Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Sep 29

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for September 29, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A 3D-printed tensegrity structure for soft robotics applications

CXOGBS J175553.2-281633 is a cataclysmic variable, study finds

Validating the physics behind the new MIT-designed fusion experiment

There's no single gene for left-handedness: At least 41 regions of DNA are involved

The magnetization dynamics of rare-earth metals and the role of ultrafast magnon generation

Study traces the evolution of gill covers

Computer model shows how COVID-19 could lead to runaway inflammation

Conversation quickly spreads droplets inside buildings: study

Understanding ghost particle interactions

China's air pollutant reduction success could make it tougher to control climate change

App analyzes coronavirus genome on a smartphone

United Arab Emirates to launch spacecraft to moon in 2024

Driving behavior less 'robotic' thanks to new model

New insights into the origin of diamonds in meteorites

Finding right drug balance for Parkinson's patients

Physics news

Validating the physics behind the new MIT-designed fusion experiment

Two and a half years ago, MIT entered into a research agreement with startup company Commonwealth Fusion Systems to develop a next-generation fusion research experiment, called SPARC, as a precursor to a practical, emissions-free power plant.

The magnetization dynamics of rare-earth metals and the role of ultrafast magnon generation

Rare-earth magnetism is dominated by localized 4f electrons, relative to inner transition metals (that are mostly comprised of lanthanides) and cannot be directly excited through an optical laser pulse. As a result, ultrafast demagnetization of rare-earth metals involves a distinct process in contrast to other elements of the periodic table. During demagnetization of rare-earth metals, researchers involve the excitation of magnons—a quasiparticle, viewed as a quantized spin wave. In a new report now published on Science Advances, B. Frietsch and a team of multidisciplinary scientists in physics, astronomy, mathematics and supercomputing in Germany, Sweden and the Czech Republic, disentangled the ultrafast dynamics of 5d6s and 4f valence band magnetic moments in terbium (Tb) metal using time-resolved photoemission spectroscopy. Based on the results of demagnetization, they established the coupling of 4f spins to the lattice structure through orbital momentum to provide an essential mechanism driving the dynamics of magnetization in technical materials with strong magnetic anisotropy.

Understanding ghost particle interactions

Scientists often refer to the neutrino as the "ghost particle." Neutrinos were one of the most abundant particles at the origin of the universe and remain so today. Fusion reactions in the sun produce vast armies of them, which pour down on the Earth every day. Trillions pass through our bodies every second, then fly through the Earth as though it were not there.

Evolution of pine needles helps trees cope with rainfall impact

If you have ever hiked in the woods and been surrounded by the sight and smell of pine trees, you may have taken a closer look at pine needles and wondered how their shape, material properties, and surface wettability are all influenced by rainfall.

Superconductivity with a twist explained

Leiden physicists and international colleagues from Geneva and Barcelona have confirmed the mechanism that makes magic-angle graphene superconducting. This is a key step in elucidating high-temperature superconductivity, a decades-old mystery central to physics, which may lead to technological breakthroughs.

First observation of nutation in magnetic materials

Much of the 'memory' of the world and all our digital activities are based on media, hard disks, where the information is encoded thanks to magnetism, by orienting the spin of electrons in one direction or the other.

Microcomb-injected, pulsed lasers as variable microwave gears

Low-noise microwave signals are of critical importance in numerous applications such as high-speed telecommunication and ultrafast data processing. Conventionally, such signals are generated with bulky and delicate microwave oscillators that are not suitable for out-of-door applications. But recently, physicists have been exploring a possible alternative: high-quality microwave generation using optical microresonator frequency combs.

Stepwise inversion method to profile near-borehole formation velocities

The radial heterogeneity of near-wellbore formation, usually manifested as the variations of formation wave velocities in radial position, is encountered in petroleum exploration and production. Mapping radial variations of formation velocities is significant in identifying invaded zones and determining rock properties, which are valuable for engineering measures.

