Science X Newsletter Thursday, Nov 12

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for November 12, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Programmable electronics based on the reversible doping of 2-D semiconductors

The first demonstration of phase-matching between an electron wave and a light wave

This tableware made from sugarcane and bamboo breaks down in 60 days

Cysteine synthesis was a key step in the origin of life: study

Three high-redshift quasars detected by Chandra

Jet-printing complex circuits using microfluidics

Neutron star merger results in magnetar with brightest kilonova ever observed

Advanced atomic clock makes a better dark matter detector

Escape from Mars: How water fled the red planet

Evolution favors new diseases of 'intermediate' severity

Researchers find connection between household chemicals and gut microbiome

Novel population of neurons identified that control binocular eye movements in 3-D space

A potential game-changer to reverse alcohol intoxication

Research breakthrough achieves fish-free aquaculture feed that raises key standards

New study reveals a holistic way to look at neurons in the brain

Physics news

The first demonstration of phase-matching between an electron wave and a light wave

While researchers have conducted countless studies exploring the interaction between light waves and bound electron systems, the quantum interactions between free electrons and light have only recently become a topic of interest within the physics community. The observation of free electron-light interactions was facilitated by the discovery of a technique known as photon-induced near-field electron microscopy (PINEM).

Advanced atomic clock makes a better dark matter detector

JILA researchers have used a state-of-the-art atomic clock to narrow the search for elusive dark matter, an example of how continual improvements in clocks have value beyond timekeeping.

Bending light to engineer improved optical devices and circuits

Rainbows are formed when light bends—or refracts—as it enters and exits a water droplet. The amount that the light bends depends on the color of the light, resulting in white light being separated into a beautiful spectrum of colors. The index of refraction, one of the tools that optical engineers use to control light, describes the interaction between light and matter.

Researchers make most precise measurements of deuterium fusing with a proton to form helium-3

A large team of researchers affiliated with a host of institutions in Italy, the U.K and Hungary has carried out the most precise measurements yet of deuterium fusing with a proton to form helium-3. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the group describes their effort and how they believe it will contribute to better understanding the events that transpired during the first few minutes after the Big Bang.

Time for a new state of matter in high-temperature superconductors

When you cool down liquid water, it crystallizes into ice. Consider a bucket filled with water, for example. When the water is liquid, the water molecules can be anywhere inside the bucket. In this sense, every point inside the bucket is equivalent. Once the water freezes, however, the water molecules occupy well-defined positions in space. Thus, not every point inside the bucket is equivalent anymore. Physicists refer to this phenomenon as spontaneous symmetry breaking. Here the translation symmetry in space is broken by the formation of the crystal.

New approach to circuit compression could deliver real-world quantum computers years ahead of schedule

A major technical challenge for any practical, real-world quantum computer comes from the need for a large number of physical qubits to deal with errors that accumulate during computation. Such quantum error correction is resource-intensive and computationally time-consuming. But researchers have found an effective software method that enables significant compression of quantum circuits, relaxing the demands placed on hardware development.

New study outlines steps higher education should take to prepare a new quantum workforce

A new study outlines ways colleges and universities can update their curricula to prepare the workforce for a new wave of quantum technology jobs. Three researchers, including Rochester Institute of Technology Associate Professor Ben Zwickl, suggested steps that need to be taken in a new paper in Physical Review Physics Education Research after interviewing managers at more than 20 quantum technology companies across the U.S.

Weather-proof chip aims to take self-driving tech, wireless communications to next level

Modern communications technology, regardless of use, relies on a similar formula: devices send signals and information through data centers, towers and satellites en route to their final destination. The effectiveness of the communication relies on how well that information travels, and there are a variety of factors that can slow down that journey—geography, weather and more.

Efficient production of large-size optical Schrödinger's cat states

A team of young scientists from the Institute of Natural Sciences and Mathematics of South Ural State University, under the guidance of physicist and mathematician Professor Sergei Podoshvedov, have proposed an algorithmic generator of the nonclassical state of light representing a "Schrödinger's cat state" of a very large amplitude. This algorithm plays an important role in quantum coupling and quantum computations in the optical field with the use of laser sources. The results of this work have been published in Scientific Reports.

One step closer: Muon-to-electron-conversion program reaches milestone in construction of novel experiment

The construction of the Mu2e experiment at the Department of Energy's Fermilab has reached an important milestone. A crucial section of magnets for the experiment, including components from Italy, Japan and the United States, has passed the rigorous testing necessary to ensure that each individual magnet meets the performance required for the experiment.

Research produces intense light beams with quantum correlations

The properties of quantum states of light are already leveraged by such highly sophisticated leading-edge technologies as those of the latest sensitivity upgrades to LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, deployed to detect gravitational waves since September 2015, or the encryption keys used for satellite on-board security.

