Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Jan 5

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for January 5, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Chitrakar: A system that can transform images of human faces into drawings

Full mitochondrial control for the ultimate anticancer biohack

Wood-inspired cement with high strength and multifunctionality

Superflare detected on an ultracool star

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 480 SoC to bring 5G to low-cost phones

Remote sensing data sheds light on when and how asteroid Ryugu lost its water

New clues to prostate cancer: Why aggressive subtype can resist treatment

3-D-printed smart gel changes shape when exposed to light

Uncovering how grasslands changed our climate

A plant's way to its favorite food

Summer temperatures could rise faster in the UK than average global rates

Researchers compute turbulence with artificial intelligence

Researchers uncover unequal effects of human activity on mammals

Use of ocean resources changed as Dungeness crab fishing industry adapted to climate shock event

How to untie magnetic nano-knots

Physics news

DYNAMO achieves first observation of the 'charge separation effect'

The University of Michigan has successfully demonstrated the "charge separation effect," predicted over a decade ago, which has important potential for direct conversion of light to electricity without the thermodynamic losses typical of photovoltaic (solar cell) technology. The results are expected to be important to future developments in ultrafast switching, nanophotonics, and nonlinear optics as well.

Reading out qubits like toppling dominoes: A new scalable approach towards the quantum computer

Creating a powerful, large-scale quantum computer depends on a clever design such that many qubits (the building block of a quantum computer) can be controlled and read out. Researchers at QuTech, a collaboration between TU Delft and TNO, have invented a new readout method that is an important step forward on the road towards such a large-scale quantum computer. They have published their findings in Nature Communications today.

Breaking through the resolution barrier with quantum-limited precision

Researchers at Paderborn University have developed a new method of distance measurement for systems such as GPS, which achieves more precise results than ever before. Using quantum physics, the team led by Leibniz Prize winner Professor Christine Silberhorn has successfully overcome the so-called resolution limit, which causes the 'noise' we may see in photos, for example. Their findings have just been published in the academic journal Physical Review X Quantum (PRX Quantum).

Machine learning improves particle accelerator diagnostics

Operators of the primary particle accelerator at the U.S. Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility are getting a new tool to help them quickly address issues that can prevent it from running smoothly. A new machine learning system has passed its first two-week test, correctly identifying glitchy accelerator components and the type of glitches they're experiencing in near-real-time.

Evolving the surgical microscope

A clear view of anatomical structures is vital for the success of surgery—especially in microsurgery where narrow anatomical cavities or proximity to vulnerable organs and tissues can pose significant risks to patient health. The surgical microscope has evolved to become a powerful tool for improving surgical visualization.

Astronomy and Space news

Superflare detected on an ultracool star

Using Xinglong observatory's Ground-based Wide Angle Cameras (GWAC), astronomers from China and France have detected a new superflare of an ultracool star known as SDSS J013333.08+003223.7. The newly found event, designated GWAC 181229A, appears to be one of the most powerful flares on ultracool stars so far discovered. The finding is reported in a paper published December 28 on arXiv.org.

Remote sensing data sheds light on when and how asteroid Ryugu lost its water

Last month, Japan's Hayabusa2 mission brought home a cache of rocks collected from a near-Earth asteroid called Ryugu. While analysis of those returned samples is just getting underway, researchers are using data from the spacecraft's other instruments to reveal new details about the asteroid's past.

SETI: New signal excites alien hunters – here's how we could find out if it's real

The US$100m (£70m) Breakthrough Listen Initiative, founded by Russian billionaire, technology and science investor Yuri Milner and his wife Julia, has identified a mysterious radio signal that seems to come from the nearest star to the Sun—Proxima Centauri. This has generated a flood of excitement in the press and among scientists themselves. The discovery, which was reported by The Guardian but has yet to be published in a scientific journal, may be the search for extraterrestrial intelligence's (SETI) first bona fide candidate signal. It has been dubbed Breakthrough Listen Candidate 1 or simply BLC-1.

Digital Sky Survey maps the entire sky, providing new data to astronomers

The fifth generation of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey is collecting data about our universe for Vanderbilt University astronomers and other project members to use to explore the formation of distant galaxies and supermassive black holes, and to map the Milky Way.

NASA's first mission to the Trojan asteroids integrates its second scientific instrument

NASA's Lucy mission is one step closer to launch as L'TES, the Lucy Thermal Emission Spectrometer, has been successfully integrated on to the spacecraft.

Making methane on Mars

Among the many challenges with a Mars voyage, one of the most pressing is: How can you get enough fuel for the spacecraft to fly back to Earth?

Technology news

Chitrakar: A system that can transform images of human faces into drawings

Researchers at the TCS Robotics Research Lab in India have recently developed an artificial intelligence (AI) system that can automatically convert an image of a person's face into a recognizable non-self-intersecting loop, known as a Jordan curve. Subsequently, this Jordan curve can be used to produce realistic drawings of the person in the original image, using a robotic hand.

