Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Oct 7

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for October 7, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Quantum heat engine behaviour observed in a qubit

CLEANN: A framework to shield embedded neural networks from online Trojan attacks

New 3-D model could explain the formation of a hexagon storm on Saturn

Deep learning enables identification and optimization of RNA-based tools for myriad applications

2 scientists win Nobel chemistry prize for gene-editing tool

Seagrass restoration speeds recovery of ecosystem services

Experience and instinct: Both count when recognizing infant cries

Scientists unpack how the brain separates present from past dangers

Traveling brain waves help detect hard-to-see objects

First relatives of rubella virus discovered in bats in Uganda and mice in Germany

Nitrous oxide emissions pose an increasing climate threat, study finds

Was the moon magnetized by impact plasmas?

City dwellers found to be just as helpful to strangers in need as country folk

Researchers develop tools to sharpen 3-D view of large RNA molecules

Toothless dino's lost digits point to spread of parrot-like species

Physics news

Quantum heat engine behaviour observed in a qubit

Although many of today's accepted theories of classical thermodynamics predate even the industrial revolution they helped to propel, many open questions remain around how these ideas translate to the level of single quantum systems. In particular, the potential for superposition of states has as yet unexplored implications for thermodynamic behavior. Now, a collaboration of researchers in Japan, the Ukraine and the U.S. has produced a quantum device that can not only behave analogously to a heat engine and a refrigerator, but also a superposition of both at the same time.

Liquid metals come to the rescue of semiconductors

Moore's law is an empirical suggestion stating that the number of transistors doubles every few years in integrated circuits (ICs). However, Moore's law has started to fail as transistors are now so small that current silicon-based technologies are unable to offer further opportunities for shrinking.

Machine learning speeds up quantum chemistry calculations

Quantum chemistry, the study of chemical properties and processes at the quantum scale, has opened many paths to research and discovery in modern chemistry. Without ever handling a beaker or a test tube, chemists can make predictions about the properties of a given atom or molecule and how it will undergo chemical reactions by studying its electronic structure—how its electrons are arranged in orbitals—and how those electrons interact with those of other compounds or atoms.

Extremely rare Higgs boson decay process spotted

The Higgs boson reached overnight fame in 2012 when it was finally discovered in a jumble of other particles generated at CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland. The discovery was monumental because the Higgs boson, which had only been theorized about previously, has the special property of endowing other elementary particles with mass. It is also exceedingly rare and difficult to identify in the debris of colliding particles.

Aerodynamicists reveal link between fish scales and aircraft drag

The team's findings have been published in Nature: Scientific Reports: "Transition delay using biomimetic fish scale arrays," and in the Journal of Experimental Biology: "Streak formation in flow over biomimetic fish scale arrays."

High-speed photos shine a light on how metals fail

How things deform and break is important for engineers, as it helps them choose and design what materials they're going to use for building things. Researchers at Aalto University and Tampere University have stretched metal alloy samples to their breaking point and filmed it using ultra-fast cameras to study what happens. Their discoveries have the potential to open up a whole new line of research in the study of materials deformation.

Plasma scientists optimize plant growth and yield

Ever since scientists discovered that plasma treatment leads to faster growth and higher yields of some agricultural crops, physicists, chemists, and biologists have been working together to tease out the mechanisms driving this phenomenon.

Fighting pandemics with plasma

Most types of personal protective equipment, like N95 masks, gowns, and gloves, are designed for single use, which has led to both scarcity and waste during the COVID-19 pandemic. But new research suggests these vital supplies can be safely disinfected and reused.

Astronomy and Space news

New 3-D model could explain the formation of a hexagon storm on Saturn

With its dazzling system of icy rings, Saturn has been a subject of fascination since ancient times. Even now the sixth planet from the sun holds many mysteries, partly because its distance away makes direct observation difficult and partly because this gas giant (which is multiple times the size of our planet) has a composition and atmosphere, mostly hydrogen and helium, so unlike that of Earth. Learning more about it could yield some insights into the creation of the solar system itself.

Was the moon magnetized by impact plasmas?

The moon, Mercury and many meteorite parent bodies contain a magnetized crust, which is commonly credited to an ancient core dynamo. A longstanding alternative hypothesis suggests the amplification of the interplanetary magnetic field and induced field of the crust (crustal field) via plasma generated through meteoroid impacts. In a new report now published on Science Advances, Rona Oran and a research team in the Departments of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Geosciences and Space Science in the U.S., Germany and Australia showed that although impact plasmas can transiently enhance the field inside the moon, the resulting fields were at least three orders of magnitude too weak to explain magnetic anomalies of the lunar crust. The team used magnetohydrodynamic and impact simulations alongside analytical relationships in this work to show the core dynamo (and not plasmas generated by asteroid impact) to be the only possible source of magnetization on the moon.

