Science X Newsletter Thursday, Apr 15

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for April 15, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Researchers generate human-monkey chimeric embryos

Baked meteorites yield clues to planetary atmospheres

Bearded dragon embryos become females either through sex chromosomes or hot temperatures

How many T. rexes were there? Billions.

Process simultaneously removes toxic metals and salt to produce clean water

Study uses plankton genomes as global biosensors of ocean ecosystem stress

Deciduous trees offset carbon loss from Alaskan boreal fires, new study finds

Famous fast radio burst FRB20180916B just barely lets itself be captured

5 hours of moderate activity a week may be required to avoid midlife hypertension, study shows

Exploiting bacterial 'sweet tooth' may help image and diagnose infections

Stretching the boundaries of medical tech with wearable antennae

Lipid research may help solve COVID-19 vaccine challenges

Self-assembling nanofibers prevent damage from inflammation

Study finds that blocking seats on planes reduces virus risk

Snake species from different terrains surrender surface secrets behind slithering success

Physics news

Uncovering the secrets of some of the world's first color photographs

EPFL researchers have shed new light on one of the earliest color photography techniques, G. Lippmann's Nobel Prize–winning multispectral imaging method.

Researchers establish the first entanglement-based quantum network

A team of researchers from QuTech in the Netherlands reports realization of the first multi-node quantum network, connecting three quantum processors. In addition, they achieved a proof-of-principle demonstration of key quantum network protocols. Their findings mark an important milestone toward the future quantum internet and have now been published in Science.

Physicists develop theoretical model for neural activity of mouse brain

The dynamics of the neural activity of a mouse brain behave in a peculiar, unexpected way that can be theoretically modeled without any fine tuning, suggests a new paper by physicists at Emory University. Physical Review Letters published the research, which adds to the evidence that theoretical physics frameworks may aid in the understanding of large-scale brain activity.

Engineers improve performance of high-temperature superconductor wires

Florida State University researchers have discovered a novel way to improve the performance of electrical wires used as high-temperature superconductors (HTS), findings that have the potential to power a new generation of particle accelerators.

Photonic MEMS switches going commercial

One of the technical challenges the current data revolution faces is finding an efficient way to route the data. This task is usually performed by electronic switches, while the data itself is transferred using light confined in optical waveguides. For this reason, conversion from an optical to an electronic signal and back-conversion are required, which costs energy and limits the amount of transferable information. These drawbacks are avoidable with a full optical switch operation. One of the most promising approaches is based on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), thanks to decisive advantages such as low optical loss and energy consumption, monolithic integration, and high scalability. Indeed, the largest photonic switch ever demonstrated uses this approach.

Tracking the progress of fusion power through 60 years of neutral particle analysis

As the world's energy demands grow, so too does growing concern over the environmental impact of power production. The need for a safe, clean, and reliable energy source has never been clearer. Fusion power could fulfil such a need. A review paper published in The European Physical Journal H examines the 6-decade history of neutral particle analysis (NPA), developed in Ioffe Institute, Saint Petersburg, Russia, a vital diagnostic tool used in magnetic plasma confinement devices such as tokamaks that will house the nuclear fusion process and generate the clean energy of the future.

Investigating heavy quark physics with the LHCb experiment

A new review published in The European Physical Journal H by Clara Matteuzzi, Research Director at the National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN) and former tenured professor at the University of Milan, and her colleagues, examines almost three decades of the LHCb experiment—from its conception to operation at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) - documenting its achievements and future potential.

Nuclear scanning technique will bring benefits to mining industry

The mining industry is set to benefit from a new Australian capability that uses a nuclear scanning technique to detect the presence of precious metals and strategic minerals in a core sample.

Astronomy and Space news

Baked meteorites yield clues to planetary atmospheres

In a novel laboratory investigation of the initial atmospheres of Earth-like rocky planets, researchers at UC Santa Cruz heated pristine meteorite samples in a high-temperature furnace and analyzed the gases released.

Famous fast radio burst FRB20180916B just barely lets itself be captured

Two international teams of astronomers (with significant Dutch involvement) have published two scientific papers with new information about the famous fast radio burst FRB20180916B. In a study published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, they measured the radiation from the bursts at the lowest possible frequencies. In a study published in Nature Astronomy, they examined the bursts in the greatest possible detail. While the articles provide new information, they also raise new questions.

