Science X Newsletter Monday, Apr 12

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for April 12, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

DeepONet: A deep neural network-based model to approximate linear and nonlinear operators

Scientists discover three liquid phases in aerosol particles

For tomato genes, one plus one doesn't always make two

Unusual fossil reveals last meal of prehistoric pollinator

Topological insulator metamaterial with giant circular photogalvanic effect

Astronomers inspect open cluster NGC 1348

Following atoms in real time could lead to better materials design

Researchers find bubbles speed up energy transfer

Artificial nervous system uses light sensing to catch objects like humans do

Painting with semiconductors

Shift in diet allowed gray wolves to survive ice-age extinction

Soviet cosmonaut made pioneering spaceflight 60 years ago

Unusual treatment shows promise for kids with brain tumors

Making music from spider webs

Researchers discover new way to starve brain tumors

Physics news

Scientists discover three liquid phases in aerosol particles

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have discovered three liquid phases in aerosol particles, changing our understanding of air pollutants in the Earth's atmosphere.

Topological insulator metamaterial with giant circular photogalvanic effect

Topological insulators have notable manifestations of electronic properties. The helicity-dependent photocurrents in such devices are underpinned by spin momentum-locking of surface Dirac electrons that are weak and easily overshadowed by bulk contributions. In a new report now published on Science Advances, X. Sun and a research team in photonic technologies, physics and photonic metamaterials in Singapore and the U.K. showed how the chiral response of materials could be enhanced via nanostructuring. The tight confinement of electromagnetic fields in the resonant nanostructures enhanced the photoexcitation of spin-polarized surface states of a topological insulator to allow an 11-fold increase of the circular photogalvanic effect and a previously unobserved photocurrent dichroism at room temperature. Using this method, Sun et al. controlled the spin transport in topological materials via structural design, a hitherto unrecognized ability of metamaterials. The work bridges the gap between nanophotonics and spin electronics to provide opportunities to develop polarization-sensitive photodetectors.

Researchers find bubbles speed up energy transfer

Energy flows through a system of atoms or molecules by a series of processes such as transfers, emissions, or decay. You can visualize some of these details like passing a ball (the energy) to someone else (another particle), except the pass happens quicker than the blink of an eye, so fast that the details about the exchange are not well understood. Imagine the same exchange happening in a busy room, with others bumping into you and generally complicating and slowing the pass. Then, imagine how much faster the exchange would be if everyone stepped back and created a safe bubble for the pass to happen unhindered.

Researchers create light waves that can penetrate even opaque materials

Why is sugar not transparent? Because light that penetrates a piece of sugar is scattered, altered and deflected in a highly complicated way. However, as a research team from TU Wien (Vienna) and Utrecht University (Netherlands) has now been able to show, there is a class of very special light waves for which this does not apply: for any specific disordered medium—such as the sugar cube you may just have put in your coffee—tailor-made light beams can be constructed that are practically not changed by this medium, but only attenuated. The light beam penetrates the medium, and a light pattern arrives on the other side that has the same shape as if the medium were not there at all.

Proof of new physics from the muon's magnetic moment? Maybe not, according to a new theoretical calculation

When the results of an experiment don't match predictions made by the best theory of the day, something is off.

Search for sterile neutrinos: It's all about a bend in the curve

There are many questions surrounding the elementary particle neutrino, in particular regarding its mass. Physicists are also interested in whether besides the 'classic' neutrinos there are variants such as the so-called sterile neutrinos. The KATRIN experiment has now succeeded in strongly narrowing the search for these elusive particles. The publication appeared recently in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Researchers uncover how cells control the physical state of embryonic tissues

In the earliest stage of life, animals undergo some of their most spectacular physical transformations. Once merely blobs of dividing cells, they begin to rearrange themselves into their more characteristic forms, be they fish, birds or humans. Understanding how cells act together to build tissues has been a fundamental problem in physics and biology.

