Science X Newsletter Tuesday, May 4

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for May 4, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Spinning black holes could deform under an external and static gravitational field

Study places new constraints on the time variation of gravitational constant G

Astronomers discover a new extragalactic circular radio source

Bats found to have innate sense of speed of sound

With a zap of light, system switches objects' colors and patterns

Chemical 'nose' sniffs critical differences in DNA structures

Plastic pollution in the deep sea: A geological perspective

Mindblowing: advances in brain tech spur push for 'neuro-rights'

'Last resort' antibiotic pops bacteria like balloons

Circadian rhythm research could turn early birds into night owls

Using 4D printing to enable vascularization, bone tissue regeneration, spinal fusion

Study reveals the gateway to conscious awareness

Surfaces can be designed with antiviral properties to mitigate COVID-19

Cellphone converts into powerful chemical detector

New norms needed to name never-seen fungi

Physics news

Circadian rhythm research could turn early birds into night owls

How body clocks work could lead to science that can turn an early bird into a night owl or vice versa as well as other advances, like helping crops grow all year long.

Surfaces can be designed with antiviral properties to mitigate COVID-19

If a respiratory droplet from a person infected with COVID-19 lands on a surface, it becomes a possible source of disease spread. This is known as the fomite route of disease spread, in which the aqueous phase of the respiratory droplet serves as a medium for virus survival.

Cellphone converts into powerful chemical detector

Scientists from Texas A&M have developed an extension to an ordinary cellphone that turns it into an instrument capable of detecting chemicals, drugs, biological molecules, and pathogens. The advance is reported in Reviews of Scientific Instruments.

Photonics research harnesses the power of light

In a lab at USC, Mercedeh Khajavikhan engineers new structures that change the shape of light as it is transported. She creates groundbreaking structures in a field of science called photonics. Her work is important because it affects many things used in daily life, including lasers for imaging and sensing, fiber optic cables for advanced communications and computer chips to increase processing capabilities to a level earlier generations couldn't have dreamed of.

Laser light makes a comeback (literally)

Straight-line constant-speed propagation in free space is a basic characteristic of light. In a recent study published in Communications Physics, researchers from Osaka University discovered the phenomenon of reciprocating propagation of laser pulse intensity in free space.

Complex shapes of photons to boost future quantum technologies

As the digital revolution has now become mainstream, quantum computing and quantum communication are rising in the consciousness of the field. The enhanced measurement technologies enabled by quantum phenomena, and the possibility of scientific progress using new methods, are of particular interest to researchers around the world.

Astronomy and Space news

Spinning black holes could deform under an external and static gravitational field

An open question among the physics community is whether black holes can be tidally deformed by an external gravitational field. If this were confirmed to be true, it could have important implications for many areas of physics, including fundamental physics, astrophysics and gravitational-wave astronomy.

Study places new constraints on the time variation of gravitational constant G

Past physics theories introduced several fundamental constants, including Newton's constant G, which quantifies the strength of the gravitational interaction between two massive objects. Combined, these fundamental constants allow physicists to describe the universe in ways that are straightforward and easier to understand.

Astronomers discover a new extragalactic circular radio source

Using the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), astronomers have detected a new extragalactic odd radio circle (ORC). The newfound radio source, designated ORC J0102–2450, has a diameter of nearly 1 million light years. The finding is reported in a paper published April 27 on arXiv.org.

Parker discovers natural radio emission in Venus' atmosphere

During a brief swing by Venus, NASA's Parker Solar Probe detected a natural radio signal that revealed the spacecraft had flown through the planet's upper atmosphere. This was the first direct measurement of the Venusian atmosphere in nearly 30 years—and it looks quite different from Venus past. A study published today confirms that Venus' upper atmosphere undergoes puzzling changes over a solar cycle, the Sun's 11-year activity cycle. This marks the latest clue to untangling how and why Venus and Earth are so different.

Gravitational-wave scientists propose new method to refine the Hubble Constant—the expansion and age of the universe

A team of international scientists, led by the Galician Institute of High Energy Physics (IGFAE) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav), has proposed a simple and novel method to bring the accuracy of the Hubble constant measurements down to 2% using a single observation of a pair of merging neutron stars.

