Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Oct 6

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for October 6, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A protocol to minimize the thermodynamic cost of erasing a single bit over a given amount of time

3 scientists win Nobel physics prize for black hole research

Study uncovers the role of exciton lifetimes in enabling highly efficient organic solar cells

Advancing multiprincipal alloys: Researchers explore new domains of compositionally complex metals

Quasi-periodic oscillation detected in the galaxy NGC 4945

Experiments with twisted 2-D materials catch electrons behaving collectively

Evolution of the Y chromosome in great apes deciphered

COVID-score: A tool to evaluate public perception of countries' response to the pandemic

Seeking ancient rainforests through modern mammal diets

Novel testing platform designed for breast cancer cells

Individual suicide risk can be dramatically altered by social 'sameness,' study finds

'Like a fishing net,' nanonet collapses to trap drug molecules

Cave raiders: Thai archaeologists hunt ancient artwork

Battling with neighbors could make animals smarter

Supercharged 'clones' spark scarlet fever's re-emergence

Physics news

A protocol to minimize the thermodynamic cost of erasing a single bit over a given amount of time

Stochastic thermodynamics theory is a framework that delineates the amount of heat, dynamics and entropy in small (i.e., mesoscopic) systems that are far from a state of thermodynamic equilibrium. In recent years, scientists have tried to use this theory to better understand the dynamics underlying a variety of systems, including colloidal particles, DNA, RNA, enzymes, molecular motors and electronic devices.

3 scientists win Nobel physics prize for black hole research

Three scientists won the Nobel Prize in physics Tuesday for advancing our understanding of black holes, the all-consuming monsters that lurk in the darkest parts of the universe and still confound astronomers.

Hydrogen embrittlement creates complications for clean energy storage, transportation

As the global energy market shifts from coal, petroleum fuel, and natural gas to more environmentally friendly primary energy sources, hydrogen is becoming a crucial pillar in the clean energy movement. Developing safe and cost-effective storage and transportation methods for hydrogen is essential but complicated given the interaction of hydrogen with structural materials.

A new interpretation of quantum mechanics suggests that reality does not depend on the person measuring it

Quantum mechanics arose in the 1920s, and since then scientists have disagreed on how best to interpret it. Many interpretations, including the Copenhagen interpretation presented by Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, and in particular, von Neumann-Wigner interpretation, state that the consciousness of the person conducting the test affects its result. On the other hand, Karl Popper and Albert Einstein thought that an objective reality exists. Erwin Schrödinger put forward the famous thought experiment involving the fate of an unfortunate cat that aimed to describe the imperfections of quantum mechanics.

Researchers crack quantum physics puzzle

Scientists have re-investigated a sixty-year-old idea by an American physicist and provided new insights into the quantum world.

Could megatesla magnetic fields be realized on Earth?

Magnetic fields are used in various areas of modern physics and engineering, with practical applications ranging from doorbells to maglev trains. Since Nikola Tesla's discoveries in the 19th century, researchers have strived to realize strong magnetic fields in laboratories for fundamental studies and diverse applications, but the magnetic strength of familiar examples are relatively weak. Geomagnetism is 0.3−0.5 gauss (G) and magnetic tomography (MRI) used in hospitals is about 1 tesla (T = 104 G). By contrast, future magnetic fusion and maglev trains will require magnetic fields on the kilotesla (kT = 107 G) order. To date, the highest magnetic fields experimentally observed are on the kT order.

New measurement of nucleus of thorium-229 moves scientists step closer to a nuclear clock

A team of researchers from Germany and Austria has taken a new measurement of the nucleus of a thorium-229 isotope, moving one step closer to a nuclear clock. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the group describes how they measured the isotope and their results.

The discovery of triplet spin superconductivity in diamonds

Diamonds have a firm foothold in our lexicon. Their many properties often serve as superlatives for quality, clarity and hardiness. Aside from the popularity of this rare material in ornamental and decorative use, these precious stones are also highly valued in industry where they are used to cut and polish other hard materials and build radiation detectors.

Physics Nobel for black holes too late for Hawking

Scientists greeted the news that the Nobel Physics Prize was awarded Tuesday for research on black holes with regret that the accolade came too late for world-renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who died in 2018.

UK Nobel physics laureate pays tribute to snubbed Hawking

Nobel physics laureate Roger Penrose on Tuesday said his late colleague Stephen Hawking richly deserved a share of the prize after the British scientists conducted pioneering research into black holes.

Panel to announce 2020 Nobel Prize for physics

The 2020 Nobel Prize for physics is being announced Tuesday, an award that has in the past honored discoveries about the tiniest of particles and the vast mysteries of outer space.

Astronomy and Space news

Quasi-periodic oscillation detected in the galaxy NGC 4945

Using data from the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) satellite, astronomers from the Florida Institute of Technology have discovered a quasi-periodic oscillation (QPO) in the galaxy NGC 4945. The finding, reported in a paper published September 28 on the arXiv preprint server, could shed more light on the nature of this galaxy.

Astronomers turn up the heavy metal to shed light on star formation

Astronomers from The University of Western Australia's node of the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) have developed a new way to study star formation in galaxies from the dawn of time to today.

Research team observes hot dust rings around stars in a new wavelength range

The phenomenon of hot dust rings—an accumulation of submicrometer-sized particles in the immediate vicinity of stars—was first discovered outside our solar system in 2006. They form so close to stars that they can reach temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees Celsius. However, the dust particles are difficult to observe due to their small size, and their origin is still unknown.

Black holes: devourers of stars reveal their secrets

A trio of scientists were awarded the Nobel Physics Prize on Tuesday for their research into black holes, some of the most mysterious objects in the universe that gobble stars like specks of dust.

