Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Aug 10

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for August 10, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Researchers demonstrate the bandgap engineering of 2D C₃N bilayers

Research investigates the brightest star of 47 Tucanae

Biological engineers find a new target for malaria drugs

Planting forests may cool the planet more than thought

Dragonfly mission to Titan announces big science goals

System trains drones to fly around obstacles at high speeds

Machine learning discovers new sequences to boost drug delivery

Middle-age height loss linked to heightened death risk in northern European women

Global eradication of COVID-19 probably feasible, and more so than for polio, say public health experts

Tiny 'maniac' robots could deliver drugs directly to central nervous system

Researchers develop real-time lyric generation technology to inspire song writing

Beige fat 'indispensable' in protecting the brain from dementia

What a song reveals about vocal imitation deficits for autistic individuals

New insights into how the 'first brain' works in the gut

From the toilet to the sink: water recycling battles scarcity

Physics news

Computational evaluation of drug delivery reveals room for inhalers improvement

Increased air pollution in recent years has not only contributed to deteriorating environmental conditions in cities across the globe. It has also exacerbated health risks for the people who populate them, particularly those who suffer from pulmonary diseases, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These dynamics underscore the importance of work to increase the efficacy of drug delivery devices, such as inhalers, that administer active pharmaceutical ingredients to treat respiratory illnesses.

Atomic nuclei and leptons: Milestone reached in the calculation of cross sections

A team in the PRISMA+ cluster of excellence at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz succeeded in computing how atomic nuclei of the Calcium element behave in collisions with electrons. Results agree very well with available experimental data. For the first time, a calculation based on a fundamental theory is capable of correctly describing experiments for a nucleus as heavy as Calcium. Of particular relevance is the potential that such calculations could have in the future to interpret neutrino experiments. The renowned journal Physical Review Letters reports on the achieved milestone in its current volume.

Metamaterials research challenges fundamental limits in photonics

Cornell researchers are proposing a new way to modulate both the absorptive and the refractive qualities of metamaterials in real time, and their findings open intriguing new opportunities to control, in time and space, the propagation and scattering of waves for applications in various areas of wave physics and engineering.

Remote detection of viruses on surfaces

Researchers from the Universidad de Sevilla (University of Seville) have developed and patented a prototype to detect remotely viruses (including synthetic SARS-CoV-2) deposited on surfaces, analyzing images taken at multiple wavelengths—the so-called hyperspectral imaging—a technique commonly used in astrophysics. Astronomers from Calar Alto and IAA-CSIC have participated in the reduction and analysis of the spectra. The research is ongoing on human samples of coronavirus.

Movement of small water droplets controlled by means of a magnet

Droplet manipulation is kindling great interest in several fields, including technological applications and basic studies in dynamic systems. The Lab-on-a-chip and microfluidics community is particularly interested in the precise manipulation of small volumes of fluids, droplet microfluidics. A piece of research conducted by the UPV/EHU's Microfluidics Cluster  has found that a superparamagnetic ring forms spontaneously around a water droplet when an oil-based ferrofluid is in contact with the droplet under the influence of a magnetic field and varies according to the strength of the magnetic field applied. 

Astronomy and Space news

Research investigates the brightest star of 47 Tucanae

Astronomers have inspected the brightest star of a globular cluster known as 47 Tucanae (other designation NGC 104). Results of the study, published August 3 on, provide important insights into the properties and chemical composition of this star, what could improve our understanding of the cluster's nature.

Dragonfly mission to Titan announces big science goals

Among our solar system's many moons, Saturn's Titan stands out—it's the only moon with a substantial atmosphere and liquid on the surface. It even has a weather system like Earth's, though it rains methane instead of water. Might it also host some kind of life?

Small-scale magnetic canopies can form a globally splicing layer in solar photosphere

Recently, a research team led by Dr.Li Yan from the Yunnan Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences proposed a new means to explore the small-scale magnetic fields in the solar atmosphere through analyzing the frequencies of the solar p-mode oscillations, and found that the small-scale magnetic canopies can form a globally splicing layer in the solar photosphere, which has not been recognized before. The results were online published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Forecast perfect for 'mythic' Perseid meteor spectacle

The Perseid meteor shower peaks Aug. 12 to 13 and the stars are aligning for a really big show, according to Western's Denis Vida.

