Science X Newsletter Thursday, Sep 10

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

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Large exchange splitting in monolayer graphene coupled to an antiferromagnet

A quantum-inspired framework for video sentiment analysis

High-fidelity record of Earth's climate history puts current changes in context

New Hubble data suggests there is an ingredient missing from current dark matter theories

Quirky response to magnetism presents quantum physics mystery

Add human-genome produced RNA to the list of cell surface molecules

At least 28 extinctions prevented by conservation action in recent decades

Researchers reveal a much richer picture of the past with new DNA recovery technique

Over a century later, the mystery of the Alfred Wallace's butterfly is solved

New ultrafast yellow laser poised to benefit biomedical applications

World wildlife plummets more than two-thirds in 50 years: index

Combination immunotherapy benefits subset of patients with advanced prostate cancer

Study shows how interferon-gamma guides response to cancer immunotherapy

COVID-19 may have been in LA as early as last December, study suggests

Analysis of Australian labradoodle genome reveals an emphasis on the 'oodle'

Physics news

Quirky response to magnetism presents quantum physics mystery

The search is on to discover new states of matter, and possibly new ways of encoding, manipulating, and transporting information. One goal is to harness materials' quantum properties for communications that go beyond what's possible with conventional electronics. Topological insulators—materials that act mostly as insulators but carry electric current across their surface—provide some tantalizing possibilities.

New ultrafast yellow laser poised to benefit biomedical applications

Researchers have developed a new compact and ultrafast, high-power yellow laser. The tunable laser exhibits excellent beam quality and helps fill the need for a practical yellow light source emitting ultrafast pulses of light.

Spectral classification of excitons

Ultrathin layers of tungsten diselenide have potential applications in opto-electronics and quantum technologies. LMU researchers have now explored how this material interacts with light in the presence of strong magnetic fields.

Test of wave function collapse suggests gravity is not the answer

A team of researchers from Germany, Italy and Hungary has tested a theory that suggests gravity is the force behind quantum collapse and has found no evidence to support it. In their paper published in the journal Nature Physics, the researchers describe underground experiments they conducted to test the impact of gravity on wave functions and what their work showed them. Myungshik Kim, with Imperial College London has published a News & Views piece in the same issue, outlining the work by the team and the implications of their results.

New machine learning-assisted method rapidly classifies quantum sources

For quantum optical technologies to become more practical, there is a need for large-scale integration of quantum photonic circuits on chips.

New light amplifier can boost the potential of photonics

A new light amplifier developed at the University of Twente not only boosts the light signals on a photonic chip, but it also enhances the applicability of those chips. Thanks to stronger light signals, detector chips for viruses or tumor markers can be made more sensitive, and autonomous cars could better scan their surroundings. One of the major advantages of the new amplifier is its small size. For preparing this concept for market introduction, Professor Sonia Garcia Blanco received a Proof of Concept grant of the European Research Council

Phasing quantum annealers into experiments from nonequilibrium physics

It is established that matter can transition between different phases when certain parameters, such as temperature, are changed. Although phase transitions are common (like water turning into ice in a freezer), the dynamics that govern these processes are highly complex and constitute a prominent problem in the field of nonequilibrium physics.

Researcher creates an ultra-simple inexpensive method to fabricate optical fiber

A novel process to fabricate special optical fiber that is far simpler, faster and cheaper than the conventional method has been developed by Cristiano Cordeiro, a researcher and professor at the University of Campinas's Physics Institute (IFGW-Unicamp) in the state of São Paulo, Brazil. Cordeiro created the innovation during a research internship at the University of Adelaide in Australia, supported by a scholarship from São Paulo Research Foundation—FAPESP and by a partnership with his host, Heike Ebendorff-Heidepriem. An article signed by them and a third collaborator is published in Scientific Reports.

Astronomy and Space news

New Hubble data suggests there is an ingredient missing from current dark matter theories

Observations by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have found that something may be missing from the theories of how dark matter behaves. This missing ingredient may explain why researchers have uncovered an unexpected discrepancy between observations of the dark matter concentrations in a sample of massive galaxy clusters and theoretical computer simulations of how dark matter should be distributed in clusters. The new findings indicate that some small-scale concentrations of dark matter produce lensing effects that are 10 times stronger than expected.

Giant particle accelerator in the sky

The Earth's magnetic field traps high-energy particles. When the first satellites were launched into space, scientists led by James Van Allen unexpectedly discovered the high-energy particle radiation regions, which were later named after its discoverer: the Van Allen Radiation Belts. Visualized, these look like two donut-shaped regions encompassing the planet.

