Science X Newsletter Monday, Sep 13

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for September 13, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A multi-task learning network to recognize the numbers on jerseys of sports team players

Research explores the parameters of X-ray binary system Scorpius X-1

First responders haunted by 9/11 terrorism for 20 years to be treated with minute doses of electricity

Rerun of supernova blast expected to appear in 2037

Jet stream changes could amplify weather extremes by 2060s

Image: Hubble captures a sparkling cluster

CDC finds unvaccinated 11 times more likely to die of COVID

Mars rocks collected by Perseverance boost case for ancient life

Prehistoric winged lizard unearthed in Chile

The plant invaders posing a headache for conservationists

Scientists debate promise, peril of tweaking wild genomes

Isotope mapping sheds rare light into migratory routes, natal origins of monarch butterflies

SpaceX to launch private, all-civilian crew into Earth orbit

What was really the secret behind Van Gogh's success?

Researchers identify a novel player in acute myeloid leukemia

Physics news

New laser captures energy like noise-cancelling headphones

Physicists at The Australian National University (ANU) have developed extremely powerful microscopic lasers that are even smaller than the wavelength of the light they produce.

Study provides evidence for 'new physics'

Is the Standard Model of particle physics incorrect at key points? Recently there has been an increase in experimental observations that deviate from the predictions of this widely accepted physical theory. A current study by the University of Bonn now provides even stronger evidence for the existence of "new physics." The final version of the paper is now published in the journal Physics Letters B. Lead author Chien-Yeah Seng will present the results in mid-October at the fall meeting of the U.S. Physical Society.

Using acoustics to conceal and simulate objects

When listening to music, we don't just hear the notes produced by the instruments, we are also immersed in its echoes from our surroundings. Sound waves bounce back off the walls and objects around us, forming a characteristic sound effect—a specific acoustic field. This explains why the same piece of music sounds different when played in an old church or a modern concrete building.

Researchers develop new tool for analyzing large superconducting circuits

The next generation of computing and information processing lies in the intriguing world of quantum mechanics. Quantum computers are expected to be capable of solving large, extremely complex problems that are beyond the capacity of today's most powerful supercomputers.

New cerium superhydrides become stepping stones to 'Goldilocks' superconductors

Researchers from Skoltech and their colleagues from China have experimentally shown superconductivity in cerium superhydrides CeH9 and CeH10, pointing the way to lower-pressure and potentially room-temperature superconductors. The paper was published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Astronomy and Space news

Research explores the parameters of X-ray binary system Scorpius X-1

Using data from NASA's Kepler telescope, Russian astronomers have investigated an X-ray binary known as Scorpius X-1 (or Sco X-1 for short). Results of the study, published September 2 on the arXiv pre-print repository, provide further insights into the parameters of this system.

Rerun of supernova blast expected to appear in 2037

It's challenging to make predictions, especially in astronomy. There are however, a few forecasts astronomers can depend on, such as the timing of upcoming lunar and solar eclipses and the clockwork return of some comets.

Image: Hubble captures a sparkling cluster

This star-studded image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope depicts NGC 6717, which lies more than 20,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Sagittarius. NGC 6717 is a globular cluster, a roughly spherical collection of stars tightly bound together by gravity. Globular clusters contain more stars in their centers than their outer fringes, as this image aptly demonstrates; the sparsely populated edges of NGC 6717 are in stark contrast to the sparkling collection of stars at its center.

Mars rocks collected by Perseverance boost case for ancient life

NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has now collected two rock samples, with signs that they were in contact with water for a long period of time boosting the case for ancient life on the Red Planet.

SpaceX to launch private, all-civilian crew into Earth orbit

SpaceX is set to launch four people into space Wednesday on a three-day mission that is the first to orbit the Earth with exclusively private citizens on board, as Elon Musk's company enters the space tourism fray.

Quasars as the new cosmic standard candles

In 1929, Edwin Hubble published observations that galaxies' distances and velocities are correlated, with the distances determined using their Cepheid stars. Harvard astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt had discovered that a Cepheid star varies periodically with a period that is related to its intrinsic luminosity. She calibrated the effect, and when Hubble compared those calculated values with his observed luminosities he was able to determine their distances. But even today only Cepheid stars in relatively nearby galaxies can be studied in this way.In order to extend the distance scale back to earlier times in cosmic history, astronomers have used supernovae (SN) - the explosive deaths of massive stars—which can be seen to much greater distances. By comparing the observed brightness of a SN with its intrinsic brightness, based on its classification, astronomers are able to determine its distance; comparing that with the host galaxy's velocity (its redshift, measured spectroscopically) yields the "Hubble relation" relating the galaxy's velocity to its distance. The most reliable supernovae for this purpose, because of their cosmic uniformity, are so-called "Type Ia" supernovae, which are thought to be "standard candles," all having the same intrinsic brightness. However even SN become harder to study in this way as they lie farther away; to date the most distant Type Ia SN with a reliable velocity determination dates from an epoch about 3 billion years after the big bang.

