Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Oct 21

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for October 21, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Transcription factors may inadvertently lock in DNA mistakes

NASA probe OSIRIS-REx 'boops' asteroid Bennu in historic mission

Building blocks of language evolved 30-40 million years ago

Turbulent era sparked leap in human behavior, adaptability 320,000 years ago

This beetle can survive getting run over by a car. Engineers are figuring out how.

NGC 1624-2 has a complex magnetospheric structure, observations reveal

What cold lizards in Miami can tell us about climate change resilience

Lily the barn owl reveals how birds fly in gusty winds

Innovation spins spider web architecture into 3-D imaging technology

High flavanol diet may lead to lower blood pressure

Current Chernobyl-level radiation harmful to bees: study

This white paint keeps surfaces cooler than surroundings, even under direct sunlight

New research reveals why low oxygen damages the brain

Thermal vision of snakes inspires soft pyroelectric materials

Player behavior in the online game EVE Online may reflect real world country

Physics news

This white paint keeps surfaces cooler than surroundings, even under direct sunlight

Scientists have developed a white paint that cools below the temperature of its ambient surroundings even under direct sunlight. Their research, published October 21 in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science, demonstrates a radiative cooling technology that could be used in commercial paints, that could be less expensive to manufacture, and that passively reflects 95.5% of sunlight that reaches its surface back into outer space. In contrast, commercial "heat rejecting paints" currently on the market only reflect 80%-90% of solar irradiation and cannot achieve below-ambient temperatures.

Thermal vision of snakes inspires soft pyroelectric materials

Converting heat into electricity is a property thought to be reserved only for stiff materials like crystals. However, researchers—inspired by the infrared (IR) vision of snakes—developed a mathematical model for converting soft, organic structures into so-called "pyroelectric" materials. The study, appearing October 21 in the journal Matter, proves that soft and flexible matter can be transformed into a pyroelectric material and potentially solves a long-held mystery surrounding the mechanism of IR vision in snakes.

We vibrated earthworms to learn about safely connecting human brains to computers

This year, my colleague Andrey Pototsky and I were awarded the Ig Nobel Prize in Physics for our experimental work involving vibrating living earthworms.

Reimagining the shape of noise leads to improved molecular models

Tenacity comes naturally to a guy who hails from the "mule capital of the world." That trait has stood Columbia, Tennessee, native Elliot Perryman in good stead as an intern at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Last fall, he began working with staff scientist Peter Zwart in the Center for Advanced Mathematics for Energy Research Applications (CAMERA) through the Berkeley Lab Undergraduate Research program.

The new heavy isotope mendelevium-244 and a puzzling short-lived fission activity

Gaining a better understanding of the limiting factors for the existence of stable, superheavy elements is a decade-old quest of chemistry and physics. Superheavy elements, as are called the chemical elements with atomic numbers greater than 103, do not occur in nature and are produced artificially with particle accelerators. They vanish within seconds.

Astronomy and Space news

NASA probe OSIRIS-REx 'boops' asteroid Bennu in historic mission

After a four-year journey, NASA's robotic spacecraft OSIRIS-REx briefly touched down on asteroid Bennu's boulder-strewn surface on Tuesday to collect rock and dust samples in a precision operation 200 million miles (330 million kilometers) from Earth.

NGC 1624-2 has a complex magnetospheric structure, observations reveal

Using the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), astronomers have investigated a magnetized O-type star known as NGC 1624-2. Results of the study, presented in a paper published October 15 on the arXiv pre-print server, indicate that the star has a complex magnetospheric structure, what could have implications for our understanding of origin and evolution of magnetic fields in massive stars.

NASA's Perseverance rover bringing 3-D-printed metal parts to Mars

If you want to see science fiction at work, visit a modern machine shop, where 3-D printers create materials in just about any shape you can imagine. NASA is exploring the technique—known as additive manufacturing when used by specialized engineers—to build rocket engines as well as potential outposts on the Moon and Mars. Nearer in the future is a different milestone: NASA's Perseverance rover, which lands on the Red Planet on Feb. 18, 2021, carries 11 metal parts made with 3-D printing.

AI and photonics join forces to make it easier to find 'new Earths'

Australian scientists have developed a new type of sensor to measure and correct the distortion of starlight caused by viewing through the Earth's atmosphere, which should make it easier to study the possibility of life on distant planets.

Smile, wave: Some exoplanets may be able to see us, too

Three decades after Cornell astronomer Carl Sagan suggested that Voyager 1 snap Earth's picture from billions of miles away—resulting in the iconic Pale Blue Dot photograph—two astronomers now offer another unique cosmic perspective:

Improved model shows gamma rays and gold at merging neutron stars

An international team of astrophysicists under Dutch leadership has demonstrated with an improved model that colliding neutron stars can emit gamma rays. Old models did not predict this and faltered since the merging of two neutron stars in 2017 that released gamma rays. The researchers publish their findings in the The Astrophysical Journal.

