Science X Newsletter Monday, Aug 10

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for August 10, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

The first evidence of vector meson spin alignment in heavy-ion collisions

Time-reversal of an unknown quantum state

Exploring the interactions between sound, action and vision in robotics

Agriculture replaces fossil fuels as largest human source of sulfur to the environment

Cannabis use in pregnancy linked to a greater risk of autism

Imaging method highlights new role for cellular 'skeleton' protein

Third breakthrough demonstrates photosynthetic hacks can boost yield, conserve water

Breakthrough technology purifies water using the power of sunlight

Globular cluster Palomar 3 probed by Russian astronomers

'Achilles' flaw exposes a billion Android phones

Predicting drought in the American West just got more difficult

Road test: Chinese 'robotaxis' take riders for a spin

How fish stocks will change in warming seas

Gulf War illness, chronic fatigue syndrome distinct illnesses, study suggests

New treatment targets found for blinding retinal disease

Physics news

The first evidence of vector meson spin alignment in heavy-ion collisions

The ALICE collaboration is a large group of researchers from over 100 physics institutes worldwide that focuses on the study of quark-gluon plasma using data collected by the ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) detector. ALICE is a heavy-ion detector designed to examine the physics of strongly interacting matter at extreme energy densities, which is part of CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator ring.

Time-reversal of an unknown quantum state

Physicists have long sought to understand the irreversibility of the surrounding world and have credited its emergence to the time-symmetric, fundamental laws of physics. According to quantum mechanics, the final irreversibility of conceptual time reversal requires extremely intricate and implausible scenarios that are unlikely to spontaneously occur in nature. Physicists had previously shown that while time-reversibility is exponentially improbable in a natural environment—it is possible to design an algorithm to artificially reverse a time arrow to a known or given state within an IBM quantum computer. However, this version of the reversed arrow-of-time only embraced a known quantum state and is therefore compared to the quantum version of pressing rewind on a video to "reverse the flow of time."

Real-world applications for atom interferometric quantum sensors

Experts in quantum cold-atom sensors are delving deep underground in a new project aimed at harnessing quantum gravity sensing technology in harsh underground borehole environments.

Machine-intelligence discovers new two-dimensional charge density wave materials

A crystal is a solid material whose constituents atoms are arranged in a periodic fashion. A charge density wave (CDW) is a quantum mechanical phenomenon observed in some crystals with metallic properties. It is usually characterized by a distortion in the periodic arrangement of atoms. This, in turn, results in a standing-wave-like periodic distortion in the otherwise uniform charge (electron) density, and hence the name charge density wave.

Light swirls provide insights into the quantum world

A new method uses swirls of light to enable researchers to observe previously invisible quantum states of electrons. The method was developed by physicists from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and an international team of researchers. It promises to deliver new insights into electron motion, which is crucial in understanding material properties such as electrical conductivity, magnetism, and molecular structures. The free electron laser FERMI in Italy was used to provide experimental proof and the results were published in the journal Nature Photonics.

Scientists develop first quantum algorithm to characterize noise across large systems

Quantum systems are notoriously prone to errors and noise. In order to overcome this and build a functional quantum computer, physicists should ideally understand the noise across an entire system. That has been out of reach until now, with Dr. Robin Harper and colleagues developing the first system-wide quantum algorithm to characterize noise.

Using air to amplify light

In a promising breakthrough for the future of communications, EPFL researchers have developed a technology that can amplify light in the latest hollow-core optical fibers.

Understanding vacuum fluctuations in space

An international research team from Germany and France has created structures in which light fields interact with electrons so strongly that the quantum vacuum itself is significantly altered. Using extremely short bursts of light, they interrupted this coupling much faster than the timescale of a vacuum fluctuation and observed an intriguing ringing of the emitted electromagnetic field, indicating the collapse of the vacuum state. Their key achievement could improve our understanding of the nature of nothingness—the vacuum of space itself, paving a way toward photonics exploiting vacuum fluctuations. The results are published in the current issue of Nature Photonics.

