Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Mar 30

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for March 30, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

MolMapNet: An out-of-the-box deep learning model to predict pharmaceutical properties

First interstellar comet may be the most pristine ever found

High-entropy-stabilized chalcogenides with high thermoelectric performance

Astronomers inspect black hole X-ray binary MAXI J1348–630

Physicists flip particle accelerator setup to gain a clearer view of atomic nuclei

Theoretical physicists predict quantum interactions within 3D molecules

Researchers discover how animals grow their pointy body parts

Algorithm-generated music recommendations may be least accurate for hard rock listeners

Scientists identify molecular pathway that helps moving cells avoid aimless wandering

When parole, probation officers choose empathy, returns to jail decline

Teen pot use could mean less success as adult

New statistical method eases data reproducibility crisis

Using holographic endoscopes to observe distant objects

Cervical cancer testing tech could replace pap smears, save lives

Shining, colored LED lighting on microalgae for next-generation biofuel

Physics news

Physicists flip particle accelerator setup to gain a clearer view of atomic nuclei

Physicists at MIT and elsewhere are blasting beams of ions at clouds of protons —like throwing nuclear darts at the speed of light—to map the structure of an atom's nucleus.

Theoretical physicists predict quantum interactions within 3D molecules

Within the realm of quantum mechanics, the generation of quantum entanglement remains one of the most challenging goals. Entanglement, simply put, is when the quantum state of each particle or a group of particles is not independent of the quantum states of other particles or groups, even over long distances. Entangled particles have always fascinated physicists, as measuring one entangled particle can result in a change in another entangled particle, famously dismissed as "spooky action at a distance" by Einstein. By now, physicists understand this strange effect and how to make use of it, for example to increase the sensitivity of measurements. However, entangled states are very fragile, as they can be easily disrupted by decoherence. Researchers have already created entangled states in atoms, photons, electrons and ions, but only recently have studies begun to explore entanglement in gases of polar molecules.

Using holographic endoscopes to observe distant objects

Scientists are developing tools to observe the biological machinery in in vivo animal models to be able to understand and better treat severe brain diseases like Alzheimer's disease and many other conditions. Holographic endoscopes attracted researchers' interest because of their potential to conduct minimally invasive observations inside the human body.

Topological protection of entangled two-photon light in photonic topological insulators

In a joint effort, researchers from the Humboldt-Universität (Berlin), the Max Born Institute (Berlin) and the University of Central Florida (U.S.) have revealed the necessary conditions for the robust transport of entangled states of two-photon light in photonic topological insulators, paving the way the toward noise-resistant transport of quantum information. The results have appeared in Nature Communications.

A new spin on energy-efficient electronics

The promising field of spintronics seeks to manipulate electron spin to make a new breed of small and low-power electronic devices. A recent study used Argonne's Advanced Photon Source to bring the widespread use of spintronics closer to reality.

Researchers isolate geometric effects and resonant scattering in the X-ray spectra of HED plasmas

For the first time, researchers have isolated in a controlled laboratory setting the effects of the plasma geometry in its X-ray emission spectrum—the energy distribution of the radiation the plasmas emit.

New physics at the Large Hadron Collider? Scientists are excited, but it's too soon to be sure

Last week, physicists at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland announced they might have discovered a brand new force of nature. Or, to be precise, they unveiled "new results which, if confirmed, would suggest hints of a violation of the Standard Model of particle physics."

The egg in the X-ray beam: A peek at what happens to an egg when you cook it

A team of scientists has been using DESY's X-ray source PETRA III to analyze the structural changes that take place in an egg when you cook it. The work reveals how the proteins in the white of a chicken egg unfold and cross-link with each other to form a solid structure when heated. Their innovative method can be of interest to the food industry as well as to the broad field of research surrounding protein analysis. The cooperation of two groups, headed by Professor Frank Schreiber from the University of Tübingen and Professor Christian Gutt from the University of Siegen, with scientists at DESY and European XFEL reports the research in two articles in the journal Physical Review Letters.

