Science X Newsletter Monday, Mar 29

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

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Study identifies a new type of diurnal effect for cosmic ray-boosted dark matter

Exploring the impact of broader impact requirements for AI governance

Scientists create simple synthetic cell that grows and divides normally

Extra 100 million years before Earth saw permanent oxygen rise

Black hole seeds key to galaxies behemoths

Method offers inexpensive imaging at the scale of virus particles

New nondestructive optical technique reveals the structure of mother-of-pearl

Mummified parrots point to trade in the ancient Atacama desert

Scientists zero in on the role of volcanoes in the demise of dinosaurs

Study sheds more light on the nature of binary system 2M06464003+0109157

Astronomers discover new galaxy clusters hiding in plain sight

Monkeys experience the visual world the same way people do

Cities worldwide dim lights to mark Earth Hour

Luck is essential for any successful coronavirus variant, study shows

A new advanced Android malware posing as system update

Physics news

Study identifies a new type of diurnal effect for cosmic ray-boosted dark matter

Over the past few decades, astrophysicists and cosmologists have gathered various observations hinting at the existence of dark matter (DM), a type of matter that does not absorb, reflect or emit light, and thus cannot be detected using conventional techniques for observing electromagnetic radiation. While physicists have predicted its existence based on astrophysical and cosmological observations, so far, DM has never been observed experimentally.

Object classification through a single-pixel detector

Machine vision systems have many applications, including self-driving cars, intelligent manufacturing, robotic surgery and biomedical imaging, among many others. Most of these machine vision systems use lens-based cameras, and after an image or video is captured, typically with a few megapixels per frame, a digital processor is used to perform machine-learning tasks, such as object classification and scene segmentation. Such a traditional machine vision architecture suffers from several drawbacks. First, the large amount of digital information makes it hard to achieve image/video analysis at high speed, especially using mobile and battery-powered devices. In addition, the captured images usually contain redundant information, which overwhelms the digital processor with a high computational burden, creating inefficiencies in terms of power and memory requirements. Moreover, beyond the visible wavelengths of light, fabricating high-pixel-count image sensors, such as what we have in our mobile phone cameras, is challenging and expensive, which limits the applications of standard machine vision methods at longer wavelengths, such as terahertz part of the spectrum.

International team uncovers mystery behind 'coffee ring' formation

An international research team, led by Monash University, has discovered for the first time the mystery behind the formation of 'coffee rings' by examining the contact angle of droplets onto a surface, and how they dry.

New research provides insights into the process of diffusion in living systems

Adrop of food coloring slowly spreading in a glass of water is driven by a process known as diffusion. While the mathematics of diffusion have been known for many years, how this process works in living organisms is not as well understood.

String theory solves mystery about how particles behave outside a black hole photon sphere

A paper by the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU) Director Ooguri Hirosi and Project Researcher Matthew Dodelson on the string theoretical effects outside the black hole photon sphere has been selected for the "Editors' Suggestion" of the journal Physical Review D. Their paper was published on March 24, 2021.

Sneeze guards could make full-capacity airplanes safer from COVID-19 spread

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has significantly reduced the number of people willing to fly due to safety concerns, and to ease fears, some airlines have opted to leave middle seats open to increase the amount of space for social distancing.

Radioactive molecules may help solve mystery of missing antimatter

Stars, galaxies, and everything in the universe, including our own bodies, are comprised of so-called regular matter. Regular matter includes atoms and molecules, which are made up of tiny particles, such as electrons, protons, and neutrons. These particles dominate our universe, vastly outnumbering their lesser-known counterparts: antimatter particles. First experimentally discovered in 1932 by the late Nobel laureate and longtime Caltech professor Carl Anderson, antimatter particles have the opposite charges to their matter counterparts. The antimatter particle to the negatively charged electron, for example, is the positively charged positron.

A new way to observe laser interactions could improve laser-based manufacture

Despite the enormous amount of research over the decades into lasers and their applications, scientists have difficulty accurately and directly observing fine details of their interactions with materials. For the first time, researchers have found a way to acquire such data from a production laser using low-cost equipment. The technique could vastly improve the accuracy of items cut or etched with lasers. Given the ubiquity of lasers, this could have wide-ranging implications in laboratory, commercial and industrial applications.

