Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Aug 31

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for August 31, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Physicists use a new absorbing-state model to investigate random close packing

A policy to enable the use of general-purpose manipulators in high-speed robot air hockey

Genes can respond to coded information in signals—or filter them out entirely

The forecast for Mars includes otherworldly weather predictions

Three new ultra-faint dwarf galaxies discovered

Geologists propose theory about a famous asteroid

An accidental discovery hints at a hidden population of cosmic objects

New family of ferroelectric materials raises possibilities for improved information and energy storage

Researchers take step toward using cellular motion to help wound healing

Discovery offers insight for development of cancer therapies targeting mutant p53

High virus count in the lungs drives COVID-19 deaths

Birds of prey face global decline from habitat loss, poisons

Voices of reason? Study links acoustic correlations, gender to vocal appeal

Compact speaker systems direct sound efficiently

To develop quantum networks, the unique needs of industry must be considered and may provide a solution

Physics news

Physicists use a new absorbing-state model to investigate random close packing

Sphere packing, a mathematical problem in which non-overlapping spheres are arranged within a given space, has been widely investigated in the past. It has been proven that the densest possible packing is a face-centered cubic (FCC) crystal with a space-filling fraction of ϕFCC=π/√18≈0.74.

New family of ferroelectric materials raises possibilities for improved information and energy storage

A new family of materials that could result in improved digital information storage and uses less energy may be possible thanks to a team of Penn State researchers who demonstrated ferroelectricity in magnesium-substituted zinc oxide.

Voices of reason? Study links acoustic correlations, gender to vocal appeal

What makes a voice attractive? The question is the subject of broad interest, with far-reaching implications in our personal lives, the workplace, and society.

Compact speaker systems direct sound efficiently

As electronic devices decrease in size, their component parts, like speakers, need to shrink as well.

To develop quantum networks, the unique needs of industry must be considered and may provide a solution

Large-scale quantum networks have been proposed, but so far, they do not exist. Some components of what would make up such networks are being studied, but the control mechanism for such a large-scale network has not been developed. In AVS Quantum Science, investigators outline how a time-sensitive network control plane could be a key component of a workable quantum network.

Protruding eyes, mouth make stingrays more hydrodynamically efficient

With their compressed bodies and flexible pectoral fins, stingrays evolved to be among nature's most efficient swimmers. Scientists have long wondered about the role played by their protruding eyes and mouth, which one might expect to be hydrodynamic disadvantages.

This rainbow-making tech could help autonomous vehicles read signs

A new study explains the science behind microscale concave interfaces (MCI)—structures that reflect light to produce beautiful and potentially useful optical phenomena.

Physicists mix classical light with half a photon on a qubit

A Russian-U.K. research team has proposed a theoretical description for the new effect of quantum wave mixing involving classical and nonclassical states of microwave radiation. This effect, which previously lacked a rigorous mathematical description, could be of use to quantum computer scientists and fundamental physicists probing light-matter interactions. The study is published in Physical Review A.

Measurement beyond standard quantum limit realized with nitrogen-vacancy centers in diamond

Many measurements are limited by standard quantum limit (SQL). SQL is defined as the measured noise levels set by quantum mechanics. Quantum entanglement can be used to beat SQL and approach an ultimate limit called Heisenberg limit (HL). Sub-SQL measurements have been realized in many systems under extreme conditions and sensors in these systems are not suitable for realistic measurements under ambient conditions.

Exploring quantum correlations of classical light source for image transmission

There has been an interesting debate on the quantum versus classical origin of ghost imaging in thermal light. To clarify this quantum-classical dilemma, Lixiang Chen at Xiamen University of China formulated a density matrix to fully describe thermal two-photon orbital angular momentum state, which revealed the hidden quantumness with non-zero discord. Then, a scheme of mimicking teleportation was devised to demonstrate the possibility of teleporting an optical image, with an accompanying featureless background.

State-of-the-art computer code could advance efforts to harness fusion energy

Think of light bulb filaments that glow when you flip a switch. That glow also occurs in magnetic fusion facilities known as tokamaks that are designed to harness the energy that powers the sun and stars. Understanding how resistivity, the process that produces the glow, affects these devices could help scientists design them to operate more efficiently.

A unique scanning tunneling microscope with magnetic cooling to study quantum effects

Scanning tunneling microscopes capture images of materials with atomic precision and can be used to manipulate individual molecules or atoms. Researchers have been using the instruments for many years to explore the world of nanoscopic phenomena. A new approach by physicists at Forschungszentrum Jülich is now creating new possibilities for using the devices to study quantum effects. Thanks to magnetic cooling, their scanning tunneling microscope works without any moving parts and is almost vibration-free at extremely low temperatures as low as 30 millikelvin. The instrument can help researchers unlock the exceptional properties of quantum materials, which are crucial for the development of quantum computers and sensors.

Astronomy and Space news

The forecast for Mars includes otherworldly weather predictions

As scientists prepare for crewed research missions to nearby planets and moons, they've identified a need for something beyond rovers and rockets.

Three new ultra-faint dwarf galaxies discovered

Using the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), astronomers have detected three new ultra-faint dwarf galaxies associated with the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 253. The newly found dwarfs turn out to be among the faintest systems so far discovered beyond the Local Group. The finding is reported in a paper published August 20 on arXiv.org.

Geologists propose theory about a famous asteroid

The asteroid Vesta is the second largest asteroid in our Solar System. With a diameter of about 330 miles, it orbits the sun between the planets Mars and Jupiter.