ATLAS searches for pairs of Higgs bosons in a rare particle decay

Since the Higgs boson was discovered in 2012, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) have been studying the properties of this very special particle and its relation to the fundamental mechanism essential to the generation of mass of elementary particles. One property that remains to be experimentally verified is whether the Higgs boson is able to couple to itself, known as self-coupling. Such an interaction would contribute to the production of a pair of Higgs bosons in the LHC's high-energy proton–proton collisions, an incredibly rare process in the Standard Model—more than 1000 times rarer than the production of a single Higgs boson! Measuring a Higgs boson self-coupling that is different from the predicted value would have important consequences; the universe might be able to transition into a lower energy state and the laws that govern the interactions of matter could take a very different shape.

Scientists develop ultra-thin terahertz source

Physicists from the University of Sussex have developed an extremely thin, large-area semiconductor surface source of terahertz, composed of just a few atomic layers and compatible with existing electronic platforms.

Why are optical refractive indices so small?

Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon cover, voted the greatest classical rock album of all time, intended to portray the prism and dispersion of light into a rainbow as a certain metaphorical symbolism and a light show that was never celebrated. However, they really were not aware of the fact that this image would be used by many to help illustrate the concept of refractive index and how light changes speed and direction when it encounters a different medium.

Researchers observe new isotope of fluorine

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis reported the first observations of a new form of fluorine, the isotope 13F, described in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Faster imaging in rubber X-ray CT imaging helps tires become smarter and more efficient

Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd (SRI) and Tohoku University teamed up to increase the speed of 4-Dimensional Computed Tomography (4D-CT) a thousand-fold, making it possible to observe rubber failure in tires in real-time.

Putting a spin on Heusler alloys

A study published in the journal Science and Technology of Advanced Materials summarizes the major achievements made to-date in Heusler alloy research. "Our review article can serve as an ideal reference for researchers in magnetic materials," says Atsufumi Hirohata of the University of York, UK, who specializes in spintronics.

Discovery of a mechanism for making superconductors more resistant to magnetic fields

Superconductivity is known to be easily destroyed by strong magnetic fields. NIMS, Osaka University and Hokkaido University have jointly discovered that a superconductor with atomic-scale thickness can retain its superconductivity even when a strong magnetic field is applied to it. The team has also identified a new mechanism behind this phenomenon. These results may facilitate the development of superconducting materials resistant to magnetic fields and topological superconductors composed of superconducting and magnetic materials.

Astronomy and Space news

First interstellar comet may be the most pristine ever found

New observations with the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (ESO's VLT) indicate that the rogue comet 2I/Borisov, which is only the second and most recently detected interstellar visitor to our Solar System, is one of the most pristine ever observed. Astronomers suspect that the comet most likely never passed close to a star, making it an undisturbed relic of the cloud of gas and dust it formed from.

Astronomers inspect black hole X-ray binary MAXI J1348–630

An international team of astronomers has carried out a comprehensive radio and X-ray monitoring of a black hole X-ray binary known as MAXI J1348–630. The observational campaign provided important insights into the evolution of the source's compact and transient jets. The study was presented in a paper published March 22 on

Virgin Galactic rolls out latest generation of spaceship

Virgin Galactic rolled out its newest spaceship Tuesday as the company looks to resume test flights in the coming months at its headquarters in the New Mexico desert.

SpaceX Starship rocket test ends in another failure: Musk

SpaceX chief Elon Musk confirmed on Twitter Tuesday that the latest prototype of the company's Starship rocket series had crashed, after the video feed of its test flight cut out.

Researchers discover new type of ancient crater lake on Mars

Researchers from Brown University have discovered a previously unknown type of ancient crater lake on Mars that could reveal clues about the planet's early climate.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover takes selfie with 'Mont Mercou'

At the start of March, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover began approaching an impressive rock formation that scientists dubbed "Mont Mercou," a nickname taken from a mountain in France. Standing about 20 feet (6 meters) tall, the outcrop is captured in all its majesty in a new selfie, as well as in a pair of panoramas that offer a 3D view. The selfie shows Curiosity in front of Mont Mercou with a new drill hole nearby at a rock sample nicknamed "Nontron"—the mission's 30th sample to date.