Magnetic patterns hidden in meteorites reveal early solar system dynamics

Researchers have developed a novel technique to investigate the dynamics of the early solar system by analyzing magnetites in meteorites utilizing the wave nature of electrons.

New evidence of geologically-recent Venusian volcanism

New data analysis techniques allow evidence of recent volcanism to be found in old Magellan spacecraft data. It is unclear if this activity is occurring today, or if it occurred within tens of million years, but geologically speaking, either case is recent. This adds to the growing body of evidence that volcanoes on Venus didn't go extinct as long ago as many had thought. This work was conducted by Planetary Science Institute (PSI) researchers Megan Russell and Catherine Johnson.

Blobs in space: Slime mold to blast off for ISS experiment

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are set to welcome a most unusual guest, as "the Blob" blasts off into orbit on Tuesday.

Light pollution and spotting Perseid meteors

Many Perseid-related news stories and social media posts state that the maximum rate is about 100 meteors per hour, which is a lot. So, folks get excited and go out on the peak night, braving mosquitos and other nightly hazards. But they are often disappointed; we routinely hear, "I went out and only saw a few meteors. Not even 20, much less 100!" And they would be right. The problem is that the 100 per hour is a theoretical number used by meteor scientists and does not convey what people are actually going to see.

Technology news

Researchers demonstrate the bandgap engineering of 2D C₃N bilayers

Silicon-based transistors are rapidly approaching their limits, both in terms of speed and performance. Engineers and material scientists have thus been trying to identify alternative materials that could enable the development of faster and better performing devices.

System trains drones to fly around obstacles at high speeds

If you follow autonomous drone racing, you likely remember the crashes as much as the wins. In drone racing, teams compete to see which vehicle is better trained to fly fastest through an obstacle course. But the faster drones fly, the more unstable they become, and at high speeds their aerodynamics can be too complicated to predict. Crashes, therefore, are a common and often spectacular occurrence.

Tiny 'maniac' robots could deliver drugs directly to central nervous system

Would you let a tiny MANiAC travel around your nervous system to treat you with drugs? You may be inclined to say no, but in the future, "magnetically aligned nanorods in alginate capsules" (MANiACs) may be part of an advanced arsenal of drug delivery technologies at doctors' disposal. A recent study in Frontiers in Robotics and AI is the first to investigate how such tiny robots might perform as drug delivery vehicles in neural tissue. The study finds that when controlled using a magnetic field, the tiny tumbling soft robots can move against fluid flow, climb slopes and move about neural tissues, such as the spinal cord, and deposit substances at precise locations.

Researchers develop real-time lyric generation technology to inspire song writing

Music artists can find inspiration and new creative directions for their song writing with technology developed by Waterloo researchers.

Packaging-free design quadruples microbatteries' energy density

With wireless-enabled electronics becoming smaller and more ubiquitous, their designers must constantly find ways for batteries to store more power in less space. And because these devices are also increasingly mobile—in the form of wearables, robots and more—those batteries must be lighter while still being able to withstand the bumps and bruises of everyday life. Worse still, energy density gets exponentially harder to improve upon as a battery gets smaller, partially because larger portions of a battery's footprint must be devoted to protective packaging.

Google updates its Titan Security Key lineup with USB-A and a USB-C versions

Google Inc. has updated its line of Titan security keys by offering USB-A and a USB-C versions and dropping its Bluetooth options. On their Google blog page, Google explains their rationale for updating their security key lineup, and outline which security keys users should get.

Robots who goof: Can we trust them again?

When robots make mistakes—and they do from time to time—reestablishing trust with human co-workers depends on how the machines own up to the errors and how human-like they appear, according to University of Michigan research.

After nearly a decade, an interdisciplinary collaboration to model a 3D spider web leads to many surprising results

The spiderweb is an everyday architecture—non-monumental and easily overlooked. Yet artists and scientists are working to unlock the secret of its complex geometry, a mystery that could inspire everything from resilient new building materials to deeper understandings of the structure of the universe.

