Science X Newsletter Friday, Dec 4

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for December 4, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Researchers observe what could be the first hints of dark bosons

RealAnt: A low-cost quadruped robot that can learn via reinforcement learning

Nanoparticle jamming at the water-oil interface

NAD: Is nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide a super supplement or all hype?

New testing system could become the IoT of photovoltaics

Crystals may help reveal hidden Kilauea Volcano behavior

Fine tuning the "twist" between 2-D materials in van der Waals heterostructures to help accelerate next gen electronics

Researchers uncover key clues about the solar system's history

A plant immune receptor: It takes four to tango

Supercomputer simulations could unlock mystery of Moon's formation

Special delivery: Japan space probe to bring asteroid dust to Earth

New DNA modification 'signature' discovered in zebrafish

Advancing gene editing with new CRISPR/Cas9 variant

Chemists get peek at novel fluorescence in carbon nanotubes

NASA buying Moon dust for $1

Physics news

Researchers observe what could be the first hints of dark bosons

Extremely light and weakly interacting particles may play a crucial role in cosmology and in the ongoing search for dark matter. Unfortunately, however, these particles have so far proved very difficult to detect using existing high-energy colliders. Researchers worldwide have thus been trying to develop alternative technologies and methods that could enable the detection of these particles.

China turns on nuclear-powered 'artificial sun' (Update)

China successfully powered up its "artificial sun" nuclear fusion reactor for the first time, state media reported Friday, marking a great advance in the country's nuclear power research capabilities.

How to cool more efficiently: Environmentally friendly refrigeration processes

In the journal Applied Physics Reviews, an international research team from the University of Barcelona, the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), and TU Darmstadt report on possibilities for implementing more efficient and environmentally friendly refrigeration processes. For this purpose, they investigated the effects of simultaneously exposing certain alloys to magnetic fields and mechanical stress.

Lab study of droplet dynamics advances 3-D printing

A team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists has simulated the droplet ejection process in an emerging metal 3-D printing technique called "Liquid Metal Jetting" (LMJ), a critical aspect to the continued advancement of liquid metal printing technologies.

Electrical spin filtering the key to ultra-fast, energy-efficient spintronics

Spin-filtering could be the key to faster, more energy-efficient switching in future spintronic technology, allowing the detection of spin by electrical rather than magnetic means.

Electrons falling flat: Germanium falls into a 2-D arrangement on zirconium diboride

Scientists have recently revealed, both theoretically and experimentally, that germanium atoms can arrange themselves into a 2-D "bi-triangular" lattice on zirconium diboride thin films grown on germanium single crystals to form a "flat band material" with an embedded "kagome" lattice. The result provides experimental support to a theoretical prediction of flat bands emerging from trivial atomic geometry and indicates the possibility of their existence in many more materials.

Simplifying long-range quantum interactions in many-body systems

Calculations for certain quantum systems whose parts interact over long distances will be much easier to perform thanks to the work of a RIKEN physicist and his collaborator, who have extended an assumption that holds for materials with short-range interactions.

Chinese photonic quantum computer demonstrates quantum supremacy

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in China has built and tested a photonic quantum computer that demonstrates quantum supremacy. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes their computer, which they call Jiuzhang, and how well it performed while conducting Gaussian boson sampling.

Detecting solar neutrinos with the Borexino experiment

Neutrinos are chargeless particles with about a mass about a millionth that of an electron that are created by the nuclear processes that occur in the Sun and other stars. These particles are often colorfully described as the 'ghosts' of the particle zoo because they interact so weakly with matter. A paper published in EPJ C by the Borexino collaboration—including XueFeng Ding, Postdoc Associate of Physics at Princeton University, United States—documents the attempts of the Borexino experiment to measure low-energy neutrinos from the Sun's carbon-nitrogen-oxygen (CNO) cycle for the first time.

First physics results from prototype detector published

The DUNE collaboration has published their first scientific paper based on data collected with the ProtoDUNE single-phase detector located at CERN's Neutrino Platform. The results show that the detector is performing with greater than 99% efficiency, making it not only the largest, but also the best-performing liquid-argon time projection chamber to date. Scientists now are using their findings to refine their experimental techniques and prepare for the construction of the international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment at the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility, a next-generation neutrino experimental program hosted by the Department of Energy's Fermilab in the United States.

