Science X Newsletter Friday, Feb 5

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for February 5, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

CRISPR editing of mitochondria: Promising new biotech?

Genes for face shape identified

Student astronomer finds missing galactic matter

A warp in the Milky Way linked to galactic collision

New fiber optic temperature sensing approach to keep fusion power plants running

Microsoft's Viva reimagines intranet in post-COVID world

New way to power up nanomaterials for electronic applications

Breakthrough in quantum photonics promises a new era in optical circuits

New AI tool can thwart coronavirus mutations

Research establishes a new method to predict individual risk of cognitive decline

Pushed to the limit: A CMOS-based transceiver for beyond 5G applications at 300 GHz

A new drug target for liver cancer

Bimeronium: A new member of the topological spin textures family

Silicon anode structure generates new potential for lithium-ion batteries

Neanderthal gut microbiota and the bacteria helping our health

Physics news

New fiber optic temperature sensing approach to keep fusion power plants running

The pursuit of fusion as a safe, carbon-free, always-on energy source has intensified in recent years, with a number of organizations pursuing aggressive timelines for technology demonstrations and power plant designs. New-generation superconducting magnets are a critical enabler for many of these programs, which creates growing need for sensors, controls, and other infrastructure that will allow the magnets to operate reliably in the harsh conditions of a commercial fusion power plant.

Breakthrough in quantum photonics promises a new era in optical circuits

The modern world is powered by electrical circuitry on a "chip"—the semiconductor chip underpinning computers, cell phones, the internet, and other applications. In the year 2025, humans are expected to be creating 175 zettabytes (175 trillion gigabytes) of new data. How can we ensure the security of sensitive data at such a high volume? And how can we address grand-challenge-like problems, from privacy and security to climate change, leveraging this data, especially given the limited capability of current computers?

Bimeronium: A new member of the topological spin textures family

Topological spin textures in magnetic systems are intriguing objects that exhibit exotic physics and have potential applications in information storage and processing. The most fundamental and exemplary topological spin texture is called the skyrmion, which is a nanoscale circular domain wall carrying a nonzero integer topological charge. The skyrmion texture in magnetic materials was theoretically predicted in the late 1980s, and it was experimentally observed in chiral magnets a decade ago. Since the first observation of magnetic skyrmions, the skyrmion community has focused on a series of topological spin textures evolved from the skyrmion, such as the skyrmionium and bimeron.

Quantum systems learn joint computing

Today's quantum computers contain up to several dozen memory and processing units, the so-called qubits. Severin Daiss, Stefan Langenfeld, and colleagues from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching have successfully interconnected two such qubits located in different labs to a distributed quantum computer by linking the qubits with a 60-meter-long optical fiber. Over such a distance they realized a quantum-logic gate—the basic building block of a quantum computer. It makes the system the worldwide first prototype of a distributed quantum computer.

Inductance based on a quantum effect has the potential to miniaturize inductors

Mobile-phone chargers and other devices could become much smaller after an all-RIKEN team of physicists successfully shrunk an electrical component known as an inductor to microscale dimensions using a quantum effect.

Long live superconductivity! Short flashes of light with sustaining impact

Superconductivity—the ability of a material to transmit an electric current without loss—is a quantum effect that, despite years of research, is still limited to very low temperatures. Now a team of scientists at the MPSD has succeeded in creating a metastable state with vanishing electrical resistance in a molecular solid by exposing it to finely tuned pulses of intense laser light. This effect had already been demonstrated in 2016 for only a very short time, but in a new study the authors of the paper have shown a far longer lifetime, nearly 10.000 times longer than before. The long lifetimes for light-induced superconductivity hold promise for applications in integrated electronics. The research by Budden et al. has been published in Nature Physics.

Astronomy and Space news

Student astronomer finds missing galactic matter

Astronomers have for the first time used distant galaxies as 'scintillating pins' to locate and identify a piece of the Milky Way's missing matter.

A warp in the Milky Way linked to galactic collision

When most of us picture the shape of the Milky Way, the galaxy that contains our own sun and hundreds of billions of other stars, we think of a central mass surrounded by a flat disc of stars that spiral around it. However, astronomers know that rather than being symmetrical, the disc structure is warped, more like the brim of a fedora, and that the warped edges are constantly moving around the outer rim of the galaxy.

SPIRou carries out first ever measurement of a very young exoplanet's density

A research team led by scientists from IRAP (CNRS/CNES/Universit√© Toulouse III—Paul Sabatier) and IPAG (CNRS/UGA) has for the first time measured the internal density of a very young exoplanet orbiting a newly formed, extremely active star. Despite the 'noise' generated by the star's activity, they successfully achieved this using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT)'s planet hunting instrument SPIRou. The findings are published in MNRAS on 2 February 2021.

Out of this world: Shepard put golf on moon 50 years ago

Fifty years later, it remains the most impressive bunker shot in the history of golf, mainly because of the location.

Every challenge astronauts will face on a flight to Mars

In 1972, the space race officially ended as NASA sent one last crew of astronauts to the surface of the moon (Apollo 17). This was the brass ring that both the US and the Soviets were reaching for, the "moonshot" that would determine who had supremacy in space. In the current age of renewed space exploration, the next great leap will clearly involve sending astronauts to Mars.

Has life existed beyond Earth?

When the NASA Mars rover Perseverance touches down on the surface of Mars on February 18, it will arrive in Jezero Crater, which preserves evidence of a time when rivers flowed on Mars.

