Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Oct 20

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for October 20, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A gecko-adhesive gripper for the Astrobee free-flying robot

Djorgovski 2 hosts multiple stellar populations, study suggests

Microscopy with undetected photons in the mid-infrared region

Ultraviolet shines light on origins of the solar system

Declines in shellfish species on rocky seashores match climate-driven changes

Aggressive melanoma cells at edge of tumours are key to cancer spread

Evidence of broadside collision with dwarf galaxy discovered in Milky Way

Interactions within larger social groups can cause tipping points in contagion flow

New tool pulls elusive COVID-19 marker from human blood

Computational study reveals how Ebola nucleocapsid stabilizes

Keeping COVID-19 out of classrooms: Open windows, use glass screens in front of desks

How COVID-19 cough clouds travel in the presence and absence of face masks: study

Study identifies key enzyme for development of autoimmune diseases

Highly selective membranes: Researchers discover how water can affect its own filtration

Study of chess player performance over many years suggests brain peaks at age 35

Physics news

Microscopy with undetected photons in the mid-infrared region

Microscopy techniques that incorporate mid-infrared (IR) illumination holds tremendous promise across a range of biomedical and industrial applications due to its unique biochemical specificity. However, the method is primarily limited by the detection range, where existing mid-infrared (mid-IR) detection techniques often combine inferior methods that are also costly. In a new report now published on Science Advances, Inna Kviatkovsky and a research team in physics, experimental and clinical research, and molecular medicine in Germany, found that nonlinear interferometry with entangled light provided a powerful tool for mid-IR microscopy. The experimental setup only required near-IR detection with a silicon-based camera. They developed a proof-of-principle experiment to show wide-field imaging across a broad wavelength range covering 3.4 to 4.3 micrometers (µm). The technique is suited to acquire microscopic images of biological tissue samples at the mid-IR. This work forms an original approach with potential relevance for quantum imaging in life sciences.

Keeping COVID-19 out of classrooms: Open windows, use glass screens in front of desks

As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread around the globe, studying aerosol and droplet transport within different environments can help establish effective, physics-informed measures for virus mitigation. One of the most important environments to gain a rapid understanding about COVID-19's spread is inside the school classroom.

How COVID-19 cough clouds travel in the presence and absence of face masks: study

As the coronavirus has affected more than 30 million people globally, researchers have increasingly focused on the extent to which airborne respiratory droplets carrying the virus travel and contaminate the air after an infected person coughs.

Scientists record broad spectra with close to one hundred thousand colors in almost complete darkness

Our eyes are sensitive to only three spectral color bands (red, green, blue), and people can no longer distinguish colors if it becomes very dark. Spectroscopists can identify many more colors by the frequencies of the light waves and can distinguish atoms and molecules by their spectral fingerprints. In a proof-of-principle experiment, Nathalie Picqué and Theodor Hänsch from the Max-Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) and the Ludwig-Maximilian University (LMU) have now recorded broad spectra with close to 100,000 colors in almost complete darkness. The experiment employs two mode-locked femtosecond lasers and a single photon counting detector. The results have just been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Artistic enigma decoded by cosmic Czech start-up

A Madonna and Child painting with a history almost as enigmatic as the Mona Lisa's smile has been identified as an authentic Raphael canvas by Czech company InsightART, which used a robotic X-ray scanner to investigate the artwork.

Upgrades yield increased cryogenic power at Large Hadron Collider

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is one of the coldest places on Earth. The 1.9 K (-271.3 °C) operating temperature of its main magnets is even lower than the 2.7 K (-270.5 °C) of outer space. To get the LHC to this temperature, 120 tons of liquid helium flow around a closed circuit in the veins of the accelerator.

Pinning down the ampere with a supersensitive particle detector

From light bulbs to cell phones, all electronic devices in everyday life rely on the flow of electrons to function. Just as scientists use meters to describe the length of an object or seconds to measure the passage of time, they use amperes, or amps, to quantify electric current—the rate at which electric charge moves through a circuit.