The black hole always chirps twice: Scientists find clues to decipher the shape of black holes

A team of gravitational wave researchers led by the ARC Center of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav) report that when two black holes collide and merge, the remnant black hole "chirps" not once, but multiple times, emitting gravitational waves—intense ripples in the fabric space and time—that reveal information about its shape. Their study has been published in Communications Physics.

New research explores how super flares affect planets' habitability

Ultraviolet light from giant stellar flares can destroy a planet's habitability. New research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will help astrobiologists understand how much radiation planets experience during super flares and whether life could exist on worlds beyond our solar system.

Looking for pieces of Venus? Try the moon

A growing body of research suggests the planet Venus may have had an Earth-like environment billions of years ago, with water and a thin atmosphere.

Astronomers find evidence planets start to form while infant stars are still growing

Astronomers have found compelling evidence that planets start to form while infant stars are still growing. The high-resolution image obtained with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) shows a young proto-stellar disk with multiple gaps and rings of dust. This new result, just published in Nature, shows the youngest and most detailed example of dust rings acting as cosmic cradles, where the seeds of planets form and take hold.

The origin of Type Ia supernovae revealed by manganese abundances

A research team at the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU) consisting of Visiting Scientist Chiaki Kobayashi, Project Researcher at the time Shing-Chi Leung (currently at the California Institute of Technology), and Senior Scientist Ken'ichi Nomoto have used computer simulations to follow the explosion, nuclear reaction, production of elements, and evolution of elemental abundances in galaxies. As a result, they placed stringent constraints on the origin of Type Ia supernovae.

The colorful walls of an exposed impact crater on Mars

Impact craters have been called the "poor geologists' drill," since they allow scientists to look beneath to the subsurface of a planet without actually digging down. It's estimated that Mars has over 600,000 craters, so there's plenty of opportunity to peer into the red planet's strata—especially with the incredible HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been orbiting and studying Mars from above since 2006.

Astronaut chooses daughter's wedding over space test flight

The commander of Boeing's first astronaut flight has pulled himself off the crew so he's on Earth—not at the International Space Station—for his daughter's wedding next year.

Testing a fiery reentry

What would a satellite look like as it burns up in the atmosphere? Researchers attempted to duplicate this fiery fate for a bulky satellite electronics box using a plasma wind tunnel.

Technology news

CLEANN: A framework to shield embedded neural networks from online Trojan attacks

With artificial intelligence (AI) tools and machine learning algorithms now making their way into a wide variety of settings, assessing their security and ensuring that they are protected against cyberattacks is of utmost importance. As most AI algorithms and models are trained on large online datasets and third-party databases, they are vulnerable to a variety of attacks, including neural Trojan attacks.

This 'squidbot' jets around and takes pics of coral and fish

Engineers at the University of California San Diego have built a squid-like robot that can swim untethered, propelling itself by generating jets of water. The robot carries its own power source inside its body. It can also carry a sensor, such as a camera, for underwater exploration.

New findings pave the way to environmentally friendly supercapacitors

Similar to batteries, supercapacitors are suitable for the repeated storage of electrical energy. TU Graz researchers have presented a particularly safe and sustainable variant of such a supercapacitor in Nature Communications.

Vulnerability found in Apple's T2 security chip

Security firm IronPeak has found a vulnerability in Apple's T2 security chip. They claim in a blog post that the vulnerability allows would-be hackers to gain root access to a wide variety of Apple computers.

Climate change could mean fewer sunny days for hot regions banking on solar power

While solar power is a leading form of renewable energy, new research suggests that changes to regional climates brought on by global warming could make areas currently considered ideal for solar power production less viable in the future.

Printing high-speed low-power organic transistors

For around 10 years, smartphones and computer screens have been based on a display technology composed of so-called thin film transistors. These are inorganic transistors that require very little power, and they have proven themselves capable, given their widespread adoption. But they have limits that researchers have been busy trying to overcome.

Five things to know about the Big Tech antitrust report

After years of calling Big Tech too big, Democratic lawmakers are calling for Congress to rein in Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple by breaking them up, limiting future mergers and blocking self-dealing that could hurt competitors.