CERN meets quantum technology

Today's information and communication technology grew out of the invention and development of quantum mechanics during the last century. But, nifty as it is that billions of transistors can be packed into your smartphone or that photons are routed around the internet with the help of lasers, the devices underpinning the "first quantum revolution" merely rely on the weird properties of quantum mechanics – they don't put them to use directly.

How everyday speech could transmit viral droplets

It is well known that an individual infected with the coronavirus can spread it to others through respiratory droplets projected by violent expiratory events like coughing and sneezing.

Astronomy and Space news

CXOGBS J175553.2-281633 is a cataclysmic variable, study finds

An international team of astronomers has performed photometric observations of a binary system known as CXOGBS J175553.2-281633. Results of the study indicate that the object is a cataclysmic variable system. The finding is reported in a paper published September 18 on

United Arab Emirates to launch spacecraft to moon in 2024

The United Arab Emirates plans to send an unmanned spacecraft to the moon in 2024, a top Emirati official said Tuesday, the latest gamble in the stars by the oil-rich nation that could see it become only the fourth nation on Earth to accomplish that goal.

New insights into the origin of diamonds in meteorites

Scientists have offered new insights into the origin of diamonds in ureilites (a group of stony meteorites). These diamonds most likely formed by rapid shock transformation from graphite (the common low-pressure form of pure carbon) during one or more major impacts into the ureilite parent asteroid in the early solar system.

Second alignment plane of solar system discovered

A study of comet motions indicates that the solar system has a second alignment plane. Analytical investigation of the orbits of long-period comets shows that the aphelia of the comets, the point where they are farthest from the Sun, tend to fall close to either the well-known ecliptic plane where the planets reside or a newly discovered "empty ecliptic." This has important implications for models of how comets originally formed in the solar system.

Solar storms could be more extreme if they 'slipstream' behind each other

Modeling of an extreme space weather event that narrowly missed Earth in 2012 shows it could have been even worse if paired with another event.

Astrophysicist probes cosmic 'dark matter detector'

A University of Colorado Boulder astrophysicist is searching the light coming from a distant, and extremely powerful celestial object, for what may be the most elusive substance in the universe: dark matter.

Titan's lakes can stratify like those on Earth

Lakes on Saturn's moon Titan, composed of methane, ethane, and nitrogen rather than water, experience density driven stratification, forming layers similar to lakes on Earth. However, whereas lakes on Earth stratify in response to temperature, Titan's lakes stratify solely due to the strange chemical interactions between its surface liquids and atmosphere, says a paper by Planetary Science Institute Research Scientist Jordan Steckloff. 

Machine-learning nanosats to inform global trade

The latest batch of tiny satellites to monitor trade on Earth from space have launched.

Mars: mounting evidence for subglacial lakes, but could they really host life?

Venus may harbour life some 50km above its surface, we learned a couple of weeks ago. Now a new paper, published in Nature Astronomy, reveals that the best place for life on Mars might be more than a kilometre below its surface, where an entire network of subglacial lakes has been discovered.

Russia reports 'non-standard' air leak on Space Station

Russia said Tuesday that astronauts had found an air leak in its section of the International Space Station, with a senior space official calling the air loss beyond expected levels.

What's the matter with the Universe? Scientists have the answer

A team of US astrophysicists has produced one of the most precise measurements ever made of the total amount of matter in the Universe, a longtime mystery of the cosmos.

Satcom to foster resilient digital systems

Telecommunications are becoming increasingly crucial to our society, economy and security. ESA is supporting the European satellite communication industry's efforts to identify how to meet future worldwide demands for more secure and resilient digital systems.

Video shows a meteoroid skipping off Earth's atmosphere

Here's something we don't see very often: an Earth-grazing meteoroid.

Video: Copernicus Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich preparing for launch

A European satellite built to carry out precise measurements of sea level changes has arrived in California in preparation for launch. The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite forms part of the European Union's Copernicus Earth Observation programme and will employ radar to map sea surface topography. 