Corridor test of Proba-3's formation flying sensors

The longest corridor in ESA's largest establishment was turned into a test site for one of the Agency's most ambitious future missions, Proba-3. The two satellites making up this mission will line up so that one casts a shadow onto the other, revealing inner regions of the Sun's ghostly atmosphere. But such precision formation flying will only be possible through a vision-based sensor system allowing one satellite to lock onto the other.

Two space fans get seats on billionaire's private flight

A billionaire's private SpaceX flight filled its two remaining seats Tuesday with a scientist-teacher and a data engineer whose college friend actually won a spot but gave him the prize.

UK to lead the development of the second Scout mission, HydroGNSS

Following the selection of the first Scout satellite mission last December, ESA has also given the greenlight to start negotiations with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd in the UK to lead the development of the second Scout mission—HydroGNSS.

Technology news

MolMapNet: An out-of-the-box deep learning model to predict pharmaceutical properties

Over the past few decades, computer scientists have developed deep learning tools for a broad variety of applications, including for the analysis of pharmaceutical drugs. Most recently, deep learning models that predict the properties of pharmaceuticals have been trained to analyze and learn molecular representations.

Algorithm-generated music recommendations may be least accurate for hard rock listeners

Listeners of high-energy music such as hard rock and hip-hop may be given less accurate music recommendations by music recommender systems than listeners of other non-mainstream music, according to research published in the open access journal EPJ Data Science.

Shining, colored LED lighting on microalgae for next-generation biofuel

As ethanol, biodiesel, and other biofuels continue to present challenges, such as competing with food security or lacking the technology for more efficient and low-cost production, microalgae are gaining momentum as a biofuel energy crop.

Unique AI method for generating proteins to speed up drug development

Artificial intelligence is now capable of generating novel, functionally active proteins, thanks to recently published work by researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.

Powering the energy transition with better storage

"The overall question for me is how to decarbonize society in the most affordable way," says Nestor Sepulveda SM '16, Ph.D. '20. As a postdoc at MIT and a researcher with the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), he worked with a team over several years to investigate what mix of energy sources might best accomplish this goal. The group's initial studies suggested the "need to develop energy storage technologies that can be cost-effectively deployed for much longer durations than lithium-ion batteries," says Dharik Mallapragada, a research scientist with MITEI.

Major machine learning datasets have tens of thousands of errors

It's well-known that machine learning datasets have their fair share of errors, including mislabeled images. But there hasn't been much research to systematically quantify just how error-ridden they are.

Auto-updating websites when facts change

Many companies put millions of dollars towards content moderation and curbing fake news. But what about the old news and misinformation that is still out there?

Homing in on longer-lasting perovskite solar cells

Materials called perovskites are widely heralded as a likely replacement for silicon as the material of choice for solar cells, but their greatest drawback is their tendency to degrade relatively rapidly. Over recent years, the usable lifetime of perovskite-based cells has gradually improved from minutes to months, but it still lags far behind the decades expected from silicon, the material currently used for virtually all commercial solar panels.

Breaking ultrawide-bandgap semiconductor records is just like baking bread

Researchers have made unparalleled ultrawide-bandgap semiconductors through temperature and timing, just like baking bread.

Ready for duty: Healthcare robots get good prognosis for next pandemic

Not long after the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, Czech writer Karel Čapek first introduced the term "robot" to describe artificial people in his 1921 sci-fi play R.U.R. While we have not yet created the highly intelligent humanoid robots imagined by Čapek, the robots most commonly used today are complex systems that work alongside humans, assisting with an ever-expanding set of tasks.

Security researchers announce PHP backdoor

On Saturday, 28 March 2021, security researchers Nikita Popov and Rasmus Lerdorf announced the discovery of two malicious backdoors installed on the php-src repository. The researchers suspect that this mishap had something to do with a compromised server rather than a compromised individual git account.