Pulsar timing arrays take us closer to figuring out supermassive black holes

Galaxies host supermassive black holes, which weigh millions to billions times more than the sun. When galaxies collide, pairs of supermassive black holes at their centers also lie on the collision course. It may take millions of years before two black holes slam into each other. When the distance between them is small enough, the black hole binary starts to produce ripples in space-time, which are called gravitational waves.

Cosmic concrete developed from space dust and astronaut blood

Transporting a single brick to Mars can cost more than a million British pounds—making the future construction of a Martian colony seem prohibitively expensive. Scientists at The University of Manchester have now developed a way to potentially overcome this problem, by creating a concrete-like material made of extra-terrestrial dust along with the blood, sweat and tears of astronauts.

Space tourism: What's on offer

A few minutes of weightlessness, or a few days. A short hop above the Earth's atmosphere, or a journey to the Moon and back... the era of space tourism is upon us, and—for those who can pay—it comes with many options.

A billionaire, a cancer survivor... Who will be on the next SpaceX mission?

For the first time on Wednesday, SpaceX is due to send into orbit a crew made up entirely of complete novices, without a professional astronaut on board.

Ways to detect merging black holes in addition to gravitational waves

If two black holes merge in the middle of space, and nobody's around to see it, does it really happen?

Antennas searching for extraterrestrials threatened by wildfire

The Allen Telescope Array, an ensemble of 42 antennas used in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), is once again threatened by wildfires. The scientists and engineers normally on-site have been evacuated as a precautionary measure, and in response to an order from the Shasta County Sheriff's Office.

SpaceX Inspiration4 mission will send four people with minimal training into orbit

On Sept. 15, 2021, the next batch of space tourists are set to lift off aboard a SpaceX rocket. Organized and funded by entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, the Inspiration4 mission touts itself as "the first all-civilian mission to orbit" and represents a new type of space tourism.

Filling the gaps in the SuperDARN archive

When solar wind slams into Earth's magnetic field, the impacts ripple down through the planet's ionosphere, the outer shell of the atmosphere full of charged particles. A global array of high-frequency radars known as the Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) tracks ionospheric plasma circulation from the ground, giving researchers insights into the interactions between solar wind, the magnetosphere, and the ionosphere. Though widely used in space physics research, the network is not comprehensive—each ground-based radar can measure plasma velocity only in its line-of-sight direction, for example. As a result, there are major spatial and temporal gaps in the SuperDARN archive.

CuPID CubeSat will get new perspective on Sun-Earth boundary

When you help build a satellite the size of a shoebox, you learn pretty much everything about it, says Emil Atz, a Ph.D. candidate in Mechanical Engineering at Boston University. You learn how to write a proposal to fund it, how to place the screws that hold it together, how to test each instrument to ensure it functions properly.

NASA's Perseverance rover collects puzzle pieces of Mars' history

The rocks it has analyzed for sample collection are helping the team better understand a past marked by volcanic activity and water.

EXPLAINER: 4 will circle Earth on 1st SpaceX private flight

For the first time in 60 years of human spaceflight, a rocket is poised to blast into orbit with no professional astronauts on board, only four tourists.

Toward better space health: Understanding the effects of microgravity on P-glycoprotein

Deep space is most likely going to be humanity's final frontier, and space travel will undoubtedly become much more common in the future. However, space is a very hostile environment not only because of the technical difficulties that entail going there, but also because of the detrimental effects that constant microgravity has on the human body. Some examples of these are bone loss, muscle atrophy, and liver and kidney problems, as well as space motion sickness.

Technology news

A multi-task learning network to recognize the numbers on jerseys of sports team players

When reporting on sports games live or remotely, commentators should be able to quickly recognize the numbers on the players' jersey shirts, as this allows them to keep up with what's happening and communicate it to their audience. However, quickly identifying players in sports videos is not always easy, as these videos are often taken at a distance to capture the overall progression of the game. A further difficulty is the fast motion of the broadcast camera that often results in motion blur.

Researchers develop toolkit to test Apple security, find vulnerability

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a software toolkit that allows users to test the hardware security of Apple devices. During their proof-of-concept demonstration, the research team identified a previously unknown vulnerability, which they call iTimed.

Don't fidget! WiFi will count you

Researchers in UC Santa Barbara professor Yasamin Mostofi's lab have enabled, for the first time, counting a stationary seated crowd using WiFi signals, and without relying on people to carry a device. The technique, which also counts through walls, needs only a wireless transmitter and receiver outside the area of interest where the crowd is seated. It has a variety of applications, including smart energy management, controlling the crowd size during a pandemic, business planning and security.

