters

The New York Times Co.'s digital transformation continued during the second quarter, with its online subscription and ad revenue now exceeding its print revenue, even as the economic aftershocks of the coronavirus pandemic slammed its ad sales.

Oculus VR devices give viewers a new perspective inside the NBA bubble

This is the closest fans will get inside the NBA bubble.

Researchers draw from 'Star Wars' in developing artificial skin able to replicate sense of touch

The Force is strong with these scientists.

Real-time imaging can help prevent deadly dust explosions

Dust explosions can be among the most dangerous and costly workplace incidents. Dust builds up in agricultural, powder-handling or manufacturing settings, causing hazards to employees and posing the risk of exploding.

Virgin Australia closes budget offshoot, fires 3,000 staff

Pandemic-struck airline Virgin Australia announced Wednesday it would close budget subsidiary Tigerair Australia and lay off 3,000 staff as it prepares to relaunch under new owners.

American, pilots agree on steps aimed at reducing job cuts

American Airlines has reached a deal with its pilots' union designed to reduce the number of job losses in October as the airline shrinks because fewer people are flying during the pandemic.

BMW swings to first loss in a decade as virus hits sales

German luxury carmaker BMW said Wednesday that it swung into its first loss since 2009 as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged car sales but said it still hopes turn an operating profit for the year.

Virgin Atlantic files for bankruptcy protection in US as virus bites

Virgin Atlantic has applied for bankruptcy protection in the United States, court filings show, as the British airline—which has not flown since April because of coronavirus—seeks to tie up a rescue deal in the UK.

Italy threatens to ban Ryanair for virus rule-breaking

Italy's national civil aviation authority ENAC threatened on Wednesday to suspend Ryanair's permit to fly in the country over alleged non-compliance with coronavirus safety rules, but the low-cost carrier denied flouting them.

Most airlines expect job cuts over next 12 months: survey

Most airlines are considering downsizing their staff over the next 12 months due to the coronavirus crisis, the International Air Transport Association said Wednesday, citing an internal survey.

First free seeds from China, now free Amazon packages. What you need to know about 'brushing' scams

Mysterious seeds from China are not the only strange unwanted packages arriving on doorsteps.

Ex-Google engineer Levandowski's jump to Uber ends in prison

Autonomous driving engineer Anthony Levandowski was ordered to spend 18 months prison for stealing trade secrets from Google as he defected to Uber Technologies Inc., in one of the highest-profile criminal cases to hit Silicon Valley.

Brazil's Embraer reports $315 mln in losses

Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer reported second quarter losses of $315 million Wednesday, as sales plunged due to the coronavirus pandemic and a proposed joint venture with Boeing collapsed.

Google's latest Doodle encourages visitors to wear masks, socially distance

Google has an animated "Doodle" on its homepage that's all about COVID-19 prevention.

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