Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Sep 23

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for September 23, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Indian astronomers discover 70 new variable stars

3-D bioprinting constructs for cartilage regeneration

Customizable synthetic antibiotic outmaneuvers resistant bacteria

New analysis of black hole reveals a wobbling shadow

Scientists shine light on tiny crystals behind unexpected violent eruptions

Researchers develop method to create colloidal diamonds

Could life exist deep underground on Mars?

Jaws of death: Paleontologist renames giant, prehistoric marine lizard

Chromium steel was first made in ancient Persia

Researchers combine CAT scans and advanced computing to fight wildfires

Inside the secret lives of synchronous fireflies

ISS moves to avoid space debris

Researchers uncover tools used by predatory bacteria to escape unharmed from prey cell

Glycans in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein play active role in infection

This tiny device can scavenge wind energy from the breeze you make when you walk

Physics news

Researchers develop method to create colloidal diamonds

The colloidal diamond has been a dream of researchers since the 1990s. These structures—stable, self-assembled formations of miniscule materials—have the potential to make light waves as useful as electrons in computing, and hold promise for a host of other applications. But while the idea of colloidal diamonds was developed decades ago, no one was able to reliably produce the structures. Until now.

New approach to exotic quantum matter

In a three-dimensional world, all particles must be either fermions or bosons, but in fewer dimensions, the existence of particles known as anyons, which have intermediate quantum statistics, is possible. Such fascinating objects are strongly believed to exist as emerging quasiparticles in fractional quantum Hall systems, but despite great efforts, experimental evidence of anyons has remained very limited. Since quantum statistics is defined through the behavior of the phase of the wave function, when two identical particles are exchanged, early attempts at anyon detection have been based on interferometric measurements using Fabry-Perot interferometry or beamsplitter experiments.

Controlling ultra-strong light-matter coupling at room temperature

Physicists at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, together with colleagues in Russia and Poland, have managed to achieve ultra-strong coupling between light and matter at room temperature. The discovery is of importance for fundamental research and might pave the way for advances in light sources, nanomachinery and quantum technology.

Collaboration makes crystal-clear study of radiation reaction

Place a charged particle in an electromagnetic field and the particle will accelerate and give off radiation. Typically, the emitted radiation has little effect on the particle's motion. However, if the acceleration is extremely large, as is the case for high-energy electrons or positrons in strong electromagnetic fields, the emitted radiation will drastically slow down the particle. The effect, known as radiation reaction, has been recognized since the beginning of the twentieth century, and is relevant in several branches of physics, from accelerator physics to astrophysics. But until now it has been difficult to pin down the maths that best describes the phenomenon. In a paper recently published in Physical Review D, the NA63 collaboration reports a high-precision study of the phenomenon that shows that an equation proposed long ago does the job remarkably well.

Scientists develop forecasting technique that could help advance quest for fusion energy

Bringing the power of the sun to Earth requires sound theory, good engineering, and a little finesse. The process entails trapping charged, ultra-hot gas known as plasma so its particles can fuse and release enormous amounts of energy. The most widely used facilities for this process are doughnut-shaped tokamaks that hold plasma in place with strong magnets that are precisely shaped and positioned. But errors in the shaping or placement of these magnets can lead to poor confinement and loss of plasma, shutting down fusion reactions.

Photoacoustic microscopy for identifying sentinel lymph nodes of breast cancer

Tumor metastatic sentinel lymph nodes are difficult to distinguish from normal or inflamed lymph nodes (Inf-LN). Researchers designed a dual-targeting nanoparticle 5K-HA-HPPS for fluorescent/photoacoustic imaging of sentinel LN. Photoacoustic imaging showed a distinct spatial distribution of 5K-HA-HPPS among different LN statuses, in which the signals were mainly distributed at the center of T-MLN but at the periphery of normal and Inf-LNs. This ability to distinguish T-MLN has potential application value for surgeons in tumor surgery.