ALMA shows volcanic impact on Io's atmosphere

New radio images from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) show for the first time the direct effect of volcanic activity on the atmosphere of Jupiter's moon Io.

Soyuz MS-17 delivers science experiments to ISS

The Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft arrived to the International Space Station just three hours after launch on 14 October, with Roscosmos astronauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Sergei Kud-Sverchkov and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins on board.

Technology news

This beetle can survive getting run over by a car. Engineers are figuring out how.

Getting run over by a car is not a near-death experience for the diabolical ironclad beetle.

Simple software creates complex wooden joints

Wood is considered an attractive construction material for both esthetic and environmental purposes. Construction of useful wood objects requires complicated structures and ways to connect components. Researchers have created a novel 3-D design application to simplify the design process and also provide milling machine instructions to produce the designed components. The designs do not require nails or glue, meaning items made with this system can be easily assembled, disassembled, reused, repaired or recycled.

Robots deciding their next move need help prioritizing

As robots replace humans in dangerous situations such as search and rescue missions, they need to be able to quickly assess and make decisions—to react and adapt like a human being would. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign used a model based on the game Capture the Flag to develop a new take on deep reinforcement learning that helps robots evaluate their next move.

Microsoft debuts portable data center to bring cloud computing to remote environments

Microsoft Corporation has announced on its website the development of a portable data center that can be used to bring cloud computing to remote environments. In their announcement, Microsoft describes their Azure Modular Datacenter (MDC) as a solution for customers who need cloud computing capabilities in both hybrid and challenging environments. They note also that many places around the world still face immense hurdles in connecting to internet services. They claim their new systems will help to overcome those problems in such regions.

Finally: a usable and secure password policy backed by science

After nearly a decade of studies, the passwords research group in Carnegie Mellon's CyLab Security and Privacy Institute has developed a policy for creating passwords that maintains balance between security and usability—one backed by hard science.

Energy efficient heat pump technology increases the value of homes in the U.S.

Launched this week in Nature Energy, a new study led by the Center for Global Sustainability (CGS) researchers examines the cost of heat pump installation in American households and the effect on house prices and home values. They find that heat pumps not only offer an energy-efficient source of electrified heating and cooling but also increase the value of the average home by adding on average a US$ 10,400–17,000 price premium for households in nearly half of the U.S. states.

Netflix reports a summer slump in subscriber growth

Netflix's subscriber growth slowed dramatically during the summer months after surging in the spring fueled by pandemic lockdowns that corralled millions of people in their homes.

An electric Hummer? Battery-powered trucks head to showrooms

Seven auto companies have plans to roll out new battery-powered pickup trucks over the next two years, aiming to cash in on a popular and lucrative market for expensive vehicles.

Translation tools, air purifiers: face masks go high-tech

From monitoring vital signs to filtering filthy air and even translating speech into other languages, the coronavirus-fuelled boom in mask-wearing has spawned an unusual range of high-tech face coverings.

After years grappling with Google, Europe has tips for US

The U.S. antitrust crackdown on Google might seem like deja vu for European Union regulators.

An overall picture: The environmental impacts of a new solar cell technology

A more efficient solar panel sounds great. But what if these new panels consume more toxic materials, or their production consumes a lot of energy? Leiden environmental scientists, together with colleagues from the Fraunhofer ISE, address this multifaceted question in a new publication in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.

Robots and humans collaborate to revolutionize architecture

Two Princeton researchers, architect Stefana Parascho and engineer Sigrid Adriaenssens, dreamed of using robots to simplify construction, even when building complex forms.

Nonprofit app aims to help unblock global air travel

A nonprofit foundation is testing a smartphone app that could make it easier for international airline passengers to securely show they've complied with COVID-19 testing requirements. It's an attempt to help get people back to flying after the pandemic sent global air travel down by 92%.

Looking beyond smartphones; Qualcomm launches new tech for 5G network gear

Qualcomm is best known for making processors that power the cellular connection in smartphones. But with the emergence of faster 5G technologies, the company now plans to broaden its reach with a new lineup of chips and software for 5G network gear.

Adobe unveils authentication tool in battle against deepfakes

Adobe Inc. debuted a software tool to help media creators prove their images are real, the latest move by the maker of Photoshop to combat the spread of deepfake technology.

