Science X Newsletter Monday, Jan 18

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for January 18, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A technique that allows robots to estimate the pose of objects by touching them

Exploring the role of competitive brain processes in artistic cognition

The long-range transport of deconfined magnetic hedgehogs

Interstellar chemistry: low-temperature gas-phase formation of indene in the interstellar medium

Astronomers find planetary system with gas giant exoplanet and white dwarf companion

A 'super-puff' planet like no other

Synthesis of potent antibiotic follows unusual chemical pathway

Researchers: Climate change will alter the position of the Earth's tropical rain belt

New management approach can help avoid species vulnerability or extinction

Inexpensive battery charges rapidly for electric vehicles, reduces range anxiety

Personalized brain stimulation alleviates severe depression symptoms

Lasers and molecular tethers create perfectly patterned platforms for tissue engineering

Latch, load and release: Elastic motion makes click beetles click, study finds

Using drones to create local quantum networks

New study connects religiosity in US South Asians to cardiovascular disease

Physics news

The long-range transport of deconfined magnetic hedgehogs

Spintronics is an emerging area of research that aims to develop devices that transmit, process and store information leveraging the intrinsic angular momentum of electrons, known as spin. A key objective of spintronics studies is to identify strategies to use magnetic insulators to achieve the transport of signals over long distances.

Using drones to create local quantum networks

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in China has used drones to create a prototype of a small airborne quantum network. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the researchers describe sending entangled particles from one drone to another and from a drone to the ground.

One-dimensional quantum nanowires fertile ground for majorana zero modes

Why is studying spin properties of one-dimensional quantum nanowires important?

Phase diagram for infinite layer nickel superconductors

NUS physicists have developed a method to induce the transition of a rare-earth nickelate from their native perovskite form to infinite-layer structures. This allowed them to build a complete phase diagram of this nickelate superconductor.

New mathematical model: How dangerous bacteria form colonies

It can be observed every time you take a shower: Small droplets of water join together to form larger and larger drops—until they are so heavy that they run down the wall. Scientists call this daily-life phenomenon coalescence—which surprisingly also provides the key to understanding how bacteria form colonies. Researchers at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), the Max-Planck-Zentrum für Physik und Medizin (MPZPM) in Erlangen and the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden (MPI-PKS) have now succeeded in developing a statistical model to describe the formation, dynamics and mechanics of such cell assemblies. They have published their results in the prestigious journal Physical Review Letters.

Tracking the evolution of Maxwell knots

Maxwell equations govern the evolution of electromagnetic fields with light being a particular solution of these equations in spaces devoid of electric charge. A new study published in EPJ C by Alexi Morozov and Nikita Tselousov, from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and the Institute of Transmission Problems, Russia, respectively, details peculiar solutions to the Maxwell equations—so-called Maxwell knots. The research could have applications in the fields of mathematical physics and string theory.

Astronomy and Space news

Astronomers find planetary system with gas giant exoplanet and white dwarf companion

Using NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), an international team of astronomers has discovered an interesting extrasolar planetary system consisting of a K-dwarf host star, a Jupiter-sized planet and a white dwarf. The finding and parameters of the system, designated TOI-1259, were presented in a paper published January 7 on the arXiv pre-print repository.

A 'super-puff' planet like no other

The core mass of the giant exoplanet WASP-107b is much lower than what was thought necessary to build up the immense gas envelope surrounding giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn, astronomers at Université de Montréal have found.

NASA test of mega Moon rocket engines cut short

NASA conducted a test firing of the engines for its giant Space Launch System (SLS) lunar rocket on Saturday but they shut down earlier than planned, the space agency said.

Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try

Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit reached space on Sunday, eight months after the first demonstration flight of its air-launched rocket system failed, the company said.

Cosmic beasts and where to find them

Two giant radio galaxies have been discovered with South Africa's powerful MeerKAT telescope. These galaxies are thought to be amongst the largest single objects in the Universe. The discovery has been published today in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society .

The U.S. Postal Service to issue NASA sun science forever stamps

NASA's images of the sun's dynamic and dazzling beauty have captivated the attention of millions. In 2021, the US Postal Service is showcasing the sun's many faces with a series of sun Science forever stamps that show images of solar activity captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO.

Technology news

A technique that allows robots to estimate the pose of objects by touching them

Humans are able to find objects in their surroundings and detect some of their properties simply by touching them. While this skill is particularly valuable for blind individuals, it can also help people with no visual impairments to complete simple tasks, such as locating and grabbing an object inside a bag or pocket.

Inexpensive battery charges rapidly for electric vehicles, reduces range anxiety

Range anxiety, the fear of running out of power before being able to recharge an electric vehicle, may be a thing of the past, according to a team of Penn State engineers who are looking at lithium iron phosphate batteries that have a range of 250 miles with the ability to charge in 10 minutes.

Stellantis is born as Peugeot and Fiat complete their merger

The merger of France's PSA and US-Italian rival Fiat Chrysler becomes official on Saturday, creating Stellantis, the world's fourth-biggest automaker by volume.

Deliveroo targets $7 billion valuation for IPO

British meals delivery company Deliveroo, boosted by demand during the coronavirus pandemic, said Sunday it was targeting a stock market listing after a fundraising round valued the company at more than $7.0 billion.