Detecting colliding supermassive black holes: The search continues

In a new study, researchers have developed an innovative method to detect colliding supermassive black holes. The study has just been published in the Astrophysical Journal and was led by postdoctoral researcher Xingjiang Zhu from the ARC Center of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav) at Monash University.

Strongest magnetic field in universe directly detected by X-ray space observatory

The Insight-HXMT team has performed extensive observations of the accreting X-ray pulsar GRO J1008-57 and has discovered a magnetic field of ~1 billion Tesla on the surface of the neutron star. This is the strongest magnetic field conclusively detected in the universe. This work, published in the Astrophysical Journal, was primarily conducted by scientists from the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, Germany.

Revealing the secrets of high-energy cosmic particles

The 'IceCube' neutrino observatory deep in the ice of the South Pole has already brought spectacular new insights into cosmic incidents of extremely high energies. In order to investigate the cosmic origins of elementary particles with even higher energies, Prof. Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has now started an international initiative to build a neutrino telescope several cubic kilometers in size in the northeastern Pacific.

Where no spacecraft has gone before: A close encounter with binary asteroids

CU Boulder and Lockheed Martin will lead a new space mission to capture the first-ever closeup look at a mysterious class of solar system objects: binary asteroids.

Research team discovers unique supernova explosion

One-hundred million light years away from Earth, an unusual supernova is exploding.

Jupiter's moons could be warming each other

Jupiter's moons are hot.

Gather Moon rocks for us, NASA urges private companies

NASA on Thursday announced it was in the market for Moon rocks, and wants to pay companies to scoop out the dirt, take a photo, and then have it ready for collection by a future mission.

Two new arrays complete detector for Antarctic balloon observatory mission

GUSTO is a balloon observatory that will drift in the Earth's atmosphere for over 75 days at the edge of space at 36 km altitude, simultaneously mapping three types of material in the gas and dust between stars. SRON and TU Delft developed all three detector arrays for this NASA mission. The final two flight arrays have now passed their pre-shipment review and have been shipped to the University of Arizona for integration into the balloon observatory. Together with the earlier shipped array for 4.7 terahertz, the 1.4 and 1.9 terahertz arrays complete GUSTO's flight detector.

Lead lab selected for next-generation cosmic microwave background experiment

The largest collaborative undertaking yet to explore the relic light emitted by the infant universe has taken a step forward with the U.S. Department of Energy's selection of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) to lead the partnership of national labs, universities, and other institutions that are joined in the effort to carry out the DOE roles and responsibilities. This next-generation experiment, known as CMB-S4, or Cosmic Microwave Background Stage 4, is being planned to become a joint DOE and National Science Foundation project.

Study reveals important factors determining eruptive character of large solar flares

Solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CME) are the most spectacular eruptive activities in the solar system. Large solar flares and CMEs can bring disastrous space weather, destroy our satellite and navigation system, and cause a large-scale blackout on Earth.

Video: Advice from an astronaut

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano provides words of wisdom to young people on how investing their time wisely today can help build a better tomorrow.

Technology news

Large exchange splitting in monolayer graphene coupled to an antiferromagnet

Spintronics (or spin transport electronics) is a fairly new research field specialized in the development of devices that use the spin of electrons to store and process information. These devices could be a favorable alternative to traditional electronics, as they do not work using electric current and could thus prevent the implications of Joule heating. Joule heating is an effect that occurs in conventional electronic devices when current passing through a material produces thermal energy, consequently increasing the material's temperature.

A quantum-inspired framework for video sentiment analysis

Automatically identifying the overall sentiment expressed in a video or text could be useful for a wide range of applications. For instance, it could help companies or political parties to screen large amounts of online content and gain insight on what the public thinks about their products, services, campaigns or initiatives.

Sick of city din? Try 'noise-cancelling headphones' for your flat

Sick of noise from construction work, speeding trains and car alarms flooding in through the open window of your tiny apartment in a crowded metropolis?

Experiments reveal why human-like robots elicit uncanny feelings

Androids, or robots with humanlike features, are often more appealing to people than those that resemble machines—but only up to a certain point. Many people experience an uneasy feeling in response to robots that are nearly lifelike, and yet somehow not quite "right." The feeling of affinity can plunge into one of repulsion as a robot's human likeness increases, a zone known as "the uncanny valley."

Wireless device captures sleep data without using cameras or body sensors

MIT researchers have developed a wireless, private way to monitor a person's sleep postures—whether snoozing on their back, stomach, or sides—using reflected radio signals from a small device mounted on a bedroom wall.

