Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Apr 7

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for April 7, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Researchers realize resonant tunnelling diodes based on twisted black phosphorus homostructures

New estimate of muon's magnetic field strength aligns with standard model of particle physics

Early indicators of magma viscosity could help forecast a volcano's eruption style

First transiting exoplanet's 'chemical fingerprint' reveals its distant birthplace

Gate-controlled ground state crossover in a two-dimensional superconductor

Designing selective membranes for batteries using a drug discovery toolbox

'Tantalizing' results of 2 experiments defy physics rulebook

Field guides: Scientists bolster evidence of new physics in Muon g-2 experiment

Facebook says hackers 'scraped' data of 533 mn users in 2019 leak

In Russia, the legend of cosmonaut Gagarin lives on

Key brain molecule may play role in many brain disorders

The incredible bacterial 'homing missiles' that scientists want to harness

An amyloid link between Parkinson's disease and melanoma

A protein with a dual role: Both repair and mutation

In a comprehensive new test, the EmDrive fails to generate any thrust

Physics news

New estimate of muon's magnetic field strength aligns with standard model of particle physics

A new estimation of the strength of the magnetic field around the muon—a sub-atomic particle similar to, but heavier than, an electron—closes the gap between theory and experimental measurements, bringing it in line with the standard model that has guided particle physics for decades.

Gate-controlled ground state crossover in a two-dimensional superconductor

In the paired fermion systems, the Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) superfluidity and Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC) are two extreme limits of the ground state. In a new report in Science, Yuji Nakagawa and a team of scientists in applied physics, quantum electronics, emergent matter science and materials research in Japan, reported crossover behavior from the BCS limit to the BEC limit by varying the carrier density in a 2D superconductor electron-doped, layered material ZrNCl containing intercalated layered nitride. The team showed how the ratio of the superconducting transition temperature and Fermi temperature in the low carrier density limit was consistent with the theoretical upper bound expected in the BCS-BEC crossover regime. The results indicated how the gate-doped semiconductor provided an ideal platform for the 2D BCS-BEC crossover without additional complexities as those noted in other solid-state systems.

'Tantalizing' results of 2 experiments defy physics rulebook

Preliminary results from two experiments suggest something could be wrong with the basic way physicists think the universe works, a prospect that has the field of particle physics both baffled and thrilled.

Field guides: Scientists bolster evidence of new physics in Muon g-2 experiment

Scientists are testing our fundamental understanding of the universe, and there's much more to discover.

In a comprehensive new test, the EmDrive fails to generate any thrust

The EmDrive is a hypothetical rocket that proponents claim can generate thrust with no exhaust. This would violate all known physics. In 2016, a team at NASA's Eagleworks lab claimed to measure thrust from an EmDrive device, the news of which caused quite a stir. The latest attempt to replicate the shocking results has resulted in a simple answer: The Eagleworks measurement was from heating of the engine mount, not any new physics.

New microscopy technique unveils a feature that can shape applications of a class of quantum materials

A team of researchers led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory microscopist Miaofang Chi and Vanderbilt theoretical physicist Sokrates Pantelides has used a new Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope technique to image the electron distribution in ionic compounds known as electrides— especially the electrons that float loosely within pockets and appear separate from the atomic network.

Thin cuprous iodide film will enable better optoelectronic devices

A defect-free thin film of cuprous iodide—made up of just one crystal—has been fabricated by RIKEN physicists. The atomically flat sample is a boost for producing better semiconductors.

Astronomy and Space news

First transiting exoplanet's 'chemical fingerprint' reveals its distant birthplace

Astronomers have found evidence that the first exoplanet that was identified transiting its star could have migrated to a close orbit with its star from its original birthplace further away.

In Russia, the legend of cosmonaut Gagarin lives on

Sixty years after he became the first person in space, there are few figures more universally admired in Russia today than Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

Machine-learning methods lead to discovery of rare 'quadruply imaged quasars'

With the help of machine-learning techniques, a team of astronomers has discovered a dozen quasars that have been warped by a naturally occurring cosmic "lens" and split into four similar images. Quasars are extremely luminous cores of distant galaxies that are powered by supermassive black holes.

Caught speeding: Clocking the fastest-spinning brown dwarfs

Using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, scientists have identified the three fastest-spinning brown dwarfs ever found. More massive than most planets but not quite heavy enough to ignite like stars, brown dwarfs are cosmic in-betweeners. And though they aren't as well known as stars and planets to most people, they are thought to number in the billions in our galaxy.

Radio telescope reveals thousands of star-forming galaxies in early Universe

The images capture drama billions of years ago in the early Universe—glinting galaxies, glowing with stars that have exploded into supernovas and blazing jets fired from black holes.

NASA's Webb Telescope packs its sunshield for a million mile trip

Engineers working on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope have successfully folded and packed its sunshield for its upcoming million-mile (roughly 1.5 million kilometer) journey, which begins later this year.