Faster and less-invasive atomic force microscopy for visualizing biomolecular systems

High-speed atomic force microscopy (HS-AFM) is an imaging technique that can be used for visualizing biological processes, for example the activity of proteins. Nowadays, typical HS-AFM frame rates are as high as 12 frames per second. In order to improve the capabilities of the method, so that it can be applied to an ever expanding range of biological samples, better video rates are needed, though. Moreover, faster recording times imply less interaction between the sample and the probe—a tip scanning the sample's surface—making the imaging procedure less invasive. Now, Shingo Fukuda and Toshio Ando from Nano Life Science Institute (WPI-NanoLSI), Kanazawa University have developed an alternative HS-AFM approach to increase the frame rate up to 30 frames per second.

The road to quantum computing is paved in qubits

The race for the quantum computer will most likely be decided at the quantum bit (qubit) – the smallest information unit of the quantum computer. The coupling of several qubits into a computing system is currently one of the greatest challenges in the development of quantum computers. A key question is which physical system and which material are best suited for qubits. Development of qubits based on superconductors has advanced farthest—but there are increasing signs that silicon semiconductor technology may be a promising alternative with decisive advantages in chip production.

Astronomy and Space news

Black hole seeds key to galaxies behemoths

A new black hole breaks the record—not for being the smallest or the biggest—but for being right in the middle.

Study sheds more light on the nature of binary system 2M06464003+0109157

Astronomers have investigated orbital and stellar parameters of an eclipsing binary known as 2M06464003+0109157. Results of the study shed more light on the nature of this peculiar system. The findings were presented in a paper published March 18 on the arXiv pre-print repository.

Astronomers discover new galaxy clusters hiding in plain sight

MIT astronomers have discovered new and unusual galactic neighborhoods that previous studies overlooked. Their results, published today, suggest that roughly 1 percent of galaxy clusters look atypical and can be easily misidentified as a single bright galaxy. As researchers launch new cluster-hunting telescopes, they must heed these findings or risk having an incomplete picture of the universe.

Stellar eggs near galactic center hatching into baby stars

Astronomers found a number of baby stars hiding around the center of the Milky Way using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). Previous studies had suggested that the environment there is too harsh to form stars because of the strong tidal forces, strong magnetic fields, high energy particles, and frequent supernova explosions. These findings indicate that star formation is more resilient than researchers thought. These observations suggest there is ubiquitous star formation activity hidden deep in dense molecular gas, which may allow for the possibility of a future burst of star formation around the galactic center.

Scientists discover a new auroral feature on Jupiter

The SwRI-led Ultraviolet Spectrograph (UVS) orbiting Jupiter aboard NASA's Juno spacecraft has detected new faint aurora features, characterized by ring-like emissions, which expand rapidly over time. SwRI scientists determined that charged particles coming from the edge of Jupiter's massive magnetosphere triggered these auroral emissions.

Dark matter is the most likely source of excess of gamma rays from galactic center

In the recent past, space missions dedicated to the study of astrophysical signals in the high-energy spectrum revealed a series of enigmatic excesses not predicted by the theoretical models. In order to find an explanation for these anomalies, many solutions have been proposed. The most exciting hypothesis invokes the contribution of the elusive dark matter, the mysterious form of matter four times more abundant than baryonic matter, and of which scientists have so far detected only gravitational effects.

Satellites contribute significant light pollution to night skies

Scientists reported new research results today suggesting that artificial objects in orbit around the Earth are brightening night skies on our planet significantly more than previously understood.

NASA begins final assembly of spacecraft destined for asteroid Psyche

A major component of NASA's Psyche spacecraft has been delivered to the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, where the phase known as assembly, test, and launch operations is now underway. Over the next year, the spacecraft will finish assembly and undergo rigorous checkout and testing before it's shipped to Cape Canaveral, Florida, for an August 2022 launch to the main asteroid belt.