No stain? No sweat: Terahertz waves can image early-stage breast cancer without staining

A team of researchers at Osaka University, in collaboration with the University of Bordeaux and the Bergonié Institute in France, has succeeded in terahertz imaging of early-stage breast cancer less than 0.5 mm without staining, which is difficult to identify even by pathological diagnosis. Their work provides a breakthrough towards rapid and precise on-site diagnosis of various types of cancer and accelerates the development of innovative terahertz diagnostic devices.

Asymmetric optical camouflage: Tuneable reflective color accompanied by optical Janus effect

In modern optics, a variety of nanoscale materials and their localisation have been examined, as they lead to novel optical effects. Viewing a direction sensitive information display utilizing the optical Janus effect has attracted great attention owing to its dynamic operation scheme which allows for discriminative information delivery. However, the integration of nano-materials within multiple layers limit their application in dynamic and real-time color tuning.

Astronomy and Space news

Djorgovski 2 hosts multiple stellar populations, study suggests

Astronomers have performed spectroscopic observations of a globular cluster (GC) known as Djorgovski 2 and obtained chemical abundances of the cluster's seven stars. The results suggest that Djorgovski 2 contains multiple stellar populations. The finding was detailed in a paper published October 8 on the arXiv pre-print repository.

Ultraviolet shines light on origins of the solar system

In the search to discover the origins of our solar system, an international team of researchers, including planetary scientist and cosmochemist James Lyons of Arizona State University, has compared the composition of the Sun to the composition of the most ancient materials that formed in our solar system: refractory inclusions in unmetamorphosed meteorites.

Evidence of broadside collision with dwarf galaxy discovered in Milky Way

Nearly 3 billion years ago, a dwarf galaxy plunged into the center of the Milky Way and was ripped apart by the gravitational forces of the collision. Astrophysicists announced today that the merger produced a series of telltale shell-like formations of stars in the vicinity of the Virgo constellation, the first such "shell structures" to be found in the Milky Way. The finding offers further evidence of the ancient event, and new possible explanations for other phenomena in the galaxy.

Q&A: What touching an asteroid can teach us

The University of Arizona-led OSIRIS-REx mission will make NASA's first attempt at collecting a sample from an asteroid on Oct. 20. The sample, which will be returned to Earth in 2023, has the potential to shed light on the origins of life and the solar system.

New CubeSat will observe the remnants of massive supernovas

Scientists at CU Boulder are developing a satellite about the size of a toaster oven to explore one of the cosmos' most fundamental mysteries: How did radiation from stars punch its way out of the first galaxies to fundamentally alter the make-up of the universe as it we know it today.

NASA probe Osiris-Rex set to 'kiss' asteroid Bennu in historic mission

After a four-year journey, NASA's robotic spacecraft Osiris-Rex will descend to asteroid Bennu's boulder-strewn surface on Tuesday, touching down for a few seconds to collect rock and dust samples in a precision operation 200 million miles (330 million kilometers) from Earth.

Crew in no danger after ISS issues resolved: Russia

The International Space Station is now working normally with no danger to its occupants after the crew managed to resolve a series of technical issues overnight, Russia's space agency said Tuesday.

Technology ready for back-up detector X-IFU in Athena space telescope

In 2031, ESA launches its new X-ray space telescope Athena. SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research plays a large role in building one of its two instruments, the X-IFU spectrometer, by producing the camera plus the back-up detectors. SRON scientists have now successfully developed detectors that are optimized for a readout based on a special system called Frequency Domain Multiplexing. They set a new world-record energy resolution at 6 keV of 1.3 eV.

Window opens for Virgin Galactic's final round of testing

The window for the final round of testing of Virgin Galactic's rocket-powered spacecraft opens later this week as the company inches toward commercial flights.

NATO to set up new space center amid China, Russia concerns

To a few of the locals, the top-secret, fenced-off installation on the hill is known as "the radar station." Some folks claim to have seen mysterious Russians in the area. Over the years, rumors have swirled that it might be a base for U.S. nuclear warheads.

