Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Sep 9

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for September 9, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Massive halo finally explains stream of gas swirling around the Milky Way

AI used to show how hydrogen becomes a metal inside giant planets

Machine learning aids gene activation discovery

Sound waves replace human hands in petri dish experiments

Researchers investigate properties of the open cluster Kronberger 60

Transistor-integrated cooling for a more powerful chip

A Janus emitter for passive heat release from enclosures

Physicists explain mysterious dark matter deficiency in galaxy pair

Physicists use classical concepts to decipher strange quantum behaviors in an ultracold gas

Why plants in wetlands are highly productive

New fossil ape is discovered in India

A new method for directed networks could help multiple levels of science

New perception metric balances reaction time, accuracy

Deep channels link ocean to Antarctic glacier

Study pinpoints process that might have led to first organic molecules

Physics news

AI used to show how hydrogen becomes a metal inside giant planets

Dense metallic hydrogen—a phase of hydrogen which behaves like an electrical conductor—makes up the interior of giant planets, but it is difficult to study and poorly understood. By combining artificial intelligence and quantum mechanics, researchers have found how hydrogen becomes a metal under the extreme pressure conditions of these planets.

Sound waves replace human hands in petri dish experiments

Mechanical engineers at Duke University have demonstrated a set of prototypes for manipulating particles and cells in a Petri dish using sound waves. The devices, known in the scientific community as "acoustic tweezers," are the first foray into making these types of tools, which have thus far been relegated to laboratories with specific equipment and expertise, available for use in a wide array of settings.

A Janus emitter for passive heat release from enclosures

It is presently challenging to efficiently cool enclosed spaces such as stationary automobiles that trap heat via the greenhouse effect. In a new report in Science Advances, Se-Yeon Heo and a team of scientists in materials science, engineering and nanoarchitectonics in Japan and the Republic of Korea, presented a Janus emitter (JET) for surface cooling. They used a silver (Ag)-polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) layer on a micropatterned quartz substrate and the material allowed them to cool the space even when the JET was attached within an enclosure. As a result, the JET (Janus emitter) could passively mitigate the greenhouse effect in enclosures and offer surface cooling performance comparable to conventional radiative coolers.

Physicists explain mysterious dark matter deficiency in galaxy pair

A new theory about the nature of dark matter helps explain why a pair of galaxies about 65 million light-years from Earth contains very little of the mysterious matter, according to a study led by a physicist at the University of California, Riverside.

Physicists use classical concepts to decipher strange quantum behaviors in an ultracold gas

There they were, in all their weird quantum glory: ultracold lithium atoms in the optical trap operated by UC Santa Barbara undergraduate student Alec Cao and his colleagues in David Weld's atomic physics group. Held by lasers in a regular, lattice formation and "driven" by pulses of energy, these atoms were doing crazy things.

New microfluidic device minimizes loss of high value samples

A major collaborative effort that has been developing over the last three years between ASU and European scientists, has resulted in a significant technical advance in X-ray crystallographic sample strategies.

New computational model stands to make nuclear magnetic resonance an even more powerful tool for researchers

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory have developed a new computational model that has opened up the potential to make one of their most powerful research tools even more so.

Technique prevents errors in quantum computers

Even quantum computers make mistakes. Their computing ability is extraordinary, exceeding that of classical computers by far. This is because circuits in quantum computers are based on qubits that can represent not only zeroes or ones, but also superpositions of both states by using the principles of quantum mechanics. Despite their great potential, qubits are extremely fragile and prone to errors due to the interactions with the external environment.

Phasing out a microscope's tricks

An instrument error can lead to complete misidentification of certain crystals, reports a KAUST study that suggests researchers need to exercise caution when using electron microscopes to probe two-dimensional (2-D) semiconductors.

Researchers design system to visualize objects through clouds and fog

Like a comic book come to life, researchers at Stanford University have developed a kind of X-ray vision—only without the X-rays. Working with hardware similar to what enables autonomous cars to "see" the world around them, the researchers enhanced their system with a highly efficient algorithm that can reconstruct three-dimensional hidden scenes based on the movement of individual particles of light, or photons. In tests, detailed in a paper published Sept. 9 in Nature Communications, their system successfully reconstructed shapes obscured by 1-inch-thick foam. To the human eye, it's like seeing through walls.