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 480 SoC to bring 5G to low-cost phones

As 5G-enabled phones secured their spot as major players in smartphone technology in 2020, access to this latest functionality has been limited to higher-end phones. But things are about to change, as Qualcomm announced today the development of the Snapdragon 480 5G Mobile Platform, which is expected to usher in a new wave of low-cost smartphones featuring cutting-edge features of the latest wireless standard.

Researchers compute turbulence with artificial intelligence

For the first time, researchers at ETH Zurich have successfully automated the modeling of turbulence by combining fluid mechanics with artificial intelligence. Their project relies on fusing reinforcement learning algorithms with turbulent flow simulations on the CSCS supercomputer Piz Daint.

Multifunctional lens sensor system could revolutionize smart contacts

The enormous impact of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, together with other diseases or chronic health risks, has significantly prompted the development and application of bioelectronics and medical devices for real-time monitoring and diagnosing health status. Among all these devices, smart contact lenses attract extensive interests due to their capability of directly monitoring physiological and ambient information. Smart contact lenses equipped with high sensitivity sensors would open the possibility of a non-invasive method to continuously detect biomarkers in tears. They could also be equipped with application-specific integrated circuit chips to further enrich their functionality to obtain, process and transmit physiological properties, manage illnesses and health risks, and finally promote health and wellbeing. Despite significant efforts, previous demonstrations still need multistep integration processes with limited detection sensitivity and mechanical biocompatibility.

Impurities boost performance of organic solar cells

An electrochemical method for stabilizing a reactive molecule can help the development of higher efficiency solar cells.

New research shows machine learning could lop a year off technology design cycle

If everything moved 40,000 times faster, you could eat a fresh tomato three minutes after planting a seed. You could fly from New York to L.A. in half a second. And you'd have waited in line at airport security for that flight for 30 milliseconds.

Singapore admits police can access contact-tracing data

Singapore has admitted data collected for contact-tracing can be accessed by police despite earlier assurances it would only be used to fight the coronavirus, sparking privacy concerns Tuesday about the scheme.

The Christmas gifts that keep giving (your data away)—and how to prevent this

With the festive season having come to a close, consumers the world over will be playing with a variety of new tech toys.

Amazon buys 11 jets for 1st time to ship orders faster

Amazon said Tuesday that it bought 11 jets from Delta and WestJet airlines to boost its growing delivery network and get orders to shoppers faster.

Mollenkopf to step down as CEO of chip giant Qualcomm

Qualcomm said Tuesday that Steve Mollenkopf would step down as chief executive this year after guiding the dominant mobile chipmaker through the rapidly expanding smartphone era.

Norway first to reach 50% electric in new car sales

Norway has become the first country in the world where electric cars account for more than half of new registrations, according to figures published Tuesday by an industry group.

On the road to invisible solar panels: How tomorrow's windows will generate electricity

Five years after the Paris climate agreement, all eyes are on the world's progress on the road to a carbon-free future. A crucial part of this goal involves the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources, such as sun, water, wind and wave energy. Among those, solar energy has always held the highest hope in the scientific community, as the most reliable and abundant energy source on Earth. In recent decades, solar cells have become cheaper, more efficient, and environment friendly. However, current solar cells tend to be opaque, which prevents their wider use and integration into everyday materials, constrained to being lined up on roofs and in remote solar farms.

iPhone supply chain sends bullish signal on 5G after tepid start

IPhone suppliers are racing to meet surging demand for Apple Inc.'s 5G handsets after tech-savvy consumers leaped on the first major wireless technology upgrade in a decade.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden vs. Facebook and Twitter: Why Section 230 could get repealed in 2021

In 1996, Congress passed the Communications Decency Act, which fueled the rise of the modern internet and technology giants Facebook, Google and Twitter. That law contains a provision that has emerged as one of the nation's most hotly contested issues.

Difficult 2020 ends on an improving note for US carmakers

General Motors and Toyota reported strong US sales at the end of 2020 on Tuesday, reflecting surprisingly robust consumer demand that mitigated the sales drop for the full year in the wake of COVID-19.

NYSE scraps plan to delist China telecom firms

The New York Stock Exchange abandoned plans to delist three state-owned Chinese telecom companies on Monday, reversing a decision that further dented already strained relations between the world's two superpowers.

China state news agency urges end to long work hours in tech

China's official Xinhua News Agency is calling for shorter work hours in the country's tech sector following the sudden death last week of a young employee at a leading e-commerce platform.

Where is Jack Ma, China's e-commerce pioneer?

China's best-known entrepreneur, e-commerce billionaire Jack Ma, made his fortune by taking big risks.

Discovery+ is available now. How does it compare to other streaming services?

It's a new year, so naturally why not start it with another streaming service?


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