Science X Newsletter Friday, Jul 16

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for July 16, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Unconventional superconductor acts the part of a promising quantum computing platform

Chemical reactions break free from energy barriers using flyby trajectories

Scientists turn methane into methanol at room temperature

Juno tunes into radio noise triggered by Jupiter's volcanic moon Io

3D printed replicas reveal swimming capabilities of ancient cephalopods

A noninvasive test to detect cancer cells and pinpoint their location

Emergent magnetic monopoles isolated using quantum-annealing computer

Just 7% of our DNA is unique to modern humans, study shows

Common medication used to reduce cholesterol levels may reduce COVID-19 severity

BioNTech produces 10 times more antibodies than China's Sinovac: study

Trump hacker and friends on a mission to fix the internet

Aussie scientists see life-saving potential in spider venom

Galactic fireworks: New ESO images reveal stunning features of nearby galaxies

Researchers surprised to find bacterial parasites behind rise of 'super bugs'

Immune system may need 'continuing education' to protect pregnancy

Physics news

Unconventional superconductor acts the part of a promising quantum computing platform

Scientists on the hunt for an unconventional kind of superconductor have produced the most compelling evidence to date that they've found one. In a pair of papers, researchers at the University of Maryland's (UMD) Quantum Materials Center (QMC) and colleagues have shown that uranium ditelluride (or UTe2 for short) displays many of the hallmarks of a topological superconductor—a material that may unlock new ways to build quantum computers and other futuristic devices.

Emergent magnetic monopoles isolated using quantum-annealing computer

Using a D-Wave quantum-annealing computer as a testbed, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have shown that it is possible to isolate so-called emergent magnetic monopoles, a class of quasiparticles, creating a new approach to developing "materials by design."

Producing memory from speckle patterns

A team of researchers has developed a way to significantly increase the memory of speckle patterns, the very complex patterns that result from shining a laser light onto an opaque sheet, such as paper, biological tissue, or fog.

Physicists discover simple propulsion mechanism for bodies in dense fluids

A team of researchers from Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), the University of Liège and the Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nürnberg for Renewable Energy have developed a micro-swimmer that appears to defy the laws of fluid dynamics: Their model, consisting of two beads connected by a linear spring, is propelled by completely symmetrical oscillations. The scallop theorem states that this cannot be achieved in fluid microsystems. The findings have now been published in the academic journal Physical Review Letters.

The paradox of a free-electron laser without the laser

A new way of producing coherent light in the ultra-violet spectral region, which points the way to developing brilliant table-top X-ray sources, has been produced in research led at the University of Strathclyde.

A simplified method for calibrating optical tweezers

Measurements of biomechanical properties inside living cells require minimally-invasive methods. Optical tweezers are particularly attractive as a tool. They use the momentum of light to trap and manipulate micro- or nanoscale particles. A team of researchers led by Prof. Dr. Cornelia Denz from the University of Münster (Germany) has now developed a simplified method to perform the necessary calibration of the optical tweezers in the system under investigation. Scientists from the University of Pavia in Italy were also involved. The results of the study have been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Future information technologies: Topological materials for ultrafast spintronics

The laws of quantum physics rule the microcosm. They determine, for example, how easily electrons move through a crystal and thus whether the material is a metal, a semiconductor or an insulator. Quantum physics may lead to exotic properties in certain materials: In so-called topological insulators, only the electrons that can occupy some specific quantum states are free to move like massless particles on the surface, while this mobility is completely absent for electrons in the bulk. What's more, the conduction electrons in the "skin" of the material are necessarily spin polarized, and form robust, metallic surface states that could be utilized as channels in which to drive pure spin currents on femtosecond time scales (1 fs = 10-15 s).

Watching the ultrafast dance moves of a laser plasma

Great leaps in science and technology have been propelled by recent advances in seeing fast evolving physical phenomena, as they happen. Femtosecond lasers from the infrared to the X-ray region have enabled us to 'watch', in real time, atoms dance in molecules and solids on femtosecond and picosecond timescales. Watching such fascinating motions not just in real time, but at the spatial locations where they happen, is a bigger challenge.

Noninvasive, label-free optical method visualizes deep, cellular brain disease in vivo

Using long wavelength near-infrared light, scientists at UC Davis developed a label-free microscopy approach that achieves a unique combination of deep, high resolution, and minimally invasive brain imaging. The technique images neurons and axonal myelination across the mouse neocortex and some sub-cortical regions, through the thinned skull. Now studies of brain disease can be conducted deep in the mouse brain through a minimally invasive and simple surgical preparation.

Astronomy and Space news

Juno tunes into radio noise triggered by Jupiter's volcanic moon Io

The Juno Waves instrument "listened" to the radio emissions from Jupiter's immense magnetic field to find their precise locations.

