Science X Newsletter Monday, Feb 1

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for February 1, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

The first observation of a marginal Fermi glass

Ultralow magnetic damping of a common metallic ferromagnetic film

New quasi-periodic oscillation detected from XTE J1858+034

New insights into B cells and why humans can produce trillions of disease-fighting antibodies

Physicists create tunable superconductivity in twisted graphene 'nanosandwich'

Astronomers detect extended dark matter halo around ancient dwarf galaxy

Use of pronouns may show signs of an impeding breakup

Newly discovered trait helps plants grow deeper roots in dry, compacted soils

Mysterious magnetic fossils offer past climate clues

Physics of snakeskin sheds light on sidewinding

Geologists produce new timeline of Earth's Paleozoic climate changes

New clues emerge in how early tetrapods learned to live—and eat—on land

Marine organisms use previously undiscovered receptors to detect, respond to light

Lactobacillus manipulates bile acids to create favorable gut environment

Backreaction observed for first time in water tank black hole simulation

Physics news

The first observation of a marginal Fermi glass

For several years, the condensed-matter physics community has been trying to gain a better understanding of material systems made up of strongly interacting particles. Interestingly, many metals can be described as systems with effectively weakly interacting electrons, even if interactions between electrons are typically quite strong.

Ultralow magnetic damping of a common metallic ferromagnetic film

Ultralow damping is of key importance for spintronic and spin-orbitronic applications in a range of magnetic materials. However, the number of materials that are suited for charge-based spintronic and spin-orbitronic applications are limited due to magnon-electron scattering. To quantitatively calculate the transition metallic ferromagnetic damping, researchers have proposed theoretical approaches including the breathing Fermi surface model (to describe dissipative magnetization dynamics), generalized torque correlation model, scattering theory, and the linear response damping model. In a new report now published on Science Advances, Yangping Wei and a team of scientists in science, magnetism and magnetic materials, and chemical engineering in China and Singapore experimentally detailed a damping parameter approaching 1.5 x 10-3 for traditional, fundamental iron aluminide (FeAl) soft ferromagnets. The results were comparable to those of 3-D transition metallic ferromagnets based on the principle of minimum electron density of states.

Backreaction observed for first time in water tank black hole simulation

Scientists have revealed new insights into the behavior of black holes with research that demonstrates how a phenomenon called backreaction can be simulated.

Solving complex physics problems at lightning speed

A calculation so complex that it takes 20 years to complete on a powerful desktop computer can now be done in one hour on a regular laptop. Physicist Andreas Ekström at Chalmers University of Technology, together with international research colleagues, has designed a new method to calculate the properties of atomic nuclei incredibly quickly.

Physicists rewired a simulated human brain: How its rhythms changed and what it means for people with epilepsy

Synchronization is a widespread phenomenon in nature. Examples include fireflies flashing simultaneously, crickets chirping in unison and bird swarms synchronizing their wing flaps. On the day of London's Millennium Bridge opening, many curious citizens came to cross it. The crowd started to synchronize their walking spontaneously—as a result, the bridge began to sway from side to side. It was closed just a few hours later for safety, and it took two more years of repair until it finally reopened. These examples show that synchronization can either be desirable or harmful.

Unlocking the power of a molecule's spin

Behind the devices that shape modern life is an array of natural and human-made materials. One such component of smartphones and computers are rare earth metals, a group of 17 elements that, because they aren't found in concentrated deposits, require energy-intensive and toxic methods to extract. While recycling rare earth metals from used devices is one way to relieve strained supply chains and reduce environmental damage, the fundamental chemistry required for efficiently separating and reusing these metals remains a challenge.

New photonics research makes smaller, more efficient virtual and augmented reality tech possible

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of Texas have developed and demonstrated a new approach for designing photonic devices. The advance allows them to control the direction and polarization of light from thin-film LEDs, paving the way for a new generation of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies.

