Science X Newsletter Monday, Feb 15

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for February 15, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A public digital atlas of extreme wind speeds for wind energy applications

Comet or asteroid: What killed the dinosaurs and where did it come from?

Citizen scientists discover companion star of APMPM J2036-4936

Where did brains come from?

In predicting shallow but dangerous landslides, size matters

CO2 dip may have helped dinosaurs walk from South America to Greenland

Light used to detect quantum information stored in 100,000 nuclear quantum bits

Moiré patterns facilitate discovery of novel insulating phases

Tropical paper wasps babysit for neighbors

New skin patch brings us closer to wearable, all-in-one health monitor

Researchers explore using light to levitate discs in the mesosphere

Two-dimensional superconductivity and anisotropic transport at potassium tantalate interfaces

Capuchin monkey genome reveals clues to its long life and large brain

Strange creatures accidentally discovered beneath Antarctica's ice shelves

A machine-learning approach to finding treatment options for COVID-19

Physics news

Light used to detect quantum information stored in 100,000 nuclear quantum bits

Researchers have found a way to use light and a single electron to communicate with a cloud of quantum bits and sense their behavior, making it possible to detect a single quantum bit in a dense cloud.

Moiré patterns facilitate discovery of novel insulating phases

Materials having excess electrons are typically conductors. However, moiré patterns—interference patterns that typically arise when one object with a repetitive pattern is placed over another with a similar pattern—can suppress electrical conductivity, a study led by physicists at the University of California, Riverside, has found.

Researchers explore using light to levitate discs in the mesosphere

A team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania has found that it is possible to levitate very thin discs in conditions that mimic the mesosphere using laser light. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes their research involving a possible way to allow flight at very high altitudes and how well it worked.

Two-dimensional superconductivity and anisotropic transport at potassium tantalate interfaces

Unique electronic structures found at materials interfaces can allow unconventional quantum states to emerge. In a new report on Science, Changjiang Liu and a research team at the Argonne National Laboratory, University of Illinois and the Chinese Academy of Sciences detailed the discovery of superconductivity in electron gases formed at the interfaces between potassium tantalate (KTaO3) and insulating overlayers of either Europium-II oxide (EUO) or lanthanum aluminate (LaAlO3). The superconducting transition temperature approaching 2.2 K observed in this work was an order of magnitude higher than previous systems of lanthanum aluminate/strontium titanate. The critical field and current-voltage measurements indicated the two-dimensional (2-D) character of superconductivity. The team noted a spontaneous in-plane transport anisotropy in the EUO/ KTaO3 samples prior to the onset of superconductivity to suggest the emergence of a distinct 'stripe' like phase near the critical field.

New physics rules tested on quantum computer

Aalto researchers have used an IBM quantum computer to explore an overlooked area of physics, and have challenged 100-year-old notions about information at the quantum level.

Random twists of place: How quiet is quantum space-time at the Planck scale?

Fermilab scientists have been conducting experiments to look for quantum fluctuations of space and time at the smallest scale imaginable according to known physics. At this limit, the Planck length, our classical notions of space and time break down.

Astronomy and Space news

Comet or asteroid: What killed the dinosaurs and where did it come from?

It forever changed history when it crashed into Earth about 66 million years ago.

Citizen scientists discover companion star of APMPM J2036-4936

A low-mass companion to a distant star known as APMPM J2036-4936 has been recently detected as part of the citizen science project Backyard Worlds: Planet 9. The finding of the star, which received designation CWISE J203546.35-493611.0, was detailed in a paper published February 4 on the arXiv pre-print repository.

Large proto-cluster of galaxies discovered in the midst of clearing the cosmic fog

When the universe was about 350 million years old it was dark: there were no stars or galaxies, only neutral gas—mainly hydrogen—the residue of the Big Bang. That foggy period began to clear as atoms clumped together to form the first stars and the first quasars, causing the gas to ionize and high-energy photons to travel freely through space.

Melting dusty ice may have carved Martian gullies

By analyzing the occurrences of exposed dusty ice on Mars using data from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, ASU planetary scientists Aditya Khuller and Philip Christensen have found the lowest latitude detection of dusty water ice on Mars.

Russian cargo ship launched to International Space Station

An unmanned Russian cargo ship launched successfully Monday with a load of supplies for the International Space Station.

Image: At the rim of a crater

This image features the southeast wall of a small crater located a few hundred kilometers to the north of the giant Hellas impact basin on Mars. The complete crater itself is about 12 km in diameter; this image shows a 5 x 10 km area.

Video: A signal from beyond

UConn astrophysicist Chiara Mingarelli is part of a team of researchers who recently published data on a hint of a signal that sent ripples of excitement through the physics community. These monumental findings are the culmination of 12 and a half years of data gathered from NANOGrav—a network of pulsars across the galaxy—all in the hopes of detecting gravitational waves.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter gets an upgrade to capture new perspectives of the moon

Eleven years into its mission, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is starting to show its age, but a recent software update promises to give the spacecraft a new lease on life. As NASA's eye in the sky over the moon, the LRO has been responsible for some of the best Lunar observations since the days of Apollo. This new upgrade will allow that legacy to continue.

Technology news

A public digital atlas of extreme wind speeds for wind energy applications

Over the past few decades, researchers have developed increasingly advanced technologies that convert natural sources into electrical energy through the use of solar cells and wind turbines. Recently, the wind energy industry has been expanding rapidly, with a growing number of companies and governments investing in the use of wind turbines and other wind energy converters.

New skin patch brings us closer to wearable, all-in-one health monitor

Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a soft, stretchy skin patch that can be worn on the neck to continuously track blood pressure and heart rate while measuring the wearer's levels of glucose as well as lactate, alcohol or caffeine. It is the first wearable device that monitors cardiovascular signals and multiple biochemical levels in the human body at the same time.

