Science X Newsletter Monday, Nov 16

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

Spotlight Stories Headlines

An origami-inspired robotic fingertip with shape-morphing capabilities

Building blocks of life can form long before stars

Study reconstructs ancient storms to help predict changes in tropical cyclone hotspot

Fish carcasses deliver toxic mercury pollution to the deepest ocean trenches

Songbird parents evict young for their own benefit

Astronomers detect complex multi-component outflow of the galaxy NGC 7130

Designing layered oxide materials for sodium-ion batteries

New technology allows more precise view of the smallest nanoparticles

New placement for one of Earth's largest mass extinction events

Egypt unveils ancient coffins, statues found in Saqqara

Facebook is using AI to stem dangerous and false posts

Go (over) easy on the eggs: 'Egg-cess' consumption linked to diabetes

SpaceX aims for night crew launch, Musk sidelined by virus

SpaceX launches four astronauts to ISS

Former piece of Pacific Ocean floor imaged deep beneath China

Physics news

For wave-particle duality and entanglement, progress is finally possible if we avoid the customary pitfalls

Photon duality remains a paradox because the photon is regarded as a simple, unitary object in space. Equally bad, massless radiation is interpreted via concepts drawn from mass-based physics.

Researchers develop world's first all-silicon optical transmitter at 100Gbps

Silicon photonics researchers from the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) have demonstrated the first all-silicon optical transmitter at 100Gbps and beyond without the use of digital signal processing.

Understanding astrophysics with laser-accelerated protons

Bringing huge amounts of protons up to speed in the shortest distance in fractions of a second—that's what laser acceleration technology, greatly improved in recent years, can do. An international research team from the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung and the Helmholtz Institute Jena, a branch of GSI, in collaboration with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, U.S., has succeeded in using protons accelerated with the GSI high-power laser PHELIX to split other nuclei and to analyze them. The results have now been published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports and could provide new insights into astrophysical processes.

New optical method paves way to breath test for cancer biomarker

Researchers have developed an extremely sensitive, yet simple optical method for detecting formaldehyde in a person's breath. Because formaldehyde is being studied as a potential biomarker for lung and breast cancer, the new method could one day lead to an inexpensive and fast way to screen for cancer.

Analysis paves way for more sensitive quantum sensors

Quantum sensors can measure extremely small changes in an environment by taking advantage of quantum phenomena like entanglement, where entangled particles can affect each other, even when separated by great distances.

Novel analytic approach enhances nuclear magnetic resonance signal detection in previously 'invisible' regions

First introduced into wide use in the middle of the 20th century, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) has since become an indispensable technique for examining materials down to their atoms, revealing molecular structure and other details without interfering with the material itself.

Making the best decision: Math shows diverse thinkers equal better results

Whether it is ants forming a trail or individuals crossing the street, the exchange of information is key in making everyday decisions. But new Florida State University research shows that the group decision-making process may work best when members process information a bit differently.

Ultracompact metalens microscopy breaks FOV constraints

The pursuit of ever-higher imaging resolution in microscopy is coupled with growing demands for compact portability and high throughput. While imaging performance has improved, conventional microscopes still suffer from the bulky, heavy elements and architectures associated with refractive optics. Metalenses offer a solution: they're ultrathin, ultralight, and flat, and benefit from lots of recent research that has improved their efficiency, FOV, and polarization functionalities.

Highly sensitive detection of circularly polarized light without a filter

Under JST Strategic Basic Research Programs, PRESTO researcher Ayumi Ishii, (Toin University of Yokohama, specially appointed lecturer) has developed a photodiode using a crystalline film composed of lead perovskite compounds with organic chiral molecules to detect circularly polarized light without a filter.

Does the human brain resemble the Universe?

An astrophysicist at the University of Bologna and a neurosurgeon at the University of Verona compared the network of neuronal cells in the human brain with the cosmic network of galaxies... and surprising similarities emerged

Astronomy and Space news

Building blocks of life can form long before stars

An international team of scientists have shown that glycine, the simplest amino acid and an important building block of life, can form under the harsh conditions that govern chemistry in space.

