Science X Newsletter Monday, Nov 2

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for November 2, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Nylon finally takes its place as a piezoelectric textile

Flexible and transparent electronics fabricated using a two-dimensional semiconductor

Single-shot 3-D wide-field fluorescence imaging with a computational miniature mesoscope

New evidence our neighborhood in space is stuffed with hydrogen

New insight into how brain neurons influence choices

New study finds earliest evidence for mammal social behavior

Room temperature conversion of CO2 to CO: A new way to synthesize hydrocarbons

Researchers develop a high-power, portable terahertz laser

Secrets behind 'Game of Thrones' unveiled by data science and network theory

Flying through wildfire smoke plumes could improve smoke forecasts

Bats can predict the future, researchers discover

Scientists identify specific brain region and circuits controlling attention

Inner jet of the blazar PKS 1749+096 investigated in detail

Devil in the defect detail of quantum emissions unravelled

Space station marking 20 years of people living in orbit

Physics news

Single-shot 3-D wide-field fluorescence imaging with a computational miniature mesoscope

The online feature cover photograph on Science Advances this week displays fluorescence imaging with a computational miniature mesoscope (CM2). The technique of fluorescence imaging is an essential tool for biologists and neuroscientists; however, conventional microscopes and miniaturized microscopes (miniscopes) are constrained by limited space-bandwidth product—a measurement of the information capacity of an optical system, shallow depth of field and an inability to resolve three-dimensional (3-D) distributed emitters. To overcome existing limits, Yujia Xue and a team of researchers in electrical and computer engineering, biology, neurophotonics and biomedical engineering at Boston University, U.S., developed a light and compact mesoscope known as the computational miniature mesoscope (CM2).

Researchers develop a high-power, portable terahertz laser

Researchers at MIT and the University of Waterloo have developed a high-power, portable version of a device called a quantum cascade laser, which can generate terahertz radiation outside of a laboratory setting. The laser could potentially be used in applications such as pinpointing skin cancer and detecting hidden explosives.

Devil in the defect detail of quantum emissions unravelled

Systems which can emit a stream of single photons, referred to as quantum light sources, are critical hardware components for emerging technologies such as quantum computing, the quantum internet, and quantum communications.

Team develops cost-efficient and high-resolution multi-spectral camera

A team of researchers at the Chair of Multimedia Communications and Signal Processing at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) has developed an intelligent camera that achieves not only high spatial and temporal but also spectral resolution. The camera has a wide range of applications that can improve environmental protection and resource conservation measures as well as autonomous driving or modern agriculture. The findings of the research have been publishedas an open access publication.

Rotation of a molecule as an 'internal clock'

Using a new method, physicists at the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics have investigated the ultrafast fragmentation of hydrogen molecules in intense laser fields in detail. They used the rotation of the molecule triggered by a laser pulse as an 'internal clock' to measure the timing of the reaction that takes place in a second laser pulse in two steps. Such a 'rotational clock' is a general concept applicable to sequential fragmentation processes in other molecules.

Team achieves first plasma on upgraded MAST, ready to test Super-X divertor

The team at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) in South East England has notified the press that testing of plasma has begun on an upgrade to the Mega AMP Spherical Tokamak (MAST)—a new approach to creating a working fusion reactor. In their announcement, the team at CCFE noted that the plasma test has come after seven years of work upgrading the original MAST which has cost approximately £55m.

Researchers achieve fused silica with high damage threshold by combing chemical etching and laser polishing

Laser damage in fused silica, particularly ultraviolet laser damage, is still a key problem limiting the development of high-power laser systems. The traditional processing method of fused silica goes through the processes of grinding and chemical mechanical polishing (CMP). This method is time-consuming to achieve an ultra-smooth surface, and is easy to cause surface and sub-surface defects, resulting in a significant reduction in the surface damage threshold of the fused silica.

A new laser technique designed to authenticate rare whisky could also detect disease

Whisky is big business in Scotland. In 2019, the golden liquid accounted for 75% of the nation's food and drink exports, with a value of almost £5 billion to the Scottish economy. Iconic bottles have sold at auction for over £1 million. But if you are the lucky owner of such a whisky, how can you be confident that what you are buying is the genuine product?

GRETA, a 3-D gamma-ray detector, gets green light to move forward

The effort to construct GRETA (Gamma-Ray Energy Tracking Array), a cutting-edge spherical array of high-purity germanium crystals that will measure gamma-ray signals to reveal new details about the structure and inner workings of atomic nuclei, has received key approvals needed to proceed toward full build-out.