Converting lateral scanning into axial focusing to speed up 3-D microscopy

In optical microscopy, high-speed volumetric imaging is limited by either the slow axial scanning rate or aberrations introduced by the z-scanning mechanism. To overcome these limitations, scientists at UT Southwestern have introduced a novel optical design that transforms a lateral-scan motion into a scan in the third dimension. Their microscope realized laser focusing at a rate of 12 kHz and allowed observation of fast dynamics inside cells and the beating heart in Zebrafish embryos.

Astronomy and Space news

Indian astronomers discover 70 new variable stars

Astronomers from India have conducted a long-term photometric variability survey of an open cluster known as NGC 559. As a result, they detected 70 new variable stars in the field of this cluster. The finding is presented in a paper published September 15 on the arXiv pre-print repository.

New analysis of black hole reveals a wobbling shadow

In 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration delivered the first image of a black hole, revealing M87*—the supermassive object in the center of the M87 galaxy. The team has now used the lessons learned last year to analyze the archival data sets from 2009-2013, some of them not published before.

Could life exist deep underground on Mars?

Recent science missions and results are bringing the search for life closer to home, and scientists at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA) and the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) may have figured out how to determine whether life is—or was—lurking deep beneath the surface of Mars, the Moon, and other rocky objects in the universe.

ISS moves to avoid space debris

Astronauts on the International Space Station carried out an "avoidance maneuver" Tuesday to ensure they would not be hit by a piece of debris, said US space agency NASA, urging better management of objects in Earth's orbit.

MoonRanger will search for water at moon's south pole

MoonRanger, a small robotic rover being developed by Carnegie Mellon University and its spinoff Astrobotic, has completed its preliminary design review in preparation for a 2022 mission to search for signs of water at the moon's south pole.

School bus-size asteroid to safely zoom past Earth

A small near-Earth asteroid (or NEA) will briefly visit Earth's neighborhood on Thursday, Sept. 24, zooming past at a distance of about 13,000 miles (22,000 kilometers) above our planet's surface. The asteroid will make its close approach below the ring of geostationary satellites orbiting about 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) away from Earth.

Space nematodes: A giant leap for interplanetary agriculture

In a successful return-to-space mission, research study results indicate that beneficial insect-killing nematodes (small round worms) can be used in the future for natural control of insect pests when humans are growing crops in space. The research objective was to study entomopathogenic (insect-killing) nematodes (EPNs) foraging and infection dynamics in space onboard the International Space Station (ISS) between December 2019 and January 2020.

Technology news

Researchers combine CAT scans and advanced computing to fight wildfires

As wildfires rage across much of the American West, researchers at Stanford have used CAT scanners, the same instruments used in medicine to peer inside the human body, to understand the process of smoldering—the state of burning without flame that often leads to fire. They then folded this deeper understanding of burning into computer models to predict where wildfires might strike next. These models could help firefighters allocate precious resources, reduce the loss of property and help save lives, the researchers say.

This tiny device can scavenge wind energy from the breeze you make when you walk

Most of the wind available on land is too gentle to push commercial wind turbine blades, but now researchers in China have designed a kind of "tiny wind turbine" that can scavenge wind energy from breezes as little as those created by a brisk walk. The method, presented September 23 in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science, is a low-cost and efficient way of collecting light breezes as a micro-energy source.

Researchers create ambient vibration energy harvester with automatic resonance tuning mechanism

Korean researchers have developed an energy harvester that can generate electric power from ambient vibrations with diverse frequencies through a novel automatic resonance tuning mechanism. It was recently announced by the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) that a research team led by Dr. Hyun-Cheol Song from the KIST Center for Electronic Materials developed an energy harvester that can perform automatic resonance tuning (ART) by adjusting the natural frequency by itself in adapting to the environmental conditions.