Anti-gravity: How a boat can float upside down

Here on Earth, everything is subject to gravity—it makes objects fall to the ground and rivers flow from higher ground to the sea. We know what would happen without it, thanks to images of astronauts floating around their spaceship. But could we design an anti-gravity machine, something that would make objects fall upwards, oceans levitate, and boats float upside down?

Characterising complex flows in 2-D bubble swarms

When swarms of bubbles are driven upwards through a fluid by their buoyancy, they can generate complex flow patterns in their wake. Named 'pseudo-turbulence,' these patterns are characterized by a universal mathematical relationship between the energy of flows of different sizes, and the frequency of their occurrence. This relationship has now been widely observed through 3-D simulations, but it is less clear whether it would still hold for 2-D swarms of bubbles. Through research published in EPJ E, Rashmi Ramadugu and colleagues at the TIFR Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences in Hyderabad, India, show that in 2-D simulated fluids, this pattern changes within larger-scale flows in less viscous fluids.

Optimising laser-driven electron acceleration

The interaction between lasers and matter is at the forefront of new investigations into fundamental physics as well as forming a potential bedrock for new technological innovations. One of the initiatives spearheading this investigation is the Extreme Light Infrastructure Nuclear Physics (ELI-NP) project. Here the project's High-Power Laser System (HPLS)—the world's most powerful laser—is just one of the tools driving electron acceleration with lasers, Direct Laser Acceleration (DLA). In a new paper published in EPJ D, Etele Molnar, ELI-NP, Bucharest, and co-authors study and review the characteristics of electron acceleration in a vacuum caused by the highest-power laser pulses achievable today looking for the key to maximum net energy gain.

Astronomy and Space news

Researchers uncover key clues about the solar system's history

In a new paper published in the journal Nature Communications Earth and Environment, researchers at the University of Rochester were able to use magnetism to determine, for the first time, when carbonaceous chondrite asteroids—asteroids that are rich in water and amino acids—first arrived in the inner solar system. The research provides data that helps inform scientists about the early origins of the solar system and why some planets, such as Earth, became habitable and were able to sustain conditions conducive for life, while other planets, such as Mars, did not.

Supercomputer simulations could unlock mystery of Moon's formation

Astronomers have taken a step towards understanding how the Moon might have formed out of a giant collision between the early Earth and another massive object 4.5 billion years ago.

Special delivery: Japan space probe to bring asteroid dust to Earth

Call it a special delivery: after six years in space, Japan's Hayabusa-2 probe is heading home, but only to drop off its rare asteroid samples before starting a new mission.

NASA buying Moon dust for $1

The US space agency NASA awarded contracts to four companies on Thursday to collect lunar samples for $1 to $15,000, rock-bottom prices that are intended to set a precedent for future exploitation of space resources by the private sector.

Video: Gaia's stellar motion for the next 1.6 million years

The stars are constantly moving across the sky. Known as proper motion, this motion is imperceptible to the unaided eye but is being measured with increasing precision by Gaia. This animation shows the proper motions of 40 000 stars, all located within 100 parsecs (326 light years) of the Solar System. The animation begins with the stars in their current positions; the brightness of each dot representing the brightness of the star it represents.

Solar telescope releases first image of a sunspot

The world's largest solar observatory, the U.S. National Science Foundation's Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, just released its first image of a sunspot. Although the telescope is still in the final phases of completion, the image is an indication of how the telescope's advanced optics and four-meter primary mirror will give scientists the best view of the Sun from Earth throughout the next solar cycle.

I'm an astronomer and I think aliens may be out there—but UFO sightings aren't persuasive

If intelligent aliens visit the Earth, it would be one of the most profound events in human history.

Hayabusa 2: Returning asteroid sample could help uncover the origins of life and the solar system

What is your idea of an asteroid? Many people think of them as potato-shaped, inert and perhaps rather dull, pock-marked objects—far away in deep space. But over the last ten years, two Japanese space missions – Hayabusa and now Hayabusa 2 – have dispatched that view to the history books. Asteroids are interesting bodies that may be able to explain how life on Earth came about.