'Smart' male chastity device vulnerable to locking by hackers: researchers

A security flaw in an internet-connected male chastity device could allow hackers to remotely lock it—leaving users trapped, researchers have warned.

US lawmakers call for shake-up of Big Tech 'monopolies'

A House of Representatives panel in a report Tuesday accused four Big Tech firms of acting as "monopolies," calling for sweeping changes to antitrust laws and enforcement that could potentially lead to breakups of the giant firms.

Edmunds compares 2020 Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 hybrids

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is the brand's best-selling hybrid, with 2019 sales outpacing even those of the Prius. It provides significantly higher fuel economy ― an estimated 40 mpg combined ― than the regular RAV4 SUV with minimal compromise.

Carbon-based materials that can be used as electrodes compatible with CMOS circuitry

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee designed and demonstrated a method to make carbon-based materials that can be used as electrodes compatible with a specific semiconductor circuitry.

Hydrogen-based heating could help UK reach net-zero carbon by 2050

Using hydrogen instead of natural gas for heating could help the UK to achieve net carbon-neutrality by 2050, according to new Imperial research.

Netflix's The Social Dilemma highlights the problem with social media, but what's the solution?

Facebook has responded to Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma, saying it "buries the substance in sensationalism."

Solar panel efficiency could mean consumer savings of 20 percent

Researchers at the University of Melbourne will use new materials to try to tap more efficiency from solar panels.

How a government-linked foundation could speed the spread of new clean-energy technologies

To address climate change over the coming decades, all nations will need to transition to energy resources that emit less carbon. This transformation, already underway, will require many new technologies.

Google nears copyright deal with French newspapers

Google said on Wednesday it was close to a digital copyright deal with French newspapers, which would be the first under EU rules aimed at ensuring news publishers are paid for content displayed in search results.

Low tech talk in Google, Oracle high tech copyright clash

On the Supreme Court's menu: Google, Oracle copyright clash

COVID-19 hastens fintech adoption while industry seeks guidance

Unique circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic forced more Americans to get comfortable with financial technology, while leaving the industry wondering whether regulators will devise a reliable legal framework to support it.

Chowbus users say hundreds of thousands of customer emails, phone numbers exposed in data breach

Chicago-based Chowbus confirmed the Asian food delivery service experienced a data breach after users reported getting access to a massive database with email addresses, phone numbers and mailing addresses of customers.

With Epic Games v. Apple ongoing, a U.S. House subcommittee calls App Store a monopoly

While Epic Games attempts to prove that Apple has violated federal antitrust law in a high-profile lawsuit, a much-anticipated report from a U.S. House subcommittee calls the iPhone maker's App Store a monopoly that reaps "supra-natural" profits and prevents competitors from entering the market.

Amazon's power in e-commerce and cloud computing is unlikely to be challenged anytime soon, antitrust report says

Amazon functions as "a gatekeeper for e-commerce," exercising "significant and durable" market power in U.S. online retail, the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee found after a 16-month investigation. The Seattle commerce giant's power in online retail and cloud computing has grown during the pandemic and is unlikely to be challenged anytime soon, the panel found, serving to lock consumers and sellers into its platform.

Government probes Microsoft's effort to boost diversity

Microsoft says the U.S. Labor Department is scrutinizing its efforts to boost Black employment and leadership at the tech company.

'Kid influencers' regulated under new French law

When kids become YouTube or Instagram sensations, should they be considered child workers? And who looks after their money? The French parliament has attempted to answer those questions with a new law passed on Tuesday.

Data mining windpower

Boris Johnson infamously once wrote that wind power can barely "pull the skin off a rice pudding." At the time of writing, his perspective has changed, and speaking as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom he is suggesting that every home might be powered by wind turbines by the year 2030. There remains much work to be done to realize such visions, which are widespread among other leaders looking for renewable, sustainable, and zero-carbon energy sources in the face of climate change and uncertain fossil fuel security in coming years.

Indian IT giant TCS sees profits slump, announces share buyback

India's largest software exporter Tata Consultancy Services announced a $2.18 billion share buyback plan Wednesday, even as its profits fell amid the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and an American legal case.

Apple is making the mask Emoji look happier during the pandemic

Apple is giving the mask-wearing Emoji a slight facelift.

Socially-distanced Halloween: Nextdoor app shows users how their neighbors celebrate

Halloween will look a little different this year as Americans pivot to socially-distanced trick-or-treating and make sure every costume is paired with a mask.

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