Science X Newsletter Monday, Feb 8

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for February 8, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

The direct observation of the Pauli principle

Researchers review advancements in the development of stretchable transistors

Wearable plasmonic-metasurface sensor for universal molecular fingerprint detection on biointerfaces

New warm-Neptune exoplanet discovered

Complete characterization of the full mitochondrial kinome

Uncovering how some corals resist bleaching

Fast-growing parts of Africa see a surprise: less air pollution from seasonal fires

To figure out how dinosaurs walked, start with how they didn't

How rocks rusted on Earth and turned red

Man-made borders threaten wildlife as climate changes

Holography 'quantum leap' could revolutionise imaging

High carbon dioxide to slow tropical fish move to cooler waters

'Magnetic graphene' forms a new kind of magnetism

New material yields soft, elastic objects that feel like human tissue

Where should future astronauts land on Mars? Follow the water

Physics news

The direct observation of the Pauli principle

The Pauli exclusion principle is a law of quantum mechanics introduced by Austrian physicist Wolfgang Pauli, which offers valuable insight about the structure of matter. More specifically, the Pauli principle states that two or more identical fermions cannot simultaneously occupy the same quantum state inside a quantum system.

Holography 'quantum leap' could revolutionise imaging

A new type of quantum holography which uses entangled photons to overcome the limitations of conventional holographic approaches could lead to improved medical imaging and speed the advance of quantum information science.

'Magnetic graphene' forms a new kind of magnetism

Researchers have identified a new form of magnetism in so-called magnetic graphene, which could point the way toward understanding superconductivity in this unusual type of material.

Implementing a quantum approximate optimization algorithm on a 53-qubit NISQ device

A large team of researchers working with Google Inc. and affiliated with a host of institutions in the U.S., one in Germany and one in the Netherlands has implemented a quantum approximate optimization algorithm (QAOA) on a 53-qubit noisy intermediate-scale quantum (NISQ) device. In their paper published in the journal Nature Physics,, the group describes their method of studying the performance of their QAOA on Google's Sycamore superconducting 53-qubit quantum processor and what they learned from it. Boaz Barak with Harvard University has published a News & Views piece on the work done by the team in the same journal issue.

Demonstrating driven space-time crystals at room temperature

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in Germany and Poland has demonstrated driven space-time crystals at room temperature. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the group describes applying theories surrounding space-time crystals to magnons and how doing so allowed them to exploit electron spin in a way that could prove useful in information technology applications.

'Multiplying' light could be key to ultra-powerful optical computers

An important class of challenging computational problems, with applications in graph theory, neural networks, artificial intelligence and error-correcting codes can be solved by multiplying light signals, according to researchers from the University of Cambridge and Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Russia.

Droplets perform daredevil feats on gel surfaces

Welcome to the amazing world of soft substrates. These materials are made of silicon gels and have the same texture as panna cotta—but without the delicious flavor. They are used in a range of applications, especially in the pharmaceutical industry, because their biocompatible and antiadhesive properties make them resistant to corrosion and bacterial contamination. These substrates are so soft that they can be deformed (reversibly) by the capillary forces that occur at the edges of droplets when placed on their surfaces. However, droplets move very slowly on these surfaces; in order to flow, the droplets have to dynamically deform the substrates and overcome the resistance created by the substrate's viscoelastic proprieties. A millimeter-sized droplet placed on a substrate positioned vertically will flow at a speed of only between a few hundred nanometers per second and a few dozen micrometers per second. In other words, it would take the droplet three hours to move just one meter! This slowing effect is known as viscoelastic braking and is a big obstacle to the more widespread use of soft substrates, especially in manufacturing.

Researchers control a magnet's state by optically shaking its atomic lattice

An international team led by researchers of Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) has managed to manipulate the magnetic state of a magnetic material by optically shaking it. The whole process happens within an extremely short time frame of less than a few picoseconds. In times of stalling efficiency trends of current technology, such atomically-driven ultrafast control of magnetism opens broad new vistas for information technology. The results, which have been published in Nature Materials, could eventually lead to fast and energy-efficient data processing technologies, which are essential to keep up with our data hunger.

Shuffling bubbles reveal how liquid foams evolve

Foams are found everywhere, in soaps and detergents, meringues, beer foam, cosmetics and insulation for clothing and building. The application of foams tends to take advantage of their unique structure, which is why understanding how their structure can change over time is so important.

Scientists propose lithium to cope with high-risk condition in future fusion facilities

Perhaps the greatest technological challenge to harvesting on Earth the fusion energy that powers the sun and stars in future tokamak fusion reactors will be controlling the extreme heat that could strike the exhaust system inside the devices. Such heat flow, or flux, could seriously damage the walls of the divertor at the heart of the exhaust system and shut down fusion reactions in the doughnut-shaped facilities.

