Science X Newsletter Thursday, Nov 19

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for November 19, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Nanoscale Schottky diodes fabricated via adhesion lithography

Topological mechanical metamaterials go beyond Newton's third law

Going beyond the anti-laser may enable long-range wireless power transfer

Study investigates mode switching phenomenon in the pulsar PSR J1326−6700

New effective and safe antifungal isolated from sea squirt microbiome

Researchers recommend more transparency for gene-edited crops

Researchers prove water has multiple liquid states

Synthesis study demonstrates phytoplankton can bloom below Arctic sea ice

Research team pushes back the boundaries of high-energy laser pulses

New understanding of mobility paves way for tomorrow's transport systems

Undesirable rejection mechanism identified in stem cell transplantation

The fundamental chemistry behind electrocatalytic water splitting

Another side to cancer immunotherapy? Scientists investigate intratumoral B cells

A research tool developed to study organelles that give color to skin, hair, and eyes

Machine learning yields a breakthrough in the study of stellar nurseries

Physics news

Topological mechanical metamaterials go beyond Newton's third law

A change in perspective can work wonders. This has been especially true with respect to the paradigms for explaining material properties using the concept of topology, "ideas that are currently revolutionizing condensed matter physics," according to Tel Aviv University researcher Roni Ilan. While topological physics first emerged in condensed matter physics, the ideas have now spread into many other areas, including optics and photonics, as well as acoustics and other mechanical systems, where things have been getting a little tricky.

Going beyond the anti-laser may enable long-range wireless power transfer

Ever since Nikola Tesla spewed electricity in all directions with his coil back in 1891, scientists have been thinking up ways to send electrical power through the air. The dream is to charge your phone or laptop, or maybe even a healthcare device such as a pacemaker, without the need for wires and plugs. The tricky bit is getting the electricity to find its intended target, and getting that target to absorb the electricity instead of just reflect it back into the air—all preferably without endangering anyone along the way.

Research team pushes back the boundaries of high-energy laser pulses

Using the Advanced Laser Light Source (ALLS) facility, the research team of Professor François Légaré of the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) has pushed back the boundaries of high-energy pulse propagation in a nonlinear medium through the observation of high-energy multidimensional solitary states. This breakthrough allows the direct generation of extremely short and intense, laser pulses that are highly-stable in time and space. The results of this work were published in Nature Photonics.

Researchers describe previously unknown mechanism for inducing electron emission in highly oriented pyrolitic graphite

It is something quite common in physics: Electrons leave a certain material, fly away and are then measured. Some materials emit electrons when they are irradiated with light. These electrons are called photoelectrons. In materials research, so-called Auger electrons also play an important role—they can be emitted by atoms if an electron is first removed from one of the inner electron shells. But now scientists at TU Wien (Vienna) have succeeded in explaining a completely different type of electron emission that can occur in carbon materials such as graphite. This electron emission type has been known for about 50 years, but its cause was previously unclear.

Entropy production gets a system update

Nature is not homogenous. Most of the universe is complex and composed of various subsystems—self-contained systems within a larger whole. Microscopic cells and their surroundings, for example, can be divided into many different subsystems: the ribosome, the cell wall, and the intracellular medium surrounding the cell.

3-D-printed glass enhances optical design flexibility

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers have used multi-material 3-D printing to create tailored gradient refractive index glass optics that could make for better military specialized eyewear and virtual reality goggles.

Surfaces help quantum switches

The quantum dynamics of hydrogen are central to many problems in nature, being strongly influenced by the environment in which a reaction takes place. In their contribution to PRL, members of the Lise Meitner Group at the MPSD address hydrogen transfer within a supported molecular switch, showing that the surface support can play a decisive role in the tunneling reaction.

Tungsten develops layers under fusion reactor extreme heat conditions

In tokamaks, magnetic confinement devices being explored for use as nuclear fusion reactors, anomalous events can cause a transfer of energy with 10 million times the intensity of the solar radiation on Earth's surface. These events can cause damage to structural components, potentially threatening the longevity of a tokamak.

Scattering of adiabatically aligned molecules by non-resonant optical standing waves

A research team, affiliated with South Korea's Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) has discovered that when the rotational quantum states of non-polar molecules change under the influence of laser fields (non-resonant laser fields), so does their motion trajectories.