Tunable THz radiation from 3-D topological insulator

Terahertz (THz) waves, located between the millimeter and far-infrared frequency ranges, are an electromagnetic frequency band that is as-yet incompletely recognized and understood. Xiaojun Wu of Beihang University leads a group of researchers actively seeking ways to understand, generate, and control THz radiation. Wu notes that THz waves have great potential for expanding real applications—from imaging to information encryption—but the development of THz science and technology has been hindered by a lack of sufficiently efficient sources.

Astronomy and Space news

New evidence our neighborhood in space is stuffed with hydrogen

Only the two Voyager spacecraft have ever been there, and it took than more than 30 years of supersonic travel. It lies well past the orbit of Pluto, through the rocky Kuiper belt, and on for four times that distance. This realm, marked only by an invisible magnetic boundary, is where Sun-dominated space ends: the closest reaches of interstellar space.

Inner jet of the blazar PKS 1749+096 investigated in detail

Using the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), astronomers have performed high-resolution observations of the blazar PKS 1749+096. Results of this observational campaign, presented in a paper published October 23 on, provide essential information about the properties of the blazar's inner jet.

Space station marking 20 years of people living in orbit

The International Space Station was a cramped, humid, puny three rooms when the first crew moved in. Twenty years and 241 visitors later, the complex has a lookout tower, three toilets, six sleeping compartments and 12 rooms, depending on how you count.

Analysis of a Martian meteorite reveals evidence of water 4.4 billion years ago

A meteorite that originated on Mars billions of years ago reveals details of ancient impact events on the red planet. Certain minerals from the Martian crust in the meteorite are oxidized, suggesting the presence of water during the impact that created the meteorite. The finding helps to fill some gaps in knowledge about the role of water in planet formation.

Next-gen astronomical survey makes its first observations toward a new understanding of the cosmos

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey's fifth generation collected its very first observations of the cosmos at 1:47 a.m. on October 24, 2020. This groundbreaking all-sky survey will bolster our understanding of the formation and evolution of galaxies—including our own Milky Way—and the supermassive black holes that lurk at their centers.

Astronomers see gigantic collisions of galaxy clusters in young universe

An international team of researchers led by Leiden University (the Netherlands) has mapped nine gigantic collisions of galaxy clusters. The collisions took place seven billion years ago and could be observed because they accelerate particles to high speeds. It is the first time that collisions of such distant clusters have been studied. The researchers publish their findings in the journal Nature Astronomy on Monday evening 2 November.

New remote sensing technique could bring key planetary mineral into focus

Planetary scientists from Brown University have developed a new remote sensing method for studying olivine, a mineral that could help scientists understand the early evolution of the Moon, Mars and other planetary bodies.

First light on a next-gen astronomical survey toward a new understanding of the cosmos

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey's fifth generation collected its very first observations of the cosmos at 1:47 a.m. on October 24, 2020. This groundbreaking all-sky survey will bolster our understanding of the formation and evolution of galaxies—including our own Milky Way—and the supermassive black holes that lurk at their centers.

Technology news

Flexible and transparent electronics fabricated using a two-dimensional semiconductor

In recent years, engineers worldwide have been trying to create electronic components that are increasingly flexible and versatile, as this could enable the fabrication of more sophisticated devices and robotic systems, such as electronic skins (e-skins) or wearable sensors. The overall objective of this particular area of research is to develop flexible electronics that can be manufactured and implemented on a large scale, but that also exhibit a high device density and excellent performance.

Ambitious but controversial: Japan's new hydrogen project

Japan's new 2050 deadline for carbon neutrality has thrown a spotlight on its efforts to find new, greener fuel options, including an ambitious but controversial liquid hydrogen venture.

Boosting the capacity of supercapacitors

Carefully designed covalent organic frameworks could make supercapacitor electrodes that have a greater ability to store electric charge.

When algorithms compete, who wins?

Over time, prediction algorithms become specialized for an increasingly narrow slice of the population, and the average quality of their predictions declines.

Tricking fake news detectors with malicious user comments

Fake news detectors, which have been deployed by social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to add warnings to misleading posts, have traditionally flagged online articles as false based on the story's headline or content. However, recent approaches have considered other signals, such as network features and user engagements, in addition to the story's content to boost their accuracies.

Researchers invent flexible and highly reliable sensor

Real-time health monitoring and sensing abilities of robots require soft electronics, but a challenge of using such materials lie in their reliability. Unlike rigid devices, being elastic and pliable makes their performance less repeatable. The variation in reliability is known as hysteresis.