Neutrinos, atomic clocks and an experiment to detect a time dilation

Griffith University researchers are conducting an experiment at ANSTO that will test a revolutionary physics theory that time reversal symmetry-breaking by neutrinos might cause a time dilation at the quantum scale.

2-D centrosymmetrical antiferromagnets model produces pure spin current

Pure spin current without any accompanying net charge current can ensure low dissipation in information processing and storage.

The quantum advantage: a novel demonstration

Is a quantum machine really more efficient than a conventional machine for performing calculations? Demonstrating this 'advantage' experimentally is particularly complex and a major research challenge around the world.

Scholar to discuss the applications of quantum technology

Northwestern University's Danna Freedman will share novel insights on quantum chemistry's ability to unlock access to molecules and open new fields of study at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting.

Silicon waveguides move us closer to faster, light-based logic circuits

IBM researchers have succeeded in guiding visible light through a silicon wire efficiently, an important milestone in the exploration towards a new breed of faster, more efficient logic circuits.

Astronomy and Space news

New warm-Neptune exoplanet discovered

By analyzing archival radial velocity data, astronomers have detected a new warm-Neptune alien world. The newfound exoplanet, designated HD 183579b (or TOI-1055b) is about three and a half times larger and almost 20 times more massive than the Earth. The finding is detailed in a paper published January 28 on the arXiv. pre-print repository.

Where should future astronauts land on Mars? Follow the water

So you want to build a Mars base. Where to start? Like any human settlement, it would be best located near accessible water. Not only will water be crucial for life-support supplies, it will be used for everything from agriculture to producing the rocket propellant astronauts will need to return to Earth.

Harvard astronomer argues that alien vessel paid us a visit

Discovering there's intelligent life beyond our planet could be the most transformative event in human history— but what if scientists decided to collectively ignore evidence suggesting it already happened?

China's space probe sends back its first image of Mars

China's Tianwen-1 probe has sent back its first image of Mars, the national space agency said, as the mission prepares to touch down on the Red Planet later this year.

UAE's 'Hope' probe to be first in trio of Mars missions

The first Arab space mission, the UAE's "Hope" probe, is expected to reach Mars' orbit on Tuesday, making it the first of three spacecraft to arrive at the Red Planet this month.

Next stop Mars: 3 spacecraft arriving in quick succession

After hurtling hundreds of millions of miles through space since last summer, three robotic explorers are ready to hit the brakes at Mars.

Decoding the age of the ice at Mars' north pole

Mars' north pole contains a large ice cap made up of many layers of frozen water. Like ice cores on Earth, those layers offer a tantalizing record of climate on Mars over the past several million years. The first step in decoding that climate record is to figure out how those layers form and how old each one might be—a difficult task to perform from orbit.

X-ray emission from dark matter

About eighty-five percent of the matter in the cosmos emits neither light nor any other known kind of radiation as far as is known, and hence is called dark matter. One of its other notable qualities is that it only interacts with other matter via gravity; it carries no electromagnetic charge, for example. Dark matter is also called "dark" because it is mysterious. It is not composed of atoms or their usual constituents (like electrons and protons) or of any other kind of known elementary particle.

Study of supergiant star Betelgeuse unveils the cause of its pulsations

Betelgeuse is normally one of the brightest, most recognizable stars of the winter sky, marking the left shoulder of the constellation Orion. But lately, it has been behaving strangely: an unprecedentedly large drop in its brightness has been observed in early 2020, which has prompted speculation that Betelgeuse may be about to explode.

Rare blast's remains discovered in Milky Way's center

Astronomers may have found our galaxy's first example of an unusual kind of stellar explosion. This discovery, made with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, adds to the understanding of how some stars shatter and seed the universe with elements critical for life on Earth.

New technique used to discover how galaxies grow

For decades, space and ground telescopes have provided us with spectacular images of galaxies. These building blocks of the universe usually contain several million to over a trillion stars and can range in size from a few thousand to several hundred thousand light-years across. What we typically see in an image of a galaxy are the stars, gas and dust that constitute these sprawling systems.

Image: Hubble sees a stellar furnace

An orange glow radiates from the center of NGC 1792, the heart of this stellar furnace. Captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, this intimate view of NGC 1792 gives us some insight into this galactic powerhouse. The vast swathes of tell-tale blue seen throughout the galaxy indicate areas that are full of young, hot stars, and it is in the shades of orange, seen nearer the center, that the older, cooler stars reside.

These distant 'baby' black holes seem to be misbehaving—and experts are perplexed

Radio images of the sky have revealed hundreds of "baby" and supermassive black holes in distant galaxies, with the galaxies' light bouncing around in unexpected ways.