Humans experience 200 times more radiation standing on the moon than standing on the Earth

January 31, 2021, will mark 50 years since the launch of Apollo 14. This historic mission was the first to broadcast a color television signal from the surface of the moon and marked the heroic return to space of America's first astronaut, Alan Shepard, who famously hit two golf balls off of the lunar regolith. While the significance of Apollo 14 and the Apollo program in general can't be overstated, Shepard spent a mere two days on the lunar surface. The record for the longest human presence on the moon, held by Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt, is just over three days. All of the Apollo astronauts were exposed to high levels of radiation on the surface of the moon, but with such relatively short stays that the risk was considered to be acceptable.

Technology news

A gecko-adhesive gripper for the Astrobee free-flying robot

Robots that can fly autonomously in space, also known as free-flying robots, could soon assist humans in a variety of settings. However, most existing free-flying robots are limited in their ability to grasp and manipulate objects in their surroundings, which may prevent them from being applied on a large-scale.

Mathematical model to objectively analyzes the appeal of games

Games and the very act of playing have been around since before the cradle of human civilization. However, games have constantly evolved over time, with various rule sets and modes of play falling in and out of favor throughout history. In turn, this implies that people at different times enjoyed different aspects of each game, which may constitute a vivid reflection of the cultural tendencies of each era. Unfortunately, the attractiveness of games is tied to human psychology, and finding objective evidence in topics related to the realm of the human mind is a difficult task. Could there possibly be a way to quantify universal characteristics of games so as to put them under rigorous mathematical analysis?

Raspberry Pi Foundation announces Compute Module 4 now ready for sale

Representatives of the Raspberry Pi Foundation have announced on their blog that the Compute Module 4 is now ready for sale starting at $25. The system-on-module variant of the Raspberry Pi 4 runs the same 64-bit quad-core BCM2711 application processor.

Radiative cooler that cools down even under sunlight

Now that autumn is upon us, there is a large temperature gap between day and night. This is due to the temperature inversion caused by radiative cooling on the Earth's surface. Heat from the sun during the day causes its temperature to rise and when the sun sets during the night, its temperature cools down. Recently, a joint research team from POSTECH and Korea University has demonstrated a daytime radiative cooling effect which exhibits lower temperatures than its surroundings even during the day.

An integrated circuit of pure magnons

Researchers led by Technische Universität Kaiserslautern (TUK) and the University of Vienna successfully constructed a basic building block of computer circuits using magnons to convey information, in place of electrons. The 'magnonic half-adder' described in Nature Electronics, requires just three nanowires, and far less energy than the latest computer chips.

SK Hynix in $9 bn deal for Intel's flash memory chip business

The world's second-largest chipmaker, South Korea's SK Hynix, announced a record $9 billion deal Tuesday to buy Intel's flash memory chip operation as it seeks to bolster its position against rival behemoth Samsung Electronics.

AI outperforms humans in speech recognition

Following a conversation and transcribing it precisely is one of the biggest challenges in artificial intelligence (AI) research. For the first time now, researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have succeeded in developing a computer system that outperforms humans in recognizing such spontaneously spoken language with minimum latency. This is reported on

New combustion models improve efficiency and accuracy

Researchers at Princeton University have developed a new model that will allow engineers to accurately predict the characteristics of combustion processes with far less computing power than previously needed. The new model breaks a long-standing trade-off between models that are efficient but narrowly useful and models that are more general but computationally expensive.

Open-source distributed generation market demand model

After years of development, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has released the open-source dGen model, marking a new era since the model launched in 2016. Public users can access model methodology and instructions, run the code, and receive technical support from the dGen team.

Wind energy and wildlife share future in the skies and seas

A wealth of wind energy potential as well as rich and diverse networks of wildlife species can be found off the coasts of the United States. Coastal ecosystems range from beach dunes where turtles and birds nest, to the shallow water and deep-sea homes of fish and marine mammals, to the skies above where birds and bats take wing above the waves.