VW plans brand-name change to 'Voltswagen' in US

Volkswagen plans to change its brand name in the United States to "Voltswagen" as its shifts its production increasingly toward electric vehicles and tries to distance itself from an emissions cheating scandal.

Fire-hit chipmaker Renesas says recovery could take four months

Japanese chip manufacturer Renesas said Tuesday it could take three to four months to restore full capacity after a factory fire that threatens to worsen a global chip shortage.

Apples to apples: Neural network uses orchard data to predict fruit quality after storage

A researcher from Skoltech and his German colleagues have developed a neural network-based classification algorithm that can use data from an apple orchard to predict how well apples will fare in long-term storage. The paper was published in Computers and Electronics in Agriculture.

Flagging coronavirus misinformation tweets changes user behaviors, new research shows

When Twitter flags tweets containing coronavirus misinformation, that really does affect the degree of validity most people ascribe to those messages, says new research based on a novel branching survey by three professors at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), a part of the University of Alabama System.

A seven-point plan to tackle the world's biggest cooling challenge

The COVID-19 logistics response could be the biggest, single refrigeration challenge the world has ever faced. Cold chains are energy intensive and rely on refrigerants, often with high Global Warming Potential (GWP).

Epic Games complains about Apple to UK competition watchdog

Epic Games submitted a complaint Tuesday about Apple's alleged "monopolistic practices" to the U.K. competition watchdog, which is investigating the iPhone maker over concerns it has a dominant position in app distribution.

How game worlds are preparing humanitarian workers for high-stakes scenarios

The pandemic has bred a new dependence on online technologies for work and social engagement. Immersive technology such as that used in 3D video games, virtual reality and augmented reality can be designed now so that the person experiencing them is transported into a socially rich online world.

Cycling is 10 times more important than electric cars for reaching net-zero cities

Globally, only one in 50 new cars were fully electric in 2020, and one in 14 in the UK. Sounds impressive, but even if all new cars were electric now, it would still take 15-20 years to replace the world's fossil fuel car fleet.

'Voltswagen'? Apparent US rebrand sparks buzz as VW eyes electric future

Volkswagen's US subsidiary said Tuesday it is subbing out a "K" for a "T" and will rename itself "Voltswagen" as it accelerates a big push in electric cars in the world's biggest economy.

New early warning system for self-driving cars

A team of researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed a new early warning system for vehicles that uses artificial intelligence to learn from thousands of real traffic situations. A study of the system was carried out in cooperation with the BMW Group. The results show that, if used in today's self-driving vehicles, it can warn seven seconds in advance against potentially critical situations that the cars cannot handle alone—with over 85% accuracy.

Key life decisions shown to affect car ownership and renewable technologies in the home

For decades, car ownership has been essential for personal transportation. The use of cars though leads to problems in cities such as traffic congestion, inefficient energy consumption, and pollution. In recent years, electric cars, electric bikes, and car sharing have become more common, with the rate of uptake of these sustainable alternatives affected by life events such as a change of job or moving home. In addition, these tools can affect a household's energy use, particularly when an electric car is charged at home. Gaofeng Gu from the Urban Planning and Transportation group in the department of the Built Environment has investigated the relationship between key life events, car ownership, and home energy decisions in light of new mobility options. He defends his thesis on March 30th.

Integrating solar panels in shady places

Due to stricter regulations of sustainability, we might see solar panels more often not only on sunny rooftops, but more and more on shaded roofs and facades as well, which brings new challenges in their integration. In his thesis, Ádám Bognár developed a method to simulate solar irradiance based on LiDAR point clouds, leading to better simulation models for the integration of solar panels.

Novel disaster communication system empowers communities and can save lives

Even a low phone battery can mean the difference between life and death during disasters. With the help of TU Delft researcher Indushree Banerjee, the opportunity to communicate and be rescued is no longer dependent on owning an expensive phone with a long-life battery. She has designed a novel energy-efficient and reliable emergency communication system using smartphones, that maximizes the number of people who are able to communicate during a longer period of time. Banerjee's research is published in Scientific Reports on 30 March.

