Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Apr 20

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for April 20, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A technique to plan paths for multiple robots in flexible formations

Study inspects chemical composition of NGC 6544

Holographic metasurface gas sensors for instantaneous visual alarms

Hibernation and Trash features abound for the upcoming Android 12

Rock glaciers will slow Himalayan ice melt

Surprising ionic and flow behaviors with functionalized nanochannels

Flushing a public toilet? Don't linger, because aerosolized droplets do

Science and need—not wealth or nationality—should guide vaccine allocation and prioritization

Viking metalwork craft and expertise evolved from 8th to 9th century

Omega-3 supplements do double duty in protecting against stress

Mass fossil site may prove tyrannosaurs lived in packs

Can extreme melt destabilize ice sheets?

Certain gut microbes make mosquitoes more prone to carry malaria parasite

Combining light, superconductors could boost AI capabilities

Designing healthy diets with computer analysis

Physics news

Holographic metasurface gas sensors for instantaneous visual alarms

Biological and chemical substances can be rapidly detected in real-time for public health and environmental monitoring purposes. In a new report now on Science Advances, Inki Kim and a research team in mechanical engineering, materials science and electrical engineering in the Republic of Korea and in Pakistan proposed a compact sensor platform to integrate liquid crystals (LCs) and holographic metasurfaces to sense the existence of a volatile gas, and then provide an immediate visual holographic alarm. The team combined the setup to form ultracompact gas sensors without complex instruments in order to detect gas via visual cues. The researchers proved the applicability of the compact sensors by integrating the metasurface-based gas sensor on safety goggles via a one-step nanocasting process.

Flushing a public toilet? Don't linger, because aerosolized droplets do

Flushing a toilet can generate large quantities of microbe-containing aerosols depending on the design, water pressure or flushing power of the toilet. A variety of pathogens are usually found in stagnant water as well as in urine, feces and vomit. When dispersed widely through aerosolization, these pathogens can cause Ebola, norovirus that results in violent food poisoning, as well as COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2.

Combining light, superconductors could boost AI capabilities

As artificial intelligence has attracted broad interest, researchers are focused on understanding how the brain accomplishes cognition so they can construct artificial systems with general intelligence comparable to humans' intelligence.

New pulsed magnet reveals a new state of matter in Kondo insulator

A recent series of experiments at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (National MagLab) at Los Alamos National Laboratory leveraged some of the nation's highest-powered nondestructive magnets to reveal an exotic new phase of matter at high magnetic fields. The experiments studied the unusual Kondo insulator ytterbium dodecaboride (or YbB12) and were the first results from the new 75-tesla duplex magnet housed at the National MagLab's Pulsed Field Facility at Los Alamos.

Testing Einstein's theory of gravity from the shadows and collisions of black holes

General relativity, Einstein's theory of gravity, is best tested at its most extreme—close to the event horizon of a black hole. This regime is accessible through observations of shadows of supermassive black holes and gravitational waves—ripples in the fabric of our Universe from colliding stellar-mass black holes. For the first time, scientists from the ARC Center of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav), the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, have outlined a consistent approach to exploring deviations from Einstein's general theory of relativity in these two different observations. This research, published in Physical Review D, confirms that Einstein's theory accurately describes current observations of black holes, from the smallest to the largest.

Forensics puzzle cracked via fluid mechanical principles

In 2009, music producer Phil Spector was convicted for the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson, who was shot in the face from a very short distance. He was dressed in white clothes, but no bloodstains were found on his clothing—even though significant backward blood spatter occurred.

Reversal of blood droplet flight predicted, captured in experiments

Forensic science includes the analysis of blood backspatter involved in gunshot wounds, but scientific questions about the detailed role of fluids in these situations remained unresolved.

Boosting fiber optics communications with advanced quantum-enhanced receiver

Fiber optic technology is the holy grail of high-speed, long-distance telecommunications. Still, with the continuing exponential growth of internet traffic, researchers are warning of a capacity crunch.

New optics-on-a-chip device paves way to capturing fast chemical, material and biological processes

Researchers have developed new X-ray optics that can be used to harness extremely fast pulses in a package that is significantly smaller and lighter than conventional devices used to modulate X-rays. The new optics are based on microscopic chip-based devices known as microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).

Water muting with THz optoacoustics: A breakthrough for biomedical applications

Radiation at terahertz frequencies (wavelengths between 0.03 and 0.3 mm) can be used successfully to analyze the structural dynamics of water and biomolecules. But applying the technique to aqueous solutions and tissues remains challenging, since terahertz (THz) radiation is strongly absorbed by water. While this absorption enables certain analyses, such as the structure of water and its interactions with biological solutes, it limits the thickness of samples that can be analyzed, and it drowns out weaker signals from biomolecules of interest. Strong absorption of THz radiation in water has presented a bottleneck preventing THz radiation from revealing biophysical and biochemical processes deep within tissues.