Magnetic whirls crystallize in two dimensions

In a collaboration between experimental physicists and theoretical physicists in the framework of the Dynamics and Topology (TopDyn) excellence project, a system of many small magnetic whirls could be engineered to form a regularly ordered state. Such a transition from a disordered to an ordered phase is analogous to the well-known crystallization, which, however, occurs here in two dimensions. For the research work at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), experimental physicists around Professor Mathias Kläui cooperated with a group of theoretical physicists around Dr. Peter Virnau. The results have been published recently in the journal Advanced Functional Materials. The TopDyn research center is funded by the German federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

Astronomy and Space news

Massive halo finally explains stream of gas swirling around the Milky Way

The Milky Way is not alone in its neighborhood. It has captured smaller galaxies in its orbit, and the two largest are known as the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds, visible as twin dusty smears in the Southern Hemisphere.

Researchers investigate properties of the open cluster Kronberger 60

Using data from ESA's Gaia satellite, astronomers from the National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics in Cairo, Egypt, have explored the open star cluster Kronberger 60. Results of the study, published September 2 on the arXiv pre-print server, provide more insights into the properties of this cluster.

Data from Yutu-2 suggests top layer of lunar regolith is material thrown from nearby crater

A team of researchers has found evidence suggesting that the regolith material on which the Chinese rover Yutu-2 is situated consists mainly of material that was thrown there when an asteroid struck the moon nearby. In their paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy, the group describes their analyses of data sent back by the rover and what they learned from it.

The presence of resonating cavities above sunspots has been confirmed

Sunspots are darker regions which often appear on the Sun's surface. They are caused by strong concentrations of magnetic field, and can be as big as the Earth, or even much bigger.

Study indicates sand-sized meteoroids are peppering asteroid Bennu

A new study published this month in JGR Planets posits that the major particle ejections off the near-Earth asteroid Bennu may be the consequence of impacts by small, sand-sized particles called meteoroids onto its surface as the object nears the Sun. The study's primary author is Southwest Research Institute scientist Dr. William Bottke, who used data from NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission.

Where rocks come alive: NASA's OSIRIS-REx observes an asteroid in action

It's 5 o'clock somewhere—and while here on Earth, "happy hour" is commonly associated with winding down and the optional cold beverage, that's when things get going on Bennu, the destination asteroid of NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission.

Image: Backbone of a spacecraft

This structure is the frame and base for the European Service Module, part of NASA's Orion spacecraft that will return humans to the moon.

How small particles could reshape Bennu and other asteroids

In January 2019, NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft was orbiting asteroid Bennu when the spacecraft's cameras caught something unexpected: Thousands of tiny bits of material, some just the size of marbles, began to bounce off the surface of the asteroid—like a game of ping-pong in space. Since then, many such particle ejection events have been observed at Bennu's surface.

Technology news

Transistor-integrated cooling for a more powerful chip

Managing the heat generated in electronics is a huge problem, especially with the constant push to reduce the size and pack as many transistors as possible in the same chip. The whole problem is how to manage such high heat fluxes efficiently. Usually, electronic technologies, designed by electrical engineers, and cooling systems, designed by mechanical engineers, are done independently and separately. But now, EPFL researchers have quietly revolutionized the process by combining these two design steps into one: They've developed an integrated microfluidic cooling technology together with the electronics that can efficiently manage the large heat fluxes generated by transistors. Their research, which has been published in Nature, will lead to even more compact electronic devices and enable the integration of power converters, with several high-voltage devices, into a single chip.

New perception metric balances reaction time, accuracy

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a new metric for evaluating how well self-driving cars respond to changing road conditions and traffic, making it possible for the first time to compare perception systems for both accuracy and reaction time.

Development of photovoltaics that can be applied like paint for real-life application

Researchers in Korea have successfully developed a large-area, organic-solution-processable solar cell with high efficiency. They achieved their breakthrough by controlling the speed at which the solution of raw materials for solar cells became solidified after being coated. The team, led by Dr. Hae Jung Son from the Photo-electronic Hybrids Research Center of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), have identified the difference in the mechanism of film formation between a small area and a large area of organic solar cells in a solution process, thereby making possible the development of high-efficiency, large-area organic photovoltaics.