Grasshopper jumping on Bloch sphere finds new quantum insights

New research at the University of Warwick has (pardon the pun) put a new spin on a mathematical analogy involving a jumping grasshopper and its ideal lawn shape. This work could help us understand the spin states of quantum-entangled particles.

Theoretical study shows that matter tends to be ordered at low temperatures

Classical phase transitions are governed by temperature. One of the most familiar examples is the phase transitions of water from solid to liquid to gas. However, other parameters govern phase transitions when temperatures approach absolute zero, including pressure, the magnetic field, and doping, which introduce disorder into the molecular structure of a material.

International team develops new method to determine origin of stardust in meteorites

Analysis of meteorite content has been crucial in advancing our knowledge of the origin and evolution of our solar system. Some meteorites also contain grains of stardust. These grains predate the formation of our solar system and are now providing important insights into how the elements in the universe formed.

Deep learning and metamaterials make the invisible visible

By combining purpose-built materials and neural networks, researchers at EPFL have shown that sound can be used in high-resolution imagery.

SAMURAI measures 5G communications channels precisely

Engineers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a flexible, portable measurement system to support design and repeatable laboratory testing of fifth-generation (5G) wireless communications devices with unprecedented accuracy across a wide range of signal frequencies and scenarios.

Astronomy and Space news

Globular cluster Palomar 3 probed by Russian astronomers

By conducting deep photometric and medium-resolution spectroscopic observations, Russian astronomers have investigated Palomar 3, a distant galactic globular cluster. Results of this observational campaign provide more insights into the properties of this cluster, which could be essential in improving our understanding of its origin. The study was published July 31 on

Dwarf planet Ceres is an ocean world: study

The dwarf planet Ceres—long believed to be a barren space rock—is an ocean world with reservoirs of sea water beneath its surface, the results of a major exploration mission showed Monday.

Image: Barred spiral galaxy NGC 4907

The barred spiral galaxy known as NGC 4907 shows its starry face from 270 million light-years away to anyone who can see it from the Northern Hemisphere. This is a new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope of the face-on galaxy, displaying its beautiful spiral arms, wound loosely around its central bright bar of stars.

Inside the ice giants of space

A new theoretical method paves the way to modeling the interior of the ice giants Uranus and Neptune, thanks to computer simulations on the water contained within them. The tool, developed by scientists from SISSA in Trieste and the University of California at Los Angeles and recently published in Nature Communications, allows one to analyze thermal and electric processes occurring at physical conditions that are often impossible to reproduce experimentally, with a much easier and low-cost approach.

Moonquakes and marsquakes: How we peer inside other worlds

Eavesdropping on the shudders and groans echoing deep inside alien worlds like Mars and the moon is revealing what lies far beneath their surfaces and could teach us more about how our own planet formed.

Technology news

Exploring the interactions between sound, action and vision in robotics

In recent years, researchers have developed a growing amount of computational techniques to enable human-like capabilities in robots. Most techniques developed so far, however, merely focus on artificially reproducing the senses of vision and touch, disregarding other senses, such as auditory perception.

Breakthrough technology purifies water using the power of sunlight

A global research team has been able to transform brackish water and seawater into safe, clean drinking water in less than 30 minutes using metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and sunlight.

'Achilles' flaw exposes a billion Android phones

One billion Android phones are at risk of attacks by hackers taking advantage of what a research firm says are 400 vulnerabilities detected on the smartphone's chips.

Road test: Chinese 'robotaxis' take riders for a spin

Chinese entrants in the race to put autonomous vehicles on the road are bringing "robotaxis" online in hopes that a hired-car format can be the key to unlocking wide acceptance of the futuristic technology.

Shrinking deep learning's carbon footprint

In June, OpenAI unveiled the largest language model in the world, a text-generating tool called GPT-3 that can write creative fiction, translate legalese into plain English, and answer obscure trivia questions. It's the latest feat of intelligence achieved by deep learning, a machine learning method patterned after the way neurons in the brain process and store information.

Huawei: Smartphone chips running out under US sanctions

Chinese tech giant Huawei is running out of processor chips to make smartphones due to U.S. sanctions and will be forced to stop production of its own most advanced chips, a company executive says, in a sign of growing damage to Huawei's business from American pressure.