Solving for nuclear structure in light nuclei

In nuclei, all the fundamental forces of nature are at play. The dense region at the center of an atom—where the protons and neutrons are found—is a place where scientists can test their understanding of the fundamental interactions of the smallest building blocks of matter in the universe.

Researchers have succeeded in directly observing the formation and interaction of highly ionized krypton plasma

The last decade has been marked by a series of remarkable discoveries identifying how the universe is composed. It is understood that the mysterious substance dark matter makes up 85 % of the matter in the universe. Observable matter in the universe consists of ionized particles. Thus, a profound understanding of ionized matter and its interaction with light, could lead to a deeper understanding of the relationships at play that formed the universe. While ionized matter, or plasma, is relatively easy to generate in the lab, studying it is extremely challenging as methods that can capture ionization states and density are virtually non-existant.

Researchers invent novel vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser

Researchers at the George Washington University have developed a new design of vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) that demonstrates record-fast temporal bandwidth. This was possible by combining multiple transverse coupled cavities, which enhances optical feedback of the laser. VCSELs have emerged as a vital approach for realizing energy-efficient and high-speed optical interconnects in data centers and supercomputers.

Researchers identify features that could make someone a virus super-spreader

New research from the University of Central Florida has identified physiological features that could make people super-spreaders of viruses such as COVID-19.

Confirming simulated calculations with experiment results

Dr. Zi Yang Meng from the Division of Physics and Astronomy, Faculty of Science, the University of Hong Kong (HKU), is pursuing a new paradigm of quantum material research that combines theory, computation and experiment in a coherent manner. Recently, he teamed up with Dr. Wei LI from Beihang University, Professor Yang Qi from Fudan University, Professor Weiqiang YU from Renmin University and Professor Jinsheng Wen from Nanjing University to untangle the puzzle of Nobel Prize-winning theory Kosterlitz-Thouless (KT) phase.

Building better diffusion models for active systems

In normal circumstances, particles will follow well-established random motions as they diffuse through liquids and gases. Yet in some types of system, this behavior can be disrupted—meaning the diffusion motions of particles are no longer influenced by the outcomes of chains of previous events. Through research published in EPJ E, Bernhard Mitterwallner, a Ph.D. student in the team of Roland Netz at the Free University of Berlin, Germany, has developed new theories detailing how these unusual dynamics can be reproduced in generalized mathematical models.

Astronomy and Space news

Study investigates mode switching phenomenon in the pulsar PSR J1326−6700

Using the Parkes 64-meter radio telescope, Chinese astronomers have performed a detailed study of a pulsar known as PSR J1326−6700. The results of this research provide more insights into the mode switching phenomenon observed in this pulsar. The study was published November 11 on

Machine learning yields a breakthrough in the study of stellar nurseries

Artificial intelligence can make it possible to see astrophysical phenomena that were previously beyond reach. This has now been demonstrated by scientists from the CNRS, IRAM, Observatoire de Paris-PSL, Ecole Centrale Marseille and Ecole Centrale Lille, working together in the ORION-B program. In a series of three papers published in Astronomy & Astrophysics on 19 November 2020, they present the most comprehensive observations yet carried out of one of the star-forming regions closest to the Earth.

Huge Puerto Rico radio telescope to close in blow to science

The National Science Foundation announced Thursday that it will close the huge telescope at the renowned Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico in a blow to scientists worldwide who depend on it to search for planets, asteroids and extraterrestrial life.

Sky survey reveals newborn jets in distant galaxies

Astronomers using data from the ongoing VLA Sky Survey (VLASS) have found a number of distant galaxies with supermassive black holes at their cores that have launched powerful, radio-emitting jets of material within the past two decades or so. The scientists compared data from VLASS with data from an earlier survey that also used the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) to reach their conclusion.