US Nobel winner's 25-year odyssey to black hole at center of galaxy

For US astronomer Andrea Ghez, who won this year's Nobel Physics Prize, what makes black holes so fascinating is how tricky they are to conceptualize.

Technology news

Study uncovers the role of exciton lifetimes in enabling highly efficient organic solar cells

Organic photovoltaics are a third-generation solar cell technology made of electron donor and electron acceptor materials instead of conventional semiconductor p-n junctions. The performance of this alternative solar cell technology has improved significantly over the past few years and it is now comparable to that of classical inorganic solar cells, both in terms of charge carrier yields (i.e., electrical current generation) and solar spectrum matching.

Squeezing light inside memory devices could help improve performance

Researchers have developed a method to 'squeeze' visible light in order to see inside tiny memory devices. The technique will allow researchers to probe how these devices break down and how their performance can be improved for a range of applications.

Safeguarding iconic buildings from bomb explosions

QUT researchers have developed a technique to prevent glass facades on iconic buildings from shattering if the building is targeted by terrorists in a bomb explosion.

Team extracts more energy from sunlight with advanced solar panels

Researchers working to maximize solar panel efficiency said layering advanced materials atop traditional silicon is a promising path to eke more energy out of sunlight. A new study shows that by using a precisely controlled fabrication process, researchers can produce multilayered solar panels with the potential to be 1.5 times more efficient than traditional silicon panels.

Underwater robots to autonomously dock mid-mission to recharge and transfer data

Robots can be amazing tools for search-and-rescue missions and environmental studies, but eventually they must return to a base to recharge their batteries and upload their data. That can be a challenge if your robot is an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) exploring deep ocean waters.

Decade-long Oracle-Google copyright case heads to top US court

A decade-old legal battle between Silicon Valley giants Oracle and Google over software rights moves to the Supreme Court Wednesday, in a case with enormous implications for copyright in the digital era.

Offshore turbines to power post-virus UK recovery plan

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday sought to blow away the coronavirus blues with a new plan to turn Britain into the Saudi Arabia of wind power using energy from floating turbines.

How 10 billion people could live well by 2050 – using as much energy as we did 60 years ago

Forced contraception in exchange for aid is the solution.

Motivation is key to understanding our smartphone behavior

Why do we look at our smartphone so often, especially at times where we should be focused on other tasks? Behavioral psychologist Jonas Dora researched why smartphones are such a powerful tool of mass distraction, and found that they may actually be helpful when we experience high amounts of boredom and fatigue. He will defend his Ph.D. thesis on this research at Radboud University on 7 October.

Neuronlike circuits bring brainlike computers a step closer

For the first time, my colleagues and I have built a single electronic device that is capable of copying the functions of neuron cells in a brain. We then connected 20 of them together to perform a complicated calculation. This work shows that it is scientifically possible to make an advanced computer that does not rely on transistors to calculate and that uses much less electrical power than today's data centers.

Why AI can't ever reach its full potential without a physical body

Artificial intelligence seems to be making enormous advances. It has become the key technology behind self-driving cars, automatic translation systems, speech and textual analysis, image processing and all kinds of diagnosis and recognition systems. In many cases, AI can surpass the best human performance levels at specific tasks.

How mobile apps grab attention

As part of an international collaboration, Aalto University researchers have shown that our common understanding of what attracts visual attention to screens, in fact, does not transfer to mobile applications. Despite the widespread use of mobile phones and tablets, this is the first study that empirically tested how users' eyes follow commonly used mobile app elements.

New method enables automated protections for sensitive data

Just as people need to protect their sensitive data, such as social security numbers, manufacturing companies need to protect their sensitive corporate data. There are currently fewer protections for proprietary manufacturing information, making it a ripe environment for corporate data theft of such things as design models.

Some employees more likely to adhere to information security policies than others

Information security policies (ISP) that are not grounded in the realities of an employee's work responsibilities and priorities expose organizations to higher risk for data breaches, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Boeing says pandemic will cut demand for planes for a decade

Boeing is lowering its expectations around demand for new planes over the next decade as the coronavirus pandemic continues to undercut air travel.

Apple sets unveil for Oct 13 amid 5G iPhone speculation

Apple scheduled a media event for October 13 amid expectations it would unveil one or more new iPhones which use ultrafast 5G wireless technology.

Predicting sports performance with 'big data'

Smartphones and wearable devices are not simple accessories for athletes. A CNRS researcher has developed a simple mathematical model for studying the performance of endurance athletes. A recent collaboration with a scientist from the Polar Electro Oy company (Finland) made it possible to apply the model to data gathered from approximately 14,000 runners training in real conditions.

Hospitals hit hardest by ransomware attacks, study says

Ransomware attempts jumped 50% in the last three months, over the first half of 2020, and hospitals and health care organizations were the hardest hit, according to a new study by Check Point research.

Software company founder McAfee charged with tax evasion

Antivirus software entrepreneur John McAfee has been charged with evading taxes after failing to report income made from promoting cryptocurrencies while he did consulting work, made speaking engagements and sold the rights to his life story for a documentary, prosecutors in Tennessee said Monday.

US to tighten rules for visas used by tech firms

President Donald Trump's administration on Tuesday unveiled a tightening of rules for immigration visas used widely by technology firms, claiming the new system would be better for American workers.

Facebook pulls Trump post for minimizing Covid-19 danger

Facebook on Tuesday removed a post by US President Donald Trump for downplaying Covid-19 danger by saying the season flu is more deadly, in a rare step against the American leader by the leading social network.

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