Windows, Gates and a firewall: Microsoft's delicate castle in China

Microsoft, which is in talks to buy part of Chinese video app TikTok, is one of the few US tech titans that have managed to succeed in China.

Twitter, TikTok discuss potential combination: WSJ

Twitter is in preliminary discussions for a possible combination with TikTok, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday, after US President Donald Trump said he would ban the app, calling it a threat to national security.

Q&A: How electric vehicles interact with the electric grid

As the rate of electric vehicle (EV) adoption in the U.S. rises, the transportation sector will put additional pressure on the power grid. California expects more than 50% zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), which includes battery EV, plug-in hybrid EV and fuel cell EV, in new vehicle sales by 2030 to achieve statewide emission and pollution reduction goals. This added pressure on the grid could be very disruptive, but transportation and power grid researchers at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) are looking for solutions to help city planners prepare.

Supercomputer helps scientists reveal most influential parameters for crop

Agriculture is becoming AI-native. Skoltech researchers have used the Zhores supercomputer to perform a very precise sensitivity analysis to reveal crucial parameters for different crop yields in the chernozem region. Their paper was published in Computational Science, the proceedings of the International Conference on Computational Science 2020.

Maximizing solar self-consumption by rethinking photovoltaic panel orientation

Over 2 million Australian households—more than 20 percent—now have rooftop photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, and while this is a generally positive scenario, the increased uptake of PV systems around the nation is creating a few challenges for our electricity industry.

Cleaning up money laundering

Money laundering is big business but wholly illegal big business. It has an enormously negative impact on local, national, and international economies as well as providing the financial means to fund other criminal activities such as people trafficking and drugs. By definition, money laundering is activity carried out to obscure the source of money that has been obtained illegally.

Don't rush into a hydrogen economy until we know all the risks to our climate

There is global interest in the potential for a hydrogen economy, in part driven by a concern over climate change and the need to move away from fossil fuels.

How the shady world of the data industry strips away our freedoms

The recent questioning of the heads of Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple in the US Congress has highlighted the threat their practices pose to our privacy and democracy.

Wearable fitness devices deliver early warning of possible COVID-19 infection

The difficulty many people have getting tested for SARS-CoV-2 and delays in receiving test results make early warning of possible COVID-19 infections all the more important, and data from wearable health and fitness devices shows promise for identifying who might have COVID-19.

Cyberspace is critical infrastructure, and it will take effective government oversight to make it safe

A famous 1990s New Yorker cartoon showed two dogs at a computer and a caption that read "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog." The cartoon represents a digital past when people required few safeguards on the internet. People could explore a world of information without having every click tracked or their personal data treated as a commodity.

MTA asks Apple's help to solve iPhone mask issues

New York's mass transit agency wants Apple to come up with a better way for iPhone users to unlock their phones without taking off their masks, as it seeks to guard against the spread of the coronavirus in buses and subways.

Uber calls for new deal for 'gig economy' workers

Uber outlined proposals Monday for a new type of relationship with "gig" workers, including its own drivers, that would keep them as independent contractors but with some guaranteed benefits.

Final canister of nuclear waste transferred to storage facility at San Onofre

It took 32 months to complete but the transfer operations that moved canisters filled with spent radioactive fuel, or waste, from wet storage pools to a newly constructed dry storage facility at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station wrapped up Friday.

Pentagon offers military airwaves for 5G wireless networks

The Pentagon plans to free up a big chunk of its military airwaves in the U.S. for high-speed internet service, part of a broader push to get ahead of China in the deployment of 5G wireless technology.

Army advances learning capabilities of drone swarms

Army researchers developed a reinforcement learning approach that will allow swarms of unmanned aerial and ground vehicles to optimally accomplish various missions while minimizing performance uncertainty.

Tech titans say Trump block on worker visas harms US

Amazon, Apple and Facebook are among tech industry titans and organizations signing onto a court filing saying US President Donald Trump's move blocking visas for skilled workers hurts the country.

Kodak shares slump as US loan is suspended

Shares of Kodak plunged Monday after a US agency suspended a loan intended to support the former photo giant's launch of a new pharmaceutical venture.

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