DeepMind's AlphaZero breathes new life into the old art of chess

"Of chess, it has been said that life is not long enough for it," chess master William Napier once said, "but that is the fault of life, not chess."

I can see loo: Tokyo park gets transparent toilets

Spacious, clean, and almost completely see-through, an unusual new public toilet block has been built in a Tokyo park—but thankfully, the walls turn opaque when you lock the door.

US sanctions on Huawei hit chip supply and growth, exec says

A Huawei executive says that recent U.S. sanctions against the company have caused a shortage of computer chips for the company, hurting the growth of its smartphone business.

Huawei releases OS source code in push for own ecosystem

Chinese telecom giant Huawei on Thursday said its nascent homegrown operating system could be available on smartphones early next year, as it pushes to build an alternative app ecosystem after the US barred it from using Google's Android.

Security solution traps cyber criminals in a virtual network

Researchers are developing a new cyber-security deception solution that uses artificial intelligence to lure hackers away and prevent breaches of network systems.

Privacy, blockchain and the Internet of Things: Can we keep control of our own identities?

New research from The University of South Australia indicates there are key privacy issues inherent to current blockchain platforms, suggesting greater effort should be made to refine the technology so it conforms to privacy rights and expectations.

Cashless payment is booming, thanks to coronavirus. So is financial surveillance

A banknote has been sitting in my wallet for six months now. As time ticks on, it burns an ever greater hole in my pocket.

Cost of oil and gas setbacks minimal but increase beyond 1,500 feet

Requiring 1,500 feet (457 m) between oil and gas operations and buildings or waterways would have minimal impacts on oil and gas availability, according to a new study from CU Boulder and Colorado School of Mines.

Five cost-effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint at home

Since the pandemic struck, most people have been spending the majority of their time in the house. Those working from home have become ever more reliant on electricity for running office essentials, including computers, printers, phones and broadband.

Facebook may have to stop moving EU user data to US

Facebook may be forced to stop sending data about its European users to the U.S., in the first major fallout from a recent court ruling that found some trans-Atlantic data transfers don't protect users from American government snooping.

3-D smart digital model shows calamities in a city with one-look overview

A unique 3-D smart digital model has been developed to combine the different streams of data from cities on one common platform, and is the result of the ITEA project PS-CRIMSON, a collaboration of six academic and industry partners from the Netherlands and Canada. With this platform, public safety and disaster management can be improved, as pilot projects in Eindhoven and Vancouver have shown. Researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology developed AI image technology that can detect the location of incidents from an image and re-track the walking routes of people using multiple cameras. Today, PS-CRIMSON was awarded with the ITEA Award of Excellence, with special recognition in the categories of Exploitation and Unique business partnerships.

Maserati aim to fuel sales with new supercar, electrics

Sports car maker Maserati is firing up a major push to revive the iconic Italian brand's flagging fortunes, this week unveiling a new supercar and new electric models aimed at pleasing millennials.

Amazon raised prices on essentials amid pandemic, watchdog says Inc. charged inflated prices for hand sanitizer, disposable gloves and other essentials months after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a consumer watchdog said in a report accusing the world's largest online retailer of price gouging.

ByteDance in talks with US to avoid selling TikTok: report

Chinese internet giant ByteDance is in talks with the US about ways it might avoid having to sell its TikTok operations here, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

An electronic nose for wine

Researchers in China have applied an array of sensors—an electronic nose—that can sniff bouquet of rice wine and offer an estimate of the vintage. Writing in the International Journal of Computer Applications in Technology, the scientists explain how their artificial olfactory system takes data from sensors sampling a rice wine and uses a computer to carry out a statistical analysis of the signals to give an essentially 100 percent accurate age for the wine.

British Airways' parent to cut flights following quarantines

British Airways' parent company said Thursday it will cut flights due to coronavirus travel restrictions and quarantine requirements and confirmed it is raising 2.7 billion euros ($3.2 billion) through the sale of new shares.

Singapore Airlines to shed 4,300 jobs due to virus

Singapore Airlines said Thursday it was cutting about 4,300 jobs—around 20 percent of its workforce—due to the coronavirus, and warned any recovery would be "long and fraught with uncertainty".

Twitter may remove unverified election result claims

Twitter said Thursday it may remove unverified postings claiming electoral victory as part of a stepped-up effort to protect democracy, less than two months ahead of the US presidential vote.

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Would you pay for an Xbox like you paid for a phone in 2010?

