Science X Newsletter Friday, Oct 16

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for October 16, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A virtual reality game that integrates tactile experiences using biometric feedback

Layer-cake 2-D superconductivity: Developing clean 2-D superconductivity in a bulk van der Waals superlattice

Enzymatic DNA synthesis sees the light

Groundbreaking discovery finally proves rain really can move mountains

Supergiant star Betelgeuse smaller, closer than first thought

Preliminary results find COVID-19 vaccine candidate based on inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus is safe

Supergene discovery leads to new knowledge of fire ants

During COVID, scientists turn to computers to understand C4 photosynthesis

Melting Alpine glaciers yield archaeologic troves, but clock ticking

Ultrafast camera films 3-D movies at 100 billion frames per second

Molecular design strategy reveals near infrared-absorbing hydrocarbon

A first-of-its-kind catalyst mimics natural processes to break down plastic and produce valuable new products

New feature found in energy spectrum of universe's most powerful particles

A controllable membrane to pull carbon dioxide out of exhaust streams

Diabetes researchers spot dangerous T cells in the pancreas—even in healthy people

Physics news

Layer-cake 2-D superconductivity: Developing clean 2-D superconductivity in a bulk van der Waals superlattice

Materials science has had a profound historical impact on humanity since the advent of the Iron and Bronze ages. Presently, materials scientists are intrigued by a class of materials known as quantum materials, whose electronic or magnetic behavior cannot be explained by classical physics. Discoveries in the field of quantum materials are followed by a surge of research to uncover new physics or quantum information in science. In a new report now published on Science, A. Devarakonda and a team of scientists in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and the Riken Center for Emergent Matter Science in the U.S. and Japan reported the synthesis of a highly interesting novel quantum material.

Ultrafast camera films 3-D movies at 100 billion frames per second

In his quest to bring ever-faster cameras to the world, Caltech's Lihong Wang has developed technology that can reach blistering speeds of 70 trillion frames per second, fast enough to see light travel. Just like the camera in your cell phone, though, it can only produce flat images.

A new ultrafast control scheme of ferromagnet for energy-efficient data storage

The digital data generated around the world every year is now counted in zettabytes, or trillions of billions of bytes—equivalent to delivering data for hundreds of millions of books every second. The amount of data generated continues to grow. If existing technologies remained constant, all the current global electricity consumption would be devoted to data storage by 2040.

Zeptoseconds: New world record in short time measurement

In 1999, the Egyptian chemist Ahmed Zewail received the Nobel Prize for measuring the speed at which molecules change their shape. He founded femtochemistry using ultrashort laser flashes: the formation and breakup of chemical bonds occurs in the realm of femtoseconds.

Research team discovers uniquely quantum effect in erasing information

Researchers from Trinity have discovered a uniquely quantum effect in erasing information that may have significant implications for the design of quantum computing chips. Their surprising discovery brings back to life the paradoxical "Maxwell's demon," which has tormented physicists for over 150 years.

In specially coated tubes, the more viscous a liquid is, the faster it flows

It's widely known that thick, viscous liquids—like honey—flow more slowly than low-viscosity liquids, like water. Researchers were surprised to find this behavior flipped on its head when the liquids flow through chemically coated capillaries. In fact, through these specially coated tubes, liquids a thousand times more viscous flow ten times faster.

Gel instrumental in 3-D bioprinting biological tissues

The eventual creation of replacement biological parts requires fully three-dimensional capabilities that two-dimensional and three-dimensional thin-film bioprinting cannot supply. Now, using a yield stress gel, Penn State engineers can place tiny aggregates of cells exactly where they want to build the complex shapes that will be necessary to replace bone, cartilage and other tissues.

Slowing light in an optical cavity with mechanical resonators and mirrors

Theoretical physicists Kamran Ullah and Hameed Ullah have shown that a position-dependent mass optomechanical system involving a cavity between two mirrors, one attached to a resonator, can enhance induced transparency and reduce the speed of light.

Astronomy and Space news

Supergiant star Betelgeuse smaller, closer than first thought

It may be another 100,000 years until the giant red star Betelgeuse dies in a fiery explosion, according to a new study by an international team of researchers.

New feature found in energy spectrum of universe's most powerful particles

Particles smaller than an atom hurtle through the universe nearly at the speed of light, blasted into space from something, somewhere, in the cosmos.

James Webb Telescope will reveal hidden galaxies

Two new studies from the University of Melbourne will help the largest, most powerful and complex space telescope ever built to uncover galaxies never before seen by humanity.

Two planets found orbiting a red dwarf

Red dwarfs are the coolest kind of star. As such, they potentially allow liquid water to exist on planets that are quite close to them. In the search for habitable worlds beyond the borders of our solar system, this is a big advantage: the distance between an exoplanet and its star is a crucial factor for its detection. The closer the two are, the higher the chance that astronomers can detect the planet from Earth.

Why scooping an asteroid sample is harder than it looks

When NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft descends toward the surface of Bennu on Oct. 20, it will be the first time that a U.S.-led mission attempts to pick up a sample of pristine material from an asteroid. Bennu is likely an extraterrestrial accumulation of the original leftovers from the formation of our solar system.

Venus setting captured in snapshots

This sequence of 64 images was captured by Monitoring Camera 2 onboard the Mercury Transfer Module from 40 minutes before until 15 minutes after closest approach of 10 720 km from Venus. The images were taken every 52 seconds. The camera provides black-and-white snapshots in 1024 x 1024 pixel resolution.