'Strange rays' crowdsourced on social media shed light on black hole illumination

Sparked by an image uploaded to Twitter, new research indicates that the light produced by black hole accretion may be bright enough to reflect off of dust, illuminating the host galaxy, and creating light and dark rays similar to the effect of crepuscular rays on Earth. The research is published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Astronaut: SpaceX Dragon beats shuttle, Soyuz for launching

The most experienced astronaut on SpaceX's newly launched crew said Thursday that riding a Dragon capsule to orbit is like being inside the actual mythical beast, and a lot more fun than NASA's shuttles or Russian flights.

Looking at liquid cells in variable gravity

What resembles a donut or the iris of an eye is actually a liquid cell illuminated from below.

Creating chaos: Craters and collapse on Mars

Elevation can be deceiving in satellite imagery of Mars, even when differences are extreme—as demonstrated by this image of Pyrrhae Regio from ESA's Mars Express. A chunk of terrain has collapsed and dropped more than four kilometers below its surroundings, illustrating the incredible contrast and dynamism seen across the martian surface.

Uncovering the hidden side of storms: France's Taranis satellite to launch in November

Sprites, elves, jets… few people know that scientists habitually use such other-worldly words to describe transient luminous events or TLEs, light flashes that occur during active storms just a few tens of kilometers over our heads. Few people also know that storms can act as particle accelerators generating very brief bursts of X-rays and gamma rays. But what are the physical processes and mechanisms behind these phenomena discovered barely 30 years ago? Do they impact the physics and chemistry of the upper atmosphere, the environment or even humans? Such are the questions facing the French Taranis satellite that will be riding aloft during the night of 16 to 17 November atop a Vega launcher from the Guiana Space Center, an all-French mission involving research scientists from CNES, the national scientific research center CNRS, the atomic energy and alternative energies commission CEA and several French universities.

NSF plans to decommission Arecibo Observatory's 305m telescope due to safety concerns

Following a review of engineering assessments that found damage to the Arecibo Observatory cannot be stabilized without risk to construction workers and staff at the facility, the U.S. National Science Foundation will begin plans to decommission the 305-meter telescope, which for 57 years has served as a world-class resource for radio astronomy, planetary, solar system and geospace research.

Technology news

Nanoscale Schottky diodes fabricated via adhesion lithography

To fabricate nanoscale photonic and electronic devices, engineers need electrodes made of asymmetric metals separated by gaps in the nanometer (nm) length scale. So far, most of these electrodes were fabricated using high-end patterning techniques, such as electron-beam lithography.

Vision-based fire detection facilities work better under new deep learning model

Fast and accurate fire detection is significant to the sustainable development of human society and Earth ecology. The existence of objects with similar characteristics to fire increases the difficulty of vision-based fire detection. Improving the accuracy of fire detection by digging deeper visual features of fire always remains challenging.

Micro-robot with chemically encoded intelligence removes hormonal pollutants

A team of researchers from the University of Chemistry and Technology Prague, Yonsei University and the Brno University of Technology has developed a micro-robot with chemically encoded intelligence that can remove hormonal pollutants from a solution. They have published their results in Nature Machine Intelligence. Dongdong Jin and Li Zhang with the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Multiscale Medical Robotics Center, respectively, have published a News and Views piece in the same issue outlining the state of micro-robot research and describe the work done by the researchers with this new effort.

A neural network learns when it should not be trusted

Increasingly, artificial intelligence systems known as deep learning neural networks are used to inform decisions vital to human health and safety, such as in autonomous driving or medical diagnosis. These networks are good at recognizing patterns in large, complex datasets to aid in decision-making. But how do we know they're correct? Alexander Amini and his colleagues at MIT and Harvard University wanted to find out.

Showing robots how to drive a car... in just a few easy lessons

Imagine if robots could learn from watching demonstrations: you could show a domestic robot how to do routine chores or set a dinner table. In the workplace, you could train robots like new employees, showing them how to perform many duties. On the road, your self-driving car could learn how to drive safely by watching you drive around your neighborhood.

Robot reminds Japan shoppers to wear masks

Asking someone to put on a mask is a touchy subject, so one shop in Japan has enlisted a robot to make sure its customers wear them during the pandemic.

EU auditors: Antitrust probes too slow to curb tech giants

The EU's efforts to rein in the power of big tech companies such as Google and Facebook through antitrust investigations have taken too long, dulling their effectiveness, a report said Thursday.