Researchers develop biomimetic hand prosthesis uniquely similar to a human hand

In the current issue of Science Robotics, researchers from Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT- Italian Institute of Technology) and Centro Protesi INAIL in Italy reported on their ability to replicate the key biological properties of the human hand: natural synergistic and adaptable movement, biomimetic levels of force and speed, high anthropomorphism and grasp robustness. Developed by a collaborative of researchers, orthopaedists, industrial designers and patients, the prostetic hand called Hannes is able to restore over 90% of functionality to people with upper-limb amputations.

Microsoft adds features to its Teams groupchat product

Microsoft Corp. has announced on its blog that it has added new features to Microsoft Teams, a group chat competitor to Zoom. In its announcement, Microsoft outlined the new features and included screen grabs to demonstrate its new capabilities.

AMD brings Ryzen and Athlon to Chromebooks

AMD announced Tuesday a series of Chromebook mobile processors that are based on optimized Ryzen hardware and VEGA graphics. The CPUs are based on 14 nm and 12 nm process nodes and will give the popular entry-level notebook a boost in speed and graphics capabilities.

Tesla cuts battery cost on road to $25K model

Tesla on Tuesday said it is slashing battery costs to speed a global shift to renewable energy, and could have a $25,000 self-driving model available in three years or so.

Why electric vehicle ranges vary from EPA estimate

You've probably heard the phrase "your mileage may vary" with regard to how your real-world fuel economy compares to the EPA estimate. The adage refers to gasoline-powered vehicles, but the same applies to electric vehicles.

Research helps people, lunar rovers, get there on time

Aerospace engineering graduate student Pranay Thangeda relies on the bus system in Champaign-Urbana to get to class and other meetings. He wanted to understand why, despite arriving at the bus stop well ahead of the schedule, he was sometimes late. He developed a tool that considers transportation variables weighed against how great a margin of error bus riders are willing to accept. The basic concept can also apply to getting a lunar rover where it needs to be, and with a high degree of reliability.

Self-harm content on Instagram: 'Self-harm or self-help?'

Instagram users who post self-harm content online are choosing ambiguous hashtags in an attempt to circumvent the social media platform's ban on harmful content, a researcher at the University of Otago, Wellington, has found.

Industry and research must work together for safer batteries

Fire safety issues with lithium-ion batteries could be addressed with better collaboration across sectors, Imperial College London experts have said.

MIT professor wins top AI award for cancer, drug research

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor using computer science to detect cancer and discover new drugs has won a new $1 million award for artificial intelligence.

Guiding light: New technology puts a light-painting drone at your fingertips

Skoltech researchers have designed and developed an interface that allows a user to direct a small drone to light-paint patterns or letters through hand gestures. The new interface, DroneLight, can be used in distant communications, entertainment, and even search and rescue. The paper was published on the preprint server and presented at IEEE International Conference on Robot & Human Interactive Communication.

A language generation program's ability to write articles, produce code and compose poetry has wowed scientists

Seven years ago, my student and I at Penn State built a bot to write a Wikipedia article on Bengali Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore's play "Chitra." First it culled information about "Chitra" from the internet. Then it looked at existing Wikipedia entries to learn the structure for a standard Wikipedia article. Finally, it summarized the information it had retrieved from the internet to write and publish the first version of the entry.

New SUV is next step in VW's post-scandal electric offensive

Volkswagen is unveiling a battery-powered sport-utility vehicle that is headed for global markets including the United States and China, as the company takes a major step forward in its campaign to make electric cars a mass-market choice.

Surface Hub 2S: Microsoft introduces massive 85-inch display dedicated to Teams

Tired of watching your video meetings on a small laptop screen, or even a decent size 21- or 25-inch monitor?

Uncertainty reigns for insurers as industry adopts AI standards

As the insurance industry increasingly relies on artificial intelligence, its state-based regulators are thinking about how to ensure that the technology treats policyholders fairly.