A novel light-spin interface with europium(III) molecule advances development of quantum computers

Light can be used to operate quantum information processing systems, e.g. quantum computers, quickly and efficiently. Researchers at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Chimie ParisTech/CNRS have now significantly advanced the development of molecule-based materials suitable for use as light-addressable fundamental quantum units. As they report in the journal Nature Communications, they have demonstrated for the first time the possibility of addressing nuclear spin levels of a molecular complex of europium(III) rare-earth ions with light.

Head-mounted microscope captures brain activity in freely behaving mice

Researchers have developed a head-mounted miniature microscope that can be used to image activity from the entire outer part of the brain, or cortex, in freely behaving mice. When combined with implantable see-through skulls, the new microscope can capture the brain activity of mice for more than 300 days.

Astronomy and Space news

Astronomers inspect open cluster NGC 1348

By analyzing data from various astronomical surveys, astronomers have performed an exhaustive photometric and kinematical study of an open cluster known as NGC 1348. The new research, detailed in a paper published April 2 on arXiv.org, provides important information regarding the parameters of this cluster.

Soviet cosmonaut made pioneering spaceflight 60 years ago

Crushed into the pilot's seat by heavy G-forces, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin saw flames outside his spacecraft and prepared to die. His voice broke the tense silence at ground control: "I'm burning. Goodbye, comrades."

27 million galaxy morphologies quantified and cataloged with the help of machine learning

Research from Penn's Department of Physics and Astronomy has produced the largest catalog of galaxy morphology classification to date. Led by former postdocs Jesús Vega-Ferrero and Helena Domínguez Sánchez, who worked with professor Mariangela Bernardi, this catalog of 27 million galaxy morphologies provides key insights into the evolution of the universe. The study was published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Five things to know about Gagarin's journey to space

Sixty years ago on Monday cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space, securing victory for Moscow in its race with Washington and marking a new chapter in the history of space exploration.

How do we know if an asteroid headed our way is dangerous?

There are a lot of things that pose a threat to our planet—climate change, natural disasters, and solar flares, for example. But one threat in particular often captures public imagination, finding itself popularised in books and films and regularly generating alarming headlines: asteroids.

New laser to help clear the sky of space debris

Researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) have harnessed a technique that helps telescopes see objects in the night sky more clearly to fight against dangerous and costly space debris.

Why primordial asteroids that avoided massive collisions all seem to be about the same size

Planetary systems form out of the remnant gas and dust of a primordial star. The material collapses into a protoplanetary disk around the young star, and the clumps that form within the disk eventually become planets, asteroids, or other bodies. Although we understand the big picture of planetary formation, we've yet to fully understand the details. That's because the details are complicated.

Jupiter could make an ideal dark matter detector

So you want to find dark matter, but you don't know where to look. A giant planet might be exactly the kind of particle detector you need! Luckily, our solar system just happens to have a couple of them available, and the biggest and closest is Jupiter. Researchers Rebecca Leane (Stanford) and Tim Linden (Stockholm) released a paper this week describing how the gas giant just might hold the key to finding the elusive dark matter.

Technology news

DeepONet: A deep neural network-based model to approximate linear and nonlinear operators

Artificial neural networks are known to be highly efficient approximators of continuous functions, which are functions with no sudden changes in values (i.e., discontinuities, holes or jumps in graph representations). While many studies have explored the use of neural networks for approximating continuous functions, their ability to approximate nonlinear operators has rarely been investigated so far.

Artificial nervous system uses light sensing to catch objects like humans do

With a simple artificial nervous system now able to mimic human responses to light, scientists are learning more about how to program such technology for use in medical robotic prostheses.

One-stop machine learning platform turns health care data into insights

Over the past decade, hospitals and other health care providers have put massive amounts of time and energy into adopting electronic health care records, turning hastily scribbled doctors' notes into durable sources of information. But collecting these data is less than half the battle. It can take even more time and effort to turn these records into actual insights—ones that use the learnings of the past to inform future decisions.

SKorea's Moon says EV battery settlement 'very meaningful'

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday welcomed a decision by two South Korean electric vehicle battery makers to settle a long-running intellectual property dispute that had threatened thousands of American jobs and President Joe Biden's environmental policies.

