Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Jan 6

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for January 6, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Teaching AI agents to type on a Braille keyboard

Study explores the effects of immune responses on the aging brain

Study demonstrates the quenching of an antiferromagnet into high resistivity states

Will global warming bring a change in the winds? Dust from the deep sea provides a clue

Proteins engineered to form honeycomb structures can block uptake of receptors from the surface of cells

DNA-editing method shows promise to treat mouse model of progeria

Modern microbes provide window into ancient ocean

Orange is the new 'block': Structure reveals key features that help block excess light absorption during photosynthesis

In situ sequencing of the fully structured genome

Supergiant eclipsing binary IGR J18027–2016 investigated in detail

Stanford developing single-dose nanoparticle vaccine for COVID-19

Apple proposes new wireless charging ecosystem

Cell biologists decipher signal that ensures no chromosome is left behind

New drug form may help treat osteoporosis, calcium-related disorders

Microbiome study: Gum disease-causing bacteria borrow growth molecules from neighbors to thrive

Physics news

Study demonstrates the quenching of an antiferromagnet into high resistivity states

Antiferromagnetism is a type of magnetism in which parallel but opposing spins occur spontaneously within a material. Antiferromagnets, materials that exhibit antiferromagnetism, have advantageous characteristics that make them particularly promising for fabricating spintronic devices.

A bit too much: Reducing the bit width of Ising models for quantum annealing

Given a list of cities and the distances between each pair of cities, how do you determine the shortest route that visits each city exactly once and returns to the starting location? This famous problem is called the 'traveling salesman problem' and is an example of a combinatorial optimization problem. Solving these problems using conventional computers can be very time-consuming, and special devices called 'quantum annealers' have been created for this purpose.

The world's first integrated quantum communication network

Chinese scientists have established the world's first integrated quantum communication network, combining over 700 optical fibers on the ground with two ground-to-satellite links to achieve quantum key distribution over a total distance of 4,600 kilometers for users across the country. The team, led by Jianwei Pan, Yuao Chen, Chengzhi Peng from the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, reported in Nature their latest advances towards the global, practical application of such a network for future communications.

Physicists observe competition between magnetic orders

They are as thin as a hair, only a hundred thousand times thinner—so-called two-dimensional materials, consisting of a single layer of atoms, have been booming in research for years. They became known to a wider audience when two Russian-British scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for the discovery of graphene, a building block of graphite. The special feature of such materials is that they possess novel properties that can only be explained with the help of the laws of quantum mechanics and that may be relevant for enhanced technologies. Researchers at the University of Bonn (Germany) have now used ultracold atoms to gain new insights into previously unknown quantum phenomena. They found out that the magnetic orders between two coupled thin films of atoms compete with each other. The study has been published in the journal Nature.

Nuclear fusion group calls for building a pilot plant by the 2040s

The main criticism about nuclear fusion has been that its vast potential as a commercial source of energy has always been just out of reach.

Astronomy and Space news

Supergiant eclipsing binary IGR J18027–2016 investigated in detail

Using data from ESA's XMM-Newton and NASA's Swift spacecraft, astronomers have conducted a detailed temporal and spectral study of an eclipsing supergiant X-ray binary known as IGR J18027–2016. Results of this research provide important insights into the properties of this system. The study was published December 28 on

Study of nebula IRAS 00500+6713 suggests its central star is unlike any seen before

A team of researchers from Potsdam University and Kazan Federal University has found evidence of a previously unknown kind of star in nebula IRAS 00500+6713. In their paper published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the group describes their study of the nebula and its central star and what they believe it represents.

Technology news

Teaching AI agents to type on a Braille keyboard

In recent years, computer scientists have developed artificial intelligence-based techniques that can complete a wide variety of tasks. Some of these techniques are designed to artificially replicate the human senses, particularly vision, audition and touch.

Apple proposes new wireless charging ecosystem

Apple is eyeing a better way to charge your devices.

New module for OpenAI GPT-3 creates unique images from text

A team of researchers at OpenAI, a San Francisco artificial intelligence development company, has added a new module to its GPT-3 autoregressive language model. Called DALL·E, the module excerpts text with multiple characteristics, analyzes it and then draws a picture based on what it believes was described. On their webpage describing the new module, the team at OpenAI describe it as "a simple decoder-only transformer" and note that they plan to provide more details about its architecture and how it can be used as they learn more about it themselves.

Mighty morphing 3-D printing

Engineers at the University of Maryland (UMD) have created a new shape-changing or "morphing" 3-D printing nozzle that was featured as a Frontispiece in the January 5th issue of the journal Advanced Materials Technologies.

Machine learning at the speed of light: New paper demonstrates use of photonic structures for AI

As we enter the next chapter of the digital age, data traffic continues to grow exponentially. To further enhance artificial intelligence and machine learning, computers will need the ability to process vast amounts of data as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

UK watchdog investigates chip maker Nvidia's takeover of Arm

British regulators are investigating graphics chip maker Nvidia's $40 billion purchase of chip designer Arm over concerns about its effect on competition.

A better pen-and-ink system for drawing flexible circuits

Conductive ink is a great tool for printing flexible electronic circuits on surfaces. But these inks can be costly, they do not work on some materials, and devices to apply them can plug up. Now, scientists report in ACS Applied Electronic Materials that they have developed inexpensive conductive inks for clog-free ballpoint pens that can allow users to "write" circuits almost anywhere—even on human skin.

California is scrambling to avoid blackouts. Your refrigerator could help

Sometime next summer, there's a decent chance a heat wave will bake the American West, and California's power grid will again be stretched to its limits.

Samsung bringing 'bigger and bigger' TVs to market to meet stay-at-home demands of coronavirus pandemic

Samsung kicked off the 2021 CES trade show Wednesday with a showcase of new televisions meant to address changes in home life brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Apple touts $1.8 bn in holiday sales at App Store

Apple on Wednesday said a dizzying $1.8 billion was spent on digital goods and services at its App Store between Christmas Eve and the end of December.

Trump widens US ban on Chinese apps as his term nears end

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order banning transactions with eight Chinese apps including Alipay and WeChat Pay in an escalation of a trade war that has been unfolding through most of his term.

Apple ties exec bonuses to social, environmental values

Apple is making environmental and social values factors it will weigh when calculating bonuses for top executives, according to a regulatory filing on Tuesday.

UK car sales crash to almost 30-year low

British new car sales crashed to the lowest level for almost three decades in 2020, with demand ravaged by chronic coronavirus fallout and Brexit uncertainty, industry data showed Wednesday.

NYSE to delist 3 Chinese telecom firms in new reversal

The New York Stock Exchange reversed course again Wednesday saying it would delist three Chinese telecom equities from trading due to new US government guidance.

Amazon commits $2 billion for affordable housing around hubs

Amazon said Wednesday it was committing $2 billion to help create more affordable housing in the area around its second headquarters near the US capital and other hubs of the tech and retail giant.

Delta Air Lines to connect aircraft with Viasat-powered in-flight Internet

Carlsbad, Calif., satellite Internet provider Viasat said Tuesday that it has landed a contract to deliver in-flight Internet connectivity to more than 300 Delta Air Lines aircraft starting this summer.

Ford says Q4 sales fall on lingering COVID-19 hit

Ford reported a drop in fourth-quarter US auto sales Wednesday, citing the extended effects from a COVID-19 production shutdown that hit the supply of their most popular vehicle in the American market.

Canada's WestJet planning to return 737 MAX to service in January

Canadian airline WestJet said Wednesday it plans to return its passenger fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to the skies this month, nearly two years ago after their worldwide grounding following two crashes that killed 346 people.

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