Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Apr 13

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for April 13, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

eSpine: A technique to increase the usable lifetime of neuromorphic systems

In a first, scientists watch 2D puddles of electrons spontaneously emerge in a 3D superconducting material

Indian astronomers detect over 200 variable stars

The observation of Kardar-Parisi-Zhang hydrodynamics in a quantum material

Study identifies two neuronal populations associated with symptoms of Parkinson's disease

Sensitive qubit-based technique to accelerate search for dark matter

Study warns of 'oxygen false positives' in search for signs of life on other planets

Black holes like to eat, but have a variety of table manners

Researchers' work will help the pipeline industry limit the destructive power of bubbles

Ocean bacteria release carbon into the atmosphere

Rescuing street art from vandals' graffiti

Study links structural brain changes to behavioral problems in children who snore

Ancient ammonoids' shell designs may have aided buoyancy control

Scientists identify severe asthma species, show air pollutant as likely contributor

Student's physics homework picked up by Amazon quantum researchers

Physics news

In a first, scientists watch 2D puddles of electrons spontaneously emerge in a 3D superconducting material

Creating a two-dimensional material, just a few atoms thick, is often an arduous process requiring sophisticated equipment. So scientists were surprised to see 2D puddles emerge inside a three-dimensional superconductor—a material that allows electrons to travel with 100% efficiency and zero resistance—with no prompting.

The observation of Kardar-Parisi-Zhang hydrodynamics in a quantum material

Classical hydrodynamics laws can be very useful for describing the behavior of systems composed of many particles (i.e., many-body systems) after they reach a local state of equilibrium. These laws are expressed by so-called hydrodynamical equations, a set of mathematical equations that describe the movement of water or other fluids.

Sensitive qubit-based technique to accelerate search for dark matter

Scientists at the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the University of Chicago have demonstrated a new technique based on quantum technology that will advance the search for dark matter, the invisible stuff that accounts for 85% of all matter in the universe.

Researchers' work will help the pipeline industry limit the destructive power of bubbles

Researchers have answered key questions to help prevent damage and improve the safety of hydraulic systems used for pipelines, water turbines and other applications.

Student's physics homework picked up by Amazon quantum researchers

A simple yet elegant change to code studied for more than 20 years could shorten timeline to achieve scalable quantum computation and has attracted the attention of quantum computing programs at Amazon Web Services and Yale University.

Researchers develop new method for putting quantum correlations to the test

Physicists from Swansea University are part of an international research collaboration which has identified a new technique for testing the quality of quantum correlations.

Counting single photons at unprecedented rates

In high-end 21st century communications, information travels in the form of a stream of light pulses typically traveling through fiber optic cables. Each pulse can be as faint as a single photon, the smallest possible unit (quantum) of light. The speed at which such systems can operate depends critically on how fast and how accurately detectors on the receiving end can discriminate and process those photons.

Combining mask wearing, social distancing suppresses COVID-19 virus spread

Studies show wearing masks and social distancing can contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but their combined effectiveness is not precisely known.

Using near-field optical microscopy to conduct real-time evanescent wave imaging

A team of researchers at Technion—Israel Institute of Technology has developed a new technique for conducting real-time evanescent wave imaging using standard optical technology. In their paper published in the journal Nature Photonics, the group describes their new technology and ways they believe it can be used in photonic device characterization and other applications.

Atom interferometry demonstrated in space for the first time

Extremely precise measurements are possible using atom interferometers that employ the wave character of atoms for this purpose. They can thus be used, for example, to measure the gravitational field of the Earth or to detect gravitational waves. A team of scientists from Germany has now managed to successfully perform atom interferometry in space for the first time—on board a sounding rocket. "We have established the technological basis for atom interferometry on board of a sounding rocket and demonstrated that such experiments are not only possible on Earth, but also in space," said Professor Patrick Windpassinger of the Institute of Physics at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), whose team was involved in the investigation. The results of their analyses have been published in Nature Communications.

'Shedding light' on the role of undesired impurities in gallium nitride semiconductors

The semiconductor industry and pretty much all of electronics today are dominated by silicon. In transistors, computer chips, and solar cells, silicon has been a standard component for decades. But all this may change soon, with gallium nitride (GaN) emerging as a powerful, even superior, alternative. While not very well known, GaN semiconductors have been in the electronics market since 1990s and are often employed in power electronic devices due to their relatively larger bandgap than silicon—an aspect that makes it a better candidate for high-voltage and high-temperature applications. Moreover, current travels quicker through GaN, which ensures fewer switching losses during switching applications.