Advancing fusion energy through improved understanding of fast plasma particles

Unlocking the zig-zagging dance of hot, charged plasma particles that fuel fusion reactions can help to harness on Earth the fusion energy that powers the sun and stars. At the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), an experimentalist and two theorists have developed a new algorithm, or set of computer rules, for tracking volatile particles that could advance the arrival of safe, clean and virtually limitless source of energy.

Astronomy and Space news

Three high-redshift quasars detected by Chandra

Using NASA's Chandra spacecraft, astronomers have discovered three new ultraviolet-bright radio-quiet quasars at high redshift and measured their basic X-ray properties. The newly found quasi-stellar object turns out to be the brightest in UV among the known high-redshift radio-quiet quasars. The finding is presented in a paper published November 2 on

Neutron star merger results in magnetar with brightest kilonova ever observed

Long ago and far across the universe, an enormous burst of gamma rays unleashed more energy in a half-second than the sun will produce over its entire 10-billion-year lifetime.

Escape from Mars: How water fled the red planet

Mars once had oceans but is now bone-dry, leaving many to wonder how the water was lost. University of Arizona researchers have discovered a surprisingly large amount of water in the upper atmosphere of Mars, where it is rapidly destroyed, explaining part of this Martian mystery.

Curiosity takes selfie with 'Mary Anning' on the red planet

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has a new selfie. This latest is from a location named "Mary Anning," after a 19th-century English paleontologist whose discovery of marine-reptile fossils were ignored for generations because of her gender and class. The rover has been at the site since this past July, taking and analyzing drill samples.

Galaxies in the Perseus Cluster

For galaxies, as for people, living in a crowd is different from living alone. Recently, astronomers used the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) to learn how a crowded environment affects galaxies in the Perseus Cluster, a collection of thousands of galaxies some 240 million light-years from Earth.

Team designs a prototype fuel gauge for orbit

Liquids aren't as well behaved in space as they are on Earth. Inside a spacecraft, microgravity allows liquids to freely slosh and float about.

A cosmic amethyst in a dying star

On Earth, amethysts can form when gas bubbles in lava cool under the right conditions. In space, a dying star with a mass similar to the Sun is capable of producing a structure on par with the appeal of these beautiful gems.

Satellites to track trains and promote rail safety

Trains in Italy will be tracked and controlled via space to ensure they run in a safe, punctual and environmentally friendly way.

Image: Shape-shifting mirror

This bendable space mirror can have its shape shifted to compensate for manufacturing or alignment errors within orbital telescopes or temperature-driven distortions.

Technology news

Programmable electronics based on the reversible doping of 2-D semiconductors

In recent years, researchers have been trying to develop new types of highly performing electronic devices. As silicon-based devices are approaching their maximum performance, they have recently started exploring the potential of fabricating electronics using alternative superconductors.

Jet-printing complex circuits using microfluidics

Biomedical applications in life sciences can greatly benefit from microfluidics devices; however, the technology is suboptimal for rapid production and applications in biolabs. For instance, solid opaque walls of conventional microfluidic devices prevent biologists from providing adequate physical and optical access to their biological samples. Therefore, there is a growing need to engineer optimized microfluidics for efficient workflow. In a new study, Cristian Soitu and a research team at the Walsh and Cook Research Groups in the Department of Engineering Science and the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford, U.K., described a new contactless, microfluidics circuit fabrication method.

Environmentally friendly method could lower costs to recycle lithium-ion batteries

A new process for restoring spent cathodes to mint condition could make it more economical to recycle lithium-ion batteries. The process, developed by nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego, is more environmentally friendly than today's methods; it uses greener ingredients, consumes 80 to 90% less energy, and emits about 75% less greenhouse gases.

Unravelling the secrets of spider limb regeneration to inspire next-gen soft robotics

Spider webs are engineering marvels constructed by eight-legged experts with 400 million years of accumulated know-how. Much can be learned from the building of the spider's gossamer net and the operation of its sticky trap. Amazingly, garden cross spiders can regenerate lost legs and use them immediately to build a web that is pitch-perfect, even though the new limb is much shorter than the one it replaced. This phenomenon has allowed scientists to probe the rules the animal uses to build its web and how it uses its legs as measuring sticks.

Stretchable 'skin' sensor gives robots human sensation

It's not a stretch to say that stretchable sensors could change the way soft robots function and feel. In fact, they will be able to feel quite a lot.

US nuclear lab partnering with utility to produce hydrogen

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded just under $14 million for an attempt to build a hydrogen-energy production facility at a nuclear power plant in Minnesota with the help of a nuclear research lab in Idaho.