5 twinkling galaxies help us uncover the mystery of the Milky Way's missing matter

We've all looked up at night and admired the brightly shining stars. Beyond making a gorgeous spectacle, measuring that light helps us learn about matter in our galaxy, the Milky Way.

Mars missions from China and UAE are set to go into orbit – here's what they could discover

How times have changed since the Apollo era. Within the space of a few days, two space missions from China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), respectively, are set to reach Mars. The UAE's Hope mission will go into orbit around Mars on February 9. The next day, the Chinese Tianwen-1 mission – an orbiter and lander—will swing into orbit, with a predicted landing date sometime in May.

Tricky terrain: Helping to assure a safe rover landing

After a nearly seven-month journey to Mars, NASA's Perseverance rover is slated to land at the Red Planet's Jezero Crater Feb. 18, 2021, a rugged expanse chosen for its scientific research and sample collection possibilities.

Camera captures the Southern Pinwheel galaxy in glorious detail

Astronomy enthusiasts might wonder why a camera called the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) would be used to image a single spiral galaxy. DECam has in fact already finished its main job, as the instrument was used to complete the Dark Energy Survey, which ran from 2013 to 2019. Like many people, rather than enjoying a quiet retirement, DECam is remaining occupied. Members of the astronomical community can apply for time to use it, and the data collected are processed and made publicly available, thanks to the Astro Data Archive at the Community Science and Data Center (CSDC) Program at NSF's NOIRLab. DECam's continued operation also makes sumptuously detailed images like this one possible.

Technology news

Researchers review advancements in the development of stretchable transistors

Over the past few decades, researchers have been trying to develop electronic components that are increasingly flexible and skin-like, as these could enable the fabrication of new wearable and implantable devices. Transistors, semiconductors that can conduct and insulate electric current, are among the most vital components of contemporary electronics.

Researchers create virtual reality cognitive assessment

Virtual reality isn't just for gaming. Researchers can use virtual reality, or VR, to assess participants' attention, memory and problem-solving abilities in real world settings. By using VR technology to examine how folks complete daily tasks, like making a grocery list, researchers can better help clinical populations that struggle with executive functioning to manage their everyday lives.

Google moves away from diet of 'cookies' to track users

Google is weaning itself off user-tracking "cookies" which allow the web giant to deliver personalized ads but which also have raised the hackles of privacy defenders.

How humans can build better teamwork with robots

As human interaction with robots and artificial intelligence increases exponentially in areas like healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, space exploration, defense technologies, information about how humans and autonomous systems work within teams remains scarce.

IBM RXN: New AI model boosts mapping of chemical reactions

Just like an astronomer investigates outer space, a chemist explores chemical space—a theoretical territory with all possible known (and unknown) chemical compounds. Researchers estimate chemical space to contain up to 10180 compounds—more than twice the magnitude of the number of atoms in the universe. Currently, the largest public database of molecules synthesized so far called PubChem contains just over 100 million, or roughly 108. Throw in the chemical reactions between molecules, and you've got an even larger chemical reaction space.

Shining a light on the true value of solar power

Value estimations for grid-tied photovoltaic systems prove solar panels are beneficial for utility companies and consumers alike.

AI researchers ask: What's going on inside the black box?

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Assistant Professor Peter Koo and collaborator Matt Ploenzke reported a way to train machines to predict the function of DNA sequences. They used "neural nets," a type of artificial intelligence (AI) typically used to classify images. Teaching the neural net to predict the function of short stretches of DNA allowed it to work up to deciphering larger patterns. The researchers hope to analyze more complex DNA sequences that regulate gene activity critical to development and disease.

Intel's benchmark claims against Apple's M1 draw scrutiny

They say that breaking up is hard to do. Apple and Intel had a 15-year relationship as Intel produced the chips that helped Apple—in the early 2000's only a fraction of the size of Intel—grow into the giant it is today. Apple's market value today is six times that of Intel.

Radiative cooling and solar heating from one system, no electricity needed

Passive cooling, like the shade a tree provides, has been around forever.

Deepfake detectors can be defeated, computer scientists show for the first time

Systems designed to detect deepfakes—videos that manipulate real-life footage via artificial intelligence—can be deceived, computer scientists showed for the first time at the WACV 2021 conference which took place online Jan. 5 to 9, 2021.

Amazon warehouse workers unionization vote to move ahead

Amazon workers at a large US distribution center will begin voting Monday on whether to unionize after labor regulators rejected a request by the e-commerce giant to delay the process.

Samsung eyes Texas for chip-making plant

Electronics giant Samsung is considering the US state of Texas as a possible location for a new $17 billion chip-making plant, according to filings with state officials.

Hyundai, Kia deny Apple car talks, sending shares tumbling

South Korean automaker Hyundai and its affiliate Kia on Monday denied news reports they were in talks with Apple for a joint project to make autonomous vehicles, sending their shares tumbling.

