Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Sep 22

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for September 22, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A new strategy to implement a high-fidelity mixed-species entangling gate

A three-agent robotic system for Mars exploration

Study investigates the nature of X-ray binary IGR J18214-1318

The first ultra-hot Neptune, LTT 9779b, is one of nature's improbable planets

Can ripples on the sun help predict solar flares?

Seismic data explains continental collision beneath Tibet

Evolution of radio-resistance is more complicated than previously thought

NASA plans for return to Moon to cost $28 billion

Scientists identify hormone that might help treat malabsorption

New drug candidate found for hand, foot and mouth disease

New freshwater database tells water quality story for 12K lakes globally

Thin and ultra-fast photodetector sees the full spectrum

Inducing plasma in biomass could make biogas easier to produce

When does a second COVID surge end? Look at the maths

Why some cancers may respond poorly to key drugs discovered

Physics news

A new strategy to implement a high-fidelity mixed-species entangling gate

In recent years, research teams worldwide have been trying to create trapped ion quantum computers, which have so far proved to be among the most promising systems for practical quantum computing implementations. In these computers, trapped ions serve as quantum bits that are entangled in order to perform advanced computations.

Inducing plasma in biomass could make biogas easier to produce

Producing biogas from the bacterial breakdown of biomass presents options for a greener energy future, but the complex composition of biomass comes with a long list of challenges.

Evaporation critical to coronavirus transmission as weather changes

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise worldwide, it is increasingly urgent to understand how climate impacts the continued spread of the coronavirus, particularly as winter virus infections are more common and countries in the northern hemisphere will soon see cooler temperatures.

Physicists create turnstile for photons

Physicists from Germany, Denmark, and Austria have succeeded in creating a kind of turnstile for light in glass fibers that allows the light particles to only pass through one at a time

Physicists develop printable organic transistors

Scientists at the Institute of Applied Physics at TU Dresden have come a step closer to the vision of a broad application of flexible, printable electronics. The team around Dr. Hans Kleemann has succeeded for the first time in developing powerful vertical organic transistors with two independent control electrodes. The results have recently been published in the renowned online journal Nature Communications.

Parylene photonics enable future optical biointerfaces

Carnegie Mellon University's Maysam Chamanzar and his team have invented an optical platform that will likely become the new standard in optical biointerfaces. He's labeled this new field of optical technology "Parylene photonics," demonstrated in a recent paper in Nature Microsystems and Nanoengineering.

Squeezed light makes Virgo's mirrors jitter

Quantum mechanics does not only describe how the world works on its smallest scales, but also affects the motion of macroscopic objects. An international research team, including four scientists from the MPI for Gravitational Physics (Albert-Einstein-Institut/AEI) and Leibniz University in Hannover, Germany, has shown how they can influence the motion of mirrors, each weighing more than 40 kg, in the Advanced Virgo gravitational-wave detector trough the deliberate use of quantum mechanics. At the core of their experiment published today in Physcial Review Letters is a squeezed-light source, developed and built at the AEI in Hanover, which generates specially tuned laser radiation and improves the detector's measurement sensitivity during observing runs.

Between relativistic and classical wave regimes, newly discovered memory effect alters the Doppler wave signature

Wave scattering appears practically everywhere in everyday life—from conversations across rooms, to ocean waves breaking on a shore, from colorful sunsets, to radar waves reflecting from aircraft. Scattering phenomena also appear in realms as diverse as quantum mechanics and gravitation. According to Pavel Ginzburg, professor at Tel Aviv University's School of Electrical Engineering, these phenomena become especially interesting when the waves in question encounter a moving object.

Astronomy and Space news

Study investigates the nature of X-ray binary IGR J18214-1318

Using various space observatories, Italian astronomers have investigated an X-ray binary source known as IGR J18214-1318. Results of the study, detailed in a paper published September 14 on the arXiv pre-print server, provide important information about the properties of this system, shedding more light into its nature.

The first ultra-hot Neptune, LTT 9779b, is one of nature's improbable planets

An international team of astronomers, including a group from the University of Warwick, have discovered the first Ultra Hot Neptune planet orbiting the nearby star LTT 9779.

Can ripples on the sun help predict solar flares?

Solar flares are violent explosions on the sun that fling out high-energy charged particles, sometimes toward Earth, where they disrupt communications and endanger satellites and astronauts.

NASA plans for return to Moon to cost $28 billion

NASA on Monday revealed its latest plan to return astronauts to the Moon in 2024, and estimated the cost of meeting that deadline at $28 billion, $16 billion of which would be spent on the lunar landing module.

