Science X Newsletter Monday, Oct 5

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for October 5, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Do explanations for data-based predictions actually increase users' trust in AI?

III-V semiconductor photonic integrated circuits go quantum

Exploring prediction errors that can influence human perceptions of time

Squeezing light: Developing an integrated nanophotonic device to generate squeezed light

Some planets may be better for life than Earth

3 win Nobel medicine prize for discovering hepatitis C virus

Planetary nebula IPHASX J191104.8+060845 explored in detail

Nanoparticles can turn off genes in bone marrow cells

Dust dampens albedo effect, spurs snowmelt in the heights of the Himalayas

Two's a crowd: Nuclear and renewables don't mix

Neuroscientists discover a molecular mechanism that allows memories to form

For red abalone, resisting ocean acidification starts with mom

Disproportionate extinction of South American mammals when Americas collided evident today

Normally an insulator, diamond becomes a metallic conductor when subjected to large strain in a new theoretical model

Scientists find evidence of exotic state of matter in candidate material for quantum computers

Physics news

III-V semiconductor photonic integrated circuits go quantum

Quantum emitters are key for a range of technologies including LEDs, lasers and, in particular, photonic quantum communication and computation protocols. So far, scientists have turned to diamond and silicon carbide (SiC) to develop single photon sources on account of their wide band gap and excellent optical properties. However, the shortcomings of these semiconductors are highlighted by attempts to manipulate and route this kind of quantum emission in an integrated fashion to create scalable systems.

Squeezing light: Developing an integrated nanophotonic device to generate squeezed light

Scientists can generate squeezed light via strongly driven spontaneous four-wave mixing below threshold in silicon nitride microring resonators. The generated light can be characterized with homodyne detection (to extract phase- or frequency-encoded information) and through direct measurements of photon statistics. In a new report now published on Science Advances, V.D. Vaidya, and a team of scientists in Canada and the U.S. measured the quadrature-squeezed vacuum and photon number difference generated within an integrated nanophotonic device. The results will impact applications in quantum technology.

Scientists find evidence of exotic state of matter in candidate material for quantum computers

Using a novel technique, scientists working at the Florida State University-headquartered National High Magnetic Field Laboratory have found evidence for a quantum spin liquid, a state of matter that is promising as a building block for the quantum computers of tomorrow.

World's first direct observation of the magneto-Thomson effect

Applying a temperature gradient and a charge current to an electrical conductor leads to the release and absorbtion of heat. This is called the Thomson effect. In a first, NIMS and AIST have directly observing the magneto-Thomson effect, which is the magnetic-field-induced modulation of the Thomson effect. This success may contribute to the development of new functions and technologies for thermal energy management and to advances in fundamental physics and materials science on magneto-thermoelectric conversion.

Beirut explosion was one of the largest non-nuclear blasts in history, new analysis shows

The explosion in the Port of Beirut was one of the biggest non-nuclear blasts in history—releasing enough energy in a matter of milliseconds to power more than 100 homes for a year—according to a new assessment of the disaster by engineers from the University of Sheffield.

New quantum computing algorithm skips past time limits imposed by decoherence

A new algorithm that fast forwards simulations could bring greater use ability to current and near-term quantum computers, opening the way for applications to run past strict time limits that hamper many quantum calculations.

Using physics to map the chaos of movement in living organisms

The behavior of living organisms might obey the same mathematical laws as physical phenomena, such as weather and the motion of planets, says new research from the Biological Physics Theory Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST).

Custom fabricated microscope lens inspired by lighthouse

An optical device that resembles a miniaturized lighthouse lens can make it easier to peer into Petri dishes and observe molecular-level details of biological processes, including cancer cell growth. Developed by KAUST, the new lens is also very cost effective.

Astronomy and Space news

Some planets may be better for life than Earth

Earth is not necessarily the best planet in the universe. Researchers have identified two dozen planets outside our solar system that may have conditions more suitable for life than our own. Some of these orbit stars that may be better than even our sun.

Planetary nebula IPHASX J191104.8+060845 explored in detail

An international team of astronomers has investigated a bipolar planetary nebula designated IPHASX J191104.8+060845. Results of the new study provide essential information about the morphology and physical properties of this object. The research is detailed in a paper published September 23 on

Gemini South's high-def version of 'A Star is Born'

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is still more than a year from launching, but the Gemini South telescope in Chile has provided astronomers a glimpse of what the orbiting observatory should deliver.

On the trail of causes of radiation events during space flight

Scientists have made significant progress in understanding the sources of radiation events that could impact human space-flight operations. Relativistic electron precipitation (REP) events are instances when high energy electrons move through areas of space at significant fractions of the speed of light. These REP events may pose challenges to human spaceflight, specifically during extravehicular activity (EVA).