Design of a nanometric structure that improves solar cell efficiency

Researchers at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) have developed a new nanometric structure that can cover the surface of some silicon solar panels and improve their performance by up to 40%. This design could be applied to future solar installations to achieve a better energy efficiency.

Personal data, fodder for cyberwarfare? New models for stepping up cybersecurity

In today's increasingly digital world, cybersecurity is paramount. The upsurge in cyberattacks has far-reaching effects, from jeopardizing users' private data to sparking all out cyberwar, not to mention threatening private businesses' intellectual property. In such volatile times, the only approach is to adopt new models and applications that can address these problems efficiently.

Banning disruptive online groups is a game of Whac-a-Mole that web giants just won't win

From Washington, D.C., to Wall Street, 2021 has already seen online groups causing major organised offline disruption. Some of it has been in violation of national laws, some in violation of internet platforms' terms of service. When these groups are seen to cause societal harm, the solution has been knee-jerk: to ban or "deplatform" those groups immediately, leaving them digitally "homeless."

COVID-19 has fuelled automation—but human involvement is still essential

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the way we work and interact with machines—and people—in the workplace. The surge in remote working brought on by the pandemic has magnified the need for unmanned work operations. More automation, however, does not always make the workplace more efficient.

On an electric car road trip around NSW, we found range anxiety (and the need for more chargers) is real

Replacing cars that run on fossil fuels with electric cars will be important in meeting climate goals—road transport produces more than 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. But there are obstacles to wider uptake, particularly in Australia.

Residential batteries for solar power benefit owners and grid

In-home storage of electricity—which can be generated by residential solar panels—can save a homeowner money on their electric bills. It also can benefit the electric company and the power grid. That's the takeaway from simulations of residential power use coupled with a battery, directed by a smart controller, conducted by researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).

Chinese regulators summon Tesla over car security malfunction

Chinese regulators have summoned representatives of US electric car giant Tesla after reported technical problems with their vehicles, notably concerning their safety, officials in Beijing said Monday.

Electric carmaker Tesla invests $1.5 bn in bitcoin

Tesla helped push bitcoin to an all-time high Monday after the carmaker announced a $1.5 billion investment in the digital money and plans to accept the cryptocurrency from customers buying its electric vehicles.

Insights into lithium metal battery failure open doors to doubling battery life

Lithium metal batteries could double the amount of energy held by lithium-ion batteries, if only their anodes didn't break down into small pieces when they were used.

Does 'Goal 7, Energy for All' need a rethink?

Goal 7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030. Yet according to new research by Copenhagen Business School the poor planning and execution of decarbonisation strategies in emerging markets challenges the aims of Goal 7.

Is Apple making an electric, self-driving car? If it does, here are 5 things you could see

The long-rumored Apple car might finally become a reality.

Kuaishou: China's $160 bn livestreaming app for 'ordinary people'

On Lu Kaigang's feed, sheets of tarp are transformed into haute couture as China's mountainous backdrop becomes his catwalk, a 22-year-old villager sashaying to fame via a video-sharing app for the everyman—Kuaishou.

China blocks Clubhouse app that gave rare access to uncensored topics

A rare uncensored app that had attracted Chinese internet users to freely discuss taboo topics, including the mass detention of Uighurs, democracy protests in Hong Kong and the concept of Taiwanese independence appeared to have been blocked on Monday night.

The U.S. jumps on board the electric vehicle revolution, leaving Australia in the dust

The Morrison government on Friday released a plan to reduce carbon emissions from Australia's road transport sector. Controversially, it ruled out consumer incentives to encourage electric vehicle uptake. The disappointing document is not the electric vehicle jump-start the country sorely needs.

Rolls-Royce says to briefly shut UK engine factories

British aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce said Monday that it will temporarily shut its jet engine factories for a fortnight this summer to combat a coronavirus-fuelled slump in demand.

New York Philharmonic launches on-demand streaming service

The New York Philharmonic launched an on-demand video and audio streaming service Monday called NYPhil+ that is available for $50 annually or $4.99 monthly.

Voting process opens for Amazon warehouse union vote

The voting process opened Monday for Amazon workers at a large US distribution center in a union drive in a major test for organized labor and Big Tech.

Universal Music Group removes music from streaming app Triller over pay dispute

Universal Music Group said it has pulled its music from Triller after no agreement had been reached with the L.A. music video app.

DoorDash buys robot food prep company Chowbotics

DoorDash is buying automated food prep company Chowbotics to expand its fresh meal offerings.

Facebook ramps up effort to curb vaccine hoaxes

Facebook on Monday said it is ramping up efforts to stem the spread of misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, spread facts, and figure out who might be wary of getting the jab.

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