Australia-bound asteroid sample may reveal life's origins

A Japanese space mission will deliver samples collected from asteroid Ryugu in a capsule to the outback desert of Woomera in South Australia this Sunday morning.

Technology news

RealAnt: A low-cost quadruped robot that can learn via reinforcement learning

Over the past decade or so, roboticists and computer scientists have tried to use reinforcement learning (RL) approaches to train robots to efficiently navigate their environment and complete a variety of basic tasks. Building affordable robots that can support and manage the exploratory controls associated with RL algorithms, however, has so far proved to be fairly challenging.

New testing system could become the IoT of photovoltaics

A new system for measuring solar performance over the long term in scalable photovoltaic systems, developed by Arizona State University researchers, represents a breakthrough in the cost and longevity of interconnected power delivery.

Thermal stability analysis technique for EV batteries to detect risk of fire or explosion

Recently, there have been a number of electric vehicle (EV) battery fire incidents. Unlike the batteries used in small mobile devices, such as smartphones, the battery pack of an EV is composed of hundreds of battery cells, and any instability can cause major casualties and property damage. Amid efforts to pinpoint the cause of battery fires, Korean researchers have developed a new analysis method to evaluate the thermal stability of EV batteries.

Green energy transition: Early and steady wins the race

What's the cheapest, easiest way to honor the Paris Agreement of limiting the global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius? A clear and strong investment in wind and solar power. Starting now.

Battery of tests: Scientists figure out how to track what happens inside batteries

The future of mobility is electric cars, trucks and airplanes. But there is no way a single battery design can power that future. Even your cell phone and laptop batteries have different requirements and different designs. The batteries we will need over the next few decades will have to be tailored to their specific uses.

Copying beetle wings to design MAVs that can recover from midair collisions

A pair of researchers at Konkuk University has designed a miniaturized micro air vehicle (MAV) capable of recovering from midair collisions. In their paper published in the journal Science, Hoang Vu Phan and Hoon Cheol Park describe their study of collision recovery in rhinoceros beetles and how they applied their findings to the design of a new kind of MAV.

Trickbot trojan found to now have the ability to modify a computer's UEFI

A combined team of security experts from Advanced Intelligence and Eclypsium has announced that the Trickbot trojan malware now has the ability to modify a computer's Unified Extensible Firmware Interface—the interface between the firmware on a computer motherboard and the computer's operating system—in this case, Microsoft Windows.

Shape-changing robots that adapt to their environments

When danger approaches, the Moroccan flic-flac spider takes the shape of a ball and rolls away to safety. Just as the trick of shape-shifting to one's environment has proved invaluable for many creatures, Yale researchers say it could be equally useful for robots.

Huge drone set to launch satellites in mid-air

We all have images in our mind of rocket launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station hurtling astronauts into space and satellites into orbit.

Intrusions on civil rights in the digital space on the rise during the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only severely impacted public health in Indonesia but also people's human rights.

New technology allows musicians to perform together in real time and around the globe

The coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis both demonstrate the need for new music technology. It is time that people who work with music become more computer literate, says Stefano Fasciani.

Researchers use AI to simulate soccer with inspiration from world's top players

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is affecting the way we work, learn, shop, and now creating new opportunities for playing and watching our favorite sports.

As hospitals cope with a COVID-19 surge, cyber threats loom

By late morning on Oct. 28, staff at the University of Vermont Medical Center noticed the hospital's phone system wasn't working.

Amazon workers in bid to unionize at Alabama warehouse

Workers at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama are seeking to form a union, setting up a potential battle in the Deep South with a company that has opposed unionization efforts.

Southwest Airlines could lay off at least 6,800 workers

Southwest Airlines warned it could lay off more than 6,800 workers in 2021 in what would be carrier's first involuntary job cuts in its 50-year history.

Deadline looms to sell US TikTok platform

Prospects for popular shortform video app TikTok remained unclear Friday, the Trump administration's latest deadline on China's ByteDance to sell the US TikTok platform.

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