Rapid material testing during sheet metal processing reduces failure and scrap

Fraunhofer researchers have developed an innovative process for the initial testing of sheet metal in production systems. The process involves combining tried and proven load tests with an AI software solution. Even before the first machining step, the software creates a prediction about how the material will behave during production and gauges whether it will meet quality requirements. This drastically reduces the risk of failure and amount of scrap.

Quality control via sound: AI for those without experience

Many companies do not have the confidence to try out artificial intelligence models. These models can, after all, quickly become confusing. As a result, they have a wealth of untapped potential for quality control. The new IDMT-ISAAC software now makes it possible for users without any expert knowledge of AI to also benefit from artificial intelligence applications. IDMT-ISAAC is set to be showcased at the Hannover Messe from April 12-16, 2021.

Efficiently combating production loss and disruption in automated equipment

As connectivity increases in production processes, so does their complexity. Data analysis expertise is required for predicting equipment outages in good time and detecting what causes losses in efficiency. MOEE, the tool that research teams from the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA are exhibiting at the Hannover Messe trade fair from April 12 to 16, 2021, identifies the causes of production losses in connected equipment and makes it possible to quickly resolve disruptions.

How to quickly come to grips with complex manufacturing processes

Optimizing production plants so that they operate in a more energy-efficient way or produce fewer rejects is often difficult, as production quality depends on many different parameters. In the Fraunhofer ML4P lighthouse project, Fraunhofer experts have developed a process and software tools for comprehensively analyzing industrial production processes and adjusting them as required. Suitable for a wide variety of industries, ML4P will be presented at the Hannover Messe Digital Edition from April 12 to April 16, 2021.

IRS warns of phishing scam targeting colleges, universities

The Internal Revenue Service issued a warning Tuesday about a phishing scam targeting students and staff at educational institutions who have an .edu email address.

Google Maps to show more eco-friendly routes

Google on Tuesday said it will start showing users of its free Maps navigation service travel routes less damaging to the environment as just one of some 100 coming upgrades.

Airport crowds, airline ticket sales show travel recovering

Evidence is mounting that Americans are eager to drive or fly somewhere after being mostly cooped up at home for a year.

Amazon faces new lawsuit alleging it fixed book prices

A proposed class-action lawsuit from a Seattle firm has added to the swarm of antitrust scrutiny gathering around Amazon.

Comcast commits $1 billion to help close the digital divide as Americans increasingly rely on the internet

Comcast Corp. plans to spend $1 billion over the next decade to help low-income Americans connect to the internet, company officials said Wednesday.

Disney+ has a $1 price increase taking effect Friday

It's official: Starting Friday, you'll be paying more for your Disney+ streaming subscription.

Zuckerberg confirms Instagram for kids plans at Congressional hearing on misinformation

During his contentious testimony with Congress members, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed the platform's plans to create an Instagram for kids.

UK food giant Deliveroo set for £7.6bn London IPO

Britain's app-driven food delivery firm Deliveroo is set for London's largest stock market launch in a decade with a valuation of £7.6 billion, despite mounting criticism over its treatment of riders.

Keeping an eye on infrastructure systems: 4 tactics

Even minor disruptions in infrastructure systems can have fatal consequences. Researchers and practitioners counter that risk by taking action on multiple levels. Four examples.

Inspecting finished components in real time with AI

Delivered components have to undergo an incoming goods inspection to ensure they are correctly dimensioned and everything else is just right. MARQUIS—a software solution comprising machine learning and augmented reality—will be able to inspect components and their assemblies while on the move and in real time. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD are set to showcase the technology at the Hannover Messe from April 12-16, 2021.

Lack of competition and transparency: Challenges in the online advertising market

The first online advertisement was a banner for AT&T that appeared on the website in 1994, when there were just 30 million internet users worldwide. Today, 57% of the world's population has access to the internet and advertising technology has advanced to the point that by 2018 the digital advertising market in Europe alone was worth 55 billion euros. Of this amount, 16.8 billion euros is accounted for by programmatic advertising, which uses artificial intelligence to automate much of the buying and selling of internet advertising.

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