Researchers identify five double star systems potentially suitable for life

Almost half a century ago the creators of Star Wars imagined a life-sustaining planet, Tatooine, orbiting a pair of stars. Now, 44 years later, scientists have found new evidence that that five known systems with multiple stars, Kepler-34, -35, -38, -64 and -413, are possible candidates for supporting life. A newly developed mathematical framework allowed researchers at New York University Abu Dhabi and the University of Washington to show that those systems—between 2764 and 5933 light years from Earth, in the constellations Lyra and Cygnus—support a permanent "Habitable Zone", a region around stars in which liquid water could persist on the surface of any as yet undiscovered Earth-like planets. Of these systems, Kepler-64 is known to have at least four stars orbiting one another at its center, while the others have two stars. All are known to have at least one giant planet the size of Neptune or greater. This study, published in Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences, is proof-of-principle that the presence of giant planets in binary systems does not preclude the existence of potentially life-supporting worlds.

Peering through the clouds of Earth's 'Evil Twin' surprises NRL sky watchers

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory scientists were recently left scratching their heads over a familiar sight in the sky. Venus images are nothing new, but a solar probe surprised the researchers by seeing through the planet's clouds. NRL's Wide-field Imager for Parker Solar Probe (WISPR) took a stunning image of Earth's celestial neighbor Venus last year that left researchers searching for answers as to how what they were seeing was possible. Expecting to see just the featureless Venusian clouds, the NRL WISPR team were instead shocked at what they saw.

New NASA visualization probes the light-bending dance of binary black holes

A pair of orbiting black holes millions of times the Sun's mass perform a hypnotic pas de deux in a new NASA visualization. The movie traces how the black holes distort and redirect light emanating from the maelstrom of hot gas—called an accretion disk—that surrounds each one.

Galileo sunspot sketches versus modern 'deep learning' AI

It's a fascinating thought to consider.

Space law is an important part of the fight against space debris

Space is getting crowded. More than 100 million tiny pieces of debris are spinning in Earth orbit, along with tens of thousands of bigger chunks and around 3,300 functioning satellites.

Technology news

Stretching the boundaries of medical tech with wearable antennae

Current research on flexible electronics is paving the way for wireless sensors that can be worn on the body and collect a variety of medical data. But where do the data go? Without a similar flexible transmitting device, these sensors would require wired connections to transmit health data.

Experts' predictions for future wind energy costs drop significantly

Technology and commercial advancements are expected to continue to drive down the cost of wind energy, according to a survey led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) of the world's foremost wind power experts. Experts anticipate cost reductions of 17%-35% by 2035 and 37%-49% by 2050, driven by bigger and more efficient turbines, lower capital and operating costs, and other advancements. The findings are described in an article in the journal Nature Energy.

Researcher uses bat-inspired design to develop new approach to sound location

Inspired by the workings of a bat's ear, Rolf Mueller, a professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech, has created bio-inspired technology that determines the location of a sound's origin.

New computational tool could help design futuristic turbines for jet engines

Will it be possible to design materials that are unfazed by extreme temperatures in the near future?

To cool tomorrow's buildings, power sector must grow

Temperatures are rising. Eight of the warmest 10 recorded years of globally averaged temperature have occurred after 1998. Coupled with that increase is a growing demand for electricity to cool buildings. A new study published recently in the journal Nature Communications projects that electricity demand tied to cooling U.S. buildings will grow as peak temperatures rise, and so too would the need for an expanded power sector.

Counting pedestrians to make pedestrians count

A key portion of MIT's campus overlaps with Kendall Square, the bustling area in East Cambridge where students, residents, and tech employees scurry around in between classes, meetings, and meals. Where are they all going? Is there a way to make sense of this daily flurry of foot traffic?

Transparent nanolayers pave the way for production of silicon solar cells with more than 26% efficiency

There is no cheaper way to generate electricity today than with the sun. Power plants are currently under construction in sunny locations that will supply solar electricity for less than 2 cents per kilowatt hour. Solar cells available on the market based on crystalline silicon make this possible with efficiencies of up to 23 percent. Therefore they hold a global market share of around 95 percent. With even higher efficiencies of more than 26 percent, costs could fall further. An international working group led by photovoltaics researchers from Forschungszentrum J├╝lich now plan to reach this goal with a nanostructured, transparent material for the front of solar cells and a sophisticated design. The scientists report on their success of many years of research in the renowned scientific journal Nature Energy.

Study identifies a universal property for efficient communication

Words categorize the semantic fields they refer to in ways that maximize communication accuracy while minimizing complexity. Recent studies have shown that human languages are optimally balanced between accuracy and complexity. For example, many languages have a word that denotes the color red, but no language has individual words to distinguish ten different shades of the color. These additional words would complicate the vocabulary and rarely would they be useful to achieve precise communication.

Baubot comes out with two new robots to aid in construction projects

Despite artificial intelligence and robotics adapting to many other areas of life and the work force, construction has long remained dominated by humans in neon caps and vests. Now, the robotics company Baubot has developed a Printstones robot, which they hope to supplement human construction workers onsite.