An underwater navigation system powered by sound

GPS isn't waterproof. The navigation system depends on radio waves, which break down rapidly in liquids, including seawater. To track undersea objects like drones or whales, researchers rely on acoustic signaling. But devices that generate and send sound usually require batteries—bulky, short-lived batteries that need regular changing. Could we do without them?

The influence of social norms and behaviour on energy use

People tend to conform to what others do and what others regard as right. Do these two social norms influence electric energy consumption? In the prestigious journal Nature Energy, a team of Italian scientists have identified, for the first time, how these norms interact and influence the energy use of hundreds of thousands of Italian households.

Google team reveals zero-day Windows exploit

Google reported a new zero-day vulnerability in Windows Friday that allows for privilege escalation and sometimes resulted in a crash. The vulnerability is a buffer overflow type in a driver found in Windows versions 7 and newer.

US jury tells Apple to pay $503 mn in patent case

A jury in Texas on Friday decided that Apple should pay $503 million for infringing virtual private network technology patented by software security firm VirnetX.

Real-world politics invade video games ahead of US election

Fans of US President Donald Trump can insert his character in some video games, even protect him from assassination in notoriously lawless Grand Theft Auto.

Millions online, 6,000 live see Koreans win top eSports title

More than 6,000 mostly young spectators watched at a Shanghai stadium and millions tuned in online to see Damwon Gaming win the League of Legends world championship on Saturday.

Ransomware surge imperils hospitals as pandemic intensifies

Hackers are stepping up attacks on health care systems with ransomware in the United States and other countries, creating new risks for medical care as the global coronavirus pandemic accelerates.

Google ad costs, not its alleged monopoly, irks businesses

When asked about Google, Bryan Clayton voices a familiar lament among small business owners.

Why robots and artificial intelligence creep us out

People tend to accept robots with humanlike characteristics up to a point. Then, things get strangely uncomfortable.

Rapid prototyping: Testing heavy equipment in software

The process of developing new generations of commercial vehicles and heavy equipment is complex. The hardware-in-the-loop technique gives researchers at Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft the opportunity to reproduce and virtually test machines in a software simulation, making machine development faster and more affordable. This technology also enables the testing of malfunctions and critical borderline situations without endangering people or the machine.

Powering toward a zero-carbon energy system

Can tomorrow's energy supply be freed of CO2 Fraunhofer researchers want to answer that question with a consortium of partners in ZO.RRO, a joint project underway in the German state of Thuringia. They are developing a complex IT ecosystem to facilitate the systemic exit from fossil fuels—a package of IT solutions designed to slash greenhouse gas emissions. This research venture centers on system services, which account for up to 20 percent of CO2 emissins.

Glitches, loopholes dent Facebook election misinformation efforts

Despite a concerted effort by Facebook to stem political misinformation ahead of the US elections, false and misleading ads are still circulating as a result of glitches and loopholes—and what critics claim is weak enforcement of the social media giant's own policies.

Cockroaches and lizards inspire new robot developed by researcher

A new high-speed amphibious robot inspired by the movements of cockroaches and lizards, developed by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers, swims and runs on top of water at high speeds and crawls on difficult terrain.

New Macs expected at Apple online event November 10

oApple on Monday sent out invitations to yet another online event, this one expected to star new Mac computers powered by chips of the tech giant's own design.

US judge sets up fresh roadblock in Trump bid to ban TikTok

A US federal judge on Friday issued an injunction temporarily blocking an executive order by President Donald Trump aimed at banning TikTok, throwing up a legal roadblock ahead of a November 12 deadline.

KLM 3.4bn bailout in crisis as unions refuse paycut plan

The Dutch government on Saturday suspended plans to help beleaguered national carrier KLM with a multi-billion-euro bailout package after unions declined to sign a deal involving a five-year pay-cut plan.

Using radar to detect foreign objects in foods

Foreign objects—glass splinters, for example—that find their way into foods can be hazardous to consumers. Established X-ray techniques detect primarily metals—glass, plastic and wood pose a challenge. SAMMI, a new prototype, fills this gap: using radar, it has already detected glass splinters in sandwich cookies, as well as missing pieces of chocolate in advent calendars.

'Baby Shark' becomes most-watched YouTube video

The wildly infectious and relentlessly repetitive children's song "Baby Shark" became the most-watched YouTube video on Monday, with more than seven billion plays.

TikTok users get access to Sony Music songs

Video-snippet sharing sensation TikTok on Monday announced a deal to give users access to Sony Music Entertainment's massive archive of hit tunes.

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