Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Aug 26

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for August 26, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A model for autonomous navigation and obstacle avoidance in UAVs

Lifting a sessile drop from a superamphiphobic surface using an impacting droplet

Cosmic rays may soon stymie quantum computing

Antarctic ice shelves vulnerable to sudden meltwater-driven fracturing, says study

Microscopic robots 'walk' thanks to laser tech

How cold was the ice age? Researchers now know

AstroSat observations detect thermonuclear X-ray bursts on Cygnus X-2

How plants shut the door on infection

New observations of black hole devouring a star reveal rapid disk formation

Meteorite strikes may create unexpected form of silica

Study rules out dark matter destruction as origin of extra radiation in galaxy center

Measles outbreaks in Niger linked to rainfall and temperature, study finds

Bacteria could survive travel between Earth and Mars when forming aggregates

Majority of groundwater stores resilient to climate change

Unlocking the mysteries of the brain

Physics news

Cosmic rays may soon stymie quantum computing

The practicality of quantum computing hangs on the integrity of the quantum bit, or qubit.

Revised code could help improve efficiency of fusion experiments

An international team of researchers led by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has upgraded a key computer code for calculating forces acting on magnetically confined plasma in fusion energy experiments. The upgrade will be part of a suite of computational tools that will allow scientists to further improve the design of breakfast-cruller-shaped facilities known as stellarators. Together, the three codes in the suite could help scientists bring efficient fusion reactors closer to reality.

Nanodots made of photovoltaic material support waveguide modes

Antimony sulfide, or stibnite (Sb2S3), has been investigated intensively in recent years as a promising material for nontoxic, environmentally friendly solar cells. It is now possible to fabricate thin photovoltaic films from an ink containing nanoparticles of stibnite, and to nanopattern those films for 2-D and 3-D structures of pretty much any shape. Such simple, cost-effective production methods fulfill prerequisites for reliable, widespread use.

Army scientists take new spin on quantum research

Army researchers discovered a way to further enhance quantum systems to provide soldiers with more reliable and secure capabilities on the battlefield.

Astronomy and Space news

AstroSat observations detect thermonuclear X-ray bursts on Cygnus X-2

Using the AstroSat spacecraft, Indian astronomers have identified thermonuclear X-ray bursts on the low-mass X-ray binary (LMXB) Cygnus X-2. The finding, reported in a paper published August 17 on the arXiv preprint server, could shed more light on the nature of this source.

New observations of black hole devouring a star reveal rapid disk formation

When a star passes too close to a supermassive black hole, tidal forces tear it apart, producing a bright flare of radiation as material from the star falls into the black hole. Astronomers study the light from these "tidal disruption events" (TDEs) for clues to the feeding behavior of the supermassive black holes lurking at the centers of galaxies.

Study rules out dark matter destruction as origin of extra radiation in galaxy center

The detection more than a decade ago by the Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope of an excess of high-energy radiation in the center of the Milky Way convinced some physicists that they were seeing evidence of the annihilation of dark matter particles, but a team led by researchers at the University of California, Irvine has ruled out that interpretation.

Bacteria could survive travel between Earth and Mars when forming aggregates

Imagine microscopic life-forms, such as bacteria, transported through space, and landing on another planet. The bacteria finding suitable conditions for its survival could then start multiplying again, sparking life at the other side of the universe. This theory, called "panspermia", support the possibility that microbes may migrate between planets and distribute life in the universe. Long controversial, this theory implies that bacteria would survive the long journey in outer space, resisting to space vacuum, temperature fluctuations, and space radiations.

Where are stars made? NASA's Spitzer spies a hot spot

The nebula known as W51 is one of the most active star-forming regions in the Milky Way galaxy. First identified in 1958 by radio telescopes, it makes a rich cosmic tapestry in this image from NASA's recently retired Spitzer Space Telescope.

Student research team develops hybrid rocket engine

In a year defined by obstacles, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign student rocket team persevered. Working together across five time zones, they successfully designed a hybrid rocket engine that uses paraffin and a novel nitrous oxide-oxygen mixture called Nytrox. The team has its sights set on launching a rocket with the new engine at the 2021 Intercollegiate Rocketry and Engineering Competition.

Technology news

A model for autonomous navigation and obstacle avoidance in UAVs

Autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have shown great potential for a wide range of applications, including automated package delivery and the monitoring of large geographical areas. To complete missions in real-world environments, however, UAVs need to be able to navigate efficiently and avoid obstacles in their surroundings.

Microscopic robots 'walk' thanks to laser tech

A Cornell University-led collaboration has created the first microscopic robots that incorporate semiconductor components, allowing them to be controlled—and made to walk—with standard electronic signals.