Ultrastable low-cost colloidal quantum dot microlasers of operative temperature up to 450 K

High-performance micro-/nanostructure lasers, as multifunctional optical source components, are of great importance for optoelectronic devices. Towards this goal, scientists in China invented a high-efficiency ultrastable low-cost quantum dot microlaser, which can be operated even at 450 K, the highest operational temperature for quantum dot lasers. The innovative technique substantively promotes its development from the basal performance study to the senior practical compatibility for high-temperature low-cost microlasers and predictable commercialization.

Efficient generations of complex vectorial optical fields with metasurfaces

Vectorial optical fields (VOFs) exhibiting arbitrarily designed wave-fronts and polarization distributions are highly desired in photonics. To efficiently generate arbitrary VOFs, scientists in China proposed a generic approach based on metasurfaces exhibiting full-matrix yet inhomogeneous Jones-matrix distributions. Based on their strategy, efficient generations of complex VOFs in both far- and near-field were experimentally demonstrated in the NIR regime. The proposed meta-platform opens new avenues for diversified photonic applications, such as optical trapping and super-resolution imaging.

Towards automatic design for freeform optics

Designing an optical system requires of the designer significant effort, knowledge, skills and experience. In this work, an automatic design method is proposed for freeform optics, in which specifications and constraints are the only inputs required, and a variety of results can be obtained automatically. The output results have various structures and optical power distributions with high imaging qualities. By implementing this method, designers can realize an overview of the solution space and also focus on specific designs.

Circularly polarized luminescence from organic micro-/nano-structures

Circularly polarized light exhibits promising applications in future displays and photonic technologies. Traditionally, circularly polarized light is converted from unpolarized light by the linear polarizer and the quarter-wave plate. During this indirectly physical process, at least 50% of energy will be lost. Circularly polarized luminescence (CPL) from chiral luminophores provides an ideal approach to directly generate circularly polarized light, in which the energy loss induced by a polarized filter can be reduced. Among various chiral luminophores, organic micro-/nano-structures have attracted increasing attention owing to the high quantum efficiency and luminescence dissymmetry factor (glum).

Astronomy and Space news

Indian astronomers detect over 200 variable stars

Using the ARIES telescope, astronomers from India have inspected a young open cluster known as NGC 281, searching for new variable stars. As a result of this investigation, they detected 228 new variables. The finding is detailed in a paper published April 5 on the arXiv pre-print repository.

Study warns of 'oxygen false positives' in search for signs of life on other planets

In the search for life on other planets, the presence of oxygen in a planet's atmosphere is one potential sign of biological activity that might be detected by future telescopes. A new study, however, describes several scenarios in which a lifeless rocky planet around a sun-like star could evolve to have oxygen in its atmosphere.

Black holes like to eat, but have a variety of table manners

All supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies appear to have periods when they swallow matter from their close surroundings. But that is about as far as the similarities go. That's the conclusion reached by British and Dutch astronomers from their research with ultra-sensitive radio telescopes in a well-studied region of the universe. They publish their findings in two articles in the international journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

'Yellowballs' offer new insights into star formation

A serendipitous discovery by citizen scientists has provided a unique new window into the diverse environments that produce stars and star clusters, revealing the presence of "stellar nurseries" before infant stars emerge from their birth clouds, according to Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist Grace Wolf-Chase.

Novel theory addresses centuries-old physics problem

The 'three-body problem,' the term coined for predicting the motion of three gravitating bodies in space, is essential for understanding a variety of astrophysical processes as well as a large class of mechanical problems, and has occupied some of the world's best physicists, astronomers and mathematicians for over three centuries. Their attempts have led to the discovery of several important fields of science; yet its solution remained a mystery.

Stellar feedback and an airborne observatory: Team determines a nebula to be much younger than previously believed

In the southern sky, situated about 4,300 light years from Earth, lies RCW 120, an enormous glowing cloud of gas and dust. This cloud, known as an emission nebula, is formed of ionized gases and emits light at various wavelengths. An international team led by West Virginia University researchers studied RCW 120 to analyze the effects of stellar feedback, the process by which stars inject energy back into their environment. Their observations showed that stellar winds cause the region to expand rapidly, which enabled them to constrain the age of the region. These findings indicate that RCW 120 must be less than 150,000 years old, which is very young for such a nebula.

Video: How to clear Earth's orbit of space debris

On 20 April 2021, ESA will host the 8th European Conference on Space Debris from Darmstadt, in Germany. Scientists, engineers, industry experts and policy makers will spend the virtual four-day conference discussing the latest issues surrounding space debris. They will exchange the latest research, try to come up with solutions for potential problems and define the future direction of any necessary action.

