Science X Newsletter Friday, Jan 29

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for January 29, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Using AUVs to control the outbreak of crown-of-thorns starfish in Australia's Great Barrier Reef

Children prioritize what they hear over what they see when gauging emotional aspects of their experience

How does SARS-CoV-2 evade our immune defenses?

Researchers develop smartphone-based COVID-19 test that delivers results in about 10 minutes

Direct coherent multi-ink printing of fabric supercapacitors

Specific bacteria in the gut prompt mother mice to neglect their pups

'Weak' and 'strong' cells bonding boosts body's diabetes fight

Forty years of coral spawning captured in one place for the first time

Threads that sense how and when you move? New technology makes it possible

A potentially safer, more effective gene therapy vector for blood disorders

'Organs-on-a-chip' system sheds light on how bacteria in the human digestive tract may influence neurological diseases

Islands without structure inside metal alloys could lead to tougher materials

Reindeer lichens are having more sex than expected

Researchers map heart recovery after heart attack with great detail

Potent trivalent inhibitors of thrombin from anticoagulation peptides in insect saliva

Physics news

Solvation-driven electrochemical actuation

In a new study led by Institute Professor Maurizio Porfiri at NYU Tandon, researchers showed a novel principle of actuation—to transform electrical energy into motion. This actuation mechanism is based on solvation, the interaction between solute and solvent molecules in a solution. This phenomenon is particular important in water, as its molecules are polar: oxygen attracts electrons more than hydrogen, such that oxygen has a slightly negative charge and hydrogen a slightly positive one. Thus, water molecules are attracted by charged ions in solution, forming shells around them. This microscopic phenomenon plays a critical role in the properties of solutions and in essential biological processes such as protein folding, but prior to this study there was no evidence of potential macroscopic mechanical consequences of solvation.

New study investigates photonics for artificial intelligence and neuromorphic computing

Scientists have given a fascinating new insight into the next steps to develop fast, energy-efficient, future computing systems that use light instead of electrons to process and store information—incorporating hardware inspired directly by the functioning of the human brain.

By changing their shape, some bacteria can grow more resilient to antibiotics

New research led by Carnegie Mellon University Assistant Professor of Physics Shiladitya Banerjee demonstrates how certain types of bacteria can adapt to long-term exposure to antibiotics by changing their shape. The work was published in the journal Nature Physics.

Dewdrops on a spiderweb reveal the physics behind cell structures

As any cook knows, some liquids mix well with each other, but others do not. For example, when a tablespoon of vinegar is poured into water, a brief stir suffices to thoroughly combine the two liquids. However, a tablespoon of oil poured into water will coalesce into droplets that no amount of stirring can dissolve. The physics that governs the mixing of liquids is not limited to mixing bowls; it also affects the behavior of things inside cells. It's been known for several years that some proteins behave like liquids, and that some liquid-like proteins don't mix together. However, very little is known about how these liquid-like proteins behave on cellular surfaces.

High-speed holographic fluorescence microscopy system with submicron resolution

The National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), Tohoku University, Toin University of Yokohama, and Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) have succeeded in developing a scanless high-speed holographic fluorescence microscopy system with submicron resolution for a 3-D space. The system is based on digital holography.

Astronomy and Space news

Could game theory help discover intelligent alien life?

New research from the University of Manchester suggests using a strategy linked to cooperative game playing known as 'game theory' in order to maximize the potential of finding intelligent alien life.

ExoMars orbiter's 20,000th image

The CaSSIS camera onboard the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has captured its 20,000th image of Mars.

Ariane 6 upper stage heads for hot-firing tests

The first complete upper stage of Europe's new Ariane 6 launch vehicle has left ArianeGroup in Bremen and is now on its way to the DLR German Aerospace Center in Lampoldshausen, Germany. Hot firing tests performed in near-vacuum conditions, mimicking the environment in space, will provide data to prove its readiness for flight.

SpaceX vs NASA: Who will get us to the moon first? Here's how their latest rockets compare

No one has visited the moon since 1972. But with the advent of commercial human spaceflight, the urge to return is resurgent and generating a new space race. NASA has selected the private company SpaceX to be part of its commercial spaceflight operations, but the firm is also pursuing its own space exploration agenda.

NASA's MAVEN continues to advance Mars science and telecommunications relay efforts

With a suite of new national and international spacecraft primed to explore the Red Planet after their arrival next month, NASA's MAVEN mission is ready to provide support and continue its study of the Martian atmosphere.

Technology news

Using AUVs to control the outbreak of crown-of-thorns starfish in Australia's Great Barrier Reef

Over the past few decades, people around the world have been dealing with a vast variety of environmental threats. In Australia, these include risks associated with the deterioration and destruction of aquatic plants, animals and other organisms that inhabit surrounding seas and oceans.