California moves to end sales of new gas-powered cars

California will outlaw sales of new gasoline-powered passenger cars and trucks by 2035, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday, a move he says will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 35% in the nation's most populous state.

US administration unveils bill to limit online liability shield

The Trump administration unveiled legislation Wednesday aimed at limiting the liability shield of online services for content they host, the latest in a series of proposals motivated by a backlash against Big Tech platforms.

In China, WeChat is everything: Text messaging, video chat and mobile payments

Frances He is a Chinese immigrant living near Los Angeles who uses the WeChat app to talk to her brother back home. But with the Trump Administration's Sunday ban on the app, she's going to have to find a new way.

Ready for your Zoom: What's the best camera for video meetings?

With so many of us spending so many hours a day on video meetings, the age-old question "What kind of camera should I buy?" takes on a new urgency and meaning.

Galaxy S20 FE: Samsung introduces $700 5G phone

Samsung today introduced another entry to its S20 smartphone lineup, a budget-priced $699 edition that has many of the features of the top of the line $1,399 Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Pandemic offers Tokyo Game Show a chance for reinvention

Once a premier industry event, Tokyo Game Show has been increasingly overshadowed by global competitors in recent years. But as the pandemic forces it online, some see a chance for reinvention.

Palantir to begin New York trading on September 30

Data analysis specialist Palantir announced on Tuesday it would begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on September 30 in what could be one of the biggest market debuts since Uber.

Zynga out to cast spell with Harry Potter mobile game

Social gaming giant Zynga on Wednesday kicked off its global launch of a free puzzle game based on the beloved wizarding world of Harry Potter.

Tech giants strike deal with advertisers over hate speech

Web giants including Facebook struck a deal Wednesday with global advertisers to get on the same page on defining hate speech, a move aimed at helping companies steer clear of being associated with vile content.

Virus delays top mobile fair until June 2021

Organisers of world's leading annual mobile trade fair said Wednesday they would postpone the 2021 edition of the annual event from March to late June due to the pandemic.

Companies are trying to connect remote workers with 'virtual water coolers'–but it's harder than it sounds

Not all donuts are bad for you. One in particular claims to be good for communication within organizations. An app that plugs into the collaboration platform Slack, Donut creates random virtual meetings between colleagues to foster connection and community. Other apps such as Watercooler offer similar features and in my own university we have a group on Microsoft Teams called "Virtual Canteen", nostalgically referring to the real canteen we can't enjoy since COVID-19 closed it.

New Amazon program makes it easier to shop for sustainable, eco-friendly products

Amazon launched a new program to help make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products.

Walmart expands drone program with COVID-19 test-kit delivery

Walmart Inc. will test using drones to drop COVID-19 diagnostic kits at customers' homes, the retailer's latest move in the pandemic-fueled arena of contactless deliveries.

After six years of attacks, Qualcomm finally sees stability return to patent licensing

Alex Rogers says he likes stress. As head of Qualcomm's maligned patent licensing division, he has seen plenty of it over the past few years.

Debunked QAnon conspiracy theories are seeping into mainstream social media. Don't be fooled.

An emboldened community of believers known as QAnon is spreading a baseless patchwork of conspiracy theories that are fooling Americans who are looking for simple answers in a time of intense political polarization, social isolation and economic turmoil.

H-E-B will deploy robots to handle online orders for curbside pickup, delivery

Robots will help H-E-B grocery stores keep up with the growing demand for online grocery services amid the pandemic.

An Emoji update in 2021 will give couples more skin tone variations to choose from

More skin tone variations are coming to the world of Emoji.

Twitter's get-out-the-vote campaign push will be in your face Tuesday

Twitter is rolling out its biggest push yet to encourage more Americans to cast their ballots in the November election, part of an unprecedented effort by social media companies to increase turnout.

Google names fifth grader the winner of the U.S. 2020 Doodle for Google contest

Google's annual doodle contest showcases the art of young Americans in their homepage logo, and this year was all about kindness.

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