Twitter unveils algorithmic fairness initiative

Twitter said Wednesday it was launching an initiative on "responsible machine learning" that will include reviews of algorithmic fairness on the social media platform.

Road building won't cut congestion or boost the economy

British politicians, national and local, tend to like investing in roads. The Treasury believes that the Department for Transport's approach to economic analysis is sound, and so is willing to award substantial funds. The department is happy to accept them, as are the civil engineering contractors that benefit.

How safe are your data when you book a COVID vaccine?

The Australian government has appointed the commercial company HealthEngine to establish a national booking system for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Neural network uses data on banking transactions for credit scoring

Researchers from Skoltech and a major European bank have developed a neural network that outperforms existing state-of-the art solutions in using transactional banking data for customer credit scoring. The research was published in the proceedings of the 2020 IEEE International Conference on Data Mining (ICDM).

Google goes international with vaccine-finding feature

Google on Thursday went international with tools designed to help people find COVID-19 vaccination locations, as the US internet titan ramps up efforts to fight the pandemic.

Amazon unveils smaller, lighter Echo Buds starting at $120

Amazon is releasing a revamped version of its wireless Echo Buds that are lighter, smaller, and feature a redesigned case for wireless charging.

Report: Dubai 'jetman' didn't deploy chute in fatal crash

One of Dubai's famed "jetman" pilots killed in a crash in November failed to deploy the emergency parachute attached to the winged engines strapped to his back, an investigative report released Thursday found.

Google Earth adds time lapse video to depict climate change

The Google Earth app is adding a new video feature that draws upon nearly four decades of satellite imagery to vividly illustrate how climate change has affected glaciers, beaches, forests and other places around the world.

Discount on charging electric cars helps to solve traffic jams

Charging electric cars can put a strain on the electricity grid. And commuting to work by car can cause traffic congestion. Ph.D. student Carlo Cenedese at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, linked energy use and transportation using Game Theory and produced an algorithm that calculates how enough individuals can be persuaded to adapt their behavior to prevent both.

Stellantis electric cars will have up to 800 km range

Automaker Stellantis said Thursday it plans to develop four electric vehicle platforms that will offer up to 800 kilometers (500 miles) of range to help consumers overcome range anxiety.

Reuters website to go behind paywall

Reuters News announced Thursday that it is to start charging for access to its website as part of a new digital subscription strategy designed to attract business professionals.

GM expected to announce Tennessee battery plant on Friday

General Motors is expected to announce Friday that one of its joint ventures will build a second U.S. electric vehicle battery factory in Spring Hill, Tennessee.

Mercedes rolls out luxury electric car in duel with Tesla

Daimler AG on Thursday unveiled a battery-powered counterpart to its top Mercedes-Benz luxury sedan as German carmakers ramp up their challenge to electric upstart Tesla.

Chipmaker TSMC says profit up 16.7% as demand revives

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world's biggest contract manufacturer of processor chips, said Thursday quarterly profit rose 16.7% over a year ago as global demand strengthened.

Sotheby's sees $16.8 million in first NFT sale

Sotheby's hosted its first sale of art supported by NFTs, the trendy authentication technology, by artist Pak, with the works bringing in $16.8 million, the auction house said Wednesday.

Twitch star hits a high with month-long live stream

A Twitch star held a new record for subscribers on Wednesday after winning fans with a monthlong live stream at the Amazon-owned platform popular with video game players.

The price of Dogecoin, created to poke fun at cryptocurrency, is above 10 cents

Cryptocurrency is so popular even a spoof coin featuring the face of a Shiba Inu is rising in value.

Toyota recalls Venza SUVs to fix air bag wiring problem

Toyota is recalling nearly 280,000 Venza SUVs in the U.S. because a wiring problem can stop the side air bags from inflating in a crash.

Thermo Fisher buying PPD in deal worth $17.4 billion

Thermo Fisher is buying the clinical testing company PPD for $17.4 billion with the global pandemic creating a surge in demand.

Walmart invests in GM's Cruise autonomous vehicle subsidiary

Walmart and some institutional investors have joined the latest investment in Cruise, bumping the capital influx into the General Motors autonomous vehicle subsidiary from over $2 billion to $2.75 billion.

Delta reports another loss but sees jump in leisure travel

Delta Air Lines reported another quarterly loss Thursday, but pointed to an expected return to profitability later in 2021 amid quickly rising travel demand.

After union vote, Bezos vows to do better for Amazon workers

After a union battle at an Alabama warehouse, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos acknowledged that Amazon has to do better for its workers and vowed to make Amazon a safer place to work.

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