NASA technology enables precision landing without a pilot

Some of the most interesting places to study in our solar system are found in the most inhospitable environments—but landing on any planetary body is already a risky proposition. With NASA planning robotic and crewed missions to new locations on the Moon and Mars, avoiding landing on the steep slope of a crater or in a boulder field is critical to helping ensure a safe touch down for surface exploration of other worlds. In order to improve landing safety, NASA is developing and testing a suite of precise landing and hazard-avoidance technologies.

Insight-HXMT discovers closest high-speed jet to black hole

Insight-HXMT, China's first space X-ray astronomical satellite, has discovered a low-frequency quasi-periodic oscillation (QPO) above 200 kiloelectron volts (keV) in a black hole binary, making it the highest energy low-frequency QPO ever found. The scientists also found that the QPO originated from the precession of a relativistic jet (high-speed outward-moving plasma stream) near the event horizon of the black hole. These discoveries have important implications for resolving the long-running debate about the physical origin of low-frequency QPOs.

NASA's OSIRIS-REx to asteroid Bennu: 'You've got a little Vesta on you'

In an interplanetary faux pas, it appears some pieces of asteroid Vesta ended up on asteroid Bennu, according to observations from NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. The new result sheds light on the intricate orbital dance of asteroids and on the violent origin of Bennu, which is a "rubble pile" asteroid that coalesced from the fragments of a massive collision.

Water on exoplanet cloud tops could be found with hi-tech instrumentation

University of Warwick astronomers have shown that water vapor can potentially be detected in the atmospheres of exoplanets by peering literally over the tops of their impenetrable clouds.

Astrophysicists prove that dust particles in space are mixed with ice

The matter between the stars in a galaxy—called the interstellar medium—consists not only of gas, but also of a great deal of dust. At some point in time, stars and planets originated in such an environment, because the dust particles can clump together and merge into celestial bodies. Important chemical processes also take place on these particles, from which complex organic—possibly even prebiotic—molecules emerge.

Starspots: Revving up the variability of solar-like stars

In cosmic comparison, the Sun is a bore. While the brightness of some other stars with similar characteristics fluctuates strongly, the Sun's variations are much more moderate. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany, from the Turkish-German University and Boğaziçi University in Turkey, and from Kyung Hee University in South Korea, have now investigated how exactly sun- and starspots affect this behavior. In addition to the number and size of the spots, their distribution plays a crucial role. If groups of sunspots were to appear more frequently clumped together in so-called nests, the Sun's brightness variations could well keep up with those of its cosmic peers. The team reports on its results in today's issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Data sonification: Sounds from around the Milky Way

The center of our Milky Way galaxy is too distant for us to visit in person, but we can still explore it. Telescopes give us a chance to see what the Galactic Center looks like in different types of light. By translating the inherently digital data (in the form of ones and zeroes) captured by telescopes in space into images, astronomers create visual representations that would otherwise be invisible to us.

NASA's new Mars rover will use X-rays to hunt fossils

NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover has a challenging road ahead: After having to make it through the harrowing entry, descent, and landing phase of the mission on Feb. 18, 2021, it will begin searching for traces of microscopic life from billions of years back. That's why it's packing PIXL, a precision X-ray device powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

Spacecraft DAPPER will study 'Dark Ages' of the universe in radio waves

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) has joined a new NASA space mission to the far side of the Moon to investigate when the first stars began to form in the early universe.

JPL meets unique challenge, delivers radar hardware for Jupiter mission

Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory met a significant milestone recently by delivering key elements of an ice-penetrating radar instrument for an ESA (European Space Agency) mission to explore Jupiter and its three large icy moons.

Technology news

A three-agent robotic system for Mars exploration

Mars, also known as the red planet, has been the focus of numerous research studies, as some of its characteristics have sparked discussions about its possible inhabitability. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and a few other space agencies have thus sent a number of rovers and other spacecraft to Mars with the hope of better understanding its geology and environment.

Thin and ultra-fast photodetector sees the full spectrum

Researchers have developed the world's first photodetector that can see all shades of light, in a prototype device that radically shrinks one of the most fundamental elements of modern technology.

Optical Wi-Fi allows for ultrafast underwater communications

EPFL spin-off Hydromea has developed a miniature optical modem that can operate down to 6,000 meters below the ocean's surface. It is sensitive enough to collect data at very high speeds from sources more than 50 meters away.