Central Florida lands hub for Jetsons-like 'flying cars'

The nation's first regional hub for "flying cars" is being built in central Florida and once completed in five years, the vehicles will be able to take passengers from Orlando to Tampa in a half hour, officials said Wednesday.

New PlayStation hits market as console battle with Xbox begins

Sony's PlayStation 5 hit the shelves on Thursday, just two days after rival Microsoft released its newest Xbox, with the next-generation consoles vying for holiday season dominance as the pandemic boosts gaming demand.

Boeing lifts China plane demand outlook as economy picks up

Plane-making giant Boeing said Thursday it expects China to buy more than 8,600 new aeroplanes worth $1.4 trillion in the next two decades, increasing its forecast as the country recovers from the coronavirus outbreak.

Enhancing the performance of future 5G cellular networks

Society relies heavily on wireless communication. Many individuals have access to at least one mobile phone; in fact, there are more mobile phones in use than the current population of the planet. Within five years, predictions suggest that there will be more than four billion additional devices connected to cellular networks. As a result, data traffic will grow, leading to congestion of the current 4G network. To mitigate this issue, the world is turning to fifth generation (5G) mobile communications, but this will require a significant change to the antenna system. Electrical engineer and Ph.D.-candidate Teun van den Biggelaar has developed an antenna system based on a phased array approach that allows for reliable communication over a 5G network. Teun received his Ph.D. cum laude on November 11th at TU/e.

Smart concrete could pave the way for high-tech, cost-effective roads

Every day, Americans travel on roads, bridges and highways without considering the safety or reliability of these structures. Yet much of the transportation infrastructure in the U.S. is outdated, deteriorating and badly in need of repair.

New device puts music in your head—no headphones required

Imagine a world where you move around in your own personal sound bubble. You listen to your favorite tunes, play loud computer games, watch a movie or get navigation directions in your car—all without disturbing those around you.

Google Photos to drop free unlimited storage on images and videos. Here are your other options.

After five years of enticing consumers with offers of free photo and video storage, albeit it with a hitch (lower resolution), Google turned its back on consumers Wednesday and says we'll all have to start paying as of June 1st.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max has superb camera, but differences will be hard to notice

The world's biggest and most expensive iPhone goes on sale Friday, along with the cute, compact Mini, but the big news is the advanced camera system on the iPhone 12 Pro Max, with features not found on any other iPhone.

Online shopping surge could lead to holiday delivery delays

Retailers and carriers are preparing for an online holiday shopping surge that could tax shipping networks and lead to delivery delays.

Emirates airline posts first loss in more than 30 years

Dubai-based Emirates airline on Thursday posted its first loss in more than three decades, saying it had been badly hit by the coronavirus lockdown that brought air transport to "a literal standstill".

Trump administration says still searching for TikTok resolution

President Donald Trump's administration said Wednesday it was still working to resolve its security concerns over Chinese-owned app TikTok after the firm sought to delay a deadline to sell its US operations.

Nissan trims losses in Q2, upgrades forecasts

Crisis-hit Japanese automaker Nissan said Thursday it trimmed net loss in the second quarter, though it remained in the red, and upgraded its full-year forecasts as the global auto industry showed signs of recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Cutting-edge computer vision technologies help detect threats

It's been called "the future of warfare." Off-the-shelf unmanned aerial systems (UAS), carrying a payload of explosives or biological material, flown by terrorists or enemy armed forces into a crowded building or military base.

Tencent Q3 revenue climbs 29 percent

Chinese internet giant Tencent said Thursday its revenue climbed 29 percent in the third quarter of this year, spurred by gaming and advertising as coronavirus lockdowns keep users indoors and online.

Facebook, Google extend political ad ban amid misinformation rise

Facebook and Google have extended their bans on political ads in the United States amid misinformation circulated aimed at bolstering claims by President Donald Trump of fraud in his loss to Joe Biden.

The Matrix is already here: Social media promised to connect us, but left us isolated, scared and tribal

About a year ago I began to follow my interest in health and fitness on Instagram. Soon I began to see more and more fitness-related accounts, groups, posts and ads. I kept clicking and following, and eventually my Instagram became all about fit people, fitness and motivational material, and advertisements. Does this sound familiar?

Finland fast-tracks ID code law change after hacking case

The government of Finland said Thursday it was preparing legislation that would allow citizens to change their personal identity codes in cases of gross data breaches that carry a high risk of identity theft.

To help economy, bank proposes tax on working from home

White collar staff reaping the financial benefits of working from home should be taxed to help other workers who aren't getting the same advantages, experts at Deutsche Bank said in a new report.

As virus cases rise, Southwest sees slower travel recovery

Southwest Airlines cautioned Thursday that the tenuous recovery in air travel could be fading as coronavirus cases spike across the United States.

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