Science X Newsletter Thursday, Mar 18

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

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Neuroscientists identify brain circuit motifs that support short-term memory

Perseverance rover captures the sounds of driving on Mars

Artificial neuron device could shrink energy use and size of neural network hardware

Found in space: Complex carbon-based molecules

The SMART Tire Company announces Mars Rover tires to become available for use on Earth

Cryo-electron microscopic structure of a proton-activated chloride channel named TMEM206

Powerful stratospheric winds measured on Jupiter for the first time

Peering into a galaxy's dusty core to study an active supermassive black hole

Ancient vertebrates had everything they needed to walk underwater millions of years before the transition to dry land

Astronomers map silk of cosmic web

Parsing dopamine's different pain sensitivity role in males, females

Enigmatic circling behavior captured in whales, sharks, penguins, and sea turtles

Artificial intelligence system detects errors when medication is self-administered

New analysis shows potential for 'solar canals' in California

Female wild bonobos provide care for infants outside their social group

Physics news

How deep is a mirror? It depends, but the calculations are more precise now

Licht reflects from a mirror, but where exactly does this reflection happen? Well, it depends, Martin van Exter and Corné Koks discovered. Their precise calculations, published in Optics Express, are important for designing optical cavities for quantum communication.

Scientists take step towards quantum supremacy

A Russian-German research team has created a quantum sensor that grants access to measurement and manipulation of individual two-level defects in qubits. The study by NUST MISIS, Russian Quantum Center and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, published in npj Quantum Information, may pave the way for quantum computing.

Astronomy and Space news

Perseverance rover captures the sounds of driving on Mars

NASA's newest rover recorded audio of itself crunching over the surface of the Red Planet, adding a whole new dimension to Mars exploration.

Found in space: Complex carbon-based molecules

Much of the carbon in space is believed to exist in the form of large molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Since the 1980s, circumstantial evidence has indicated that these molecules are abundant in space, but they have not been directly observed.

Powerful stratospheric winds measured on Jupiter for the first time

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), in which the European Southern Observatory (ESO) is a partner, a team of astronomers has directly measured winds in Jupiter's middle atmosphere for the first time. By analyzing the aftermath of a comet collision from the 1990s, the researchers have revealed incredibly powerful winds, with speeds of up to 1450 kilometers an hour, near Jupiter's poles. They could represent what the team have described as a "unique meteorological beast in our solar system."

Peering into a galaxy's dusty core to study an active supermassive black hole

Researchers using NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope will map and model the core of nearby galaxy Centaurus A.

Astronomers map silk of cosmic web

An international team of astronomers, including several from the Netherlands, has mapped a piece of the cosmic web without using bright quasars for the first time. Their findings will be published shortly in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Astronomers spot a 'space jellyfish' in Abell 2877

A radio telescope located in outback Western Australia has observed a cosmic phenomenon with a striking resemblance to a jellyfish.

Hubble shows torrential outflows from infant stars may not stop them from growing

Stars aren't shy about announcing their births. As they are born from the collapse of giant clouds of hydrogen gas and begin to grow, they launch hurricane-like winds and spinning, lawn-sprinkler-style jets shooting off in opposite directions.

NASA testing giant rocket for next Moon mission

NASA was preparing for a key static test of its troubled Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on Thursday as the agency prepares to return to the Moon.

Hubble sees changing seasons on Saturn

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is giving astronomers a view of changes in Saturn's vast and turbulent atmosphere as the planet's northern hemisphere summer transitions to fall as shown in this series of images taken in 2018, 2019, and 2020 (left to right).

For some scientists, Mars 2020 is a mission of perseverance

Like millions of people around the world, David Shuster and his 7-year-old daughter cheered wildly as the Perseverance rover was lowered by sky crane to the Martian surface on Feb. 18 to start years of exploration. But for him and a subset of the Mars 2020 science team, true gratification will be delayed.