Threads that sense how and when you move? New technology makes it possible

Engineers at Tufts University have created and demonstrated flexible thread-based sensors that can measure movement of the neck, providing data on the direction, angle of rotation and degree of displacement of the head. The discovery raises the potential for thin, inconspicuous tatoo-like patches that could, according to the Tufts team, measure athletic performance, monitor worker or driver fatigue, assist with physical therapy, enhance virtual reality games and systems, and improve computer generated imagery in cinematography. The technology, described today in Scientific Reports, adds to a growing number of thread-based sensors developed by Tufts engineers that can be woven into textiles, measuring gases and chemicals in the environment or metabolites in sweat.

Machine learning to predict the performance of organic solar cells

Imagine looking for the optimal configuration to build an organic solar cell made from different polymers. How would you start? Does the active layer need to be very thick, or very thin? Does it need a large or a small amount of each polymer?

Production of 'post-lithium-ion batteries' requires new skills

Research on manufacturing battery cells is gaining momentum—and there is a strong need, considering the future demand for energy storage: For the year 2030, global production of rechargeable batteries will double from today's 750 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year to 1,500 GWh. A recently published review article in the magazine Nature Energy on cell production of various battery types suggests that the currently established lithium-ion batteries (LIB) dominate the market of rechargeable high-energy batteries in the coming years.

Xiaomi device will charge devices from across a room

The multinational electronics company Xiaomi announced the development of a new power transmission system that can charge a cellphone from across a room without any wires or charging pads.

Huawei smartphone sales plunge as US sanctions bite

Sales of smartphones made by Chinese telecom giant Huawei plunged in the latest quarter of 2020 as they were hit by US sanctions on its suppliers, research firm Canalys said on Friday.

Google bombards Australian search users as PR campaign intensifies

US tech giant Google stepped up its public relations campaign against Australian regulation Friday, presenting all search users Down Under with a "proposal" to water down planned rules.

Google is leading a vast, covert human experiment. You may be one of the guinea pigs

On January 13 the Australian Financial Review reported Google had removed some Australian news content from its search results for some local users.

Connecting machines in remote regions

On Nov. 26, seven fishermen aboard a small fishing boat off the coast of Maharashtra in western India were struck with panic when their vessel was damaged and began to sink. The panic was warranted: The boat was too far from shore to radio for help.

Amazon algorithms promote vaccine misinformation, study finds

As vaccine misinformation has prompted some to say they will refuse to be inoculated against the coronavirus, the world's largest online retailer remains a hotbed for anti-vaccination conspiracy theories, according to a new study by University of Washington researchers.

Profits at India's Tata Motors surge on pent-up demand

Profits at India's Tata Motors jumped 67 percent during the last quarter of 2020, the company said Friday, benefiting from pent-up demand that saw consumers flock to buy cars.

Study identifies the main scientific challenges of undergound hydrogen storage in porous media

Large-scale storage of hydrogen remains largely untested but is essential if hydrogen is to realize its potential to make a significant contribution to achieving net-zero emissions. A new perspectives paper sets out the key scientific challenges and knowledge gaps in large scale hydrogen storage in porous geological environments. These underground hydrogen reservoirs could be used as energy storages to face high demand periods. The article, authored by Niklas Heinemann and co-authored by GEO3BCN-CSIC researchers Juan Alcalde and Ramon Carbonell, has been recently published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science.

Researchers use AI to help businesses understand Code of Federal Regs, other legal docs

Researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) have made strides in automated legal document analytics (ALDA) by creating a way to machine-process the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The CFR is a complex document containing policies related to doing business with the federal government. All business affiliates of the federal government must comply with the CFR. For government contracts to be equitably open to a broad range of businesses, policies within the CFR must be accessible.

Facebook to test letting advertisers avoid topics

Facebook on Friday said it is working on a way to let advertisers avoid having marketing messages appear in feeds alongside content they'd rather not be associated with.

UN chief calls for regulating social media companies

The United Nations chief called Thursday for global rules to regulate powerful social media companies like Twitter and Facebook.

Reddit users say GameStop rocket is revenge of the masses

For some Reddit users, GameStop's dizzying rocket ride on Wall Street is a case of the masses rebelling against one-percenters hoarding the world's wealth.

Norwegian Air to get government loan in restructuring

Norway's government said Friday it will give low-cost carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle a 1.5 billion kroner ($173 million) loan as long as the ailing company manages to raise at least 4.5 billion kroner ($520 million) from other investors.

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