Science X Newsletter Thursday, Jan 7

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for January 7, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A new strategy to implement XY entangling gates in superconducting qubit architectures

The first evidence of top quark production in nucleus-nucleus collisions

A framework to evaluate the cognitive capabilities of machine learning agents

Study explores the effects of morning weather on people's mood and wellbeing at work

Biotin, mitochondria, and dementia: Research reveals a connection

NEMS IDs: Secure nanoelectromechanical tags for identification and authentication

Extremely fast electrochromic supercapacitors

Winds and jet streams found on the closest brown dwarf

Research confirms increase in river flooding and droughts in U.S., Canada

Research explains why crocodiles have changed so little since the age of the dinosaurs

Research paves the way for new anti-fibrotic therapy for glaucoma

Stem cell therapy corrects skull, brain function in mouse model of childhood disorder

Noncognitive skills—distinct from cognitive abilities—are important to success across the life

Sharing leftover meat may have contributed to early dog domestication

COVID-19 likely lingered longer than reported in Wuhan: study

Physics news

The first evidence of top quark production in nucleus-nucleus collisions

The Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) Collaboration, a large group of researchers from different institutes worldwide, has recently gathered the very first evidence of top quark production in nucleus-nucleus collisions. Their work, outlined in a paper published in Physical Review Letters, was based on lead-lead collision data gathered by the CMS particle detector, at CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Optical network shapes pulses of light

A team of UCLA engineers and researchers has developed a new method to shape light pulses by creating physical networks that are composed specially engineered layers. These layers are designed using deep learning and then fabricated using 3-D printing and stacked together, one following another, forming an optical network that is capable of performing various computational tasks using optical waves and diffraction of light. Earlier studies demonstrated all-optical classification and recognition of images using these deep learning-designed diffractive networks.

Researchers develop broadband X-ray source needed to perform new measurements at NIF

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers have developed an X-ray source that can diagnose temperature in experiments that probe conditions like those at the very center of planets.

Insights through atomic simulation

A recent special issue of the Journal of Chemical Physics highlights Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's (PNNL) contributions to developing two prominent open-source software packages for computational chemistry used by scientists around the world.

How chaos and tendency to reach thermal equilibrium arise from fundamental laws of physics

Normally the word "chaos" evokes a lack of order: a hectic day, a teenager's bedroom, tax season. And the physical understanding of chaos is not far off. It's something that is extremely difficult to predict, like the weather. Chaos allows a small blip (the flutter of a butterfly wing) to grow into a big consequence (a typhoon halfway across the world), which explains why weather forecasts more than a few days into the future can be unreliable. Individual air molecules, which are constantly bouncing around, are also chaotic—it's nearly impossible to pin down where any single molecule might be at any given moment.

High-flux table-top source for femtosecond hard X-ray pulses

Femtosecond hard X-ray pulses are an important tool for unraveling structure changes of condensed matter on atomic length and time scales. A novel laser-driven X-ray source provides femtosecond copper Kα pulses at a 1 kHz repetition rate with an unprecedented flux of some 1012 X-ray photons per second.

Researchers question fundamental study on the Kondo effect

The Kondo effect influences the electrical resistance of metals at low temperatures and generates complex electronic and magnetic orders. Novel concepts for data storage and processing, such as using quantum dots, are based on this. In 1998, researchers from the United States published spectroscopic studies on the Kondo effect using scanning tunneling microscopy, which are considered ground-breaking and have triggered countless others of a similar kind. Many of these studies may have to be re-examined now that Jülich researchers have shown that the Kondo effect cannot be proven beyond doubt by this method. Instead, another phenomenon is creating precisely the spectroscopic 'fingerprint' that was previously attributed to the Kondo effect.

Speeding up machine learning by means of light

Scientists have developed a pioneering new approach that will rapidly speed up machine learning—using light.

Next-generation particle beam cooling experiment under way at Fermilab accelerator

Before researchers can smash together beams of particles to study high-energy particle interactions, they need to create those beams in particle accelerators. And the tighter the particles are packed in the beams, the better scientists' chances of spotting rare physics phenomena.