US slaps Google with antitrust suit, eyes possible breakup

The US government filed a blockbuster lawsuit Tuesday accusing Google of maintaining an "illegal monopoly" in online search and advertising in the country's biggest antitrust case in decades—opening the door to a potential breakup of the Silicon Valley titan.

Tennessee factory to become GM's 3rd electric vehicle plant

General Motors plans to spend $2 billion to convert its Spring Hill, Tennessee, assembly plant into a third U.S. site to build future electric vehicles.

Cross-party agreement on decarbonization but no master plan for electricity system

Which political parties have the most ambitious climate and energy policies? The answer, according to a new study, is surprising. In Germany, France, Spain and Italy, parties across the political spectrum, from the Greens to the Liberals, show a similar level of ambition on this score. However, researchers have also identified a major impediment to the energy transition: none of the investigated parties has a convincing idea for a technology mix that would ensure grid stability despite weather-related fluctuations in wind and solar energy.

How Google evolved from 'cuddly' startup to antitrust target

In Google's infancy, co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin reviled Microsoft as a technological bully that ruthlessly abused its dominance of the personal computer software market to choke off competition that could spawn better products.

Tesla to export cars made in China to Europe

Tesla will this month begin exporting cars to Europe that are made at its new factory in Shanghai, the fast-growing US electric carmaker has announced.

National laboratories point to sugars as a key factor in ideal feedstock for biofuels

Popular wisdom holds that tall, fast-growing trees are best for biomass, but new research by two U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratories reveals the size of trees is only part of the equation.

Google's Nest Hub video displays offering more recommendations

Google's Nest Hub video displays are getting a new look today, adding more recommendation features to help people with their day.

Adobe can change a sky, add a smile in seconds with Photoshop

Photoshop for years has been beloved by photographers for twisting a little reality by putting eyes into sockets that were closed, removing ugly braces and smoothing skin. Now it's going way further.

China's super rich got $1.5 trillion richer during pandemic: report

China's super wealthy have earned a record $1.5 trillion in 2020, more than the past five years combined, as e-commerce and gaming boomed during pandemic lockdowns, an annual rich list said Tuesday.

London Heathrow unveils rapid pre-flight virus tests

London's Heathrow airport on Tuesday began to roll out paid-for rapid coronavirus testing, with results in one hour, as it seeks to boost demand decimated by the deadly pandemic.

Experts: Artificial intelligence provides students more individualized teaching

There is constant discussion of using artificial intelligence and learning analytics to support teaching. New digital methods, platforms and tools are being introduced more and more, and the opportunities created by the development of artificial intelligence are to be harnessed to enhance teaching and provide students with increasingly individualized teaching. Jiri Lallimo (Project Manager, Teacher Services), Ville Kivimäki (Expert, Dean's Unit, School of Engineering), Thomas Bergström (Expert, IT Services) and Juha Martikainen (Systems Specialist, IT Services) from Aalto University have been studying the issue.

COVID-19 renewable energy response in Africa 'meager'

As of June this year, only three Africa countries, Burkina Faso, Kenya and Nigeria promoted the use of renewable energy to control the challenges COVID-19 triggered in the sector, a study says.

Finland's national carrier cuts over 10% of workforce

Finland's national carrier said Tuesday it will cut 700 jobs - over 10% of its workforce - by the end of March next year due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global travel.

Lufthansa loses 1.26 billion euros in third quarter

German airline Lufthansa on Tuesday reported a loss of 1.26 billion euros ($1.49 billion) in the third quarter of 2020 as it struggles to bounce back from crippling coronavirus lockdowns.

Sweden bans Huawei, ZTE from 5G, calls China biggest threat

Sweden is banning Chinese tech companies Huawei and ZTE from building new high-speed wireless networks after a top security official called China one of the country's biggest threats.

Big Tech and antitrust: where things stand

US tech giants dominating the internet and making fortunes in the process are increasingly in the crosshairs of regulators.

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