Technology news

The SMART Tire Company announces Mars Rover tires to become available for use on Earth

The SMART Tire Company has revealed its first space-age tire, soon to be available to the general public. Already tested by NASA for use on Mars Rover missions, these tires come equipped with the company's Shape Memory Alloy Radial Technology (SMART), made from the super-elastic material NiTinol+.

New analysis shows potential for 'solar canals' in California

UC Santa Cruz researchers published a new study—in collaboration with UC Water and the Sierra Nevada Research Institute at UC Merced—that suggests covering California's 6,350 km network of public water delivery canals with solar panels could be an economically feasible means of advancing both renewable energy and water conservation.

New electrolyte additives for high-energy-density lithium-ion batteries

A joint research team, affiliated with UNIST has unveiled a novel electrolyte additive that could enable a long lifespan and fast chargeability of high-energy-density lithium-ion batteries (LIBs).

IBM's AI debating system able to compete with expert human debaters

IBM has developed an artificial intelligence-based system designed to engage in debates with humans. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the team members describe their system and how well it performed when pitted against human opponents. Chris Reed with the University of Dundee has published a News & Views piece in the same journal issue outlining the history and development of AI technology based around the types of logic used in human arguments and the new system developed by IBM.

Study finds that wind energy output increases when people need heat the most

In response to the recent freeze-inspired power outages in Texas, some politicians blamed the historic blackouts on wind turbines. The dubious, and largely dismissed, claims nevertheless spotlighted an intriguing fact: Texas, the land made famous by oil derricks and wildcatters, now gets a significant portion of its electricity from clean, renewable sources, most notably wind, but also from water and solar—a troika of sustainability known collectively as WWS.

New perovskite fabrication method for solar cells paves way to large-scale production

A new, simpler solution process for fabricating stable perovskite solar cells overcomes the key bottleneck to large-scale production and commercialization of this promising renewable-energy technology, which has remained tantalizingly out of reach for more than a decade.

What the drive for open science data can learn from the evolving history of open government data

Nineteen years ago, a group of international researchers met in Budapest to discuss a persistent problem. While experts published an enormous amount of scientific and scholarly material, few of these works were accessible. New research remained locked behind paywalls run by academic journals. The result was researchers struggled to learn from one another. They could not build on one another's findings to achieve new insights. In response to these problems, the group developed the Budapest Open Access Initiative, a declaration calling for free and unrestricted access to scholarly journal literature in all academic fields.

Textnets: Software to make large amounts of text visually comprehensible

Software development is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a sociologist. Three years ago, John Boy began developing his software package Textnets. Because of COVID, he was less able to concentrate on writing scientific research and also setting up the online courses required a lot of energy. However, the one thing he could really focus on during the lockdown was programming. And so, during some of the few hours at his desk, Boy worked on Textnets, an open source program for analyzing large amounts of text documents and making them visually comprehensible.

Safety concerns determine level of public support for driverless vehicles, finds study

When it comes to the use of driverless vehicles, an individual's support for their adoption hinges on how safe they are, rather than their economic impact or privacy concerns stemming from the data they might collect, a Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) study of 1,006 Singaporeans has found.

Using ships themselves to monitor and predict waves

Shipping provides the very foundation for world trade, by moving an estimated 11 billion tons of goods a year from where they are produced to where they will be used. From TVs to toasters, soap to sugar—much of it moves over the waves.

AI developers often ignore safety in pursuit of breakthrough—so how do we regulate them without blocking progress?

Ever since artificial intelligence (AI) made the transition from theory to reality, research and development centers across the world have been rushing to come up with the next big AI breakthrough.

Investors in renewables tripled fossil fuel performance over the past decade

Renewable power investors continue to outpace fossil fuel investors across the globe, signaling a decline for investment in fossil fuels.

UK energy giants pivot towards cleaner fuels

Britain's energy sector pivoted further towards cleaner fuels on Thursday, as the nation targets net zero carbon emissions to help tackle climate change.