SnuggleBot: A new cuddly companion

Introducing the "Snugglebot" a cuddly robotic companion that needs your love and attention. It needs to be taken care of, cuddled and kept warm. It's physically comforting (soft, warm and weighted), and engaging. Its tusk lights up and it wiggles to get attention or to show appreciation when it's hugged.

Solar power stations in space could be the answer to our energy needs

It sounds like science fiction: giant solar power stations floating in space that beam down enormous amounts of energy to Earth. And for a long time, the concept—first developed by the Russian scientist, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, in the 1920s—was mainly an inspiration for writers.

Materials extinguish solar panel fires before they ignite

As solar panels become popular and their voltages increase, there is a need to have built-in capabilities to extinguish fires caused by arc-faults, which are high-power discharges of electricity that can create explosions or flash events due to damaged wires.

Researchers explore materials for transforming robots made of robots

Scientists from the U.S. Army and MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms created a new way to link materials with unique mechanical properties, opening up the possibility of future military robots made of robots.

Mazda No. 1 in Consumer Reports 2020 auto reliability survey

Mazda beat traditional winners Lexus and Toyota to win top honors as the most dependable auto brand in Consumer Reports' annual reliability survey.

Google launches strong encryption for Android messages

Google said Thursday it will be rolling out end-to-end encryption for Android users, making it harder for anyone—including law enforcement—to read the content of messages.

Nasdaq buys Canadian fraud-detection company for $2.75 bn

Nasdaq agreed to acquire Verafin, a Canadian financial fraud-detection company, for $2.75 billion, the companies announced Thursday.

Nearly 1.4 million Illinois Facebook users have filed claims in $650 million privacy settlement

Facebook users have until Monday to claim their share of a $650 million class action settlement over alleged violations of the state's biometric privacy law.

DeepER tool uses deep learning to better allocate emergency services

Emergencies, by their very nature, are hard to predict. When and where the next crime, fire or vehicle accident will happen is often a matter of random chance.

GM: New batteries cut electric car costs, increase range

General Motors says a pending breakthrough in battery chemistry will cut the price of its electric vehicles so they equal those powered by gasoline within five years. The technology also will increase the range per charge to as much as 450 miles.

US safety agency seeks input on autonomous vehicle rules

The U.S. government's road safety agency is asking for public comment on how it should regulate safe deployment of self-driving vehicles.

BuzzFeed buying HuffPost from Verizon for undisclosed price

BuzzFeed is buying HuffPost from Verizon as part of a bigger deal that has the wireless giant investing in the digital-media company.

Facebook moderators press for pandemic safety protections

More than 200 Facebook content moderators demanded better health and safety protections Wednesday as the social media giant called the workers back to the office during the pandemic.

German MPs grill ex-Wirecard boss over massive fraud

Markus Braun, the former chief executive of disgraced payments giant Wirecard, faced a public grilling by German lawmakers Thursday over the massive accounting fraud that brought down his firm.

Saudi to invest $20 billion in AI by 2030

Saudi Arabia announced Thursday it will invest $20 billion in artificial intelligence projects by 2030, as the oil-rich country seeks to diversify its economy amid slumping crude prices.

Southwest, United Airlines see weak demand over holidays, 1Q

United Airlines warned Thursday that bookings have slowed and cancellations have increased as the number of coronavirus infections spikes across the country.

Sony, Microsoft consoles struggle after thin launch-day supply

Sales of Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp.'s new gaming consoles fell short of their predecessors during their first week in Japan, suggesting persistent supply bottlenecks will hamper the debut of two of this holiday season's most hotly anticipated gadgets.

Working from home with weak internet? There's a device to fix that

Sign up for internet service with Comcast's Xfinity, and the company will get you in for $19.95 for a relatively slow 25 megabits per second, or $49.99 for "faster speeds" like 200 Mbps.

Amazon France may wait out lockdown before 'Black Friday'

Amazon's French division said Thursday it was open to delaying its November "Black Friday" sale into December if the government allows shops to reopen after weeks of lockdown.

Facebook reports progress on curbing hateful, abusive content

Facebook said Thursday it has made progress in curbing hate speech and other abusive content on its platform with improved automated tools complementing its human reviewers.

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