Science X Newsletter Friday, Oct 2

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for October 2, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Radiation-immune and repairable chips to fabricate durable electronics

Study sets limits on the flux of heavy compact objects using data from the Pi of the Sky project

Evidence of a cat recognizing and mimicking human behavior

Enhancing blood sugar control boosts brain health for people with type 2 diabetes

Tool helps clear biases from computer vision

Researchers test brain stimulation in zero gravity

Researchers unveil sensor that rapidly detects COVID-19 infection

Bright light bars big-eyed birds from human-altered landscapes

Researchers discover a rare genetic form of dementia

Laundry lint can cause significant tissue damage within marine mussels

Why do people respond differently to the same drug?

Vaccine ingredients could be hiding in small molecule libraries

New tool shows main highways of disease development

Woodpeckers' drumming: Conserved meaning despite different structure over the years

Revealing the lonely origin of Cassiopeia A, one of the most famous supernova remnants

Physics news

Study sets limits on the flux of heavy compact objects using data from the Pi of the Sky project

Strangelets, and specifically nuclearites, their heavy species, are very dense, compact and potentially fast objects made of large and roughly equal numbers of up, down and strange quarks, which may inhabit the universe. Their existence was first hypothesized by Edward Witten back in 1984. These objects have never been detected before and have so far attracted less attention than meteors, perhaps due to their lack of relevance in particle physics.

Potential new tool for frost screening in crops

Agricultural scientists and engineers at the University of Adelaide have identified a potential new tool for screening cereal crops for frost damage.

Two groups demonstrate designs for electrocaloric cooling that change temperature under an electric field

Two teams working independently of each other have demonstrated designs for electrocaloric cooling that can change temperatures under an electric field. Both groups used lead scandium tantalate capacitors in their systems, but they differed slightly in how they were used. The first group, with members from PARC in the U.S. and Murata Manufacturing Co., in Japan showed that electrocaloric cooling could be done using only solid materials. The second group, with members from the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology and Murata Manufacturing Co. in Japan used fluids for heat transfer. Both teams have published accounts of their work and findings in the journal Science.

IonQ announces development of next-generation quantum computer

IonQ, a College Park, Maryland-based quantum computing hardware and software company has announced that it has launched its next generation quantum computer. As part of its announcement, the company is claiming that its new machine is the most powerful quantum computer built to date based on IBM's quantum volume metric. The company has also announced that the new computer will be made available to customers soon.

Physicists build circuit that generates clean, limitless power from graphene

A team of University of Arkansas physicists has successfully developed a circuit capable of capturing graphene's thermal motion and converting it into an electrical current.

Astronomy and Space news

Researchers test brain stimulation in zero gravity

"It's exciting. I love this stuff!" said Bashar Badran, Ph.D. "This is so fun."

Revealing the lonely origin of Cassiopeia A, one of the most famous supernova remnants

Massive stars end their lives with energetic explosions known as supernovae. Stripped-envelope supernovae show weak or no traces of hydrogen in their ejecta, meaning that the star loses most or all of its hydrogen-rich outer layers before exploding.

Researchers turn to trees to determine if multicellular life on exoplanets exist

Is there life outside our planet?

Astronomers reveal first direct image of Beta Pictoris c using new astronomy instrument

The vast majority of planets near foreign stars are discovered by astronomers with the help of sophisticated methods. The exoplanet does not appear in the image, but reveals itself indirectly in the spectrum. A team of scientists from the Max Planck Institutes for Astronomy and Extraterrestrial Physics has now succeeded in obtaining the first direct confirmation of a previously discovered exoplanet using the method of radial velocity measurement. Using the the GRAVITY instrument at the VLT telescopes in Chile, the astronomers observed the faint glint of the planet Beta Pictoris c, some 63 light-years away from Earth, next to the bright rays of its mother star. The researchers can now derive both the brightness and the dynamic mass of an exoplanet from these observations and thus better narrow down the formation models of these objects.

Rogue Earth-mass planet discovered freely floating in the Milky Way without a star

If a solar system is a family, then some planets leave home early whether they want to or not. Once they've left the gravitational embrace of their family, they're pretty much destined to drift through interstellar space forever, unbound to any star.

The way forward to Mars

The path that ExoMars 2022 will follow to reach the Red Planet is set. The trajectory that will take the spacecraft from Earth to Mars in 264 days foresees a touchdown on the martian surface on 10 June 2023, at around 17:30 CEST (15:30 UTC).

Technology news

Radiation-immune and repairable chips to fabricate durable electronics

To operate safely and reliably in outdoor environments, electronic devices should be resistant to a wide variety of external factors, including radiation. In fact, high-energy radiation can damage several components of field-effect transistors (FETs) commonly used to make electronics, including their superconducting channel, gate oxide and the insulating materials surrounding it (e.g., isolation or substrate oxides).

Tool helps clear biases from computer vision

Researchers at Princeton University have developed a tool that flags potential biases in sets of images used to train artificial intelligence (AI) systems. The work is part of a larger effort to remedy and prevent the biases that have crept into AI systems that influence everything from credit services to courtroom sentencing programs.