Exploring the moon's shadowed regions using beamed energy

In less than three years, astronauts will return to the moon for the first time since the Apollo Era. As part of the Artemis Program, the purpose is not only to send crewed missions back to the lunar surface to explore and collect samples. This time around, there's also the goal of establishing vital infrastructure (like the Lunar Gateway and a Base Camp) that will allow for "sustained lunar exploration."

Many planetary systems prematurely evaporate into thin air

When stars are born, large clouds of gas and dust form that are known as circumstellar discs. Research by Ph.D. candidate Francisca Concha-Ramírez shows that strong radiation from neighboring stars soon evaporates the dust in these discs, which can prevent planet formation at an early stage. Ph.D. defence on 6 April.

Image: Hubble spots a galaxy with a peculiar arm

This image taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope features NGC 7678—a galaxy with one particularly prominent arm, located approximately 164 million light-years away in the constellation of Pegasus (the Winged Horse).

SpaceX preparing for possible Starship launch

SpaceX is preparing for a possible launch of its prototype interplanetary Starship rocket from the company's facility in south Texas on Monday afternoon.

Why we need to get better at predicting space weather

The sun is the most important source of energy for sustaining life on Earth, but it gives us a lot more than just light and heat. It also gives us solar storms.

Even with regular exercise, astronaut's heart left smaller after a year in space

With NASA preparing to send humans to Mars in the 2030s, researchers are studying the physical effects of spending long periods in space. Now a new study by scientists at UT Southwestern shows that the heart of an astronaut who spent nearly a year aboard the International Space Station shrank, even with regular exercise, although it continued to function well.

SpaceX says no Starship launch on Monday

SpaceX has postponed the latest test flight of its prototype interplanetary Starship rocket from the company's south Texas facility, Elon Musk said Monday.

Image: Engine of Atlantis

The second European Service Module that will power the Orion spacecraft on a crewed flyby of the moon is fitted with a special engine at Airbus facilities in Germany.

Technology news

Exploring the impact of broader impact requirements for AI governance

As machine learning algorithms and other artificial intelligence (AI) tools become increasingly widespread, some governments and institutions have started introducing regulations aimed at ensuring that they are ethically designed and implemented. Last year, for instance, the Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) conference introduced a new ethics-related requirement for all authors submitting AI-related research.

A new advanced Android malware posing as system update

In recent weeks, Zimperium zLabs researchers revealed unsecured cloud configurations exposing user data across thousands of legitimate Android and iOS applications. Now, zLabs is advising Android users about a clever and malicious new Android app.

Research: Photovoltaics can make the world fossil-free faster than expected

A team of researchers led by Aarhus University and including experts from universities and knowledge institutions in the US, Europe, Japan and Australia has published an article in the prestigious scientific journal Joule confirming that the role of solar photovoltaic installations in future green energy systems ought to be significantly upgraded.

Ford and HP join forces to use 3D printer waste for auto parts

The Ford motor company has announced that 3D printing offers a new source of low-volume auto parts. By using the waste from 3D printers for vehicle parts, manufacturers hope to increase sustainability within the automotive industry.

Boston Dynamics' new robot Stretch can help move boxes in warehouses

Boston Dynamics, the company many people know for its dog robot Spot, has unveiled a new bot targeting warehouses.

Pandemic fuels travel boom—in virtual reality

Jem Jenkins Jones was stuck at home in Wales for much of the past year amid pandemic lockdowns but managed to fulfill a promise to her 10-year-old daughter to see the northern lights from Iceland and South Africa's game reserves—in virtual reality.

SolarWinds hack got emails of top DHS officials

Suspected Russian hackers gained access to email accounts belonging to the Trump administration's head of the Department of Homeland Security and members of the department's cybersecurity staff whose jobs included hunting threats from foreign countries, The Associated Press has learned.

