Science X Newsletter Thursday, Dec 10

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for December 10, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Network isotopy: A framework to study the 3-D layouts of physical networks

Lyme disease ticks produce antibiotic that protects them from human skin bacteria

Single-crystal technology holds promise for next-generation lithium-ion batteries

Using CRISPR, new technique makes it easy to map genetic networks

What caused the ice ages? Tiny ocean fossils offer key evidence

1300 species, 2400 genes, 21 museums, and 40 years: What it takes to address the tropical diversity paradox

Blocking protein restores strength, endurance in old mice, study finds

Team's electric 'knob' tunes chemical reaction rates in quantum gas

Tasmanian devils may survive their own pandemic

Embryonic development in a petri dish: 3-D cell culturing technique could replace mouse embryos

Hubble pins down weird exoplanet with far-flung orbit that behaves like the long-sought 'Planet Nine'

Researchers report role of quantum vibrations in electron transfer

First woman, next man on moon will come from these NASA 18

SpaceX launches Starship on highest test flight, crash-lands

Studies reveal potential weaknesses in SARS-CoV-2 infection

Physics news

Network isotopy: A framework to study the 3-D layouts of physical networks

The structure and functions of many physical networks, including the human brain, the vascular system and other biological networks, often depend on their three-dimensional and geometrical layout. Distinguishing between physical networks with identical connections but different geometrical layouts, however, can be very challenging.

Team's electric 'knob' tunes chemical reaction rates in quantum gas

Building on their newfound ability to induce molecules in ultracold gases to interact with each other over long distances, JILA researchers have used an electric "knob" to influence molecular collisions and dramatically raise or lower chemical reaction rates.

Researchers report role of quantum vibrations in electron transfer

Princeton Chemistry's Scholes Group is reporting evidence that quantum vibrations participate in electron transfer, establishing with ultrafast laser spectroscopy that the vibrations provide channels through which the reaction takes place.

Researchers demonstrate nondestructive mid-infrared imaging using entangled photons

Researchers have shown that entangled photons can be used to improve the penetration depth of optical coherence tomography (OCT) in highly scattering materials. The method represents a way to perform OCT with mid-infrared wavelengths and could be useful for non-destructive testing and analysis of materials such as ceramics and paint samples.

Researchers publish significant step toward quantum advantage

The team, led by Bristol researcher and Phasecraft co-founder, Dr. Ashley Montanaro, has discovered algorithms and analysis which significantly lessen the quantum hardware capability needed to solve problems which go beyond the realm of classical computing, even supercomputers.

Researchers explore the integration of quantum computing with commercial activities

Australia has made substantial investments in the development of quantum technologies.

'Electronic amoeba' finds approximate solution to traveling salesman problem in linear time

Researchers at Hokkaido University and Amoeba Energy in Japan have, inspired by the efficient foraging behavior of a single-celled amoeba, developed an analog computer for finding a reliable and swift solution to the traveling salesman problem—a representative combinatorial optimization problem.

Researchers control multiple wavelengths of light from a single source

KAIST researchers have synthesized a collection of nanoparticles, known as carbon dots, capable of emitting multiple wavelengths of light from a single particle. Additionally, the team discovered that the dispersion of the carbon dots, or the interparticle distance between each dot, influences the properties of the light the carbon dots emit. The discovery will allow researchers to understand how to control these carbon dots and create new, environmentally responsible displays, lighting, and sensing technology.

Physicists use antiferromagnetic rust to carry information over long distances at room temperature

Be it with smartphones, laptops, or mainframes: The transmission, processing, and storage of information is currently based on a single class of material—as it was in the early days of computer science about 60 years ago. A new class of magnetic materials, however, could raise information technology to a new level. Antiferromagnetic insulators enable computing speeds that are a thousand times faster than conventional electronics, with significantly less heating. Components could be packed closer together and logic modules could thus become smaller, which has so far been limited due to the increased heating of current components.

Fragments of energy—not waves or particles—may be the fundamental building blocks of the universe

Matter is what makes up the universe, but what makes up matter? This question has long been tricky for those who think about it—especially for the physicists. Reflecting recent trends in physics, my colleague Jeffrey Eischen and I have described an updated way to think about matter. We propose that matter is not made of particles or waves, as was long thought, but—more fundamentally—that matter is made of fragments of energy.