Researchers create new lunar map to help guide future exploration missions

A new map including rover paths of the Schrödinger basin, a geologically important area of the moon, could guide future exploration missions.The map was created by a team of interns at the Lunar and Planetary Institute, including Ellen Czaplinski, a U of A graduate student researcher at the Arkansas Center for Planetary Sciences and first author of a paper published in The Planetary Science Journal.

Wine that went to space for sale with $1 million price tag

The wine is out of this world. The price is appropriately stratospheric.

Researcher uses geology to help astronomers find habitable planets

Astronomers have identified more than 4,000, and counting, confirmed exoplanets—planets orbiting stars other than the sun—but only a fraction have the potential to sustain life.

A giant piece of space junk is hurtling towards Earth. Here's how worried you should be

A large piece of space debris, possibly weighing several tonnes, is currently on an uncontrolled reentry phase (that's space speak for "out of control"), and parts of it are expected to crash down to Earth over the next few weeks.

New look at a bright stellar nursery

This overlay shows radio (orange) and infrared images of a giant molecular cloud called W49A, where new stars are being formed. A team of astronomers led by Chris DePree of Agnes Scott College used the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) to make new, high-resolution radio images of this cluster of still-forming, massive stars. W49A, 36,000 light-years from Earth, has been studied for many decades, and the new radio images revealed some tantalizing changes that have occurred since an earlier set of VLA observations in 1994 and 1995.

Technology news

With a zap of light, system switches objects' colors and patterns

When was the last time you repainted your car? Redesigned your coffee mug collection? Gave your shoes a colorful facelift?

Mindblowing: advances in brain tech spur push for 'neuro-rights'

As sci-fi thriller "Inception" topped box offices across the world, audiences were delighted and appalled by its futuristic story of a criminal gang invading people's dreams to steal valuable data.

Untangle your hair with help from robots

With rapidly growing demands on health care systems, nurses typically spend 18 to 40 percent of their time performing direct patient care tasks, oftentimes for many patients and with little time to spare. Personal care robots that brush your hair could provide substantial help and relief.

Closing in on state-of-the-art semiconductor solar cells

A synthetic approach that improves absorber layers in perovskite solar cells could help them achieve their full potential and draw closer to the performance of leading gallium arsenide devices.

Scientists report new synapse-like phototransistor

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) developed a breakthrough in energy-efficient phototransistors. Such devices could eventually help computers process visual information more like the human brain and be used as sensors in things like self-driving vehicles.

Scientists have developed a new 'key-hole surgery' technique to extract metals from Earth

Scientists have developed a new 'key-hole surgery' technique to extract metals from the Earth—which could revolutionize the future of metal mining

Apple reveals two iOS zero-day vulnerabilities that allow attackers to access fully patched devices

One week after Apple carried out its largest iOS and iPad update since September 2020's version 14.0 release, the company has followed up with a new patch for two zero-day vulnerabilities that let hackers execute malicious code on fully updated devices. Additionally, the new release of 14.5.1 also mitigates issues with a bug in the recent App Tracking Transparency feature included in the previous version.

New machine-learning approach brings digital photos back to life

Every day, billions of photos and videos are posted to various social media applications. The problem with standard images taken by a smartphone or digital camera is that they only capture a scene from a specific point of view. But looking at it in reality, we can move around and observe it from different viewpoints. Computer scientists are working to provide an immersive experience for the users that would allow them to observe a scene from different viewpoints, but it requires specialized camera equipment that is not readily accessible to the average person.

Is 'Spot' a good dog? Why we're right to worry about unleashing robot quadrupeds

When it comes to dancing, pulling a sled, climbing stairs or doing tricks, "Spot" is definitely a good dog. It can navigate the built environment and perform a range of tasks, clearly demonstrating its flexibility as a software and hardware platform for commercial use.

Improving efficiency and reducing emissions in heavy-duty diesel engines

Heavy-duty diesel engines still power most large vehicles used in the construction, mining and transportation industries in the United States. Engineers are working to improve the fuel efficiency of these engines while minimizing pollution to reduce energy consumption and ensure the sustainability of these industries in the future.