New hard disk write head analytical technology can increase hard disk capacities

Using synchrotron radiation at SPring-8—a large-scale synchrotron radiation facility—Tohoku University, Toshiba Corporation, and the Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute (JASRI) have successfully imaged the magnetization dynamics of a hard disk drive (HDD) write head for the first time, with a precision of one ten-billionth of a second. The method makes possible precise analysis of write head operations, accelerating the development of the next-generation write heads and further increasing HDD capacity. Details of the research were published in the Journal of Applied Physics on October 6 and presented at the 44th Annual Conference on Magnetics in Japan, on December 14.

Machine-learning models of matter beyond interatomic potentials

Combining electronic structure calculations and machine learning (ML) techniques has become a common approach in the atomistic modeling of matter. Using the two techniques together has allowed researchers, for instance, to create models that use atomic coordinates as the only inputs to inexpensively predict any property that can be computed by the first-principles calculations that had been used to train them.

Researchers repurpose 'damaged' polymer optical fibers to precisely measure magnetic fields

The invention of optical fibers has revolutionized not only telecommunications but also sensing technology. Optical fiber sensors can measure strain, temperature, pressure, and many other physical parameters along the fibers, but they are currently immune to electromagnetic noise—interference from other external electric or magnetic interactions. It is a desirable trait, until the effect of the electromagnetic field on the fibers needs to be measured. Now, an international team of researchers has used what was previously considered a 'damaged' part of an optical fiber to develop such a magnetic field sensor.

Astronomy and Space news

Winds and jet streams found on the closest brown dwarf

A University of Arizona-led research team has found bands and stripes on the brown dwarf closest to Earth, hinting at the processes churning the brown dwarf's atmosphere from within.

When galaxies collide: Hubble showcases six beautiful galaxy mergers

It is during rare merging events that galaxies undergo dramatic changes in their appearance and in their stellar content. These systems are excellent laboratories to trace the formation of star clusters under extreme physical conditions.

A new NASA space telescope, SPHEREx, is moving ahead

NASA's upcoming space telescope, the Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer, or SPHEREx, is one step closer to launch. The mission has officially entered Phase C, in NASA lingo. That means the agency has approved preliminary design plans for the observatory, and work can begin on creating a final, detailed design, as well as on building the hardware and software.

7 things to know about the NASA rover about to land on Mars

With only about 50 million miles (80 million kilometers) left to go in its 293-million-mile (471-million-kilometer) journey, NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is nearing its new planetary home. The spacecraft has begun its approach to the Red Planet and in 43 days, on Feb. 18, 2021, Perseverance will blaze through Mars' atmosphere at about 12,100 mph (19,500 kph), touching down gently on the surface about seven minutes later.

Why have so few Milky Way supernovae been observed over the last millennium?

Our galaxy hosts supernovae explosions a few times every century, and yet it's been hundreds of years since the last observable one. New research explains why: It's a combination of dust, distance and dumb luck.

Image: The sun in 2020

These 366 images of the sun were made by ESA's Proba-2 satellite in 2020.

Space Station, Cygnus test technology for 5G communications, other benefits

A Northrop Grumman Cygnus supply craft carried a load of new scientific experiments to the International Space Station in early October. That is only one of the jobs the craft has, though. Once it undocks from the station Cygnus will continue operations by hosting a two-week test of emerging technologies known as SharkSat.

Image: A good GRASP on the New Year

NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins performs the Grasp experiment in the Columbus module of the International Space Station ahead of the New Year. The experiment studies how the central nervous system, specifically hand-eye coordination, adapts to microgravity.

Technology news

A new strategy to implement XY entangling gates in superconducting qubit architectures

Over the past decade or so, research teams worldwide have been trying to develop devices and hardware components for quantum information processing. The performance of most of these emerging devices depends in great part on optimized circuit implementations that can minimize the depth of a circuit.