Technology news

A 3D-printed tensegrity structure for soft robotics applications

Tensegrity is a design principle that has often been applied by artists, architects and engineers to build a wide range of structures, including sculptures, frames and buildings. This principle essentially describes the dynamics that occur when a structure maintains its stability via a pervasive tensional force.

Driving behavior less 'robotic' thanks to new model

Researchers from TU Delft have now developed a new model that describes driving behavior on the basis of one underlying human principle: managing the risk below a threshold level. This model can accurately predict human behavior during a wide range of driving tasks. In time, the model could be used in intelligent cars to make them feel less robotic. The research conducted by doctoral candidate Sarvesh Kolekar and his supervisors Joost de Winter and David Abbink will be published in Nature Communications on Tuesday 29 September 2020.

Researchers develop versatile robotic fabric

Researchers at Yale have developed a robotic fabric, a breakthrough that could lead to such innovations as adaptive clothing, self-deploying shelters, or lightweight shape-changing machinery.

Researchers solve decades-old problem of how to uniformly switch memristors

Lack of uniformity is possibly the biggest challenge in today's technology of memristor devices as it gives rise to problems like inconsistency, stochastic variability, and instability of the memory state. A uniform switching mechanism in memristors is something researchers have been looking at in the last several decades.

VR specialist in the movie industry passes time by creating photorealistic images of Roman emperors

Daniel Voshart, a CG specialist in Hollywood who normally works on creating special effects sequences for movies, has been spending his pandemic downtime using his skills to create photorealistic images of Roman emperors. Voshart describes his work in an article on the online publishing platform Medium.

Rolls-Royce concludes testing of plane technology set to break electric speed record

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited has announced on its blog that the company has completed testing of the technology it plans to use in its line of electrically powered planes—one of which they expect will break speed records for electric airplanes. The new plane will be one of the core products of the company's ACCEL initiative, whose main objective will be to produce zero-emission planes and engines for other plane makers, and to be net-zero by 2050. Rolls-Royce has also created a video showing parts of the ground testing, which has been posted on YouTube.

Wearable exosuit that lessens muscle fatigue could redesign the future of work

Vanderbilt University engineers have determined that their back-assist exosuit, a clothing-like device that supports human movement and posture, can reduce fatigue by an average of 29-47 percent in lower back muscles. The exosuit's functionality presents a promising new development for individuals who work in physically demanding fields and are at risk for back pain, including medical professionals and frontline workers.

Lithium-rich materials could be key to more sustainable cost-effective batteries

Next-generation batteries using lithium-rich materials could be more sustainable and cost-effective, according to a team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory.

Cyberattack hobbles major hospital chain's US facilities

A computer outage at a major hospital chain thrust healthcare facilities across the U.S. into chaos Monday, with treatment impeded as doctors and nurses already burdened by the coronavirus pandemic were forced to rely on paper backup systems.

Google clamps down on apps dodging Play Store 30% cut

Google said Monday it plans to start enforcing a rule requiring Android apps in its Play store to use its payment system, which takes a 30 percent cut of transactions.

Microsoft 365 including Outlook email, Word, Excel and Teams hit with massive outage

You're not the only one experiencing issues with Microsoft Office.

Japan's NTT to spend $38B to buy out, take DoCoMo private

Japanese telecoms giant Nippon Telegraph & Telephone, or NTT, announced Tuesday it will spend 4.3 trillion yen ($38 billion) to buy out and take private its mobile unit NTT DoCoMo in one of the largest ever deals of its kind.

France puts 5G mobile frequencies on the block

France on Tuesday began to auction off radio frequencies for the deployment of ultrafast 5G mobile technology, a process that will add billions of euros to the government's depleted coffers.

Researchers propose novel multilayer structure to improve stability of passivating contact solar cells

Efficient separation and collection of photogenerated carriers through the formation of asymmetric electron and hole transport channels is one of the key issues for crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar cells and other types of photovoltaic devices.