NASA's TESS creates a cosmic vista of the northern sky

NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered 74 exoplanets, or worlds beyond our solar system. Astronomers are sifting through some 1,200 additional exoplanet candidates, where potential new worlds await confirmation. More than 600 of these candidates lie in the northern sky.

It took several million years for Arrokothn to acquire its bizarre, pancake-flat shape

The trans-Neptunian object Arrokoth, also known as Ultima Thule, which NASA's space probe New Horizons passed on New Year's Day 2019, may have changed its shape significantly in the first 100 million years since its formation. In today's issue of the journal Nature Astronomy, researchers led by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) suggest that the current shape of Arrokoth, which resembles a flattened snowman, could be of evolutionary origin due to volatile outgassing. Their calculations help to understand what the current state of bodies from the edge of the Solar System may teach us about their original properties.

Preserved dune fields offer insights into Martian history

The discovery of Martian dune fields largely preserved in the rock record for up to a billion years offers new insights on past climatic conditions on Mars.

Revealing secret of lithium-rich stars by monitoring their heartbeats

Lithium is an ancient element that is almost as old as the universe itself. Though one of the building blocks of our present-day universe, lithium's presence in many celestial bodies often conflicts with predictions of classic theories.

Technology news

Do explanations for data-based predictions actually increase users' trust in AI?

In recent years, many artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics researchers have been trying to develop systems that can provide explanations for their actions or predictions. The idea behind their work is that as AI systems become more widespread, explaining why they act in particular ways or why they made certain predictions could increase transparency and consequently users' trust in them.

Two's a crowd: Nuclear and renewables don't mix

If countries want to lower emissions as substantially, rapidly and cost-effectively as possible, they should prioritize support for renewables, rather than nuclear power.

Apple applies for a patent on self-healing phone display technology

Apple Inc. has applied for a patent on a bendable phone that also has self-healing display technology. The company applied for the patent last year and it has just recently been made public.

Blocking vibrations that remove heat could boost efficiency of next-gen solar cells

Led by the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, a study of a solar-energy material with a bright future revealed a way to slow phonons, the waves that transport heat. The discovery could improve novel hot-carrier solar cells, which convert sunlight to electricity more efficiently than conventional solar cells by harnessing photogenerated charge carriers before they lose energy to heat.

Novel laser-thermal mechanism realizes ultra-fast construction of PDMS devices

Researchers at Seoul National University in South Korea reported the development of new laser-based polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) processing mechanism that enables the mask-less direct fabrication of various PDMS structures. This novel technology, named successive laser pyrolysis (SLP), provides an elegant alternative for conventional soft lithography, which is labor-intensive and time-consuming, by utilizing a newly discovered laser-guided successive pyrolysis phenomenon.

Microsoft plans $1 billion data center venture in Greece

Microsoft has announced plans to build three data center sites in greater Athens, providing a badly needed investment of up to $1 billion to the Greek economy which has been hammered by the pandemic.

The best of both worlds: A new take on metal-plastic hybrid 3-D printing

Three-dimensional (3-D) printing technology has evolved tremendously over the last decade to the point where it is now viable for mass production in industrial settings. Also known as 'additive manufacturing,' 3-D printing allows one to create arbitrarily complex 3-D objects directly from their raw materials. In fused filament fabrication, the most popular 3-D printing process, a plastic or metal is melted and extruded through a small nozzle by a printer head and then immediately solidifies and fuses with the rest of the piece. However, because the melting points of plastics and metals are very different, this technology has been limited to creating objects of either metal or plastic only—until now.

Nvidia says it will build UK's most powerful supercomputer

Graphics chip maker Nvidia said Monday it plans to build Britain's fastest supercomputer that healthcare researchers can use to work on medical problems including COVID-19.

New Google Nest Audio speaker packs a huge punch for $99

The old Google Home that looked like an air freshener has been reinvented, renamed and redesigned to rock out.

Pandemic pushes start of holiday shopping earlier than ever

Add last-minute holiday shopping to the list of time-honored traditions being upended by the coronavirus pandemic. Retailers are kicking off the holiday season earlier than ever this year in hopes of avoiding big in-store crowds and shipping bottlenecks in November and December.

Are brain-computer interface spellers secure?

Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) record and decode brain signals to construct a communication pathway, which allows people to interact with a computer by thought directly. BCIs have been used in a broad range of applications, including neuroscience, psychology, clinical rehabilitation, and entertainment. As one of the most commonly used BCI systems, the electroencephalogram (EEG)-based BCI speller, which allows the user to input text to a computer using EEG signals, is particularly useful to severely disabled individuals, e.g., amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients, who have no other effective means of communication with another person or a computer. However, one very important question remains: are these BCI spellers really secure?

From Apple to Xbox: Mark your calendar. Here come the new fall gadgets

Samsung, Amazon, Roku, Google, Sony, Apple and Microsoft have unveiled their fall lineups of new tech gear with one biggie awaiting a reveal: Those new editions of the Apple iPhone, which is expected later this month.

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