New research says sodium-ion batteries are a valid alternative to lithium-ion batteries

Lithium (Li)-ion batteries (LIBs) are the electrochemical energy storage systems of choice for a wide variety of applications, however other types of emerging battery technologies are currently on the path to share their dominant position.

Evaluating battery revenues for offshore wind farms using advanced modeling

Lithium-ion battery technologies currently dominate the advanced energy storage market—a sector of increasing importance as more focus is put on variable renewable energy generation and reliability to help decarbonize the global energy system. But according to MIT researchers, prevailing battery models can actually overestimate the battery's revenue in an energy storage system by 35 percent.

Scientists identify solid electrolyte materials that boost lithium-ion battery performance

Stanford University scientists have identified a new class of solid materials that could replace flammable liquid electrolytes in lithium-ion batteries.

Amazon Sidewalk to boost neighborhood connectivity

Former presidential contender Hillary Clinton authored a book titled, "It Takes a Village," about communities working together for the wellbeing of one another.

Charging ahead: Tesla teases big news on 'Battery Day'

Tesla chief Elon Musk has promised "insane" battery news at a streamed event after the company's annual shareholders' meeting on Tuesday.

Nintendo's Switch faces French claim of 'planned obsolescence'

A French consumer advocacy group said Tuesday that it had filed a "planned obsolescence" claim against Nintendo's Switch console, saying the Japanese giant knew some controllers were failing too quickly.

New tool models future energy costs and carbon implications for 13 U.S. areas

A new online interactive dashboard enables users to understand the costs and impacts of major supplies and demands of energy through the year 2050 across the U.S.

Engineers pre-train AI computers to make them even more powerful

Engineers at CSEM have developed a new machine-learning method that paves the way for artificial intelligence to be used in applications that until now have been deemed too sensitive. The method, which has been tested by running simulations on a climate-control system for a 100-room building, is poised to deliver energy savings of around 20%.

When bots do the negotiating, humans more likely to engage in deceptive techniques

Recently computer scientists at USC Institute of Technologies (ICT) set out to assess under what conditions humans would employ deceptive negotiating tactics. Through a series of studies, they found that whether humans would embrace a range of deceptive and sneaky techniques was dependent both on the humans' prior negotiating experience in negotiating as well as whether virtual agents where employed to negotiate on their behalf. The findings stand in contrast to prior studies and show that when humans use intermediaries in the form of virtual agents, they feel more comfortable employing more deceptive techniques than they would normally use when negotiating for themselves.

Engineers build three new open-source tools for COVID-19

Michigan Tech's Open Sustainability Technology (MOST) Lab developed three new open-source tools in response to COVID-19: a high-temperature 3-D printer, a firefighter PAPR mask and a printable, emergency-use ventilator.

When painting reveals increases in social trust

Scientists from the CNRS, ENS-PSL, Inserm, and Sciences Po revealed an increase in facial displays of trustworthiness in European painting between the fourteenth and twenty-first centuries. The findings, published in Nature Communications on 22 September 2020, were obtained by applying face-processing software to two groups of portraits, suggesting an increase in trustworthiness in society that closely follows rising living standards over the course of this period.

TikTok deal aims to thread needle on US, China demands

A fragile deal to put the popular video app TikTok in American control appeared in jeopardy Monday amid disagreement on the ownership structure and Chinese involvement.

TikTok urges social media alliance against suicide content

TikTok on Tuesday proposed an alliance with nine other social media platforms to work collectively and rapidly to remove suicide content, following an incident this month when a man killed himself on Facebook.

Healthcare, minerals, energy, food: How adopting new tech could drive Australia's economic recovery

Over the next few years, science and technology will have a vital role in supporting Australia's economy as it strives to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Techies, investors, await news of Tesla battery potential

Tesla is expected to announce a breakthrough in electric vehicle battery chemistry on Tuesday that could bring down the cost of the vehicles and increase their range and durability.

Canadian auto workers reach tentative contract with Ford

The union representing Canadian auto workers says it has reached a tentative three-year contract deal with Ford to build five new electric vehicles at a factory near Toronto.

Air industry urges rapid testing instead of quarantine

The global aviation industry called on Tuesday for the development of rapid virus tests for all passengers before departures as an alternative to quarantine measures, in a bid to get people flying again.

Bezos charity to open first preschool in US

Amazon chief Jeff Bezos said Tuesday that the first free preschool backed by his philanthropic fund will open next month to disadvantaged children in the US internet giant's home state.

Facebook warns of restrictions in case of US post-election turmoil

Facebook has contingency plans to block some content on its platform if civil unrest breaks out after the November US election, a top executive said.

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