New protocol makes Bitcoin transactions more secure and faster than Lightning

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are becoming increasingly popular. At first glance, they have many advantages: Transactions are usually anonymous, fast and inexpensive. But sometimes there are problems with them. In certain situations, fraud is possible, users can discover information about other users that should be kept secret, and sometimes delays occur.

Sure, video games want to get you hooked on spending. But there's no evidence they can manipulate you

The ABC's latest Four Corners report is an investigation into how videogames are "deliberately designed to get people hooked".

How cleaning up coolants can cool the climate–why HFCs are getting phased out from refrigerators and air conditioners

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is moving to eliminate a class of chemicals widely used as coolants in refrigerators, air conditioners and heat pumps.

Truck noise in Southwest Detroit adds to public health concerns

The sounds of a truck racing to the end of the block are soon replaced by the screeching of the brakes bringing the four-axle semi to a stop.

Algorithms improve how we protect our data

Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) scientists in Korea have developed algorithms that more efficiently measure how difficult it would be for an attacker to guess secret keys for cryptographic systems. The approach they used was described in the journal IEEE Transactions on Information Forensics and Security and could reduce the computational complexity needed to validate encryption security.

Uber joins UK tech firm to make electric ride-hailing car

Uber has teamed up with UK technology startup Arrival to create an electric car for the app-based US ride-hailing firm that will help to cut emissions, the pair said Tuesday.

Fertility apps with hundreds of millions of users collect and share excessive information

The majority of top-rated fertility apps collect and even share intimate data without the users' knowledge or permission, a collaborative study by Newcastle University and Umea University has found.

Snakeskin can inspire safer buildings

Despite human inventiveness and ingenuity, we still lag far behind the elegant and efficient solutions forged by nature over millions of years of evolution.

Modeling dynamic instability in tractors

Researchers at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT) modeled the dynamic instability—the so-called 'power hop'—that can cause uncontrollable bouncing and damage tractors when they plow dry ground. The team found that self-excited oscillations can arise when the tractor pushes against the ground.

Twitter bolsters subscription plans with ad-free news

Twitter on Tuesday said it is buying Scroll and its ad-free news app to bolster a coming subscription service, and channel money to journalism in the process.

Economic downturn fueling Argentine crypto craze

Argentina's economic downturn, with high inflation, a deflating currency and a shortage of US dollars to invest in, has in fact proved a shot in the arm for one sector: cryptocurrency.

Vivendi, Mediaset end feud over failed Netflix rival in Europe

French media conglomerate Vivendi and Italian rival Mediaset have agreed to bury the hatchet in their long-running legal battle over failed plans to set up Europe's answer to US streaming giant Netflix, the two groups said.

Impact of COVID-19 behavioral inertia on reopening strategies for New York City transit

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected travel behaviors and transportation system operations, and raised new challenges for public transit. Cities are grappling with what policies can be effective for a phased reopening shaped by social distancing.

How technology metals play a pivotal role in allowing remote work during the pandemic

Saleem Ali is the University of Delaware's Blue and Gold Distinguished Professor of Energy and the Environment and the founding director of the Minerals, Materials and Society (MMS) Program. Ali recently produced a short, educational documentary featured on the United Nations Environment Programme's YouTube channel highlighting the role of technology metals that allowed people around the world to switch from working in an office to working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. UDaily spoke with Ali about these technology metals and the role they play in helping power a remote-work world.

Trump ban ruling marks defining moment for Facebook panel

Facebook's independent oversight board was gearing up Tuesday for a momentous decision on the platform's ban of former US president Donald Trump, as debate swirls on the role of social media in curbing hateful and abusive speech while enabling political discourse.

US pressing Taiwanese firms on semiconductors, Commerce chief says

The United States is pressuring Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturers to allocate some of their supply to American automakers grappling with a shortage of the crucial components, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Tuesday.

Belgian government, parliament, colleges hit by cyberattack

The company providing internet services for Belgium's parliament, government agencies, universities and scientific institutions said Tuesday that its network was under cyberattack, with connections to several customers disrupted.


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