Stone skipping techniques can improve reentry of space vehicles

Skipping stones on a body of water is an age-old game, but developing a better understanding of the physics involved is crucial for more serious matters, such as water landings upon reentry of spaceflight vehicles or aircrafts.

Study could lead to production of more efficient optoelectronic devices

Diodes are widely used electronic devices that act as one-way switches for current. A well-known example is the LED (light-emitting diode), but there is a special class of diodes designed to make use of the phenomenon known as "quantum tunneling". Called resonant-tunneling diodes (RTDs), they are among the fastest semiconductor devices and are used in countless practical applications, such as high-frequency oscillators in the terahertz band, wave emitters, wave detectors, and logic gates, to take only a few examples. RTDs are also sensitive to light and can be used as photodetectors or optically active elements in optoelectronic circuits.

Single metasurface for simultaneous detection of SAM and OAM

Simultaneous SAM and OAM identification is a significant but challenging topic. Chinese scientists have demonstrated that a single spin-decoupled azimuth-quadratic phase metasurface could perform photonic momentum transformation, where different spin vortices are converted into focusing patterns with a distinct azimuth on a transverse plane, so that simultaneous identification of both SAM and OAM can be done via a single-shot measurement. This approach may underpin the development of integrated optical systems.

Astronomy and Space news

Study inspects chemical composition of NGC 6544

An international team of astronomers has conducted a chemical study of 23 stars in the globular cluster NGC 6544 as part of the APOGEE survey. The research, published April 12 on the arXiv pre-print server, delivers essential information about chemical composition of this cluster.

Astronauts' mental health risks tested in the Antarctic

Astronauts who spend extended time in space face stressors such as isolation, confinement, lack of privacy, altered light-dark cycles, monotony and separation from family. Interestingly, so do people who work at international research stations in Antarctica, where the extreme environment is characterized by numerous stressors that mirror those present during long-duration space exploration.

Astronauts flying reused SpaceX rocket, capsule for 1st time

For the first time, NASA is putting its trust in a recycled SpaceX rocket and capsule for a crew.

SpaceX set to take four astronauts to ISS Thursday

SpaceX is preparing to carry four astronauts to a crowded International Space Station on Thursday, in the second routine mission since the United States resumed crewed space flight, and the first with a European.

Russia says to launch own space station in 2025

Russia's space agency said Tuesday it hoped to launch its own orbital station in 2025 as Moscow considers withdrawing from the International Space Station programme to go it alone.

Mars: How Ingenuity helicopter made the first flight on another planet

Imagine that you are flying a model helicopter or a drone. You are there with the auto controls. You switch them on. The rotors start to turn, gradually increasing their spin. You watch, then push the control for lift. Your helicopter rises, hovers, then at the next command moves forward. Oops, it didn't go high enough. You quickly move the joystick and the drone rises to fly above the obstruction. Finally it's in the air, moving at speed above sand dunes, hills and valleys—sending back pictures as the landscape unfolds.

Video: Orbital debris threatens satellites

The launch of Sputnik, humankind's first satellite, in 1957 marked the dawn of a new era for the people of Earth.

Technology news

A technique to plan paths for multiple robots in flexible formations

Multi-robot systems have recently been used to tackle a variety of real-world problems, for instance, helping human users to monitor environments and access secluded locations. In order to navigate unknown and dynamic environments most efficiently, these robotic systems should be guided by path planners, which can identify collision-free trajectories for individual robots in a team.

Hibernation and Trash features abound for the upcoming Android 12

Among other features, the new Android version 12 will both automatically set unused apps to idle mode to provide more space as well as support a trash bin for deleted files.

Brain-on-a-chip would need little training

A neural network that mimics the biology of the brain can be loaded onto a microchip for faster and more efficient artificial intelligence.

Gold digger: Neural networks at the nexus of data science and electron microscopy

From sample preparation to image acquisition, electron microscopy (EM) requires precise and time-consuming steps to produce the clarity and detail needed to visualize small cell structures with high resolution. Moreover, once EM images are created, extracting the biological information out of them through analysis can be an even more laborious and time intensive task. Especially because current EM analysis software often requires the skilled eye of a scientist to manually review hundreds of images.

Marine animals inspire new approaches to structural topology optimization

A mollusk and shrimp are two unlikely marine animals that are playing a very important role in engineering. The bodies of both animals illustrate how natural features, like the structures of their bones and shells, can be borrowed to enhance the performance of engineered structures and materials, like bridges and airplanes. This phenomenon, known as biomimetics, is helping advance structural topology research, where the microscale features found in natural systems are being mimicked.

Apple powers up iPads after pandemic-fueled surge

Apple on Tuesday unveiled a new lineup of powered-up iPads including some with 5G connectivity, responding to surging interest in tablets and home-based work and play during the pandemic.

Scrutiny of Tesla crash a sign that regulation may be coming

The fiery crash of a Tesla near Houston with no one behind the wheel is drawing scrutiny from two federal agencies that could bring new regulation of electronic systems that take on some driving tasks.