Technology news

Microsoft's Viva reimagines intranet in post-COVID world

The promise of slowing numbers of COVID-19 cases and the development of vaccines are offering hope that workers exiled at home can get back to work again. While no one expects a rapid return to the workplace, one thing seems clear: How we work has likely changed forever.

Pushed to the limit: A CMOS-based transceiver for beyond 5G applications at 300 GHz

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and NTT Corporation (NTT) have developed a novel CMOS-based transceiver for wireless communications at the 300 GHz band, enabling future beyond-5G applications. Their design addresses the challenges of operating CMOS technology at its practical limit and represents the first wideband CMOS phased-array system to operate at such elevated frequencies.

Silicon anode structure generates new potential for lithium-ion batteries

New research conducted by the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) has identified a specific building block that improves the anode in lithium-ion batteries. The unique properties of the structure, which was built using nanoparticle technology, are revealed and explained today in Communications Materials.

New research shows geothermal heating may have limited longevity

Though the Earth's deeper layers have been raging at thousands of degrees for billions of years, new research involving Florida Tech has shown that tapping into that heat to produce geothermal heating for urban regions on the surface has a far, far shorter lifespan.

Machine learning algorithm may be the key to timely, inexpensive cyber-defense

Attacks on vulnerable computer networks and cyber-infrastructure—often called zero-day attacks—can quickly overwhelm traditional defenses, resulting in billions of dollars of damage and requiring weeks of manual patching work to shore up the systems after the intrusion.

Assessing aspects of Uber and Lyft on urban mobility in the United States

A trio of researchers, two from MIT and one from Tongji University, has conducted an assessment of the impact of ride service providers Uber and Lyft on urban mobility in the United States. In their paper published in the journal Nature Sustainability, Hui Kong, Jinhua Zhao and Mi Diao describe their study of transportation in major urban areas since the introduction of transportation network companies.

Tweets of fear used to spread malicious viruses online

Cybercriminals are preying on emotions of fear to spread dangerous viruses and spyware across Twitter, new research has revealed.

Energy harvesting: Printed thermoelectric generators for power generation

Thermoelectric generators, TEGs for short, convert ambient heat into electrical power. They enable maintenance-free, environmentally friendly, and autonomous power supply of the continuously growing number of sensors and devices for the Internet of Things (IoT) and recovery of waste heat. Scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have now developed three-dimensional component architectures based on novel, printable thermoelectric materials. This might be a milestone on the way towards use of inexpensive TEGs. The results are reported in npj Flexible Electronics and ACS Energy Letters.

Engineers develop programming technology to transform 2-D materials into 3-D shapes

University of Texas at Arlington researchers have developed a technique that programs 2-D materials to transform into complex 3-D shapes.

Packing more juice in lithium-ion batteries through silicon anodes and polymeric coatings

Although silicon anodes could greatly boost the capacity of Li-ion batteries, their performance rapidly degrades with use. Polymeric coatings can help solve this problem, but very few studies have explored the underlying mechanisms. In a recent study, scientists from Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology investigate how a poly(borosiloxane) coating greatly stabilizes the capacity of silicon anodes, paving the way for better and more durable Li-ion batteries for electric cars and renewable energy harvesting.

$43 bn deal for 'world's biggest' offshore wind farm in South Korea

A $43 billion deal was signed Friday to build what the South Korean government said will be the world's biggest offshore wind power complex, as it seeks to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Smarter production methodology: From design freedom to a sustainable environment

The past decade has seen increased prominence for new, more sustainable production methodologies. Selective laser sintering (SLS), an additive manufacturing (AM) technology, is one of those upcoming production methodologies, but its end products suffer from inconsistently reproducible properties. Ph.D. candidate Prakhyat Hejmady from the TU/e Department of Mechanical Engineering has developed an experimental methodology which can offer new possibilities in tailoring this production technique. He defended his Ph.D. thesis on 4 February 2021.

GM's bold move could spark a major shift in the auto industry

While the concept of the electric vehicle has been around since the 1890s, it would take another 100 years before a major automobile manufacturer would mass produce the first modern electric car. But that first electric car wasn't a Tesla or a Prius. It was the EV1, created by General Motors in the late 1990s.

PayPal says halting online payment services within India

Online payments giant PayPal said Friday it will halt domestic financial transactions within India, bowing out of a vast market buoyed by recent coronavirus restrictions.

Chinese TikTok rival Kuaishou nearly triples on Hong Kong debut

Shares in Chinese video app company Kuaishou almost tripled on their Hong Kong debut Friday, following a $5.4 billion initial public offering for the TikTok rival that was the biggest for an internet firm in nearly two years.

US market regulators to study recent trading frenzy

US financial market regulators will study the trading frenzy last week that saw shares like GameStop soar, and ensure investors are protected, the Treasury Department said Thursday.

Establishment testing standards for particulate photocatalysts in solar fuel production proposed

Utilization of renewable solar energy is crucial for addressing global energy and environmental concerns and achieving sustainable development in our society. In this regard, photocatalytic water splitting has attracted significant interest as a cost-effective means to convert sustainable solar energy into valuable chemicals.

Facial recognition may help find Capitol rioters—but it could harm many others, experts say

In the days following the Jan. 6 riot at the nation's Capitol, there was a rush to identify those who had stormed the building's hallowed halls.

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