Researchers develop water-tube-based triboelectric nanogenerator for efficient ocean wave energy harvesting

The ocean covers about 70% of the Earth's surface area and is the largest reservoir of energy. Researchers have been exploring the approach for harnessing ocean energy to solve the world energy crisis and pollution problems caused by thermal power generation. The nanogenerator, including piezoelectric, triboelectric, and pyroelectric nanogenerators, is one of the key technologies for mechanical energy conversion. The triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) makes use of the triboelectric effect and electrostatic induction to harvest mechanical energy based on contact or sliding electrification.

Deplhi study considers risk to individuals who disclose personal information online

A Delphi survey carried out by Dr. Lyn Robinson, Head of Department and Reader in Library and Information Science at City, University of London, and Dr. David Haynes, former Visiting Lecturer and Post-Doctoral Fellow in City's Department of Library and Information Science, has revealed priorities for protecting personal privacy online.

Google to invest over $7 bn in US, create 10,000 jobs

Google announced plans Thursday to invest more than $7 billion in the United States this year and create thousands of jobs in a move aimed at helping the economic recovery.

Big Tech backs plan to tackle e-waste crisis

Major technology firms including Dell, Microsoft and Google have joined a new initiative aimed at creating a circular economy for electronics by 2030, amid mounting alarm over the world's ballooning e-waste problem.

YouTube brings TikTok-style 'Shorts' to United States

YouTube on Thursday started rolling out an early version of its Shorts quick-clip feature in the United States, ramping up its challenge to TikTok.

FCC enforces largest fine ever of $225 million against telemarketers who made 1 billion robocalls

The Federal Communications Commission issued its largest ever fine of $225 million to Texas telemarketers who sent about 1 billion robocalls falsely claiming to sell health insurance for Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield and other companies.

China summons tech giants over 'deep fakes', internet security

Chinese authorities on Thursday said they had summoned 11 tech companies including Tencent, Alibaba and TikTok owner ByteDance for talks on "deep fakes" and internet security, as regulators try to reel in the country's runaway digital sector.

US sends investigators to probe another Michigan Tesla crash

For the second time this week, the U.S. government's road safety agency is sending a team to investigate a Tesla crash in Michigan.

US moves toward banning more Chinese telecoms carriers: FCC

Regulators have begun legal proceedings that could strip three Chinese state-owned telecommunications companies of their right to operate in the United States, officials said Wednesday, citing national security concerns.

Engineers improve the technology of high-performance concrete casting in winter

At low temperatures, concrete tends to set unevenly, which can lead to a collapse. A team of engineers from RUDN University suggested using infrared light and adding silicon and ash to concrete to solve this issue. The technology can be used for cast-in-situ construction. The results of the study were published in the Fibers journal.

7 ways to avoid becoming a misinformation superspreader

The problem of misinformation isn't going away. Internet platforms like Facebook and Twitter have taken some steps to curb its spread and say they are working on doing more. But no method yet introduced has been completely successful at removing all misleading content from social media. The best defense, then, is self-defense.

Finland IDs hackers linked to parliament spying attack

Finland's domestic security agency said Thursday that the cybergroup APT31, which is generally linked to the Chinese government, was likely behind a cyberspying attack on the information systems of the Nordic country's parliament.

China slams US plan to expel phone carriers in tech clash

China's government on Thursday called on Washington to drop efforts to expel three state-owned Chinese phone companies from the United States in a new clash over technology and security.

Taxi driver unions protest Uber's return to Barcelona

Hundreds of yellow-and-black taxi cabs disrupted traffic in Barcelona on Thursday to protest the return of the ride-hailing giant Uber to the northeastern Spanish city after a 2-year hiatus.

Spotify launches site explaining how it pays artists

Spotify launched a new website Thursday addressing questions on how it pays out royalties, but failed to dampen mounting anger from musicians struggling to survive in the streaming era.

US aviation body to inspect Boeing 787s amid production issues

US aviation regulators will inspect four Boeing 787s amid concerns over production flaws in the jet, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told AFP on Thursday.

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