Flying doctors: UK air ambulance tests paramedic jet suit

Emergency responders and engineers in Britain said on Tuesday they have successfully tested "the world's first jet suit paramedic", which could transform how life-savers reach isolated casualty sites.

Amazon sees broad audience for its palm recognition tech

Amazon has introduced new palm recognition technology in a pair of Seattle stores and sees a broader potential audience in stadiums, offices and other gated or secured locations.

5G networks: are there health risks?

Do 5G mobile telephones and networks pose health risks? Worries about the effect the technology has on humans and the environment have persisted as it has been deployed in various countries. What do scientists have to say about it?

Q&A: Researchers click ads on 200 news sites to track misinformation

With the election season ramping up, political ads are being splashed across the web. But in the age of misinformation, how can news consumers tell if the ads they're seeing are legitimate?

Preheating gelatin as a facile approach to increase 3-D printing duration

Researchers from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) demonstrated a simple yet effective approach to increase the printing time of gelatin by preheating it before mixing the gelatin with transglutaminase.

Machine learning to automated daydreaming: academics map future of AI

Imperial academics have plotted the roles that AI could play in our future society in a new map that connects reality to science fiction.

Harnessing big data and artificial intelligence to predict future pandemic spread

During COVID-19, artificial intelligence (AI) has been used to enhance diagnostic efforts, deliver medical supplies and even assess risk factors from blood tests. Now, artificial intelligence is being used to forecast future COVID-19 cases.

Untapped potential exists for blending hydropower, floating PV

Hybrid systems of floating solar panels and hydropower plants may hold the technical potential to produce a significant portion of the electricity generated annually across the globe, according to an analysis by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Smart cruise control steers drivers toward better decisions

Vehicle manufacturers offer smart features such as lane and braking assist to aid drivers in hazardous situations when human reflexes may not be fast enough. But most options only provide immediate benefits to a single vehicle.

Microsoft resolves major Monday outage after five hours

Microsoft took five hours to resolve a major outage of its workplace applications on Monday, but has not clarified what caused the outage.

Weibo parent Sina and search engine Sogou latest to delist from US

The parent company of China's vast Weibo platform and one of the country's biggest search engines have announced plans to delist from US stock markets in deals totalling over $6 billion as relations between Washington and Beijing grow increasingly tense.

Trump likely exceeded law with TikTok ban: judge

The US judge who stopped a ban on TikTok downloads from kicking in on Monday said that President Donald Trump likely overstepped the law with the attempted move.

Ethiopian Airlines rides out pandemic on strength of cargo boom

Six months since the coronavirus pandemic upended the global airline industry, Ethiopian Airlines is facing a heavy toll: more than $1 billion in lost revenue, to say nothing of 850 infected employees.

Major updates to Numerical Propulsion System Simulation (NPSS) software released

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is releasing a new, updated version of the Numerical Propulsion System Simulation (NPSS) soft-ware. NPSS has a new user-friendly interface that reduces the amount of time needed to learn the software, and new functions streamline the design process.

Airline traffic to fall by two-thirds this year: IATA

Global airlines have revised traffic forecasts lower, sector federation IATA said Tuesday, warning that hundreds of thousands of jobs are at risk without more state aid.

You don't need to spend $1,000 on a phone. Here's how to get a smartphone for under $300.

The LG Stylo 6 phone comes with a 6.8 inch screen that's bigger than the iPhone 11 Pro Max, has a stylus and a hefty 64 GB of internal storage—on par with the iPhone and Galaxy.

Feds charge Amazon finance manager with insider trading

The federal Securities and Exchange Commission filed suit Monday against an Amazon finance manager who allegedly leaked confidential company information to family members, allowing them to earn nearly $1.4 million by trading based on insider tips.

Closing date of GM-Nikola partnership may be delayed

Shares in electric and hydrogen-powered truck startup Nikola fell more than 6% Tuesday after General Motors cast doubt on whether a $2 billion partnership would close as scheduled.

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