Researchers study collective behavior of nanosatellites

Scientists from the Skoltech Space Center (SSC) have developed nanosatellite interaction algorithms for scientific measurements using a tetrahedral orbital formation of CubeSats that exchange data and apply interpolation algorithms to create local maps of physical measurements in real time. The study presents an example of geomagnetic field measurement, which shows that these data can be used by other satellites for attitude control and, therefore, provided on a data-as-a-service basis. The research was published in the journal Advances in Space Research.

Technology news

eSpine: A technique to increase the usable lifetime of neuromorphic systems

In recent years, engineers worldwide have been trying to develop increasingly advanced and efficient neuromorphic computing systems, devices that mimic the neuro-biological structure of the central nervous system. Due to their bio-inspired architectures, these systems could be particularly desirable for executing machine learning (AI) algorithms and other artificial intelligence (AI) tools.

Wearable devices and the promising future of personalized diagnostics

Researchers are developing wearable devices to transform the way we monitor, diagnose and treat acute and chronic conditions, including COVID-19.

Mapping the mob: GIS technology reveals shape of America's mafia networks

At its height in the mid-20th century, American organized crime groups, often called the mafia, grossed approximately $40 billion each year, typically raising that money through illegal or untaxed activities, such as extortion and gambling.

A robot that teaches itself to walk using reinforcement learning

A team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, has built a two-legged robot with t he ability to teach itself to walk using reinforcement learning. The team has written a paper describing their work and has uploaded it to the arXiv preprint server.

People may trust computers more than humans

Despite increasing concern over the intrusion of algorithms in daily life, people may be more willing to trust a computer program than their fellow humans, especially if a task becomes too challenging, according to new research from data scientists at the University of Georgia.

No batteries? No sweat! Wearable biofuel cells now produce electricity from lactate

It cannot be denied that, over the past few decades, the miniaturization of electronic devices has taken huge strides. Today, after pocket-size smartphones that could put old desktop computers to shame and a plethora of options for wireless connectivity, there is a particular type of device whose development has been steadily advancing: wearable biosensors. These tiny devices are generally meant to be worn directly on the skin in order to measure specific biosignals and, by sending measurements wirelessly to smartphones or computers, keep track of the user's health.

US power sector is halfway to zero carbon emissions

Concerns about climate change are driving a growing number of states, utilities, and corporations to set the goal of zeroing out power-sector carbon emissions. To date 17 states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico have adopted laws or executive orders to achieve 100% carbon-free electricity in the next couple of decades. Additionally, 46 U.S. utilities have pledged to go carbon free no later than 2050. Altogether, these goals cover about half of the U.S. population and economy.

DuckDuckGo can now block the Google Chrome tracking method, FLoC

In an attempt to better track users and predict their search habits, Google Chrome has developed FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts). FLoC provides visibility into user data to any website that desires this information.

Japan to start releasing Fukushima water into sea in 2 years

Japan's government announced Tuesday it would start releasing treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean in two years. It's a move that's fiercely opposed by fishermen, residents and Japan's neighbors.

$69 million digital art buyer shines light on 'NFT' boom

The blockchain entrepreneur who paid a record $69.3 million for a digital artwork looks, at first glance, nothing like a wealthy collector.

Microsoft bets big on health with $19.7 bn purchase of Nuance

Microsoft is to acquire artificial intelligence and cloud computing company Nuance for $19.7 billion, bolstering its healthcare presence with a leader in voice recognition technology.

Understanding the plan to release treated Fukushima water

Japan's decision to release more than one million tonnes of treated radioactive water from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea has stirred fierce controversy.

Coinbase brings cryptocurrencies to Wall Street

The arrival Wednesday of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase on Nasdaq is one of the most anticipated events of the year on Wall Street, where enthusiasm for record-breaking bitcoin is in full swing, despite questions about the sustainability of the market.

A haptic film activated by LEDs: Low-cost tactile feedback for devices

A Korean research team succeeded in developing a technology generating various vibration using LED light signals. The technology allows various tactile sensations by area and reduction in size by considerably lowering the cost of light source, and these are expected to be applied to many industries including automobile and electronics.

Asian ride-hailing giant Grab plans US market splash

The Asian ride-hailing firm Grab said Tuesday that it plans a US listing in partnership with Altimeter Growth Corporation in an operation that values Grab at $39.6 billion (33.3 billion euros).