Galactic fireworks: New ESO images reveal stunning features of nearby galaxies

A team of astronomers has released new observations of nearby galaxies that resemble colorful cosmic fireworks. The images, obtained with the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (ESO's VLT), show different components of the galaxies in distinct colors, allowing astronomers to pinpoint the locations of young stars and the gas they warm up around them. By combining these new observations with data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), in which ESO is a partner, the team is helping shed new light on what triggers gas to form stars.

Big bang: How we are trying to 'listen' to it, and the new physics it could unveil

Exactly what happened at the beginning of the universe, 14 billion years ago, is one of the greatest mysteries in physics—there's no simple way to probe it. That's because, in its early stages, the universe was filled with a dense plasma—a gas made out of charged particles including electrons and protons (particles that comprise the atomic nucleus alongside neutrons). Photons (particles of light) were trapped in the mix, bouncing off the other particles furiously, with no way to escape.

Activity discovered on largest comet ever found

A newly discovered visitor to the outer edges of our solar system has been shown to be the largest known comet ever, thanks to the rapid response telescopes of Las Cumbres Observatory. The object, which is named Comet C/2014 UN271 Bernardinelli-Bernstein after its two discoverers, was first announced on Saturday, June 19th, 2021. C/2014 UN271 was found by reprocessing four years of data from the Dark Energy Survey, which was carried out using the 4-m Blanco telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile between 2013 and 2019. At the time of the announcement, there was no indication that this was an active world. Anticipation was immediately high among astronomers. C/2014 UN271 was inbound from the cold outer reaches of the solar system, so rapid imaging was needed to find out: when would the big new-found world start to show a comet's tail?

Hubble Space Telescope fixed after month of no science

The Hubble Space Telescope should be back in action soon, following a tricky, remote repair job by NASA.

Curiosity, technology drive quest for fundamental secrets of the universe

Argonne-driven technology is part of a broad initiative to answer fundamental questions about the birth of matter in the universe and the building blocks that hold it all together.

James Webb Space Telescope testing progress continues

Engineers have made considerable progress in checking off NASA's James Webb Space Telescope's final series of tests. Three big milestones have recently been completed, bringing the world's most complex and powerful space science telescope ever built much closer to being fully prepared for its million-mile journey to orbit. These three testing milestones are outlined below:

Events expanding to mark 100 years since John Glenn's birth

A three-day celebration of what would have been history-making astronaut John Glenn's 100th birthday began Friday in his birthplace and childhood hometown in Ohio, even as additional events were announced to mark the occasion.

Technology news

Trump hacker and friends on a mission to fix the internet

When a massive cyberattack took out everything from Swedish supermarkets to New Zealand kindergartens this month, a group of Dutch ethical hackers breathed a collective sigh of frustration. They had been so close to stopping it.

Misconceptions plague security and privacy tools

As ransomware attacks continue to rise, tools to protect security and privacy are important. But if you think surfing the web via private browsing mode, virtual private networks (VPNs), or Tor browser protects you from security threats, you're wrong, but you're also not alone.

Organic electronics may soon enter the GHz-regime

Physicists of the Technische Universität Dresden introduce the first implementation of a complementary vertical organic transistor technology, which is able to operate at low voltage, with adjustable inverter properties, and a fall and rise time demonstrated in inverter and ring-oscillator circuits of less than 10 nanoseconds, respectively. With this new technology they are just a stone's throw away from the commercialization of efficient, flexible and printable electronics of the future. Their groundbreaking findings are published in the renowned journal Nature Electronics.

Neuro-evolutionary robotics: A gap between simulation and reality

Neuro-evolutionary robotics is an attractive approach to realize collective behaviors for swarms of robots. Despite the large number of studies that have been devoted to it and although many methods and ideas have been proposed, empirical evaluations and comparative analyses are rare.

Cryptographic vulnerabilities on popular Telegram messaging platform

Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London are part of a team who have completed a substantial security analysis of the encryption protocol used by the popular messaging platform, Telegram, with over half a billion monthly active users.

Amazon applies for patent on secondary delivery vehicle to carry packages from truck to doorstep

Amazon Inc. has applied for a patent on a package delivery system that involves a primary vehicle for carrying packages destined for multiple drop-off points, and a secondary, much smaller, delivery vehicle that carries packages from the primary vehicle to the end-point destination.

From genes to memes: Algorithm may help scientists demystify complex networks

From biochemical reactions that produce cancers, to the latest memes virally spreading across social media, simple actions can generate complex behaviors. For researchers trying to understand these emergent behaviors, however, the complexity can tax current computational methods.

The Storywrangler: Scientists create tool to explore billions of social media messages, potentially predict turmoils

For thousands of years, people looked into the night sky with their naked eyes—and told stories about the few visible stars. Then we invented telescopes. In 1840, the philosopher Thomas Carlyle claimed that "the history of the world is but the biography of great men." Then we started posting on Twitter.