New glove-like device mimics sense of touch

What if you could touch a loved one during a video call—particularly in today's social distancing era of COVID-19—or pick up and handle a virtual tool in a video game?

Android 11 update offers tweaks and enhancements

They say good things come in small packages. This week's launch of the final release of Android 11 brings no big new attractions but rather several modest-size ones that should please most users.

Device tracks house appliances through vibration, AI

To boost efficiency in typical households—where people forget to take wet clothes out of washing machines, retrieve hot food from microwaves and turn off dripping faucets—Cornell University researchers have developed a single device that can track 17 types of appliances using vibrations.

Study shows promise of California offshore wind energy

As California aims to provide 60% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030 and 100% by 2045, a study from California Polytechnic State University provides some good news. Offshore winds along the Central Coast increase at the same time that people start using more energy—in the evening.

Scientists propose ultrahigh-fraction active anode for sodium dual-ion batteries

Sodium-based dual-ion batteries (Na-DIBs) are promising for large-scale energy storage applications due to high efficiency, low cost, and environmental friendliness.

3-D printing poses a threat to people's privacy, experts warn

3-D printing technology poses a "grave and growing threat" to individual privacy because of the potential for products to reveal private information about individuals, experts have warned.

Smart speakers have overcome privacy fears to give new sales power to Amazon and Google

With everyone spending so much time at home during the pandemic, smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo and Google Nest ranges have had a golden opportunity. In their latest attempt to make the devices as relevant as possible to this captive audience, device makers recently announced that they are incorporating Zoom videoconferencing capabilities into speakers fitted with screens.

Walmart testing drones for deliveries in North Carolina city

Walmart launched a pilot program Wednesday using drones to deliver groceries and household essentials in a North Carolina city.

Microsoft's new Xbox Series X set for November launch, from $499

Microsoft said Wednesday its next-generation Xbox game console will launch on November 10, with an estimated starting price of $499.

What slowdown? Amazon seeks to hire 33,000 people

Amazon is on a hiring spree.

Advanced NVMe controller technology for next generation memory devices

KAIST researchers have advanced non-volatile memory express (NVMe) controller technology for next generation information storage devices, and made this new technology, named 'OpenExpress', freely available to all universities and research institutes around the world to help reduce the research cost in related fields.

Can technology make flying feel safe again? Companies scramble to remove the COVID-19 risk from planes

Across the world, the aviation industry is scrambling to find ways to keep the COVID-19 risk out of airplanes with high-tech filtration and advanced cleaning. American Airlines has partnered with medical advisers at Vanderbilt University and its competitors have made similar moves. Every airline is requiring masks. Southwest Airlines has adopted the "Southwest Promise," which includes limiting capacity on flights to allow passengers to social distance.

Airbus thinks goose tip could trim fuel consumption

If planes flew in formation like wild geese they might use five to 10 percent less fuel, European aircraft maker Airbus said Wednesday as it signed up to test the idea.

Best crossover SUVs for towing

RV and trailer sales greatly increased this summer as consumers sought out vacations while remaining socially distant during the pandemic. But what's the best vehicle to tow them?

UPS says it plans to hire more than 100,000 holiday workers

United Parcel Service said Wednesday it plans to hire more than 100,000 extra workers to help handle an increase in packages during the holiday season.

German car parts maker Schaeffler cuts 4,400 jobs

German car and industrial supplier Schaeffler said Wednesday that it will cut 4,400 jobs due to the impact of the coronavirus on the automotive sector.

VW's former CEO to stand trial over 'dieselgate'

Volkswagen's former chief executive Martin Winterkorn will stand trial over the car giant's massive "dieselgate" scam, a German court said Wednesday, five years after the scandal rocked the automobile industry.

Facing Trump ban, China's TikTok embeds itself into U.S. culture

James Henry, known for slapstick comedy and dance videos on TikTok, got an email last fall from the app's creator relationships team. Would he be interested in joining Mariah Carey to film something for TikTok to promote her holiday song, "All I Want for Christmas is You"?

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