Researchers spot origins of stereotyping in AI language technologies

A team of researchers has identified a set of cultural stereotypes that are introduced into artificial intelligence models for language early in their development—a finding that adds to our understanding of the factors that influence results yielded by search engines and other AI-driven tools.

Research may curb economic losses to power plants after earthquakes

Sitting atop power transformers are wavy shaped bushing systems that play a critical role in supplying communities with electricity. However, these objects are also susceptible to breaking during earthquakes. Once damaged, bushings can cause widespread outages and burden the state with expensive repairs.

'I selfie, therefore I am': Instagram 10 years on

#Foodporn, #nofilter and #TBT: Little known to the general public a decade ago, Instagram has weaved its way into the daily lives of a billion people, changing the way we eat, travel and consume.

Author promises 'No Filter' look at the Instagram story

Less than two years after photo-sharing mobile app Instagram launched a decade ago, its founders made the "gut-wrenching" decision to sell it to Facebook in a $1 billion deal.

Wacky indoor Amazon drone takes on privacy skeptics

It could be the wackiest product yet from Amazon—a tiny indoor drone which buzzes around people's homes as a security sentry.

To the moon and beyond: How HoloLens 2 is helping build NASA's Orion spacecraft

When workers for Lockheed Martin began assembling the crew seats for a spacecraft designed to return astronauts to the moon and pave the way for human exploration to Mars, they had no need for paper instructions or tablet screens to work from.

Tesla sales surge as global demand picks up speed

Tesla's third-quarter sales jumped 44% as global demand for its electric vehicles outpaced that of most other automakers.

Researchers develop 'learning' microwave ovens

In a publication in the Journal of Cleaner Production, Prof. Bob van der Zwaan of the Van 't Hoff Institute of Molecular Sciences presents the first example of a learning curve for microwave ovens, which follows a learning rate of around 20%. The paper discusses opportunities for possible microwave heating applications in households and industry that can contribute to sustainable development. Rapidly reducing prices could lead to a meaningful role of microwave technology in the energy transition.

Hey Google, it's time you listened closely to what our kids are saying

Engineers from UNSW Sydney are leading a drive to sample the voices of Australian kids so that they can be better understood by devices that use voice recognition software.

New materials will help UK achieve net-zero, say researchers

Scientists at the University of Leeds have pledged to develop a new generation of ultra-efficient electronics to help the UK achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

50 million artificial neurons to facilitate machine-learning research

Fifty million artificial neurons—a number roughly equivalent to the brain of a small mammal—were delivered from Portland, Oregon-based Intel Corp. to Sandia National Laboratories last month, said Sandia project leader Craig Vineyard.

Investors load $500 mn into Uber's trucking business

Uber on Friday said an investment group led by Greenbriar Equity is pumping $500 million into its trucking unit.

Hacked hospital chain says all 250 US facilities affected

The hospital chain Universal Health Services said Thursday that computer services at all 250 of its U.S. facilities were hobbled in last weekend's malware attack and efforts to restore hospital networks were continuing.

Amazon: Nearly 20,000 workers tested positive for COVID-19

Amazon said Thursday that nearly 20,000 of its front-line U.S. workers have tested positive or been presumed positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.

Facebook encourages groups in time of division

Facebook on Thursday said it is raising the profile of member groups, hoping people with different views will find common ground on the leading social network.

US auto sales drop less than expected in Q3

Automakers reported better-than-expected third-quarter US auto sales Thursday, pointing to strong demand for trucks and a boost from low interest rates.

Honda to withdraw from Formula One at end of 2021 season

Honda will withdraw from Formula One at the end of the 2021 season as it shifts to a goal of carbon neutrality, the Japanese car manufacturer said Friday.

With online election manipulation threatening democracy, researchers offer tools to combat disinformation

The first presidential debate has come and gone, early voting is underway in many states, and the 2020 election is top of mind for most Americans and at the center of many conversations online. But the spread of false narratives about the election through social media poses a serious threat to American democracy. The Observatory on Social Media at Indiana University has a collection of tools and studies that aid in the fight against election manipulation and disinformation.

Crowdsourcing challenge to de-identify public safety data sets

The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has launched a crowdsourcing challenge to spur new methods to ensure that important public safety data sets can be de-identified to protect individual privacy. The Differential Privacy Temporal Map Challenge includes a series of contests that will award a total of up to $276,000 for differential privacy solutions for complex data sets that include information on both time and location.

Novel sensor improves lighting control

Humans spend approximately 90% of their time indoors, for example at the office. Consequently, it is essential to equip the office environment with a high quality lighting control system. Unfortunately, current systems are not up to this task yet. Too often, they tend to annoy the user, occasionally even leading to sabotaged systems—for instance, by unplugging sensor devices. The main issue is caused by the input, generally supplied by photo-sensors, which have limited relevancy and/or a low accuracy. Ph.D.-candidate Thijs Kruisselbrink suggests in his thesis to utilize the luminance distribution as input for these lighting control systems. Instead of the usually used illuminance. He developed a completely new sensor for this purpose. Kruisselbrink will defend his thesis on October 8th.

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