Searching for dark matter through the fifth dimension

Theoretical physicists of the PRISMA+ Cluster of Excellence at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz are working on a theory that goes beyond the Standard Model of particle physics and can answer questions where the Standard Model has to pass—for example, with respect to the hierarchies of the masses of elementary particles or the existence of dark matter. The central element of the theory is an extra dimension in spacetime. Until now, scientists have faced the problem that the predictions of their theory could not be tested experimentally. They have now overcome this problem in a publication in the current issue of the European Physical Journal C.

Optimized LIBS technique improves analysis of nuclear reactor materials

In a new study, investigators report an optimized approach to using laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) for analyzing hydrogen isotopes. Their new findings could enable improved rapid identification and measurement of hydrogen and other light isotopes that are important in nuclear reactor materials and other applications.

Researchers realize single full field-of-view reconstruction fourier ptychographic microscopy

Fourier ptychographic microscopy (FPM) is a recently developed computational imaging technique, which has high-resolution and wide field-of-view (FOV). However, due to the lower light efficiency of the off-axis LEDs, the exposure time of dark-field images has to be extended to improve the signal-to-noise of dark-field images. In addition, effected by the spherical illumination wavefronts of LEDs, the wavevectors of full-FOV are different.

A full-scale prototype for muon tomography

Each year, billions of tons of goods are transported globally using cargo containers. Currently, there are concerns that this immense volume of traffic could be exploited to transport illicit nuclear materials, with little chance of detection. One promising approach to combating this issue is to measure how goods interact with charged particles named muons—which form naturally as cosmic rays interact with Earth's atmosphere. Studies worldwide have now explored how this technique, named "muon tomography," can be achieved through a variety of detection technologies and reconstruction algorithms. In this article of EPJ Plus, a team headed by Francesco Riggi at the University of Catania, Italy, build on these results to develop a full-scale muon tomograph prototype.

Paving the way for effective field theories

Over the past century, a wide variety of models have emerged to explain the complex behaviors which unfold within atomic nuclei at low energies. However, these theories bring up deep philosophical questions regarding their scientific value. Indeed, traditional epistemological tools have been rather elaborated to account for a unified and stabilized theory rather than to apprehend a plurality of models. Ideally, a theory is meant to be reductionist, unifying and fundamentalist. In view of the intrinsic limited precision of their prediction and of the difficulty in assessing a priori their range of applicability, as well as of their specific and disconnected character, traditional nuclear models are necessarily deficient when analyzed by means of standard epistemological interpretative frameworks.

Astronomy and Space news

New quasi-periodic oscillation detected from XTE J1858+034

Using NASA's NuSTAR and Swift space observatories, Indian astronomers have inspected an X-ray pulsar known as XTE J1858+034 during its outburst and identified a low-frequency quasi-periodic oscillation (QPO) from this source. The finding is reported in a paper published January 22 on the arXiv pre-print repository.

Astronomers detect extended dark matter halo around ancient dwarf galaxy

The Milky Way is surrounded by dozens of dwarf galaxies that are thought to be relics of the very first galaxies in the universe. Among the most primitive of these galactic fossils is Tucana II—an ultrafaint dwarf galaxy that is about 50 kiloparsecs, or 163,000 light years, from Earth.

Astronomers spot bizarre, never-before-seen activity from one of the strongest magnets in the universe

Astronomers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav) and CSIRO have just observed bizarre, never-seen-before behavior from a radio-loud magnetar—a rare type of neutron star and one of the strongest magnets in the universe.

Image: Hubble spots an interstellar interaction

The life of a planetary nebula is often chaotic, from the death of its parent star to the scattering of its contents far out into space. Captured here by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, ESO 455-10 is one such planetary nebula, located in the constellation of Scorpius (The Scorpion).