The release dates and prices for the new Xboxes‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ 

Yesterday we got the official reveal of the Xbox Series X and Series S pricing, release date, and some additional specs. They will launch on November 10th, and the Series X will cost $499. But really, Microsoft's big play here is to get you to sign up for a service plan — sorry, "Xbox All Access" — that subsidizes the cost of the hardware. So $24.99 per month gets you the Series S and $34.99 gets you the Series X — both payments spanned across 24 months.

Sounds a bit like the cell phone plans of yore, doesn't it? I'm not against it in principle as it does make both consoles more accessible to people who would prefer to pay over time. But it still strikes me as another form of lock-in in a new category that hasn't had that much of it. Would you pay for an Xbox like you paid for a phone in 2010, before those lock-in contracts were done away with?

On the bright side, Xbox Game Pass is adding EA's Play subscription service at no extra cost.

Microsoft also revealed the Xbox Series S specs, which will have four times the processing power of Xbox One. That's nice for a spec sheet (and for people who want to tie their identity to a gaming console and use the superior processor to snark at people who bought Sony consoles), but the real thing to pay attention to on these next-gen consoles is the GPU.

The GPU is, as you'd expect, not as powerful. However, the main effect of that seems to be about kicking out high resolutions. It'll still play all the next-gen games and because it supports the fast SSD architecture, they'll load fast too. All in all it's a better console than I expected for the price!

Finally, we also learned that Xbox Game Pass for PC is doubling its price next week. Taylor Lyles:

Alongside an influx of next-gen console news, Microsoft also confirmed today that it will raise its pricing for Xbox Game Pass for PC from $4.99 per month to $9.99 a month starting on September 17th.
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┏ Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 review: an extravagant success. Here's my full review and a video to go with it. Against all odds, it's really quite good. I just wish it didn't cost so much. Two grand is too much for this kind of device.

┏ Lenovo's IdeaPad Slim 7 is a showcase for AMD's exceptional new processor. Monica Chin on just how quickly AMD has eaten Intel's lunch in the midrange ultraportable category:

The Slim 7 is not just good, it's exceptional. Sure, it's not a perfect laptop — and it likely won't be a bargain — but the combination of performance and power efficiency that the 4800U offers is unlike anything we've ever seen.

Tech news

┏ Motorola's second-gen foldable Razr adds 5G, better cameras, and a chance at redemption. Motorola is trying to fix a bunch of the problems with the first and it seems like it's made some progress, but I'd absolutely wait for reviews to make a move.

┏ Yubico's new USB-C security key with NFC could be the one key to unlock them all. I've been waiting for precisely this combination forever. Of course, if Apple would switch the iPhone to USB-C, that would also have solved my security key problem.

┏ Amazon's new Alexa partnership lets you link your AT&T number to turn your Echo into a phone. I keep repeating this to random people on the street, who are taken aback by how angry I am about it: the fact that one of our most important methods of communication is a string of numbers whose features are limited by these carriers is nuts. The idea that this kind of partnership is even possible, much less necessary, is a sign that the whole concept of phone numbers is still broken. 

┏ Tile will refund up to $1,000 in products if it can't find your lost item. Tile is the company voted most likely to need some therapy because it's under near-constant threat of Apple releasing a direct competitor that has better access to the iPhone's ecosystem than third parties can. While those Air Tags loom, Tile is beefing up its service options. Ashley Carman has the details:

The plan, called Premium Protect, costs $99.99 per year and includes all of the perks of its premium subscription, including free battery replacements and a 30-day location history as well as item reimbursement up to $1,000. Premium, the original plan, is still available and costs $29.99 per year or $2.99 per month

┏ The Lucid Air is a luxury electric sedan with the speed and power to rival Tesla. Andrew Hawkins has all the details:

The sedan will get up to 517 miles of range, can hit a quarter-mile in under 10 seconds, packs over 1,000 horsepower, and will have a base price of "under $80,000" (as long as the federal government sees fit to continue to give out tax credits to EV buyers).

┏ Epic Games accounts won't be able to use Apple's sign-in system as soon as September 11th. Hm so I guess a good reason to not use "Sign in with Apple" is that if things go sideways with the app developer, you won't lose your account.

More from The Verge

┏ How Microsoft built its folding Android phone. Tom Warren spoke to Panos Panay about the development of the Surface Duo hardware:

"We literally had two pieces of metal and a hinge that we put together," explains Panay in an interview with The Verge. "We had this piece of metal that I carried around in my pocket for months."

┏ The sky is on fire in San Francisco, and we flew a drone through it. Simply stunning photos from my friend Vjeran Pavic. (And stunningly depressing when you think about why the sky was orange in the Bay Area yesterday.)

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