BepiColombo slows down at Venus en route to Mercury

Approaching Venus from its day side, passing the planet, using its gravitational pull to slow down and continuing on its night side on course for Mercury: On Thursday 15 October 2020, at 05:58 CEST, ESA's BepiColombo spacecraft will fly past Venus at a distance of approximately 10,720 kilometers and transfer some of its kinetic energy to our neighboring planet in order to reduce its own speed.

LAMOST releases its sixth data internationally

The Large Sky Area Multi-Object Fiber Spectroscopic Telescope (LAMOST) published its sixth Data Release (DR6 v2) to astronomers worldwide on Sept. 30, according to the National Astronomical Observatories of China (NAOC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. DR6 v2 includes all the spectra obtained during the pilot survey through the sixth-year regular survey.

Technology news

A virtual reality game that integrates tactile experiences using biometric feedback

Over the past few decades, technological advances have enabled the development of increasingly sophisticated, immersive and realistic video games. One of the most noteworthy among these advances is virtual reality (VR), which allows users to experience games or other simulated environments as if they were actually navigating them, via the use of electronic wearable devices.

Bluetooth flaw in Linux kernel allows nearby hackers to execute code

Google engineer Andy Nguyen is reporting via a Twitter thread that a new security vulnerability has been found in Linux operating systems that run a Bluetooth software stack called BlueZ. Nguyen has named the vulnerability BleedingTooth and claims in his Twitter post that the vulnerability allows nearby hackers to conduct zero-click root-level code execution.

Octopus-inspired sucker transfers thin, delicate tissue grafts and biosensors

Thin tissue grafts and flexible electronics have a host of applications for wound healing, regenerative medicine and biosensing. A new device inspired by an octopus's sucker rapidly transfers delicate tissue or electronic sheets to the patient, overcoming a key barrier to clinical application, according to researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and collaborators.

Twitter service restored following global platform outage

Twitter was restored Thursday evening after a technical problem caused a global outage of nearly two hours on the social media platform used by hundreds of millions worldwide.

GM to run robot cars in San Francisco without human backups

General Motors' Cruise autonomous vehicle unit says it will pull the human backup drivers from its vehicles in San Francisco by the end of the year.

Japan to release treated Fukushima water into sea: reports

Japan will release more than a million tonnes of treated radioactive water from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea in a decades-long operation, reports said Friday, despite strong opposition from local fishermen.

Electric cars, homes and shops: NJ's clean energy future?

Gasoline-powered vehicles would become a thing of the past, and nine out of every 10 buildings in New Jersey would be heated and cooled by electricity instead of natural gas or oil, under an ambitious plan laid out Thursday by the state's environmental regulators.

Tech glitch takes Twitter offline

Twitter went offline for almost two hours on Thursday, in an outage that the social media platform—used by hundreds of millions worldwide—blamed on a technical glitch.

Designing off-grid refrigeration technologies for crop storage in Kenya

For smallholder farmers living in hot and arid regions, getting fresh crops to market and selling them at the best price is a balancing act. If crops aren't sold early enough, they wilt or ripen too quickly in the heat, and farmers have to sell them at reduced prices. Selling produce in the morning is a strategy many farmers use to beat the heat and ensure freshness, but that results in oversupply and competition at markets and further reduces the value of the produce sold. If farmers could chill their harvests—maintaining cool temperatures to keep them fresh for longer—then they could bring high-quality, fresh produce to afternoon markets and sell at better prices. Access to cold storage could also allow growers to harvest more produce before heading to markets, making these trips more efficient and profitable while also expanding consumers' access to fresh produce.

Researchers leading the way in perovskite tandem solar cells

Scientists from the University of Surrey have revealed the significant improvements they are making in perovskite-based solar cells.

What is an algorithm? How computers know what to do with data

The world of computing is full of buzzwords: AI, supercomputers, machine learning, the cloud, quantum computing and more. One word in particular is used throughout computing—algorithm.

Apple's iPhone 12 Pro harder to get

The iPhone 12 Pro, the more expensive of the new iPhones that began pre-order sales Friday, is the harder to get of the two available models, so far.

Internet connectivity is oxygen for research and development work

Fast and reliable internet access is fundamental for research and development activity around the world. Seamless connectivity is a privilege we often take for granted. But in developing nations, technological limitations can become stumbling blocks to efficient communication and cause significant disadvantages.

Boeing shares climb after regulator says 737 MAX 'safe'

Boeing shares climbed on Friday following a report that the European air safety regulator is ready to allow the 737 MAX jet to return to the skies after its worldwide grounding.

YouTube follows Twitter and Facebook with QAnon crackdown

YouTube is following the lead of Twitter and Facebook, saying that it is taking more steps to limit QAnon and other baseless conspiracy theories that can lead to real-world violence.

European auto sales up in Sept, first time this year

The European auto market, pummelled by the coronavirus crisis, rose in September for the first time this year, driven by gains in Germany and Italy, figures showed Friday.

Designing approximate computation to save energy

If you think about computation, the words correctness, speed and precision probably come to mind. But the researchers of the OPRECOMP project beg to differ. They aim for developing a radically different, more flexible type of calculation called transprecision computing.

Twitter changes hacked content rules after Biden story furor

Twitter said late Thursday it was changing its policy on hacked content after an outcry about its handling of an unverified political story that prompted cries of censorship from the right.

UK says Instagram to crack down on hidden influencer ads

British regulators said Friday that Instagram will clamp down on "hidden advertising" by social media influencers.

UK data privacy watchdog slashes BA fine as virus bites

The UK's data privacy watchdog on Friday slashed a fine imposed on British Airways over a cyber attack after taking into account coronavirus fallout on the embattled airline's finances.

Amazon continues 'Black Friday-worthy deals' with Holiday Dash sales event after record Prime Day

Amazon's record-breaking Prime Day is over, but the early holiday deals continue.

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