Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Apr 14

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for April 14, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Researchers identify a strategy to achieve large transport gap modulation in graphene

Transforming circles into squares: Researchers reconfigure material topology on the microscale

Water and quantum magnets share critical physics

Study explores extremely luminous infrared galaxy WISEJ0909+0002

Experimental observation of the elastic range scaling in turbulent flow with polymer additives

Fast-spinning black holes narrow the search for dark matter particles

Telescopes unite in unprecedented observations of famous black hole

Little swirling mysteries: New research uncovers dynamics of ultrasmall, ultrafast groups of atoms

Finally, 3D-printed graphene aerogels for water treatment

Social wasps lose face recognition abilities in isolation

Using sound waves to make patterns that never repeat

Cascading effects of noise on plants persist over long periods and after noise is removed

Dueling evolutionary forces drive rapid evolution of salamander coloration

Power of light and oxygen clears Alzheimer's disease protein in live mice

Ancient pottery reveals the first evidence for honey hunting in prehistoric West Africa

Physics news

Water and quantum magnets share critical physics

In physics, things exist in phases, such as solid, liquid and gas states. When something crosses from one phase to another, we talk about a phase transition—like water boiling into steam, turning from liquid to gas.

Fast-spinning black holes narrow the search for dark matter particles

Ultralight bosons are hypothetical particles whose mass is predicted to be less than a billionth the mass of an electron. They interact relatively little with their surroundings and have thus far eluded searches to confirm their existence. If they exist, ultralight bosons such as axions would likely be a form of dark matter, the mysterious, invisible stuff that makes up 85 percent of the matter in the universe.

Little swirling mysteries: New research uncovers dynamics of ultrasmall, ultrafast groups of atoms

Our high-speed, high-bandwidth world constantly requires new ways to process and store information. Semiconductors and magnetic materials have made up the bulk of data storage devices for decades. In recent years, however, researchers and engineers have turned to ferroelectric materials, a type of crystal that can be manipulated with electricity.

Using sound waves to make patterns that never repeat

Mathematicians and engineers at the University of Utah have teamed up to show how ultrasound waves can organize carbon particles in water into a sort of pattern that never repeats. The results, they say, could result in materials called "quasicrystals" with custom magnetic or electrical properties.

New method measures super-fast, free electron laser pulses

New research shows how to measure the super-short bursts of high-frequency light emitted from free electron lasers (FELs). By using the light-induced ionization itself to create a femtosecond optical shutter, the technique encodes the electric field of the FEL pulse in a visible light pulse so that it can be measured with a standard, slow, visible-light camera.

Challenging Einstein's picture of Brownian motion

Around a decade ago, the discovery of Fickian yet non-Gaussian Diffusion (FnGD) in soft and biological materials broke up the celebrated Einstein's picture of Brownian motion. To date, such an intriguing phenomenon is still unexplained due to the major experimental challenges posed by the complex and heterogeneous nature of the underlying materials. To overcome these difficulties, researchers at the University of Naples Federico II (Italy) have now exploited light in place of complex matter to create a heterogeneous environment for particles diffusing in water. The work, now published in Physical Review Letters, stems from a collaboration between the group of Statistical Mechanics of Soft Materials at the Dept. of Chemical, Materials and Production Engineering and the laboratory of Laser Spectroscopy and Optical Manipulation at the Dept. of Physics.

Increasing optical fiber capacity and channel data rates in submarine communication cables

At the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean lies a multitude of cables carrying bundles of optical fibers that support telecommunications between continents. The MAREA cable is considered the gold standard of these transatlantic cables and spans 6,605 km from Virginia Beach, Virginia, U.S. to Bilbao, Spain. It came into service in 2018.

Plasma device designed for consumers can quickly disinfect surfaces

The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a harsh light on the urgent need for quick and easy techniques to sanitize and disinfect everyday high-touch objects such as doorknobs, pens, pencils, and personal protective gear worn to keep infections from spreading. Now scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) have demonstrated the first flexible, hand-held, device based on low-temperature plasma—a gas that consists of atoms, molecules, and free-floating electrons and ions—that consumers can quickly and easily use to disinfect surfaces without special training.

Dynamical machine learning accurately reconstructs volume interiors with limited-angle data

Tomographic reconstruction of an object's interior volume from limited angular views is a challenging problem with practical applications in biological imaging, failure analysis of integrated circuits, etc. A team at MIT presents a dynamical machine learning approach for this important problem and shows the method's performance in two problems—tomography under weak and strong scattering conditions. The wide applicability of this technique holds its promise for a number of other challenging inverse problems.

Astronomy and Space news

Study explores extremely luminous infrared galaxy WISEJ0909+0002

An international team of astronomers has investigated an extremely luminous infrared galaxy known as WISEJ090924.01+000211.1 (or WISEJ0909+0002 for short) as part of the eROSITA final equatorial depth survey (eFEDS). Results of this study, published April 6 on the arXiv pre-print server, provide important insights into the properties of this galaxy.

Telescopes unite in unprecedented observations of famous black hole

In April 2019, scientists released the first image of a black hole in galaxy M87 using the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). However, that remarkable achievement was just the beginning of the science story to be told.