A 3D-printed soft robotic hand that can play Nintendo

A team of researchers from the University of Maryland has 3D printed a soft robotic hand that is agile enough to play Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. - and win!

Air-powered computer memory helps soft robot control movements

Engineers at UC Riverside have unveiled an air-powered computer memory that can be used to control soft robots. The innovation overcomes one of the biggest obstacles to advancing soft robotics: the fundamental mismatch between pneumatics and electronics. The work is published in the open-access journal, PLOS One.

WhatsApp tests breaking free from smartphones

Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp has announced the launch of a trial aimed at freeing its users from smartphones.

Self-driving car startup Aurora on road to going public

Self-driving car startup Aurora on Thursday announced it is taking a side road to going public in a transaction valuing it at $13 billion.

Helicopter-mounted device measures methane in ship exhaust

Researchers have developed a new gas sensor that is compact and lightweight enough to monitor emissions in ship exhaust from an airborne vehicle. The device uses mid-infrared supercontinuum gas spectrometry to simultaneously monitor the methane and water vapor concentration in the exhaust of moving ships in real time.

Maximizing efficiency of labs that work with perishable biomolecules

A team of scientists led by Associate Professor Haruka Ozaki of the Center for Artificial Intelligence Research at the University of Tsukuba in collaboration with Dr. Koichi Takahashi from RIKEN used mathematical algorithms to optimize the schedule of automated biology laboratory robots. By analyzing the needs of time-sensitive samples that require investigation using multiple instruments, the researchers were able to maximize the number of experiments that can be performed within time and laboratory resource constraints. This work may help in the design of future automated biology labs and other workspaces.

Valve takes on Nintendo Switch with new games console

A new battle for dominance of the lucrative games console market is looming after US company Valve unveiled a device to rival the hugely popular Nintendo Switch.

New optimization method for computational design of industrial applications

In the field of industrial engineering, using simulations to model, predict and even optimize the response of a system or device is widespread, as it is less expensive and less complex—and, sometimes, less dangerous—than fabricating and testing several prototypes.

Xiaomi grabs number two spot in surging smartphone market: survey

Chinese electronics firm Xiaomi has overtaken Apple as the number two global smartphone maker in a sizzling market with consumers emerging from lockdowns, a new survey showed.

Google wants people in office, despite productivity gains at home

Google software engineers reported something in a recent survey that surprised higher-ups: they felt as productive working from home as they did before the pandemic.

Consumer watchdog sues Amazon to push recall of 'potentially hazardous' products

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said it is suing Amazon to push the recall of several products they say are "potentially hazardous."

Lordstown Motors acknowledges subpoenas, investigation

Lordstown Motors, an Ohio company under scrutiny over the number of orders it claimed it had for the electric trucks that it wants to produce, acknowledged receiving two subpoenas from federal regulators and that prosecutors in New York have opened an investigation.

Ford recalls 775,000 Explorer SUVs

Ford announced Friday it is recalling about 775,000 Explorer vehicles due to a problem in the rear of the car that can reduce steering control and increase crash risk.

China announces on-site Didi cybersecurity investigation

China's cyber-watchdog on Friday announced an on-site cybersecurity investigation of ride-hailing service Didi, stepping up scrutiny after earlier criticism of its handling of customer information caused the company's New York-traded shares to tumble.

American recalling flight attendants to handle travel crowds

American Airlines is canceling extended leaves for about 3,300 flight attendants and telling them to come back to work in time for the holiday season.

European new car sales still below pre-Covid level

Europe's new car market sold 1.5 million fewer vehicles in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2019, sector data showed Friday.

Clubhouse in a conflict zone: Afghans confront Taliban on audio app

As war rages across the countryside, young Afghans are plugging in their earphones and logging into audio-based app Clubhouse to argue with the Taliban and pitch counter-offensive tactics.

Yellen 'not certain' Amazon would pay under global tax agreement

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Thursday she is "not certain" if Amazon will have to pay up under a worldwide minimum tax she is encouraging countries, including her own, to adopt.

Why we need engineers who study ethics as much as math

The recent apartment building collapse in Miami, Florida, is a tragic reminder of the huge impacts engineering can have on our lives. Disasters such as this force engineers to reflect on their practice and perhaps fundamentally change their approach. Specifically, we should give much greater weight to ethics when training engineers.

Paytm's expected $2.2bn IPO fuels India market

Digital payments pioneer Paytm on Friday took a major step towards launching India's biggest initial public offering, telling regulators that it would seek to sell $2.2 billion in shares.

WhatsApp blocks 2 million Indian users over messaging violations

WhatsApp blocked more than two million users in India in just one month for violating its rules, the US company disclosed in its first compliance report under India's controversial new social media rules.


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