Low-cost demo links public safety radios to broadband wireless network

Engineers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have built a low-cost computer system that connects older public safety radios with the latest wireless communications networks, showing how first responders might easily take advantage of broadband technology offering voice, text, instant messages, video and data capabilities.

Biogas from excrement to reduce environmental impact

Coordinated management of excrement from animals and humans could save nearly EUR 100 million each year. The key is to produce the biogas from the excrement before it is used as fertilizer. In addition, Sweden could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by around 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. These are the results from a new study published by researchers at Linköping University in Resources, Conservation & Recycling: X.

Facebook users can appeal harmful content to oversight board

Facebook's quasi-independent Oversight Board said Tuesday that it will start letting users file appeals over posts, photos, and videos that they think the company shouldn't have allowed to stay on its platforms.

Floating solar farms could cool down lakes threatened by climate change

Solar power is now the cheapest source of electricity in history, according to a 2020 report by the International Energy Agency. But there's something holding this clean energy powerhouse back: space. Unlike fossil fuel power stations, solar farms need a lot of room to generate enough electricity to keep up with demand. Most solar farms are composed of ground-mounted panels that take up land that could be used to grow food or provide habitat for wildlife.

EU lacking sufficient electric cars charging infrastructure

In line with its ambition to make Europe a greener place, the European Union wants to drastically reduce gas emission from transport by 2050 and promote electric cars. But according to a report from the bloc's external auditor, it is lacking the appropriate charging stations.

Roku gives video streamers new options: rechargeable remote, soundbar and virtual surround sound

Roku is adding a new rechargeable voice remote to its lineup and has begun rolling out a new operating system bring new features to its vast streaming audience.

PlayStation 5 owners can finally use extended storage for games with new update

An upcoming update for the PlayStation 5 will make it a lot easier to store your downloadable video games.

Fornite maker Epic Games valued at $28.7 bn in funding round

The US company behind video game sensation Fortnite said Tuesday that it was valued at $28.7 billion in a round of funding from investors including PlayStation maker Sony.

Late president's book outlines vision for Japan's Nintendo

Nintendo's late president Satoru Iwata oversaw the video-game maker's global growth as Super Mario and Pokemon became household names.

Ottawa, Air Canada reach Can$5.9 bln aid agreement

The Canadian government and Air Canada announced Monday they have reached a financial aid plan in the form of loans to help the country's largest airline recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

New materials to make ships more sustainable and less noisy for marine life

Ships have a significant environmental impact during building, operation and when they're scrapped, but new approaches and composite materials to replace steel—still popular due to its strength and low cost—could make vessels more sustainable, recyclable, and less noisy for marine animals.

Volkswagen reaches wage deal with German workers

Volkswagen and Germany's largest industrial union have agreed on a 23-month wage deal that provides a 1,000 euro bonus recognizing employee efforts during the coronavirus pandemic and a 2.3% wage increase from January 2022.

'Heed the warning': Beijing summons 34 tech firms after record Alibaba fine

Chinese regulators have warned 34 technology giants—including Baidu and Tencent—to "rectify" any anti-competitive measures, a statement said Tuesday, days after e-commerce giant Alibaba was fined nearly $2.8 billion for abusing its dominant market position.

Survey: Nearly 1 in 3 contribute to a crowdfunding drive

Nearly one in three Americans say they donate to a crowdfunding effort each year, according to a first-of its-kind study by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. And all indications are that the pandemic has made people even more likely to give to informal campaigns on GoFundMe and elsewhere.

Physicists print magnets with a 3D printer

Physicists at the Ural Federal University (UrFU, Ekaterinburg, Russia) will print unique magnets, magnetic systems, soft magnetic elements with a 3D printer. Samples made with this printer can be useful in almost any field from medicine to space. For example, it can be used by robotic surgical assistants to unclog arteries and veins or to place stents. According to Aleksey Volegov, associate professor of the Department of magnetism and magnetic nanomaterials at the UrFU, now scientists are deciding which kind of magnets they will start printing first.

Indicators for a new audience measurement model for streaming platforms

In recent years the boom in streaming platforms and video on demand services has led to disruption in audiences, representing a difficulty when measuring the number of viewers of the content distributed by these platforms.

Metropolitan Museum of Art gets Google Doodle treatment for 151st anniversary

Google is celebrating the 151st anniversary of the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a doodle showcasing the institution's most important pieces of work.

MAX return boosts Boeing's Q1 deliveries

The return of the 737 MAX to service boosted Boeing's first-quarter plane deliveries compared with a year ago, according to company data released Tuesday.

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