Energy-efficient magnetic RAM: A new building block for spintronic technologies

Researchers at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) and Seoul National University in South Korea have demonstrated a new way to enhance the energy efficiency of a non-volatile magnetic memory device called SOT-MRAM. Published in Advanced Materials, this finding opens up a new window of exciting opportunities for future energy-efficient magnetic memories based on spintronics.

Revolutionary superconducting magnet plate design and analysis

In the production of integrated circuits (computer chips), continuous innovation is essential to remain competitive. A major goal is to increase the productivity of photolithography machines, which is partly determined by their electromagnetic motors. Ph.D.-candidate Bart Koolmees, from the TU/e department of Mechanical Engineering, focused on developing a superconducting alternative for these motors. His work showed that such a design could increase the power of the motor by more than 500%, and he also devised solutions to some of the main technical challenges: thermal insulation and the integrity of the superconducting coils. He will defend his thesis on 9 December.

Astronomy and Space news

Hubble pins down weird exoplanet with far-flung orbit that behaves like the long-sought 'Planet Nine'

A planet in an unlikely orbit around a double star 336 light-years away may offer a clue to a mystery much closer to home: A hypothesized, distant body in our solar system dubbed "Planet Nine."

First woman, next man on moon will come from these NASA 18

NASA has named the 18 astronauts—half of them women—who will train for its Artemis moon-landing program.

SpaceX launches Starship on highest test flight, crash-lands

SpaceX launched its shiny, bullet-shaped, straight-out-of-science fiction Starship several miles into the air from a remote corner of Texas on Wednesday, but the 6 1/2-minute test flight ended in an explosive fireball at touchdown.

eROSITA finds large-scale bubbles in the halo of the Milky Way

Gigantic hot gas structures above and below the galactic disc are probably due to shock waves generated by past energetic activity in the center of our galaxy.

Water on Mars not as widespread as previously thought, study finds

Water on Mars, in the form of brines, may not be as widespread as previously thought, according to a new study by researchers at the Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences.

Researchers get a look at the sun's dusty environment

Researchers from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder are diving into the dusty environment that surrounds the sun—a search that could help to reveal how planets like Earth come into being.

Citizen astronomers around the globe partner for world-record research on a near-Earth asteroid

The world's first planetary defense team staffed by citizen astronomers has completed its first research mission: Detect and model a Near-Earth Asteroid, for only the 69th time in history. To honor the achievement, space-lovers from around the planet have a chance to give the asteroid a nickname.

Lunar gold rush could create conflict on the ground if we don't act now – new research

When it comes to the Moon, everyone wants the same things. Not in the sense of having shared goals, but in the sense that all players target the same strategic sites—state agencies and the private sector alike. That's because, whether you want to do science or make money, you will need things such as water and light.

Technology news

Deep reinforcement-learning architecture combines pre-learned skills to create new sets of skills on the fly

A team of researchers from the University of Edinburgh and Zhejiang University has developed a way to combine deep neural networks (DNNs) to create a new type of system with a new kind of learning ability. The group describes their new architecture and its performance in the journal Science Robotics.

Reactive video playback that you control with your body

Computer scientists have developed an entirely new way of interacting with video content that adapts to, and is controlled by, your body movement.

Perovskite/silicon tandem solar cells at the magic threshold of 30% efficiency

An HZB team has published a report in the journal Science on the development of its current world record of 29.15% efficiency for a tandem solar cell made of perovskite and silicon. The tandem cell provided stable performance for 300 hours—even without encapsulation. To accomplish this, the group headed by Prof. Steve Albrecht investigated physical processes at the interfaces to improve the transport of the charge carriers.

Chrome 88's Manifest V3 sets strict privacy rules for extension developers

The mid-January release of the Chrome 88 browser will include privacy and security measures that raised concerns among some developers during recent months of testing.

France fines Google, Amazon 135 mn euros

France's CNIL data privacy watchdog slapped 135 million euros in fines on US tech titans Google and Amazon for placing advertising cookies on users' computers without consent.

Google CEO says company will review AI scholar's abrupt exit

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has apologized for how a prominent artificial intelligence researcher's abrupt departure last week has "seeded doubts" in the company.