Do Alexa and Siri make kids bossier? New research suggests you might not need to worry

Chatting with a robot is now part of many families' daily lives, thanks to conversational agents such as Apple's Siri or Amazon's Alexa. Recent research has shown that children are often delighted to find that they can ask Alexa to play their favorite songs or call Grandma.

Epic Games to appeal US ruling in Apple app store fight

Epic Games said Friday it will appeal a US judge's ruling that loosened Apple's control over app store payments, but did not brand the tech giant's dominance as a monopoly.

Cybersecurity seen as rising risk for airlines after 9/11

After remaking their security procedures following the 9/11 attacks to stop airline hijackings, carriers are now faced with rising threats targeting computers and electronic equipment critical to their operations and safety.

Faded internet pioneer Yahoo gets new boss

One-time internet giant Yahoo, which has undergone recent ownership changes and strategic pivots, announced Friday that Tinder CEO Jim Lanzone will be its new chief as the company looks for new opportunities.

Internet funding rule could favor rural areas over cities

Cities and urban counties across the U.S. are raising concerns that a recent rule from President Joe Biden's administration could preclude them from tapping into $350 billion of coronavirus relief aid to expand high-speed internet connections.

China to target biggest payment app Alipay in tech crackdown: FT

Chinese regulators have ordered sweeping changes to the country's biggest payment app Alipay, as the ruling Communist Party attempts to rein in "the unruly growth" of the tech giants.

Israeli firm unveils armed robot to patrol volatile borders

An Israeli defense contractor on Monday unveiled a remote-controlled armed robot it says can patrol battle zones, track infiltrators and open fire. The unmanned vehicle is the latest addition to the world of drone technology, which is rapidly reshaping the modern battlefield.

Load-shifting potential of heat pump water heaters studied

A Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) research team has gained new insights about heat pump water heaters (HPWHs), an energy-efficient technology that extends the benefits of heat pumps to the task of warming domestic water.

Transportation app could change Australia's car culture

Getting around an Australian city without a car can be a real hassle. Imagine how much easier it would be if you had the option of combining public transport and shared services—be it bus, train, tram, taxi, car share, electric bicycle or e-scooter—and could book and pay for the lot using a single app.

How 'engagement' makes you vulnerable to manipulation and misinformation on social media

Facebook has been quietly experimenting with reducing the amount of political content it puts in users' news feeds. The move is a tacit acknowledgment that the way the company's algorithms work can be a problem.

Dutch court: Uber drivers covered by taxi labor agreement

A court in Amsterdam ruled Monday that Uber drivers fall under the Dutch taxi drivers' collective labor agreement—meaning they are entitled to the same employment benefits as taxi drivers. Uber said it would appeal the ruling.

iOS 15 is arriving soon. Here's what we know about the iPhone's upcoming update

With Apple's event next week likely to usher in the next iPhone, we're closer to the launch of iOS 15.

Seattle cracks down on food delivery apps with one of the strictest laws in country

During the pandemic, restaurants around Seattle started to notice they were getting more food orders from different versions of their menus that sometimes dated as far back as 2014. Worse, when the kitchens couldn't fulfill orders from such outdated menus, those angry customers posted negative reviews about the restaurants online or called the restaurants to complain.

Foreign investors exempt from tax on bitcoin profits: El Salvador

El Salvador will exempt foreign investors from taxes on profits on bitcoin speculation in the country, a government adviser said Friday, after it became the first to recognize the cryptocurrency as legal tender.

Australian watchdog blocks Qantas-Japan Airlines deal

Australia's competition regulator on Monday definitively blocked a pricing, code-sharing and scheduling deal between Qantas and Japan Airlines, saying the arrangement would hurt consumers.

UPS exec sees supply chain disarray extending into 2022

UPS is girding for more supply chain problems in 2022 after this year's upheaval, but does not expect the disruption to cause huge spikes in transport costs, the shipping giant's international president Scott Price told AFP.

How future trains could be less noisy

Rail transportation is core to Europe's plans to become carbon neutral by 2050, but noisy trains represent an obstacle that needs to be overcome.

Tech verifications show big jump in bets as football begins

A company that most of the legal U.S. sports betting industry uses to verify that its customers are where they say they are reports a record number of transactions over the first weekend of the NFL season.

FACT FOCUS: Walmart quashes cryptocurrency partnership claim

Walmart denied any partnership with the digital currency Litecoin after a fake news release led to a brief flurry of inaccurate reports from national news outlets and social media users on Monday.

Fugitive Chinese billionaire's firms to pay $539mn fines

Three companies of exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui have agreed to pay $539 million in penalties to settle charges over illegal cryptocurrency sales, the top US financial market watchdog said Monday.


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