Probing for life in the icy crusts of ocean worlds

Long before NASA's Perseverance rover touched down on the Red Planet on Feb. 18, one of its highest-level mission goals was already established: to seek out signs of ancient life on the Martian surface. In fact, the techniques used by one of the science instruments aboard the rover could have applications on Saturn's moons Enceladus and Titan as well Jupiter's moon Europa.

60 years after Gagarin, Russia lags in the space race

A station on the moon! A mission to Venus! A next generation spacecraft!

Early combined tests mimic Ariane 6 liftoff

Ariane 6 early combined tests at Latesys in Fos-sur-Mer, in France, have simulated the moment of liftoff when the umbilicals separate from the launch vehicle.

Lunar Gateway will maintain its orbit with a 6 kW ion engine

When NASA sends astronauts back to the moon as part of the Artemis Program, they will be taking the long view. Rather than being another "footprints and flags" program, the goal is to create a lasting infrastructure that will ensure a "sustained program of lunar exploration." A major element in this plan is the Lunar Gateway, an orbital habitat that astronauts will use to venture to and from the surface.

NASA's Lucy stretches its wings in successful solar panel deployment test

NASA's Lucy spacecraft has successfully completed thermal vacuum testing of both solar panels, the final step in checking out these critical spacecraft components in preparation for launch this fall. Once the Lucy spacecraft's solar panels are attached and fully extended, they could cover a five-story building.

Technology news

Researchers realize resonant tunnelling diodes based on twisted black phosphorus homostructures

In recent years, electronics engineers worldwide have been trying to develop new semiconductor heterostructure devices using atomically thin materials. Among the many devices that can be fabricated using these materials are resonant tunneling diodes, which typically consist of a quantum-well structure placed between two barrier layers.

Facebook says hackers 'scraped' data of 533 mn users in 2019 leak

Facebook said Tuesday that hackers "scraped" personal data of some half-billion users back in 2019 by taking advantage of a feature designed to help people easily find friends using contact lists.

Scientists harness chaos to protect devices from hackers

Researchers have found a way to use chaos to help develop digital fingerprints for electronic devices that may be unique enough to foil even the most sophisticated hackers.

A laser equipped robotic guide dog to lead people who are visually impaired

A small team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley has developed a robot dog to help in ways similar to real guide dogs. They have written a paper describing their robot guide dog and have uploaded it to the arXiv preprint server. They have also posted two videos demonstrating the capabilities of their robot on YouTube.

Microsoft adopts boiling liquid to cool datacenter servers

Microsoft has implemented boiling liquid to help keep datacenter servers at reasonable temperatures. The company uses electronic equipment and liquid capable of boiling at 122 degrees Farenheit, 90 degrees below the boiling point of water.

Robots can be more aware of human co-workers, with system that provides context

Working safely is not only about processes, but context—understanding the work environment and circumstances, and being able to predict what other people will do next. A new system empowers robots with this level of context awareness, so they can work side-by-side with humans on assembly lines more efficiently and without unnecessary interruptions.

Google Lyra will enable voice calls for another billion users

During 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has showcased the immense importance of online communication. Regardless of location and network connectivity, communication technology has come into play more than ever before.

CPU algorithm trains deep neural nets up to 15 times faster than top GPU trainers

Rice University computer scientists have demonstrated artificial intelligence (AI) software that runs on commodity processors and trains deep neural networks 15 times faster than platforms based on graphics processors.

Samsung Electronics, LG forecast 40% leaps in Q1 operating profits

South Korea's two biggest electronics firms both forecast jumps of around 40 percent in their first-quarter operating profits Wednesday, with coronavirus-driven working from home fuelling global demand for semiconductors and home appliances.

Toshiba to weigh buyout offer from UK fund

Toshiba is considering a buyout offer from a British private equity fund, it said Wednesday, with reports suggesting the deal could be worth about $20 billion.

An artificial intelligence tool that can help detect melanoma

Melanoma is a type of malignant tumor responsible for more than 70 percent of all skin cancer-related deaths worldwide. For years, physicians have relied on visual inspection to identify suspicious pigmented lesions (SPLs), which can be an indication of skin cancer. Such early-stage identification of SPLs in primary care settings can improve melanoma prognosis and significantly reduce treatment cost.

POINTER: Seeing through walls to help locate firefighters

A unique positioning technology is being developed to pinpoint firefighters inside buildings where other positioning technologies fail.

3D city models can serve hundreds of purposes

3D City models can be used in map applications, urban planning, virtual events and as a starting point for various other applications. At Aalto University, research into the topic has focused on ways to use city models in the Capital Region and on applying new 3D mapping technologies to the modeling of cities.

Framework could support more reliable electric power distribution systems

Imagine the process of distributing electricity to homes from the power grid is like travelers boarding a train.