Transparent power-generating windows based on solar-thermal-electric conversion

Windows are the most significant heat exchange channel between buildings and the outside environment, accounting for 50% of the energy inflow/lost from buildings. The use of windows for energy efficiency and power generation is a powerful complement to the use of roofs and walls.

'Holy grail discovery' in solid-state physics could usher in new technologies

There are many mysteries still to unravel in the world of quantum mechanics, but scientists at Northeastern believe they've made a "holy grail" discovery that could help pave the way for the next generation of electronic devices.

US DOJ has 'grave concerns' about T-Mobile network shutdown

Antitrust officials at the U.S. Justice Department said they have "grave concerns" about plans by T-Mobile US Inc. to shut down the wireless network used by millions of Boost Mobile customers.

Robots are coming for the lawyers — which may be great for anyone in need of cheap legal assistance

Imagine what a lawyer does on a given day: researching cases, drafting briefs, advising clients. While technology has been nibbling around the edges of the legal profession for some time, it's hard to imagine those complex tasks being done by a robot.

The practical path to America's electric vehicle transition

Last week, with the leaders of America's auto industry and the United Auto Workers by his side, President Biden announced the goal that by 2030, half of America's new motor vehicles would be electric. This is an ambitious goal but necessary if our suburban-sprawl-based population is to meet our greenhouse gas reduction goals. America's pattern of land use development was built on personal transit, and we cannot meet our emission reduction responsibilities without electric vehicles powered by renewable energy. This will require federal subsidies for electric vehicles (EVs), at least until their sale price is lower than vehicles with internal combustion engines. When operation and maintenance are factored in, the actual price of electric vehicles is already lower than conventional vehicles. Unfortunately, the only price that matters to consumers is the price on the showroom sticker and so subsidies are needed to jump-start this market. In the wake of today's latest report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the goal of decarbonizing our economy has once again been reinforced by our growing climate crisis. But greenhouse gas reduction in America requires a practical path to electrification.

3D printed nuclear reactor components installed at TVA Browns Ferry nuclear plant

Four first-of-a-kind 3D-printed fuel assembly brackets, produced at the Department of Energy's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, have been installed and are now under routine operating conditions at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant Unit 2 in Athens, Alabama.

Without 'right to repair,' businesses lose time and money

As software and other technologies get infused in more and more products, manufacturers are increasingly making those products difficult to repair, potentially costing business owners time and money.

New child safety features for Google, YouTube

Google on Tuesday unveiled a series of online safety measures for children including a private setting for videos uploaded by teens and safeguard for ads shown to users under 18.

Tenn. Nissan plant to close for 2 weeks due to chip shortage

Nissan says its huge factory in Smyrna, Tennessee, will close for two weeks starting Monday due to computer chip shortages brought on by a coronavirus outbreak in Malaysia.

New braking systems and satellite navigation to help more trains run on Europe's tracks

Increasing the amount of trains on Europe's tracks to replace other modes of transport could help reduce CO2 emissions and air pollution. But fitting more trains requires a serious rethink of how trains brake and could move across the track using cyber-secure radio and satellite navigation.

Residential street in Cardiff logs a quarter of a million vehicles in just one month

Every day about 90,000 commuters travel into Cardiff, the majority of them by car. To solve the varied transport challenges it has been facing, the growing Welsh capital needs innovative solutions. But what do these entail?

US infrastructure plan tightens tax collection on cryptocurrency

The giant US infrastructure bill that won Senate approval on Tuesday counts on getting some of its funding from cracking down on tax evasion by people profiting off cryptocurrency.

Amazon to compensate for unsafe goods sold by independent traders

US online retail giant Amazon pledged Tuesday to directly compensate customers harmed or injured by faulty goods bought from independent sellers on its platform.

Facebook shuts down vaccine disinformation 'laundromat'

Facebook on Tuesday said it shut down a disinformation operation which sought to spread COVID-19 vaccine hoaxes by duping social network influencers into backing false claims.

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