Astronomers detect complex multi-component outflow of the galaxy NGC 7130

Using ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), astronomers have investigated ionized gas in the central regions of the Seyfert galaxy NGC 7130. In their study, they identified a complex multi-component outflow in this galaxy. The finding is reported in a paper published November 5 on

SpaceX aims for night crew launch, Musk sidelined by virus

SpaceX aimed for a Sunday night launch of four astronauts to the International Space Station, although the prospects of good weather were just 50-50 and its leader was sidelined by COVID-19.

SpaceX launches four astronauts to ISS

Four astronauts were successfully launched on the SpaceX Crew Dragon "Resilience" to the International Space Station on Sunday, the first of what the US hopes will be many routine missions following a successful test flight in late spring.

Mars is getting a new robotic meteorologist

Mars is about to get a new stream of weather reports, once NASA's Perseverance rover touches down on Feb. 18, 2021. As it scours Jezero Crater for signs of ancient microbial life, Perseverance will collect the first planetary samples for return to Earth by a future mission. But the rover will also provide key atmospheric data that will help enable future astronauts to the Red Planet to survive in a world with no breathable oxygen, freezing temperatures, planet wide dust storms, and intense radiation from the sun.

Orbits of ancient stars prompt rethink on Milky Way evolution

Theories on how the Milky Way formed are set to be rewritten following discoveries about the behavior of some of its oldest stars.

Weather on Jupiter and Saturn may be driven by different forces than on Earth

A trio of researchers, two with Harvard University, the other the University of Alberta, has found evidence that weather on Saturn and Jupiter may be driven by dramatically different forces than weather on Earth. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, Rakesh Kumar Yadav, Moritz Heimpel and Jeremy Bloxham describe computer simulations showing that major weather systems on Jupiter and Saturn might be driven by internal rather than external forces, resulting in outcomes such as the formation of large anticyclones like Jupiter's famous red spot.

Cosmic flashes come in all different sizes

By studying the site of a spectacular stellar explosion seen in April 2020, a Chalmers-led team of scientists have used four European radio telescopes to confirm that astronomy's most exciting puzzle is about to be solved. Fast radio bursts, unpredictable millisecond-long radio signals seen at huge distances across the universe, are generated by extreme stars called magnetars—and are astonishingly diverse in brightness.

Texas astronomers revive idea for 'Ultimately Large Telescope' on the moon

A group of astronomers from The University of Texas at Austin has found that a telescope idea shelved by NASA a decade ago can solve a problem that no other telescope can: It would be able to study the first stars in the universe. The team, led by NASA Hubble Fellow Anna Schauer, will publish their results in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

SpaceX crew flight delayed; Musk gets mixed COVID-19 results

SpaceX delayed its second astronaut flight by a day because of high wind and weather conditions that could jeopardize the recovery and recycling of the rocket booster, pushing the launch to Sunday.

Cable failures endanger renowned Puerto Rico radio telescope

The giant, aging cables that support one of the world's largest single-dish radio telescopes are slowly unraveling in this U.S. territory, pushing an observatory renowned for its key role in astronomical discoveries to the brink of collapse.

Scientists expand space instrument's capabilities

A new study by Southwest Research Institute scientists describes how they have expanded the capabilities of the prototype spaceflight instrument Chemistry Organic and Dating Experiment (CODEX), designed for field-based dating of extraterrestrial materials. CODEX now uses two different dating approaches based on rubidium-strontium and lead-lead geochronology methods. The instrument uses laser ablation resonance ionization mass spectrometry (LARIMS) to obtain dates using these methods.

Technology news

An origami-inspired robotic fingertip with shape-morphing capabilities

To perform tasks that involve moving or handling objects, robots should swiftly adapt their grasp and manipulation strategies based on the properties of these objects and the environment surrounding them. Most robotic hands developed so far, however, have a fixed and limiting structure; thus, they can perform a limited number of movements and can only grasp specific types of objects.