Modeling galaxy formation

Understanding the formation and evolution of galaxies is difficult because so many different physical processes besides just gravity are involved, including processes associated with star formation and stellar radiation, the cooling of the gas in the interstellar medium, feedback from accreting black holes, magnetic fields, cosmic rays, and more. Astronomers have used computer simulations of galaxy formation to help understand the interplay of these processes and address questions that cannot yet be answered through observations, like how the first galaxies in the universe formed. Simulations of galaxy formation require the self-consistent modeling of all these various mechanisms at once, but a key difficulty is that each of them operates at a different spatial scale making it nearly impossible to properly simulate them all at the same time. Gas inflow from the intergalactic medium into a galaxy, for example, takes place across millions of light-years, the winds of stars have influence over hundreds of light-years, while black hole feedback from its accretion disc occurs at scales of thousandths of a light-year.

Spacewalkers complete 4 years of power upgrades for station

A pair of spacewalking astronauts completed a four-year effort to modernize the International Space Station's power grid on Monday, installing one last battery.

Space tourism: new test flight planned for Virgin Galactic

Space tourism company Virgin Galactic said Monday it planned a new test flight for its SpaceShipTwo craft this month after an aborted test in early December.

Maine company successfully launches prototype rocket

A Maine company that's developing a rocket to propel small satellites into space passed its first major test on Sunday.

Astronomers measure enormous planet lurking far from its star

Scientists aren't usually able to measure the size of gigantic planets like Jupiter or Saturn that are far from the stars they orbit. But a UC Riverside-led team has done it.

Apes, robots and men: The life and death of the first space chimp

On January 31, 1961, an intrepid chimpanzee called Ham was launched on a rocket from Cape Canaveral in the United States, and returned to Earth alive. In this process, he became the first hominin in space.

US billionaire buys SpaceX flight to orbit with 3 others

A U.S. billionaire who made a fortune in tech and fighter jets is buying an entire SpaceX flight and plans to take three people with him to circle the globe this year.

Technology news

Pioneering quantum hardware allows for controlling up to thousands of qubits at cryogenic temperatures

Quantum computing offers the promise of solutions to previously unsolvable problems, but in order to deliver on this promise, it will be necessary to preserve and manipulate information that is contained in the most delicate of resources: highly entangled quantum states. One thing that makes this so challenging is that quantum devices must be ensconced in an extreme environment in order to preserve quantum information, but signals must be sent to each qubit in order to manipulate this information—requiring, in essence, an information superhighway into this extreme environment. Both of these problems must, moreover, be solved at a scale far beyond that of present-day quantum device technology.

Data scientist analyzes evolution of COVID-19 dark web marketplaces before the vaccine

New research carried out by City data scientist, Dr. Andrea Baronchelli, and colleagues, into the dark web marketplace (DWM) trade in products related to COVID-19, has revealed the need for the continuous monitoring of dark web marketplaces (DWMs), especially in light of the current shortage and availability of coronavirus vaccines.

Salt battery design overcomes 'bump' in the road to help electric cars go the extra mile

Using salt as a key ingredient, Chinese and British researchers have designed a new type of rechargeable battery that could accelerate the shift to greener, electric transport on our roads.

Smartphone giant Xiaomi sues to reverse US blacklisting

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi said Sunday it had filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the former Trump administration's last-minute blacklisting of the electronics giant.

Australian prime minister says Bing could replace Google

Australia's prime minister said on Monday that Microsoft is confident it can fill the void if Google carries out its threat to remove its search engine from Australia.

Nintendo profits soar as people play games during pandemic

Nintendo Co. reported Monday that its profit for the first three fiscal quarters nearly doubled as people around the world stayed home for the pandemic and turned to playing games.

Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphones: Will upgraded and cheaper Android get iPhone users to switch?

The lower prices for Samsung's new Galaxy S21 phones may be the biggest feature to help the device maker defend its lead in the smartphone wars.

Terahertz accelerates beyond 5G towards 6G

A team of researchers at Osaka University, together with Rohm Co., Ltd., has employed 300-GHz band terahertz waves as an information carrier that allows for wireless communications of 8K ultrahigh definition (UHD) video with a data rate of 48 Gbit/s under the JST CREST project "Development of terahertz integrated technology platform through fusion of resonant tunneling diodes and photonic crystals."