Mock crew straps into space capsule, exits before liftoff

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin company strapped two employees into a fueled rocketship for practice, but pulled them out shortly before sending the capsule to the edge of space Wednesday with only a test dummy.

Popping pills in space: Helping astronauts manage pain or sickness on crewed missions

And you think you've had a bad head cold.

Video: Drone test of Hera mission's asteroid radar

This drone hauled a model of the Juventas CubeSat high into the air, as a practical test of the antennas designed to perform the first radar sounding of the interior of an asteroid.

UAE to send rover to the Moon in 2022

Lunar exploration firm iSpace said Wednesday it will transport a United Arab Emirates unmanned rover to the Moon next year, as the Gulf state seeks to expand its space sector.

Technology news

Researchers identify a strategy to achieve large transport gap modulation in graphene

Over the past decade or so, the semimetal graphene has attracted substantial interest among electronics engineers due to its many advantageous qualities and characteristics. In fact, its high electron mobility, flexibility and stability make it particularly desirable for the development of next-generation electronics.

Biorobotics lab builds submersible robot snake

Carnegie Mellon University's acclaimed snake-like robot can now slither its way underwater, allowing the modular robotics platform to inspect ships, submarines and infrastructure for damage.

Membrane design prevents crossover in polysulfide redox flow batteries

Two researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong have developed a new membrane design that prevents crossover in polysulfide redox flow batteries. In their paper published in the journal Nature Energy, Zhejun Li and Yi-Chun Lu describe their work with the new membrane design. Wei Wang with Northwest National Laboratory has published a News & Views piece in the same journal issue describing problems with polysulfide redox flow batteries and the work by Li and Lu to overcome them.

FBI launches an effort to mitigate attacker use of Microsoft Exchange vulnerabilities

While web shells have been removed that previously provided attackers access to Microsoft Exchange Servers, the FBI has revealed that some malicious software might remain that hackers are still using as backdoors into victim networks.

Google rolling out Heads Up feature so you're not distracted by your smartphone

Google is rolling out a new feature for Android users to prevent them from getting too distracted by their smartphones.

Microsoft defends against new threat to Exchange

Microsoft on Tuesday moved to defend against a dangerous new threat to Exchange email servers while the fight continued against hackers taking advantage of a flaw patched last month.

Webcam designed like a human eye: Researchers question ubiquitous technology

A team of computer scientists from Saarland University has used an innovative design approach to critically question new sensory technologies that have become part of everyday life.

Instagram dabbles with letting people hide 'likes'

Instagram on Wednesday said it is dabbling with letting users hide "like" counts in an effort to ease the pressure of seeking approval from others.

Irish watchdog opens another Facebook probe, over data dump

Ireland's privacy regulator said Wednesday it has opened an investigation into Facebook after data on more than 500 million users was reportedly found dumped online, in a suspected violation of strict European Union privacy rules.

EU to unveil AI rules to fight Big Brother fears

The EU is set to unveil a proposal to regulate the sprawling field of artificial intelligence next week, with the aim of reassuring the public against "Big Brother"-like abuses.

Astronauts need a fridge; engineers are building one that works in zero gravity

For astronauts to go on long missions to the moon or Mars, they need a refrigerator. But today's fridges aren't designed to work in zero gravity—or upside down if oriented that way when a spacecraft lands on another planet.

Coinbase sizzles in market debut amid cryptocurrency frenzy

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase made a scorching stock market debut Wednesday amid frenzied interest in bitcoin and other virtual currencies despite concerns about a bubble.

Streaming king: Ludwig Ahgren sets new world record for Twitch subscribers, passing 'Ninja'

Move over, "Ninja"! There's a new Twitch king.

Toshiba CEO resigns as buyout offer stirs turmoil

Toshiba's CEO resigned on Wednesday as a buyout offer from a private equity fund stirs turmoil inside the storied Japanese company, with reports suggesting two other funds are considering bids.

Toshiba: Japan's troubled megacorp facing buyout drama

Once a shining symbol of Japan's advanced technology and economic power, Toshiba has been rocked by turbulence in recent years, facing scandals and losses before staging a recovery.

India's Infosys sees profits grow, announces share buyback

Indian software giant Infosys announced a $1.22 billion share buyback Wednesday after reporting a 17-percent jump in quarterly net profits, boosted by growing demand for its digital services.

China's big tech 'rectification' continues after Alibaba record fine

A record fine, public penitence from a tech giant and a 'who's who' of digital firms warned to "rectify" their ambitions within a month—state regulators are showing no one is bigger than Beijing in Xi Jinping's China.

How to test-drive vehicle technology

New vehicles are brimming with technology that can enhance convenience, connectivity and driver safety. But the tech can also be unfamiliar to car shoppers, especially those who haven't purchased a vehicle in the past five years or more. This poses a problem when it comes to the traditional test drive.

EU court rejects 2 Ryanair challenges of airline subsidies

A top European Union court dealt another blow to Ryanair on Wednesday and rejected the low-cost carrier's arguments that the aid Sweden, Denmark and Finland gave two other airlines to get through the COVID-19 crisis was illegal.

Spanish-language TV giants team up to take on Netflix

Spanish-language television giants Televisa of Mexico and Univision of the United States are joining forces to compete with Netflix and Amazon in the booming market for digital streaming.

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