OPD optical sensors that reproduce any color

Photodiodes are optical sensors that convert the energy of light into electrical energy. Organic photodiodes (OPDs) respond quickly and have the advantage of being able to realize colors free from color filters because they can control the spectral response of wavelengths. However, most of the color controlling methods reported so far do not fit the current trends of small, thin screens because they thicken the photodiodes to cause light distortion. To meet such demands, a POSTECH research team has succeeded in producing thin-film organic photodiodes with accurate and simple junction engineering.

MonoEye: A human motion capture system using a single wearable camera

Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Carnegie Mellon University have together developed a new human motion capture system that consists of a single ultra-wide fisheye camera mounted on the user's chest. The simplicity of their system could be conducive to a wide range of applications in the sports, medical and entertainment fields.

3-D hand pose estimation using a wrist-worn camera

Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) working in collaboration with colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University, the University of St Andrews and the University of New South Wales have developed a wrist-worn device for 3-D hand pose estimation. The system consists of a camera that captures images of the back of the hand, and is supported by a neural network called DorsalNet which can accurately recognize dynamic gestures.

After explosive growth at Square, Chase launches own version

After watching the explosive growth at electronic payment start-ups like Jack Dorsey's Square, JPMorgan Chase has launched its own version to lure small business owners increasingly relying on technology during the pandemic.

The Google antitrust lawsuit: Five key takeaways

The lawsuit filed by the Justice Department against Google on Tuesday marks the first major antitrust enforcement case against a technology company since a case against Microsoft began in 1998 and ended in a settlement with the government in 2002. The Justice Department is accusing Google of using anti-competitive business practices to maintain monopolies over its competitors in the online search and advertising industry, and Google is vowing to fight back, arguing that its success does not mean it did anything wrong.

Google's 'free' business model put to test in US antitrust suit

Google's long-running business model based on free services and advertising will be put to the test in the landmark antitrust lawsuit filed this week by the US Justice Department.

Cathay Pacific to cut workforce by nearly a quarter

Cathay Pacific announced plans Wednesday to cut its workforce by nearly a quarter and close one of its short-haul airlines in an effort to survive the "devastating" impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Quibi may have to shut down if buyer not found: report

Quibi, the short video streaming service launched with great fanfare in April, may have to shut down if a buyer isn't found, specialty news site The Information reported Tuesday.

Google's war on all fronts over media, competition and tax

Californian internet giant Google faces a growing list of battles around the world, from tussles in Europe and Australia over fair compensation for media outlets to competition probes on both sides of the Atlantic.

Future wearable electronic clothing could be charged by our own body heat

Thanks to rapid computing developments in the last decade and the miniaturisation of electronic components, people can, for example, track their movements and monitor their health in real time by wearing tiny computers. Researchers are now looking at how best to power these devices by turning to the user's own body heat and working with garments, polka dots and know-how from the textile industry.

Ericsson earnings boosted by 5G network rollouts

Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson has reported upbeat third quarter earnings, helped mainly by the rollout of 5G wireless networks in China and a strong U.S. market.

Research collaboration COVID-19 cloud testing platform has potential to help beyond pandemic

A population-level disease monitoring system that employs at-home self-swab kits is being expanded today, at no cost to participants, as part of an infection prevalence study in the San Francisco Bay Area. The system could have broader impact on testing not only for COVID-19, but for other diseases as well.

The US is taking on Google in a huge antitrust case—it could change the face of online search

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google for unlawful monopolization. The department says Google's conduct harms competition and consumers, and reduces the ability of new innovative companies to develop and compete.

Amazon extends remote work option to mid-2021 for some employees

Amazon said Wednesday it would extend the option of working from home for many of its employees until mid-2021 as part of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Google monopoly case by US sets stage for multipronged attack

The U.S. Justice Department sued Alphabet Inc.'s Google in the most significant antitrust case against an American company in two decades, kicking off what promises to be a volley of legal actions against the search giant for allegedly abusing its market power.

Fiat Chrysler expanding online shopping options to include used cars

Looking for a used car?

Amazon's warehouses have more costly workplace injury claims than meatpacking or logging, Washington state says

To reflect the greater risk of injury to workers inside Amazon's high-speed e-commerce warehouses, state officials propose charging the commerce giant a higher workers' compensation premium for its fulfillment centers than for mechanized logging operations, law enforcement agencies, meatpacking plants and more than 260 other Washington industries.

iPhone 12 and 12 Pro first impressions: It's zippier, with an amazing camera

The first thing you notice about the new iPhone 12 and 12 Pro is the different feel.

If Google's a monopoly, who is harmed by its market power?

Google has long defended itself against charges of monopoly by stressing that its products are free and that no one has to use them.

Honda, Arizona reach $5 million settlement over air bags

Honda has agreed to a $5 million settlement with Arizona over allegations that it failed to disclose defects in air bags that led to two deaths there, the state's top attorney said Wednesday.

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