Reliability analysis of the U.S. West reviews barriers to a renewable future

The Western Interconnection is an electric grid that connects power from Canada down to Baja California, and from the Great Plains to the Pacific. It also represents an electric system in transition: a steady increase in renewable energy sources, especially solar photovoltaics (PV), is presenting choices today with impacts that will last for decades. As part of a multistate collaboration, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has modeled and assessed long-term reliability and integration impacts of solar PV growth in the western United States, with broader lessons for power grids and renewable policies.

Artificial intelligence must not be allowed to replace the imperfection of human empathy

At the heart of the development of AI appears to be a search for perfection. And it could be just as dangerous to humanity as the one that came from philosophical and pseudoscientific ideas of the 19th and early 20th centuries and led to the horrors of colonialism, world war and the Holocaust. Instead of a human ruling "master race", we could end up with a machine one.

Hydrogen-powered drives for e-scooters

Hydrogen is regarded by many as the future of propulsion technology. The first hydrogen-powered cars are already in action on German roads. In the case of e-scooters, however, installation of a high-pressure tank to store the hydrogen is impractical. An alternative here is POWERPASTE. This provides a safe way of storing hydrogen in a chemical form that is easy to transport and replenish without the need for an expensive network of filling stations. This new paste is based on magnesium hydride and was developed by a research team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Dresden.

EU says in appeal that Apple tax ruling was 'contradictory'

The European Union's executive Commission says a court decision handing Apple victory last year in a big tax case was "contradictory" and committed legal errors, in a filing for its appeal released Monday.

Batteries that can be assembled in ambient air

The honor of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to those who developed lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. These batteries have become an essential energy source for electronic devices ranging from small IT devices to electric vehicles. Tesla, a leading U.S. automaker, recently emphasized the need to establish an innovative production system and reduce battery cost. The price of batteries accounts for a large portion of electric vehicles and cost reduction is vital to popularizing them.

Ford to put Google cloud to work in cars and factories

Ford and Google on Monday announced an alliance to put the internet giant's cloud computing to work powering in-car services and factory-floor efficiencies.

Facebook pop-ups to escalate feud with Apple

Facebook on Monday said that pop-up messages on its iPhone and iPad apps will tout benefits of targeted ads ahead of a privacy move by Apple that could curb tracking.

GameStop soars again; Wall Street bends under the pressure

Another bout of selling gripped the U.S. stock market Friday, as anxiety mounts over whether the frenzy behind a swift, meteoric rise in GameStop and a handful of other stocks will damage Wall Street overall.

Hundreds protest Amazon expansion in France

Hundreds rallied in several French towns on Saturday in protests against Amazon called by anti-capitalist and environmental groups, including at one site where the US e-commerce giant plans a massive warehouse.

Japan Airlines projects higher losses over pandemic

Japan Airlines said Monday it forecasts a larger-than-expected annual net loss of nearly $2.9 billion, as the aviation industry continues to struggle from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ryanair forecasts biggest ever loss on virus hit

Irish no-frills carrier Ryanair warned Monday that it will suffer a record annual loss of almost 1.0 billion euros ($1.2 billion) as the coronavirus pandemic ravages demand for air travel.

GameStop: Two US senators call for Wall Street reform

Progressive US senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren called on Sunday for action against what they said were the Wall Street abuses by hedge funds revealed by the recent frenzy over GameStop shares.

GameStop and Reddit: What's happening in the stock market?

In the past few days, the financial world has been buzzing about GameStop, Reddit, and a short squeeze. Finance Professor, Carlos Slawson, offers some insight into the recent frenzy in the stock market.

Robinhood raises $3.4 bn to meet needs amid GameStop saga

Online trading platform Robinhood, which has seen demand surge amid a social media campaign targeting GameStop and other companies, said on Monday it had raised $3.4 billion to finance its needs.


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