Apple to host virtual iPad event, may hint at new AirPods

Many of us may be suffering from virtual event fatigue after a year of video calls. But not Apple, which plans new product announcements at what seems likely to be an iPhone-less online event on Tuesday

China tech stampede into electric cars sparks auto sector buzz

Thought Big Tech was taking over your life through smartphones? It may be coming for your car next as Chinese firms lead a stampede into auto manufacturing in their battle for more consumers.

Xbox cloud game world extends to Apple gadgets

Microsoft on Monday began a trial run of letting people play Xbox cloud games using Apple mobile devices as well as Windows-powered computers.

Pilots downplay impact of stress on flight safety

Research from the University of Aberdeen has found that general aviation pilots do not consider stress to be as great a risk to flight safety as other factors such as inclement weather. This is contrary to guidance from flight safety bodies that state stress can compromise performance.

Should Facebook and Twitter review your posts before they're published?

The day is coming when your posts to social media may travel through checkpoints before the messages go public.

Wood-based electronics for sustainable 6G?

The amount of electronics in the world is growing. It is important to study how we could made electronics more sensibly and more sustainably in comparison with the current production method. What will new technology do and what it will be used for? These aspects determine how devices should be manufactured and what they could be made of.

US takes steps to protect electric system from cyberattacks

The Biden administration is taking steps to protect the country's electricity system from cyberattacks through a new 100-day initiative combining federal government agencies and private industry.

Cool and COVID-safe: How radiant cooling could keep our cities comfortable and healthy

A novel system of chilled panels that can replace air conditioning can also help reduce the risk of indoor disease transmission, suggests new analysis from the University of British Columbia, University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University.

A study finds gender bias in music recommendation algorithms

Although the problem of gender discrimination is already found in the music industry, music recommendation algorithms would be increasing the gender gap. Andrés Ferraro and Xavier Serra, researchers of the Music Technology research group (MTG) of the UPF Department of Information and Communication Technologies (DTIC), with Christine Bauer, of the University of Utrecht (Netherlands), have recently published a paper on gender balance in music recommendation systems in which they ask themselves how the system should work to avoid gender bias.

New infrastructure approach could save millions

Current national strategies for bridge maintenance favor replacement over maintenance. A fairly simple depreciation formula is used, resulting in overly conservative assessments of a bridge's long-term health. In a study published in the American Society of Civil Engineers' Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities, researchers from UGA's College of Engineering propose a new model for the first time. This new approach considers the interaction of 60 to 80 bridge components in predicting long-term bridge performance and focuses on maintenance instead of replacement.

Smartphone sales surge as consumer upgrades gain momentum: survey

Global smartphone sales snapped back in the first quarter of the year to show the strongest growth since 2015, a market tracker said Tuesday.

Luxury groups want to let consumers use blockchain to verify goods

Luxury groups LVMH and Prada along with Cartier announced Tuesday they are joining forces on a blockchain that will allow consumers to authenticate their goods.

Dogecoin has its day; cryptocurrency is latest 'meme' craze

Dogecoin, the digital currency advertised as the one "favored by Shiba Inus worldwide," is having its day.

US lab looks to boost power supply ahead of nuclear mission

The U.S. government plans to build a new transmission line and make other upgrades costing hundreds of million dollars to ensure its laboratory in northern New Mexico has enough electricity for ongoing operations and future missions that include manufacturing key components for the nation's nuclear arsenal.

Venmo launching crypto feature to buy and sell Bitcoin, other digital currency

A new feature coming to Venmo is making it easier for users to claim a stake in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

Wisconsin newspapers sue Google, Facebook

A group of Wisconsin newspapers have filed a federal lawsuit claiming Google and Facebook's monopoly on digital advertising threatens the publications' existence and violates antitrust law.

Apple adds podcast subscriptions as competition mounts

Apple is adding a subscription option to its pioneering podcasting service, evidently moving to fend off fast-growing rival Spotify.

United loses $1.36 billion as business travel remains weak

United Airlines posted a $1.36 billion loss in the first quarter and will need a rebound in lucrative business and international travel before it returns to profitability.

In Texas, a rancher swaps his oil pumps for wind turbines

Cattle rancher Bobby Helmers cranes to listen as the blades of his six giant wind turbines slice through the air in the same Texas fields that once echoed with the sounds of oil pumps.

Do you trust automated cars? If not, you're not alone

Picture yourself speeding down the highway with no hands on the wheel, checking your emails while your car takes care of responding to what's happening on the road. Would you trust your car to make the right decisions? If you have doubts, you're not alone.

World airline federation blasts UK virus test 'scam'

The chief of the International Air Transport Association on Tuesday said airlines are suffering a "scam" as pricey coronavirus tests are required of people travelling to Britain.

VICIS has top 3 helmets in survey including lineman model

VICIS has the top three performing helmets in the NFL/NFLPA's seventh annual study, with a position-specific helmet tested for the first time and ranking second overall.

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