A machine-learning approach to finding treatment options for COVID-19

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in early 2020, doctors and researchers rushed to find effective treatments. There was little time to spare. "Making new drugs takes forever," says Caroline Uhler, a computational biologist in MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the Institute for Data, Systems and Society, and an associate member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. "Really, the only expedient option is to repurpose existing drugs."

Microalgae identified as clean source of hydrogen production

Researchers at Monash University's Department of Chemical Engineering, IITB-Monash Research Academy Mumbai, and The Indian Institute of Technology's Department of Chemical Engineering have used reactive flash volatilisation (RFV) gasification technology to produce hydrogen using microalgae, giving rise to newer and cleaner forms of energy.

Putting machine learning in your pocket

New EPFL/INRIA research shows for the first time that it is possible for our mobile devices to conduct machine learning as part of a distributed network, without giving big global tech companies access to our data.

Major Australian media company strikes Google news pay deal

Seven West Media has become the largest Australian news media business to strike a deal with Google to pay for journalism in a partnership announced Monday before the nation's Parliament considers draft laws to force digital giants to pay for news.

Nissan says not in talks with Apple on self-driving cars

Japanese auto maker Nissan said Monday it is not in talks with Apple to develop self-driving cars, a week after Hyundai also denied reports it was discussing the top-secret project with the US tech giant.

Technology based on rodent neurons may point the way to the tactile internet

Imagine you are playing an immersive game in which you are dropped into an unknown landscape with a directive to find a certain location. To advance forward in the game, you must also map the terrain so that you can then share your initial location and your map with another remote player. You have now been given a problem that, within the world of robotics is called SLAM. You have been asked to simultaneously localize and map an unknown environment.

COVID, cameras and AI: The story of a pandemic drone

As the COVID-19 death toll mounts and the world hangs its hopes on effective vaccines, what else can we do to save lives in this pandemic?

Using mathematical models to enable transportation decarbonization and combat climate change

Conducted in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development, a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) study assessing the electrification potential of transit fleets in two Mexican cities determined that at least 80% of the operational bus days for the studied routes were suitable for electrification—with a 250-kWh battery in Mexico City and a 300-kWh battery in León.

Usability study of wearable inertial sensors for exergames (WISE) for movement assessment and exercise

Recent years have seen a brisk rise in development and deployment of digital health systems using such technologies as wearable sensors and embedded controllers to enhance access to medical diagnostics and treatments. Because of an accelerating trend in the number of stroke survivors requiring rehabilitation, healthcare services worldwide are considering technological solutions to enhance accessibility to assessment and treatment, particularly during the past year's period of enforced quarantine due to COVID-19.

Tools reveal critical infrastructure connections, help mitigate disasters

Major disasters, whether natural or human-caused, most often have a devastating impact on local infrastructure that can result in the interruption of humanitarian efforts and deal an economic blow to communities large and small. No matter where you are in the world, these infrastructures are intimately linked, so that the failure of one can have a cascading effect on others.

Energy poverty in Zimbabwe takes many forms but policy only looks at one

Around the world, many countries measure energy poverty by looking at income. They define energy poverty in terms of how much of a household's budget is used up by energy consumption. For example, if a household spends more than 10% of its income on domestic energy needs, it's considered energy poor.

From ag waste to green energy source: Researchers build better biomass pellet

Countries in Europe and Asia are increasingly relying on biofuel—products made from wood and plant residue—as an alternative to fossil fuels in power generation and home heating. The most common form is biopellets, small, finger-sized pellets produced by compacting waste material from the forestry industry and farming.

COVID-19 has made Americans lonelier than ever, but AI can help

"How does that make you feel?"

How Apple and Google protect your privacy while warning of COVID exposure

Virginia has enabled app-less COVID-19 exposure notification services for iPhone users, joining California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. This means iPhone users in those states won't need to install exposure notification apps and can instead turn on notifications in the phone's settings.

Robocalls and scam calls persist during pandemic, so Americans have stopped answering the phone

Is it safe to answer the phone? Short answer: No. It's probably a robocall spammer.

YouTube continues to push dangerous videos to users susceptible to extremism, white supremacy, report finds

Google's YouTube is still recommending extremist and white supremacist videos to viewers already susceptible to racial hatred, a new report found.

Will robots make good friends? Scientists are already starting to find out

In the 2012 film "Robot and Frank", the protagonist, a retired cat burglar named Frank, is suffering the early symptoms of dementia. Concerned and guilty, his son buys him a "home robot" that can talk, do household chores like cooking and cleaning, and reminds Frank to take his medicine. It's a robot the likes of which we're getting closer to building in the real world.

Google fined $1 million for misleading French hotel rankings

Google has agreed to pay a fine of 1.1 million euros ($1.3 million) after French authorities concluded the search engine displayed "misleading" rankings for French hotels.

Jaguar car brand to go fully electric from 2025

Jaguar, the Indian-owned luxury car brand, announced Monday that it will produce only electric vehicles from 2025 as governments put pressure on the business world to slash carbon emissions and consumers demand greener products.

How the 'physical internet' could revolutionise the way goods are moved

Shipping goods from furniture to food could be transformed by a new transport network called the 'physical internet." It is built on similar principles to the internet, which revolutionised the way information flows around the word, including open access and global interconnectedness. Researchers hope to make it a reality by 2040, when a fully autonomous network should be in place.

French cyber agency reveals suspected Russian hacks

France's national cybersecurity agency said Monday it had discovered a hack of several organisations that bore similarities to other attacks by a group linked to Russian intelligence.

Controversial social network Parler announces relaunch

Social network Parler, which is popular with supporters of Donald Trump, announced Monday it had relaunched after being forced offline over incitements to violence on the platform.

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