Science X Newsletter Thursday, Aug 13

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for August 13, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Mix-StAGE: A model that can generate gestures to accompany a virtual agent's speech

Restoring degraded tropical forests generates big carbon gains

Hubble finds that Betelgeuse's mysterious dimming is due to a traumatic outburst

Hyperion launches futuristic hydrogen-fueled car

Scientists discover way to make quantum states last 10,000 times longer

Bacterial enzymes 'hijacked' to create complex molecules normally made by plants

Bird and reptile tears aren't so different from human tears

New super-resolution method reveals fine details without constantly needing to zoom in

The (neuro)science of getting and staying motivated

A step towards personalized cancer vaccines

Researchers use supercomputer to gain insights into hepatitis B

Engineers manipulate color on the nanoscale, making it disappear

Recalling memories from a third-person perspective changes how our brain processes them

Research gets to the heart of organ shape in nature

Ancient genomes suggest woolly rhinos went extinct due to climate change, not overhunting

Physics news

Scientists discover way to make quantum states last 10,000 times longer

If we can harness it, quantum technology promises fantastic new possibilities. But first, scientists need to coax quantum systems to stay yoked for longer than a few millionths of a second.

Demonstrating entanglement through a fiber cable with high fidelity

A team of researchers from Heriot-Watt University, the Indian Institute of Technology and the University of Glasgow has demonstrated a way to transport entangled particles through a commercial fiber cable with 84.4% fidelity. In their paper published in the journal Nature Physics, the group describes using a unique attribute of entanglement to achieve such high fidelity. Andrew Forbes and Isaac Nape with the University of Witwatersrand have published a News & Views piece in the same journal issue outlining issues with sending entangled particles across fiber cables and the work done by the team in this new effort.

Crystallization of colloids secured to oil-water interface responding to laser illumination

A team of researchers at the University of Cambridge has developed a method for the crystallization of colloids secured to an oil-water interface in response to laser illumination. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the group describes their method and possible uses for it.

New precision search for dark matter from ATLAS Experiment

The nature of dark matter remains one of the great unsolved puzzles of fundamental physics. Unexplained by the Standard Model, dark matter has led scientists to probe new physics models to understand its existence. Many such theoretical scenarios postulate that dark matter particles could be produced in the intense high-energy proton–proton collisions of the LHC. While the dark matter would escape the ATLAS experiment at CERN unseen, it could occasionally be accompanied by a visible jet of particles radiated from the interaction point, thus providing a detectable signal.

Researchers design efficient low-cost system for producing power at night

Researchers have designed an off-grid, low-cost modular energy source that can efficiently produce power at night. The system uses commercially available technology and could eventually help meet the need for nighttime lighting in urban areas or provide lighting in developing countries.

Astronomy and Space news

Hubble finds that Betelgeuse's mysterious dimming is due to a traumatic outburst

Recent observations of Betelgeuse have revealed that the star's unexpected and significant dimming periods in late 2019 and early 2020 were most likely caused by the ejection and cooling of dense hot gases, and that the star may be going through another dimming period more than a year early.

Physicists calculate when the last supernova ever will happen

The end of the universe as we know it will not come with a bang. Most stars will slowly fizzle as their temperatures fade to zero.

Ingenuity Mars helicopter recharges its batteries in flight

NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter received a checkout and recharge of its power system on Friday, Aug. 7, one week into its near seven-month journey to Mars with the Perseverance rover. This marks the first time the helicopter has been powered up and its batteries have been charged in the space environment.

Video: ESA's meteor camera captures the Perseid showers

The Perseids meteor shower is one of the most spectacular annual meteor showers. Made of debris from comet Swift-Tuttle they have been observed by sky-watchers for thousands of years and this year the LIC1 camera of the Canary Long-Baseline Observatory (CILBO) at Tenerife captured the peak of the 2020 Perseid meteor shower detecting dozens of meteors in a single night.

Technology news

Mix-StAGE: A model that can generate gestures to accompany a virtual agent's speech

Virtual assistants and robots are becoming increasingly sophisticated, interactive and human-like. To fully replicate human communication, however, artificial intelligence (AI) agents should not only be able to determine what users are saying and produce adequate responses, they should also mimic humans in the way they speak.

Hyperion launches futuristic hydrogen-fueled car

Carroll Shelby, who designed the classic Shelby Mustang in the sixties, once quipped: "I've always been asked, 'What is my favorite car?' and I've always said, 'The next one.'"

New super-resolution method reveals fine details without constantly needing to zoom in

Since the early 1930s, electron microscopy has provided unprecedented access to the alien world of the extraordinarily small, revealing intricate details that are otherwise impossible to discern with conventional light microscopy. But to achieve high resolution over a large specimen area, the energy of the electron beams needs to be cranked up, which is costly and detrimental to the specimen under observation.