A framework to evaluate the cognitive capabilities of machine learning agents

Over the past decade or so, computer scientists have developed machine learning (ML) techniques that perform remarkably well on a variety of tasks. While these algorithms are designed for artificially replicating human cognitive skills, there is still a lack of tools to compare their capabilities with those of humans.

NEMS IDs: Secure nanoelectromechanical tags for identification and authentication

In recent years, hackers have become increasingly good at counterfeiting identification and authentication tags. This has led to an increase in cases of identity theft, fraud, security breaches and other concerning privacy or security related incidents.

Research team demonstrates world's fastest optical neuromorphic processor

An international team of researchers led by Swinburne University of Technology has demonstrated the world's fastest and most powerful optical neuromorphic processor for artificial intelligence (AI), which operates faster than 10 trillion operations per second (TeraOPs/s) and is capable of processing ultra-large scale data. Published in the prestigious journal Nature, this breakthrough represents an enormous leap forward for neural networks and neuromorphic processing in general.

Looking Glass converts any photo into 3-D image

On the first day of a popular psychology course in the 1970s at City College of New York, students were told the story of how a remote South American tribe that was never exposed to technology or even electricity reacted when they saw a cowboy program on TV for the first time. Panic-stricken viewers dodged out of the way as galloping horses disappeared at the edge of the screen, while others searched high and low to find the missing animals. These were old, bulky televisions with scrappy black-and-white displays. But to the tribe members, the images were chillingly real.

Tesla market value tops $700 bn for first time

Electric carmaker Tesla closed trading on Wednesday with a market value topping $700 billion for the first time.

Photo-sharing blockchain-based social network

A new photo-sharing social network based on the blockchain could enhance the authenticity and credibility of data as well as precluding data tampering, according to research published in the International Journal of Technology Management.

New Mercedes screen to stretch nearly full width of car

Daimler's Mercedes-Benz has unveiled a key interior component of its upcoming electric luxury sedan: a large, curved screen that sweeps across almost the entire width of the car in the place of a conventional dashboard.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk now world's wealthiest person: US media

Elon Musk, the outspoken and envelope-pushing founder and CEO of Tesla, overtook Amazon boss Jeff Bezos to become the world's wealthiest person, US media reported Thursday.

Tech giant technology is 'open source' for the pandemic, so why does it feel so closed?

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen hardware developers clamoring to make 'open source' technology to support our frontline services. Their intentions have been honorable—an invitation to teams across the world to collaborate in developing essential equipment such as ventilators, thereby making the process of producing critical instruments more effective, both in time and cost.

Bitcoin soars past $40,000 for the first time

The price of the cryptocurrency bitcoin soared past $40,000 for the first time on Thursday, rising $10,000 in just five days.

WhatsApp updates terms as moves to monetize app

The popular messaging app WhatsApp asked its some two billion users on Thursday to accept new terms that will allow it to share more information with its parent company Facebook and roll out advertising and e-commerce.

Tech titans Alibaba, Tencent dive in Hong Kong on US ban fears

Shares in China's two biggest companies Alibaba and Tencent tumbled in Hong Kong on Thursday in response to media reports that the Trump administration plans to press ahead with a ban on Americans investing in them.

Ryanair slashes annual traffic forecast on virus

Irish no-frills airline Ryanair on Thursday slashed its annual traffic forecast after axing more flights due to the coronavirus fallout.

How Australia can phase out coal power while maintaining energy security

The end of coal-fired generation in Australia is inevitable.

Solar panel fire season is all year round and it's getting more intense in Australia

2020 was a bumper year for solar power in Australia. More solar PV systems were installed in the first nine months than in all of any previous year.

Why we need green hydrogen

Green hydrogen has been in the news often lately. President-elect Biden has promised to use renewable energy to produce green hydrogen that costs less than natural gas. The Department of Energy is putting up to $100 million into the research and development of hydrogen and fuel cells. The European Union will invest $430 billion in green hydrogen by 2030 to help achieve the goals of its Green Deal. And Chile, Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Australia are all making major investments into green hydrogen.

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