On the road again: How the states can accelerate Australia's sputtering electric vehicle transition

Last month, Volkswagen Australia chief Michael Bartsch revealed Australia's clean technology laws were so weak, his German head office would not supply Australians with the company's top selling mid-range electric vehicles.

Perfecting self-driving cars: Can it be done?

Robotic vehicles have been used in dangerous environments for decades, from decommissioning the Fukushima nuclear power plant or inspecting underwater energy infrastructure in the North Sea. More recently, autonomous vehicles from boats to grocery delivery carts have made the gentle transition from research centers into the real world with very few hiccups.

'Potential for harm': Microsoft to make US$22 billion worth of augmented reality headsets for US Army

Microsoft has reportedly been awarded a ten year contract worth close to US$22 billion, to provide 120,000 military-grade augmented reality (AR) headsets to the US Army.

Retaining knowledge of nuclear waste management

Have you ever started a new job and spent a lot of time figuring out everything from how to get paper for the printer to whether an important customer prefers quick phone calls to emails?

UK Deliveroo riders strike over pay, gig work conditions

Riders for the app-based meal delivery platform Deliveroo held a strike in London Wednesday over pay and working conditions, part of a broader backlash against one of the U.K.'s biggest gig economy companies.

UPS explores eTVOLs, part helicopter and part plane

UPS is buying 10 electric vertical aircraft as it attempts to improve delivery times in small and mid-size markets.

Biofuels producers, farmers not sold on switch to electric

The president and auto industry maintain the nation is on the cusp of a gigantic shift to electric vehicles and away from liquid-fueled cars, but biofuels producers and some of their supporters in Congress aren't buying it. They argue that now is the time to increase sales of ethanol and biodiesel, not abandon them.

Facebook weathers social media turmoil, TikTok rises: US survey

Facebook usage has held steady in the United States despite a string of controversies about the leading social network, even as younger users tap into rival platforms such as TikTok, a survey showed Wednesday.

Uber entices drivers with $250 mn 'stimulus'

Uber on Wednesday launched a $250 million "stimulus" plan to lure wary drivers back to the platform as demand for rides outstrips supply.

Deleting double-talk: researchers advance echo cancellation technology

Have you ever heard your own voice talk back to you on the phone? It's a nuisance, which is why people developed filters that adapt to the sound in a room and remove this echo (the technical term is echo cancellation).

Have social platforms reached their peak? Pew survey shows little user growth since last year.

The striking short-form viral videos and images of Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok continue to climb in popularity with Gen Z.

Senators press for more on SolarWinds hack after AP report

Key lawmakers said Tuesday they're concerned they've been kept in the dark about what suspected Russian hackers stole from the federal government and they pressed Biden administration officials for more details about the scope of what's known as the SolarWinds hack.

Tokyo, as you've never seen it before

It's Tokyo, but unlike you've ever seen it before—a miniaturised 1:1,000 scale version of one of the world's biggest capitals, displaying everything from sea levels to population densities.

Global minimum tax for corporations inches towards reality

Proposed by the United States, supported by the IMF and welcomed by major economies including France and Germany, a global minimum tax rate on corporations is gathering momentum toward becoming a reality.

Crowdfunding your video game: Key factors for success

Crowdfunding has become a useful way to obtain financial backing for small and medium-sized projects. Given sufficient attention, particularly via the internet, an entrepreneur or creative, might reach out to a virtual crowd and offer them some kind of future return on their early investment in a product. It has worked well for authors, musicians, filmmakers, and game writers among others. Commonly, a person backing the crowdfunding initiative will be rewarded with a copy of the finished product, such as a book, perhaps with additional incentives such as a mention in the book's acknowledgement or a copy signed by the author or unique in some other way.

US confronts 'digital dagger' from overseas aimed at top tech companies

Late last month, the Biden administration signaled that it was preparing to slap a 25 percent tariff on goods imported from six countries, including the United Kingdom, in retaliation for a digital service tax those countries were set to collect on search engines, social media companies and online retailers that were mostly American.

German car sales plunge on virus woes

New car sales in Germany posted their worst first-quarter performance since national reunification in 1990 owing to the coronavirus pandemic, official data showed Wednesday.

Digital twin can protect physical systems and train new users

It is more complicated than copy and paste, but digital twins could be the way of future manufacturing according to researchers from the University of Kentucky. They developed a virtual environment based on human-robot interactions that can mirror the physical set up of a welder and their project. Called a digital twin, the prototype has implications for evolving manufacturing systems and training novice welders. They published their work in the IEEE/CAA Journal of Automatica Sinica.

Apple to pay $3.4-m over iPhone obsolescence in Chile

Apple has agreed to pay Chilean consumers $3.4 million in a lawsuit over programmed obsolescence of iPhones, their lawyer said Wednesday, the first such settlement in Latin America.

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