Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Dec 29

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for December 29, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Metasurface enabled quantum edge detection

New supercluster discovered by astronomers

The two sides of inflammation—the cure and the curse

Japanese pairing looking into using wood to build satellites

Using economic data to create predictive models of anticipated antimicrobial resistance levels across countries

Order and disorder in crystalline ice explained

Is forearm curvature in the 'Little Foot' Australopithecus natural or pathological?

Quadriplegic patient uses brain signals to feed himself with two advanced prosthetic arms

New AI tool can predict in seconds what a movie will be rated

Switching DNA functions on and off with light

Study shows children who self-identify as sexual or gender minority more likely to be obese than peers

A single gene 'invented' hemoglobin several times

Electrons hop to it on twisted molecular wires

Researchers publish review article on the physics of interacting particles

Flag leaves could help top off photosynthetic performance in rice

Physics news

Metasurface enabled quantum edge detection

Metasurfaces provide unique platforms to realize exotic phenomena including negative refraction, achromatic focusing, and electromagnetic cloaking due to the engineered dielectric or metallic architectures. The intersection of metasurfaces and quantum optics can lead to significant opportunities that remain to be explored. In a new report now published on Science Advances, Junxiao Zhou, Shikai Liu and a research team in quantum information, nano-optoelectronic devices and computer engineering in China and the U.S. proposed and demonstrated a polarization-entangled photon source. They used the source to switch the optical edge mode in an imaging system to ON or OFF states based on a highly dielectric metasurface. The experiment enriched the fields of quantum optics and metamaterials as a promising direction toward quantum edge detection and image processing with a remarkable signal-to-noise ratio.

Order and disorder in crystalline ice explained

A fascinating substance with unique properties, ice has intrigued humans since time immemorial. Unlike most other materials, ice at very low temperature is not as ordered as it could be. A collaboration between the Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati (SISSA), the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), the Institute of Physics Rosario (IFIR-UNR), with the support of the Istituto Officina dei Materiali of the Italian National Research Council (CNR-IOM), made new theoretical inroads on the reasons why this happens and on the way in which some of the missing order can be recovered. In that ordered state the team of scientists have described a relatively obscure and yet fundamental property of very low temperature ice: ferroelectricity. The results, published in PNAS, are likely to extend to ice surfaces, a possibility that could be relevant to the agglomeration of ice particles in interstellar space.

Researchers publish review article on the physics of interacting particles

Scientific articles in the field of physics are mostly very short and deal with a very restricted topic. A remarkable exception to this is an article published recently by physicists from the Universities of Münster and Düsseldorf. The article is 127 pages long, cites a total of 1075 sources and deals with a wide range of branches of physics—from biophysics to quantum mechanics.

Researchers achieve sustained, high-fidelity quantum teleportation

A viable quantum internet—a network in which information stored in qubits is shared over long distances through entanglement—would transform the fields of data storage, precision sensing and computing, ushering in a new era of communication.

Astronomy and Space news

New supercluster discovered by astronomers

By analyzing the data from the eROSITA Final Equatorial Depth Survey (eFEDS), an international team of astronomers has detected a new supercluster. The newly found structure consists of eight galaxy clusters. The discovery is reported in a paper published December 21 on the arXiv pre-print server.

To help trudge through the snow, the chang'e-5 recovery team wore powered exoskeletons

Other worlds aren't the only difficult terrain personnel will have to traverse in humanity's exploration of the solar system. There are some parts of our own planet that are inhospitable and hard to travel over. Inner Mongolia, a northern province of China, would certainly classify as one of those areas, especially in winter. But that's exactly the terrain team members from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC) had to traverse on December 16th to retrieve lunar samples from the Chang'e-5 mission. What was even more unique is that they did it with the help of exoskeletons.

Technology news

Japanese pairing looking into using wood to build satellites

Japanese company Sumitomo Forestry has announced a joint development project with Kyoto University to test the idea of using wood as a component in satellite construction. As part of the announcement, officials with Sumitomo Forestry told reporters that work on the project will begin with experiments designed to test different types of wood in extreme environments.

New AI tool can predict in seconds what a movie will be rated

Movie ratings can determine a movie's appeal to consumers and the size of its potential audience. Thus, they have an impact on a film's bottom line. Typically, humans do the tedious task of manually rating a movie based on viewing the movie and making decisions on the presence of violence, drug abuse and sexual content.

What's the best way to boost the economy? Invest in high-voltage transmission lines

When, in the midst of the pandemic, the Economic Society of Australia invited 150 of Australia's keenest young thinkers to come up with "brief, specific and actionable" proposals to improve the economy, amid scores of ideas about improving job matching, changing the tax system, providing non-repayable loans to businesses and accelerating telehealth, two proposals stood out.

Football: 'The wall' can make it harder to save free kicks – new research

In football, free kicks occur when the referee believes a rule has been broken. If central enough and within 30 metres from the goal, the attacking team typically attempts a direct shot on goal. However, the goalkeeper routinely places a "wall" of defensive players in between the ball and the goal to complicate the kicker's task of shooting on target.

How coronavirus made 2020 the year of the electric bike

Walking and cycling gained a higher profile than ever in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. Governments around the world encouraged individuals to go on foot or take their bikes where possible instead of using crowded public transport, and invested in widescale cycling infrastructure to help them do so.

Wind powers more than half of UK electricity for first time

Wind power accounted for more than half of Britain's daily generated electricity on Saturday in the wake of Storm Bella, according to energy giant Drax.

Boeing 737 MAX to return to US skies with American flight

American Airlines passengers are set to fly Tuesday on the first US commercial flight on a Boeing 737 MAX since the aircraft was allowed to return to service after a nearly two-year absence.

Army research leads to more effective training model for robots

Multi-domain operations, the Army's future operating concept, requires autonomous agents with learning components to operate alongside the warfighter. New Army research reduces the unpredictability of current training reinforcement learning policies so that they are more practically applicable to physical systems, especially ground robots.

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