Airbnb, resilient in pandemic, goes forward with IPO

Airbnb proved its resilience in a year that has upended global travel. Now it needs to prove to investors that it sees more growth ahead.

German regulators launch new Facebook investigation over VR

German regulators launched an investigation Thursday into Facebook over the company's decision to link its Oculus virtual reality products to the social network, authorities said.

A better kind of cybersecurity strategy

During the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics, held in PyeongChang, South Korea, Russian hackers launched a cyberattack that disrupted television and internet systems at the games. The incident was resolved quickly, but because Russia used North Korean IP addresses for the attack, the source of the disruption was unclear in the event's immediate aftermath.

Getting the right grip: Designing soft and sensitive robotic fingers

Although robotics has reshaped and even redefined many industrial sectors, there still exists a gap between machines and humans in fields such as health and elderly care. For robots to safely manipulate or interact with fragile objects and living organisms, new strategies to enhance their perception while making their parts softer are needed. In fact, building a safe and dexterous robotic gripper with human-like capabilities is currently one of the most important goals in robotics.

'Accessible Christmas,' an application that allows blind people to enjoy Christmas lights

The Human Language and Accessibility Technologies (HULAT) research group at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) has developed and validated a mobile application that allows people with visual impairments to enjoy Christmas lights in the city of Madrid.

Bad news for fake news: New research helps combat social media misinformation

Rice University researchers have discovered a more efficient way for social media companies to keep misinformation from spreading online using probabilistic filters trained with artificial intelligence.

A tool to automate device programming for IoT applications

The Internet of Things (IoT) has ushered in a new era, with everyday items evolving into what we now refer to as cyber-physical systems. These systems are physical mechanisms controlled or monitored by computer algorithms and deeply intertwined through the internet. Such systems have pierced their way into industry and are being deployed and used above all to manage and control industrial processes, thus giving rise to the so-called Industry 4.0. ICREA research professor Jordi Cabot and researcher Abel Gómez, two members of the Systems, Software and Models (SOM) Research Lab at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3), in collaboration with the IKERLAN technology research center, have designed an innovative new tool for automating and streamlining the creation of systems that employ asynchronous event-driven communication, one of the most widely used computer architectures in this sector. The tool is the first to use the recently published AsyncAPI specification, which standardizes work with this type of architecture. The prototype, initially developed as part of the MegaMa@Rt2 project, is open-source and thus available for free online.

Researchers use machine learning to develop more accurate COVID-19 diagnostic tool

Researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) have developed a method of generating high-quality chest X-ray images that can be used to diagnose COVID-19 more accurately than current methods. The research team, led by Sumeet Menon, a Ph.D. student in computer science at UMBC, will publish its findings in the proceedings of the IEEE Big Data 2020 Conference to be held virtually in December.

Airbnb shares more than double in price in long-awaited IPO

Airbnb proved its resilience in a year that has upended global travel. Now it needs to prove to investors that it sees more growth ahead.

Qualcomm aims to jumpstart smart cities tech with new plug and play subscription suite

In a bid to jumpstart smart cities technologies, Qualcomm has launched a new Internet of Things Services Suite to help municipalities, schools, ports, hospitals and construction firms deploy digital tools without huge upfront costs.

Delta asks more workers to take leave as travel slump widens

Delta Air Lines has managed to avoid furloughs but is now asking more employees to take unpaid leaves of absence, a sign of the deepening slump in air travel as coronavirus cases increase across the United States.

Sony to buy US anime giant Crunchyroll for $1.17 bn

Japan's Sony said Thursday it has agreed to buy US anime streaming giant Crunchyroll, which has more than three million paying subscribers, in a deal worth $1.17 billion.

Airbnb heads to Wall Street with hefty $47 bn valuation

Home-sharing giant Airbnb was set for its Wall Street debut Thursday with a whopping $47 billion valuation amid a feverish rush for new shares in companies adapting to lifestyle changes imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

YouTube to remove misleading videos about the outcome of the U.S. presidential election

YouTube will remove content alleging fraud or errors changed the outcome of the U.S. presidential election starting today, according to a statement by the company.

Instagram adds shopping feature in Reels with product tags

Instagram launched today a feature that allows shopping in Reels.

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