Study outlines five thermal energy grand challenges for decarbonization

Solar and wind power are an important part of solving the problem of climate change, but these renewable technologies on their own probably will never provide the energy for many industrial processes, like making steel.

Scientists develop artificial intelligence system for high precision recognition of hand gestures

Scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system that recognizes hand gestures by combining skin-like electronics with computer vision.

Wind and solar power at record high in 2020, coal dips: analysis

Wind and solar produced a record 10 percent of global electricity in the first half of 2020 as the world's coal plant fleet ran at less than half its capacity, analysis published Thursday showed.

Cutting vehicle emissions and inspections via IoT

Across the U.S., there has been some criticism of the cost and efficacy of emissions inspection and maintenance (I/M) programs administered at the state and county level. In response, Engineering and Public Policy (EPP) Ph.D. student Prithvi Acharya and his advisor, Civil and Environmental Engineering's Scott Matthews, teamed up with EPP's Paul Fischbeck. They have created a new method for identifying over-emitting vehicles using remote data transmission and machine learning that would be both less expensive and more effective than current I/M programs.

Under pressure, nontoxic salt-based propellant performs well

In smaller spacecraft such as CubeSat satellites, a salt-based monopropellant is showing promise. It can be used both in high-thrust chemical propulsion for fast time-sensitive maneuvers, and electric mode for slow maneuvers, such as orbit maintenance. Now, researchers in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have more knowledge about how it performs under pressure.

Artificial intelligence is a totalitarian's dream – here's how to take power back

Individualistic western societies are built on the idea that no one knows our thoughts, desires or joys better than we do. And so we put ourselves, rather than the government, in charge of our lives. We tend to agree with the philosopher Immanuel Kant's claim that no one has the right to force their idea of the good life on us.

Encrypting images chaotically

An artificial neural network approach to image encryption offers many advantages over conventional encryption methods suggests a review published in the International Journal of Services Operations and Informatics. Shaimaa Abbas Fahdel Al-Abaidy of the University of Baghdad in Iraq explains that exploiting what is colloquially known as the "butterfly effect" in chaos theory can be even more effective.

Army researchers earn patent for secure communications invention

Army researchers have been awarded a patent for inventing a practical method for Army wireless devices to covertly authenticate and communicate.

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

The state of Michigan and some private partners are taking steps toward building or assigning dedicated lanes for automated vehicles on a 40-mile (65-kilometer) stretch of highway between Detroit and Ann Arbor.

Daimler strikes $2.2 bn diesel settlements in US

Daimler has approved settlements worth $2.2 billion over emissions cheating software in its diesel vehicles in the US, the German carmaker said Thursday.

Effective new tool created for discerning fake news

We hear a lot about fake news, but do we know it when we see it?

Apple drops Fortnite from App Store over direct payment plan

Apple has dropped the hugely popular "Fortnite" game from its App Store after the game's developer introduced a direct payment plan that bypasses Apple's platform.

Amazon severs ties with delivery firms, more than 1,200 drivers may get laid off

Amazon has made a move that will leave more than 1,200 delivery drivers and package dispatchers without jobs.

United plans more Florida flights, but virus gets final say

United Airlines said Wednesday it plans to add up to 28 daily flights to Florida this winter, but the airline is prepared to reverse course if the rate of coronavirus cases in the state remains high.

US holds off on extra tariffs in EU Airbus dispute

Washington said Wednesday it would hold off on its threat to impose higher tariffs on $7.5 billion worth of EU goods in its long-running dispute over subsidies to European aircraft maker Airbus.

Facebook launches US voting information center

Facebook on Thursday launched a voting information center as part of its campaign to help millions of voters register for November's US presidential election and counter misinformation.

TikTok ban underscores the need for better data legislation, home and abroad

Last week, President Donald Trump, citing national security concerns, signed executive orders seeking a ban on TikTok, the immensely popular smartphone app, based in China, in which users create and share and videos, often incorporating singing and dancing and showing off other talents.

Political trolls adapt, create material to deceive and confuse the public

Russian-sponsored Twitter trolls, who so aggressively exploited social media to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election, didn't stop when Donald Trump was elected president.

Air passenger numbers to drop 60% in Europe in 2020: IATA

Air passenger numbers in Europe are expected to drop by 60 percent in 2020 due to the coronavirus crisis, the global aviation industry said Thursday, with the recovery looking highly uncertain.

Lufthansa breaks off talks with ground-staff union

German airline Lufthansa said Thursday it had broken off negotiations with the Verdi union on cutting ground staff wages, warning that forced redundancies may be unavoidable as the pandemic wreaks havoc on the travel industry.

Tech giants, including Facebook and Twitter, unite to keep the upcoming election secure

Tech giants are coming together looking to protect the U.S. presidential election.

Facebook gets bad grades on report card from civil rights groups behind advertising boycott

Civil rights groups behind the #StopHateForProfit boycott are giving Facebook poor grades on its response, saying the company failed to address or fell short of addressing the coalition's demands.

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