Resilience against replay attacks in computer systems

From power grids and telecommunications to water supply and financial systems, digital data controls the infrastructure systems on which society relies. These complex, multi-tier systems depend on layered communications to accomplish their tasks—yet every point of contact becomes a potential target, every path of information a potential weak spot for malicious actors to attack.

Modular newsgathering makes content aggregation faster, more accurate

The use of small processing modules can significantly reduce overheads on computing systems with limited resources available to them when large amounts of data must nevertheless be processed. Research by a team in Greece described in the International Journal of Web Engineering and Technology shows how that approach can be used for content aggregation, information extraction, sentiment tagging, and visualization tasks.

A new approach to planning the best route breaks a barrier that's stood for nearly half a century

Computers are good at answering questions. What's the shortest route from my house to Area 51? Is 8,675,309 a prime number? How many teaspoons in a tablespoon? For questions like these, they've got you covered.

5G network could realize Nikola Tesla's dream of wireless electricity a century later

At the height of his career, the pioneering electrical engineer Nikola Tesla became obsessed with an idea. He theorized that electricity could be transmitted wirelessly through the air at long distances—either via a series of strategically positioned towers, or hopping across a system of suspended balloons.

Machine learning at speed with in-network aggregation

Inserting lightweight optimization code in high-speed network devices has enabled a KAUST-led collaboration to increase the speed of machine learning on parallelized computing systems five-fold.

Microsoft buying speech recognition firm Nuance in $16B deal

Microsoft, on an accelerated growth push, is buying speech recognition company Nuance in a deal worth about $16 billion.

COVID shopping anxiety: A simple piece of tech could help lure customers back

As lockdown restrictions ease and shops reopen in Britain, the issue of whether enough customers will feel sufficiently confident to return to the high street has become a worry for a number of retailers. Although anxiety existed before the pandemic, (up to 5% of the UK population is affected by a general anxiety disorder), worries about contracting COVID-19 are leading to new concerns while the uncertainty continues. One issue that has emerged is shopping anxiety.

GM's Cruise to operate all-electric driverless cars in Dubai

Dubai said Monday that U.S. self-driving car company Cruise will become the first to operate autonomous taxis and ride-hailing services in the United Arab Emirates city of more than three million people.

Auction houses Sotheby's, Phillips latest to join NFT craze

Sotheby's and Phillips launched so-called NFT auctions on Monday, a month after Christie's sold a digital artwork for $69.3 million, as traditional auction houses seek to capitalize on the craze shaking up the art market.

Why is Google Docs not working? Google says it's investigating issues affecting Google Drive, Docs

Having trouble working with Google Drive or Google Docs on Monday? You are not alone.

Biden tells execs US needs to invest, lead in computer chips

President Joe Biden used a virtual meeting with corporate leaders about a global shortage of semiconductors to push Monday for his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, telling them that the U.S. should be the world's computer chip leader.

Intel to supply self-driving systems for delivery trucks

Intel on Monday said it is supplying self-driving systems to Silicon Valley startup Udelv, which plans to have a fleet of autonomous delivery vehicles in action within two years.

Alibaba shares soar as it plays down hit from record $2.78 bn fine

Shares in tech giant Alibaba surged nine percent Monday as the ecommerce titan reassured investors that a record $2.78 billion antitrust fine imposed by China would have little impact on its operations.

Chinese regulator orders Ant Group to conduct major overhaul

Chinese regulators have ordered Ant Group, a financial affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, to become a financial holding company to ease financial oversight amid stepped up scrutiny of technology firms.

French homeschooling system hit by hackers from Russia, China: investigators

Hackers operating from Russia and China targeted France's homeschooling platform which crashed at the start of a nationwide lockdown last week, investigators said Monday.

Drivers wanted: Record demand at Uber as vaccinations rise

Uber is offering sign-up bonuses and other incentives for drivers as it faces record demand for rides and meal delivery.

Twitter picks Ghana for first Africa jobs

Twitter announced Monday it was recruiting eleven people in Ghana, the company's first hires on the African continent, and plans to open an office there later.

Amazon defeats union push in Alabama, but labor leaders say the fight's not over

Amazon scored a resounding victory Friday in a union vote at its Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse, the most high-profile organizing drive in the commerce giant's history.


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