An accidental discovery hints at a hidden population of cosmic objects

Brown dwarfs aren't quite stars and aren't quite planets, and a new study suggests there might be more of them lurking in our galaxy than scientists previously thought.

The magnetic properties of star-forming dense cores

Magnetic fields in space are sometimes called the last piece in the puzzle of star formation. They are much harder to measure than the masses or motions of star-forming clouds, and their strength is still uncertain. If they are strong, they can deflect or even oppose gas flowing into a young stellar core as it collapses under the influence of gravity. If they are moderate in strength, however, they act more flexibly and guide the flow, but don't prevent it. Early measurements of field strengths in molecular clouds were based on radiation from molecules whose energy levels are sensitive to magnetic field strengths. Those data suggested the fields were of moderate strength, but those conclusions were tentative. More recent observations with stronger signals measured the polarized radiation from dust grains aligned with the magnetic field. These observations obtain the field strength from the changes in field direction across the cloud map.

State of Russia's ISS segment sparks safety concerns

A Russian space official on Tuesday raised concerns about the deteriorating state of Russia's segment of the International Space Station due to out-of-date hardware, warning it could lead to "irreparable failures".

A quarter of sun-like stars eat their own planets

How rare is our solar system? In the 30 years or so since planets were first discovered orbiting stars other than our sun, we have found that planetary systems are common in the galaxy. However, many of them are quite different from the solar system we know.

'X-ray magnifying glass' enhances view of distant black holes

By taking advantage of a natural lens in space, astronomers have captured an unprecedented look at X-rays from a black hole system in the early universe.

Doctoral student recruiting volunteers in effort to quadruple number of known active asteroids

The study of active asteroids is a relatively new field of solar system science, focusing on objects that have asteroid-like orbits but look more like comets, with visual characteristics such as tails.

Spacecraft deorbiting device ready for upcoming test launch

A drag sail that a team at Purdue University developed to pull launch vehicles in space back to Earth is scheduled to undergo a test launch on Thursday (Sept. 2).

Dark Energy Camera captures detailed view of striking peculiar galaxy

A spectacular portrait of the galaxy Centaurus A has been captured by astronomers using the Dark Energy Camera mounted on the Víctor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. This galaxy's peculiar appearance—cloaked in dark tendrils of dust—stems from a past interaction with another galaxy, and its size and proximity to Earth make it one of the best-studied giant galaxies in the night sky.

Technology news

A policy to enable the use of general-purpose manipulators in high-speed robot air hockey

To perform well on highly dynamic tasks, robots should be able to move quickly and be highly reactive. As robots typically have physical constraints and hardware limitations, computer scientists should also develop planners and trajectory optimization techniques that will enable them to perform rapid movements.

Using liquid metal to turn motion into electricity, even underwater

Researchers at North Carolina State University have created a soft and stretchable device that converts movement into electricity and can work in wet environments.

An omnidirectional octopus-like robot arm that can stretch, bend and twist without a motor

A combined team of researchers from The Ohio State University and the Georgia Institute of Technology has developed a robot arm that moves like an octopus arm without the need for a motor. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes their robot arm, which moves in response to changes in a magnetic field around it.

S. Korea bans app payment monopolies in world first

South Korean MPs on Tuesday passed a law banning Apple and Google from forcing app developers to use the tech giants' payment systems, effectively declaring their lucrative App Store and Play Store monopolies illegal.

Charging systems for electric trucks put to the test

Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Reducing those emissions requires a significant shift away from gasoline- and diesel-fueled internal combustion engines to electric motors powered by renewable sources.

Google to invest $1.2B in Germany cloud computing program

Google said Tuesday that it is investing 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) by 2030 to expand its cloud computing infrastructure in Germany and to increase the use of renewable energy.

Machine learning identifies hidden factors that affect solar farms during severe weather

Sandia National Laboratories researchers combined large sets of real-world solar data and advanced machine learning to study the impacts of severe weather on U.S. solar farms, and sort out what factors affect energy generation. Their results were published earlier this month in the scientific journal Applied Energy.

Fuel economy standards could save Malaysia 16.2 billion liters of petrol by 2030

Introducing fuel economy standards will significantly contribute to fuel savings and emissions mitigation in Malaysia, according to new international research by Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University and University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

Novel algorithm improves 'consensus' performance in multi-agent systems

Researchers have devised a better network 'topology' within distributed multi-agent systems to improve the speed at which their nodes converge on agreement regarding a single data value needed during computation. The technique, devised by researchers with the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, is described in the September 2021 Issue of the IEEE/CAA Journal of Automatica Sinica.

Survey: Owners frustrated when linking phones to vehicles

Automobile quality rose last year, but glitches in pairing smartphones with infotainment systems frustrated owners more than anything, according to a large U.S. survey of auto owners.

App store antics: Legal screws tighten for Google, Apple

David Barnard owes his entire livelihood to Apple.

'The algorithm fired me': California bill takes on Amazon's notorious work culture

California lawmakers are taking aim at Amazon.

China's 'surveillance creep': Big data COVID monitoring could be used to control people post-pandemic

China has used big data to trace and control the outbreak of COVID-19. This has involved a significant endeavor to build new technologies and expand its already extensive surveillance infrastructure across the country.

Google again delays return to office due to COVID surges

Google is once again postponing a return to the office for most workers until mid-January, in addition to requiring all employees to be vaccinated once its sprawling campuses are fully reopened.

Jury selection starts in Theranos founder's fraud trial

Fallen biotech star Elizabeth Holmes was in court Tuesday as jury selection began for her fraud trial in a case that rocked Silicon Valley.


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