Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Dec 23

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for December 23, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Exploring the notion of shortcut learning in deep neural networks

How our brains track where we and others go

Ancient DNA retells story of Caribbean's first people, with a few plot twists

Experiment takes 'snapshots' of light, stops light, uses light to change properties of matter

Research team reports new class of antibiotics active against a wide range of bacteria

Remarkable new species of snake found hidden in a biodiversity collection

Black hole X-ray binary GRS 1915+105 has a variable magnetic disc wind, study suggests

Model predicts where ticks, Lyme disease will appear next in Midwest states

Survival of the thickest: Big brains make mammal populations less dense

Highest levels of microplastics found in molluscs, new study says

Are two phases of quarantine better than one?

New research highlights the importance of a forgotten organ in ensuring healthy pregnancies

Covering faces around kids won't mask emotions

Weedy Seadragon genomics reveal highly distinct populations

Capturing 40 years of climate change for an endangered Montana prairie

Physics news

Experiment takes 'snapshots' of light, stops light, uses light to change properties of matter

Light travels at a speed of about 300,000,000 meters per second as light particles, photons, or equivalently as electromagnetic field waves. Experiments led by Hrvoje Petek, an R.K. Mellon professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy examined ideas surrounding the origins of light, taking snapshots of light, stopping light and using it to change properties of matter.

Are two phases of quarantine better than one?

New research into this question shows that the second wave of an epidemic is very different if a population has a homogenous distribution of contacts, compared to the scenario of subpopulations with diverse number of contacts.

Researchers develop new way to break reciprocity law

An international research team lead by Aalto University has found a new and simple route to break the reciprocity law in the electromagnetic world, by changing a material's property periodically in time. The breakthrough could help to create efficient nonreciprocal devices, such as compact isolators and circulators, that are needed for the next generation of microwave and optical communications systems.

Masks block 99.9% of large COVID-linked droplets: study

Face masks reduce the risk of spreading large COVID-linked droplets when speaking or coughing by up to 99.9 percent, according to a lab experiment with mechanical mannequins and human subjects, researchers said Wednesday.

Perfect transmission through barrier using sound

The perfect transmission of sound through a barrier is difficult to achieve, if not impossible based on our existing knowledge. This is also true with other energy forms such as light and heat.

Quantum wave in helium dimer filmed for the first time

Anyone entering the world of quantum physics must prepare themself for quite a few things unknown in the everyday world: Noble gases form compounds, atoms behave like particles and waves at the same time and events that in the macroscopic world exclude each other occur simultaneously.

A proposal for a neutrino detection array spanning 200,000 square kilometers

Sometimes in astronomy, the acronym for a project fits it particularly well. That would absolutely be the case for the Giant Radio Array for Neutrino Detection, which researchers hope to scale up to a size of 200,000 km2 in an effort to measure ultra-high-energy tau neutrinos. Is it ambitious? Yes, but that doesn't really stop humanity from exploring when it wants to.

Astronomy and Space news

Black hole X-ray binary GRS 1915+105 has a variable magnetic disc wind, study suggests

Using NASA's Chandra spacecraft, astronomers have performed high-resolution X-ray spectroscopic observations of a transient black hole X-ray binary known as GRS 1915+105. They report that the source exhibits a variable magnetic accretion disc wind. The study was detailed in a paper published December 16 on the arXiv pre-print repository.

Image: Hubble sees a 'molten ring'

The narrow galaxy elegantly curving around its spherical companion in this image is a fantastic example of a truly strange and very rare phenomenon. This image, taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, depicts GAL-CLUS-022058s, located in the southern hemisphere constellation of Fornax (the Furnace). GAL-CLUS-022058s is the largest and one of the most complete Einstein rings ever discovered in our universe. The object has been nicknamed by astronomers studying this Einstein ring as the "Molten Ring," which alludes to its appearance and host constellation.

Using AI to count and map craters on the moon

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in China, one from Italy and one from Iceland has used a machine-learning artificial intelligence application to count and note the location of over 100,000 craters on the moon. In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the group describes programming their system to recognize craters by training it with data collected by Chinese lunar orbiters.

Image: Space bauble produced by the Multiscale Boiling experiment

Deck the halls with space-based bubbles!

Why radio astronomers need things quiet in the middle of a Western Australia desert

A remote outback station about 800km north of Perth in Western Australia is one of the best places in the world to operate telescopes that listen for radio signals from space.

Earthlings and astronauts chat away, via ham radio

The International Space Station cost more than $100 billion. A ham radio set can be had for a few hundred bucks.

Technology news

Exploring the notion of shortcut learning in deep neural networks

Over the past few years, artificial intelligence (AI) tools, particularly deep neural networks, have achieved remarkable results on a number of tasks. However, recent studies have found that these computational techniques have a number of limitations. In a recent paper published in Nature Machine Intelligence, researchers at Tübingen and Toronto universities explored and discussed a problem known as 'shortcut learning' that appears to underpin many of the shortcomings of deep neural networks identified in recent years.

Musk: Apple CEO didn't take meeting about buying Tesla

Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he once considered selling the electric car maker to Apple, but the iPhone maker's CEO blew off the meeting.

Japan's renewable energy sector seeks carbon-neutral windfall

Japan needs to boost renewable energy by reforming outdated policies on land use and the national grid if it is to meet a new goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, industry players and experts say.

Renewables offer savings for Philippine small islands

Shifting to renewables in small islands and isolated areas can provide cheap, reliable energy to more than half of the Philippine population or around 50 million people, says a new report by the US-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

Four ways microbial fuel cells might revolutionize electricity production in the future

The world population is estimated to reach 9.5 billion by 2050. Given that most of our current energy is generated from fossil fuels, this creates significant challenges when it comes to providing enough sustainable electricity while mitigating climate change.

How an AI 'SantaNet' might end up destroying the world

Within the next few decades, according to some experts, we may see the arrival of the next step in the development of artificial intelligence. So-called "artificial general intelligence", or AGI, will have intellectual capabilities far beyond those of humans.

US targets ripple crypto creators

The US financial watchdog is chasing the firm behind a major crypto currency, accusing it of failing to respect regulations on offering unregistered digital assets.

Cashing in on additive manufacturing

Three-dimensional printing, 3-D printing, has developed steadily over the last three decades or so. It has become, if not commonplace, then more well-known and utilized in wide-ranging industries, it is. It has been something of a long-term technological revolution changing the way low-demand objects are designed and produced. So much so that it is often referred to as additive manufacturing.

Pilot redundancies dodged as Lufthansa inks deal with union

German airline Lufthansa said Wednesday it has reached a deal with a union that heads off any forced redundancies of pilots to March 2022, as the aviation giant struggles to stay solvent in the pandemic.

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