Super fast 5G in the US still a work in progress

Marketing pitches in the US are bullish on superfast 5G telecom networks, but they remain more of a promise than reality.

Major firms urge Japan to bolster 2030 renewables goal

Major firms including Sony, Panasonic and Nissan on Monday urged the Japanese government to make its 2030 renewable energy target twice as ambitious.

Chemists develop polymer cathodes for ultrafast batteries

In the face of the surging demand for lithium-ion batteries and limited lithium reserves, scientists are searching for alternatives to the lithium technology. Russian researchers from Skoltech, D. Mendeleev University, and the Institute of Problems of Chemical Physics of RAS have synthesized and tested new polymer-based cathode materials for lithium dual-ion batteries. The tests showed that the new cathodes withstand up to 25,000 operating cycles and charge in a matter of seconds, thus outperforming lithium-ion batteries. The cathodes can also be used to produce less expensive potassium dual-ion batteries. The research was published in the journal Energy Technology.

Artificial intelligence for food security

AI, or artificial intelligence, is attracting great attention across many industries, even food production, according to research published in the International Journal of Society Systems Science.

Love in the time of algorithms: Would you let your artificial intelligence choose your partner?

It could be argued artificial intelligence (AI) is already the indispensable tool of the 21st century. From helping doctors diagnose and treat patients to rapidly advancing new drug discoveries, it's our trusted partner in so many ways.

Video game spending hits record $56.9 billion in 2020

With many Americans stuck at home last year due to the pandemic, spending on video games hit a new record.

Ring's Neighbors app exposed users' home addresses, locations due to security flaw

Ring's Neighbors app exposed users' home addresses and specific locations before the company became aware of the security issue.

Identification of a major factor influencing the cycle life of high energy density lithium-air batteries

NIMS and SoftBank discovered that the cycle life of high energy density lithium-air batteries is predominantly influenced by the ratio of electrolyte volume to electrode areal capacity. The team developed a technique to quantify side reaction products formed and oxygen used in battery electrochemical reactions. Using this technique, the team was able to precisely assess the overall balance between reactants and products, leading to this discovery. These results may facilitate R&D concerning practical lithium-air batteries.

Deaths, self-immolation draw scrutiny on China tech giants

E-commerce workers who kept China fed during the coronavirus pandemic, making their billionaire bosses even richer, are so unhappy with their pay and treatment that one just set himself on fire in protest.

Samsung chief jailed for 2.5 years over corruption scandal

The de facto chief of South Korea's Samsung business empire was convicted Monday over a huge corruption scandal and jailed for two and a half years, in a ruling that deprives the tech giant of its top decision-maker.

Eurostar urges state support as virus wipes out train traffic

Eurostar, whose train services through the Channel Tunnel have been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic, has called on the UK government to provide it with the same financial support handed to grounded airlines over concerns about a possible collapse.

Apple's Cook says Parler could return to App Store with reforms

Parler, the social network popular among conservatives, could return to Apple's App Store if it changes how it moderates posts on the platform, the tech giant's CEO Tim Cook said Sunday.

Frankfurt airport traffic nosedives to three-decade low

The company that runs Frankfurt's airport said Monday that passenger numbers in 2020 plunged to their lowest since the 1980s as the coronavirus pandemic devastated the travel sector.

Darkness from light

Microresonators are small glass structures in which light can circulate and build up in intensity. Due to material imperfections, some amount of light is reflected backwards, which is disturbing their function. Researchers have now demonstrated a method for suppressing these unwanted back reflections. Their findings can help improve a multitude of microresonator-based applications from measurement technology such as sensors used for example in drones, to optical information processing in fibre networks and computers. The results of the team spanning the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light (Germany), Imperial College London, and the National Physical Laboratory (UK) are published now in the Nature-family journal Light: Science and Applications.

Researchers report smallest finFET-based biosensor for high-sensitivity molecule detection

Imec has presented the smallest silicon finFET that functions as a biosensor. Achieving ultrasmall dimensions (13 nm fin width and 50 nm gate length) and fabricated with a CMOS-compatible process flow in imec's 300 mm cleanroom, imec envisions volume manufacturing and integration into high-throughput, cost-effective detection tools, with tens of thousands of these BioFETs working in parallel. With a demonstrated detection limit of tens of molecules today, imec ultimately targets highly accurate BioFETs sensing single DNA molecules.

Thin-film short-wave-infrared image sensor with sub-2µm pixel pitch

Imec researchers have developed a prototype high-resolution short-wave-infrared (SWIR) image sensor with record small pixel pitch of 1.82 µm. It is based on a thin-film photodetector that is monolithically integrated on a custom Si-CMOS readout circuit. A fab-compatible process flow paves the way to high-throughput, wafer-level manufacturing. The presented technology largely exceeds the capabilities of today's InGaAs-based SWIR imagers in terms of pixel pitch and resolution, with disruptive cost and form factor potential. New applications are enabled even in cost-sensitive domains, such as in industrial machine vision, smart agriculture, automotive, surveillance, life sciences and consumer electronics. Imec will present these results at the 2020 IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) in session 16.

UK says 'human error' wiped 1000s of police computer records

Britain's policing minister said Monday that "human error" led to hundreds of thousands of DNA records and other data on criminal suspects being erased from the national police computer.

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