Wetware data retrieval: Forensic analysis and data recovery from water-submerged hard drives

A computer hard drive can be a rich source of evidence in a forensic investigation…but only if the device is intact and undamaged otherwise many additional steps to retrieve incriminating data from within are needed and not always successful even in the most expert hands. Research published in the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics considers the data retrieval problems for investigators faced with a hard drive that has been submerged in water.

Getting the inside track on street design

Large-scale analysis of pedestrian data from three European cities examines how building density and street design influence pedestrian behavior.

Suez Canal blockage: What it takes to unwedge a megaship

One of the world's largest container ships, named Ever Given, has been wedged across the Suez Canal since it was blown off course by high winds in the early hours of March 23, blocking one of the busiest maritime trade corridors in the world.

Sketching a shape based on its sound

In his dissertation, mathematician Abel Stern managed to reconstruct the shape of a drum on a computer from hearing merely the lowest tones. He will obtain his Ph.D. from Radboud University on 30 March.

Boeing seals large 737 MAX order as airlines eye recovery

US carrier Southwest Airlines agreed to buy 100 additional Boeing 737 MAX planes, the companies announced Monday, in a vote of confidence for the aircraft after a 20-month grounding.

Researchers demonstrate advantages of human-machine teams for truck transportation

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming more common in many branches of industry and online retailing. Traditional lines of work, such as transport logistics and driving, are developing in a similar direction although mainly out of public view. Scientists at the University of Göttingen have now investigated how efficient the use of AI can be in the commercial management of trucks. Their answer: the best option is an intelligent combination of human decision-making and AI applications. The study was published in the International Journal of Logistics Management.

Deciphering the secrets of printed electronics

Next-gen electronics is envisioned to be non-rigid, component-free, flexible, bendable, and easily integrable with different objects.

An industrially viable competitor to silicon-based solar cells is in the works

Solar cells are excellent renewable energy tools that use sunlight to drive an electrical current for power. They've been used to power homes since the 1980s, and their performance and production cost have improved dramatically since then. The most common solar cells, based on silicon, work well for a long time. They retain more than 80% of their functionality even after 25 years. However, the efficiency—i.e., how much of the incoming sunlight is converted to electrical power—of commercial-scale silicon solar cells is currently only around 20%.

First steps towards revolutionary ULTRARAM memory chips

ULTRARAM has taken a step closer towards development with a successful experiment by Lancaster physicists.

Privacy-preserving 'encounter metrics' that could slow down future pandemics

When you bump into someone in the workplace or at your local coffee shop, you might call that an 'encounter.' That's the scientific term for it, too. As part of urgent efforts to fight COVID-19, a science is rapidly developing for measuring the number of encounters and the different levels of interaction in a group.

Facebook, Google unveil Asia-Pacific data cable plans

Google and Facebook have unveiled plans for two new undersea data cables linking North America and the Asia-Pacific region, weeks after halting one destined for Hong Kong.

'Treating us like robots': Amazon workers seek union

Linda Burns was excited at first to land a job at the Amazon warehouse outside Birmingham, Alabama. The former nursing assistant had always enjoyed ordering from the company, Now, she would be working for them.

Voting ends on forming Amazon's first US union

Voting concluded Monday on whether to create the first Amazon labor union in the United States, at a warehouse in Alabama, after a historic, five-month David versus Goliath battle.

China cuts taxes to spur semiconductor development

China announced tax breaks Monday to spur growth of its semiconductor industry following U.S. sanctions that alarmed the ruling Communist Party by cutting off access to American processor chips for tech giant Huawei and some other companies.

Chinese streaming site Bilibili sinks on Hong Kong debut after $2.6 bn IPO

Video streaming site Bilibili sank on its first day trading on Hong Kong's stock exchange on Monday as investors fret over a global sell-off in Chinese tech shares.

Deliveroo trims value of London IPO on volatility

App-driven meals delivery firm Deliveroo on Monday trimmed the anticipated value of this week's planned London stock market flotation, citing global markets volatility.

News Corp. buys Houghton Mifflin Harcourt books division

In the latest news of consolidation in the literary world, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. announced Monday it's buying Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's book-publishing division, which includes such blockbuster releases as J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and George Orwell's "1984."

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