New device can measure toxic lead within minutes

Rutgers researchers have created a miniature device for measuring trace levels of toxic lead in sediments at the bottom of harbors, rivers and other waterways within minutes—far faster than currently available laboratory-based tests, which take days.

Scientists use reinforcement learning to train quantum algorithm

Recent advancements in quantum computing have driven the scientific community's quest to solve a certain class of complex problems for which quantum computers would be better suited than traditional supercomputers. To improve the efficiency with which quantum computers can solve these problems, scientists are investigating the use of artificial intelligence approaches.

Scientists use fruit peel to turn old batteries into new

Scientists led by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have developed a novel method of using fruit peel waste to extract and reuse precious metals from spent lithium-ion batteries in order to create new batteries.

Tool transforms world landmark photos into 4-D experiences

Using publicly available tourist photos of world landmarks such as the Trevi Fountain in Rome or Top of the Rock in New York City, Cornell researchers have developed a method to create maneuverable 3-D images that show changes in appearance over time.

Microsoft adds transcription feature to Word

Microsoft launched a new transcription service for its online version of Word this week. Transcribe in Word allows users to record live conversations with multiple speakers or upload prerecorded audio or even video files.

YouTube video removals soar as software enforces rules

YouTube said Tuesday that video removals soared in the second quarter of this year as the company relied more on software to enforce content rules to protect workers from the pandemic.

Reducing windpower's bad vibes

Windpower has come to the fore as a major source of renewable energy, with "turbine farms" springing up across the land and across the oceans. Of course, any new technology has its problems and its detractors, but technological problems might be addressed in a way that other concerns might not. Writing in the International Journal of Sustainable Materials and Structural Systems, engineers from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, discuss one of those technological challenges—vibration control.

Robotic arms extend the reach of UV disinfection

Since the pandemic began, people are focused on keeping their home and workspaces squeaky clean as an important step to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Hospitals and labs, especially, are meticulous.

What is DeFi and why is it the hottest ticket in cryptocurrencies?

One area in cryptocurrencies attracting huge attention is DeFi or decentralized finance. This refers to financial services using smart contracts, which are automated enforceable agreements that don't need intermediaries like a bank or lawyer and use online blockchain technology instead.

Is it time for a plug-in hybrid vehicle?

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles—typically abbreviated as PHEVs—make up a very small percentage of vehicle sales, but they can be a smart pick for a certain kind of shopper.

Facebook: Apple privacy changes will muck up online ads

Facebook is pushing back on new Apple privacy rules for its mobile devices—and putting app developers in the middle.

FTC urged to keep up antitrust fight against Qualcomm

A group of 20 technology companies, car makers and advocacy groups is urging U.S. Federal Trade commissioners to continue the antitrust fight against Qualcomm.

Zoom, Microsoft and Apple take on remote learning challenges as kids head back to school

Middle school teacher Jodie Deinhammer is prepping to take a blended approach to distance learning as the school year kicks off.

Alibaba shares leap after Ant Group IPO filing

Shares in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba jumped to a new record Wednesday morning, a day after the group's financial arm filed paperwork for a joint Shanghai and Hong Kong listing.

Palantir announces plans for direct listing on NYSE

Data analysis specialist Palantir on Tuesday laid out plans to directly list shares on the New York Stock Exchange, shunning the typical tactic of going public by issuing new stock.

New system created to prevent traffic jams

Holiday exodus. Nine in the morning. The roundabouts that lead to Valencia's A-3 motorway have come to a standstill. Can these traffic jams be stopped or, at least, decreased? A team of researchers from Valencia's Polytechnic University (UPV) has come up with a new system for the automated counting of vehicles that would help achieve this. It is a tool with a very low cost which is easy to install in roundabouts and intersections, and can generate origin-destination matrixes in a continued and automatic way.

Amazon teams with university to train military employees for new roles

Amazon has developed an online certification program with City University of Seattle to train its military employees and their families for higher-paying jobs in the company.

If you're going to court without a lawyer, this startup can help you navigate the system

Every year in this country, millions of Americans head to court without a lawyer, even though it leaves them at a distinct disadvantage in many cases.

Scientists develop a tool for wireless charging of multiple devices

Researchers from the Faculty of Physics and Engineering managed to achieve simultaneous power transfer at various frequencies with the help of a metasurface. It will allow us to simultaneously charge devices from different manufacturers with different power transfer standards. The paper was published in Applied Physics Letters.

Hired guns of disinformation proliferate online, report finds

A variety of online tools and companies offering disinformation campaigns as a service are flourishing online, making it easier for state-sponsored and other hackers to mount such campaigns with little effort, the technology firm Cisco said in a report released Wednesday.

DJI changes name, style of its smartphone gimbal

DJI, the drone and aerial photography tools company, has taken a radical redesign to its popular line of Osmo smartphone gimbals, adding in a new name as well, OM.

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