Designing layered oxide materials for sodium-ion batteries

Lithium cobalt oxide is a layered metal oxide that has attracted great attention to develop rechargeable batteries. Sodium-ion batteries can store grid-scale energy due to the natural abundance of sodium. The composition can determine the structural chemistry for electrochemical performance, however, due to complex compositions, the results are very challenging to predict. In a new report now on Science, Chenglong Zhao and a team of international scientists at the Chinese Academy of Science, China, Harvard University, U.S., Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, and the University of Toronto, Canada, introduced a "cationic potential" to capture key interactions of layered materials and predict the resulting stacking structures. The team showed how the stacking architecture determined the functional properties to offer solutions towards developing alkali metal layered oxides for electrical energy storage.

Facebook is using AI to stem dangerous and false posts

Facebook has come under withering criticism this past year from folks who say the company is not doing enough to stem hate speech, online harassment and the spread of false news stories.

Researchers develop machine-learning optimizer to slash product design costs

Computer simulations are a critical part of the product design optimization process, allowing engineers to test various configurations and select the best design among the many different alternatives. But even at a facility like the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, with its state-of-the-art resources, simulations can be very expensive and take a long time to run.

Computer scientists launch counteroffensive against video game cheaters

University of Texas at Dallas computer scientists have devised a new weapon against video game players who cheat.

Lyft's Zimmer talks future of workplace, electric vehicles

Lyft scored a major victory when California voters passed Proposition 22, allowing app-based companies to treat drivers as contractors instead of employees and saving the company from what many anticipated would be crippling expenses.

Xbox and PlayStation: How Sony and Microsoft changed the way we play video games

With new video game consoles out this week, Microsoft and Sony are decades-long incumbents in the industry. But that wasn't always the case.

Free unlimited photo storage is a thing of the past—thanks a lot, Google. So what to do?

Don MacAskill has been trying for 18 years to persuade people to pay to back up and view their photos online, as an alternative to the home hard drives or keeping everything on the phone.

VR architecture reveals stunning details, but can't always capture ambience

We were used to consuming architecture—both near to home and far away—with ease. But this year, our travel wings severed, heritage sites found themselves scrambling to hasten their digital aspirations.

Regulators can help clear the way for entrepreneurial energy companies to innovate

How regulatory policies are implemented can make a huge difference for entrepreneurs in clean technology. In a study, we found that giving state-level regulators more discretion in approving hydropower facilities in the United States led to faster adoption of this clean energy source.

Is your smart watch sharing your data?

You may not realize it, but your internet-connected household devices such as the Ring doorbell, Peloton exercise bike and Nest thermostat are all exchanging data with other devices and systems over the network. These physical objects, all part of the Internet of Things (IoT), come with sensors and software, and they often use cloud computing. Most people would consider the information contained in these household items as highly private. They store data ranging from your height and weight to when you are out of the house.

Apple's HomePod Mini review: Attractive price, more useful than Google speakers

Apple is late to the consumer priced smart speaker market, but it finally joined Amazon and Google with the $99 HomePod Mini.

Korean Air to take over troubled Asiana Airlines for $1.6 bn

South Korean flag carrier Korean Air said Monday it will buy out its smaller, troubled rival Asiana Airlines in a $1.6 billion deal as it looks to consolidate with the global aviation sector devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Facebook, Twitter CEOs back before Congress Tuesday

The top executives of Facebook and Twitter were set to appear before US lawmakers for the second time in less than month for a fresh hearing on the hotly disputed role of social networks in US political debate.

HBO Max will finally be accessible on Amazon Fire TV

HBO Max will finally be available for tens of thousands of Amazon customers.

So you want a new iPhone? Apple's got 7. How to choose the right one for you

With two new iPhones going on sale Friday, Apple now offers seven of them, from the entry-level $399 SE to the top of the line $1,099 iPhone 12 Pro Max.

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