Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Apr 28

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for April 28, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Study examines experience-dependent contextual codes in the hippocampus

Scientists harness molecules into single quantum state

The Vertebrate Genomes Project introduces a new era of genome sequencing

Quasi-periodic dipping detected in an ultraluminous X-ray source

Breakthrough purification of fossil pollen using a new large-particle on-chip sorter

Cave deposits show surprising shift in permafrost over the last 400,000 years

How to get salt out of water: Make it self-eject

Deep under the ocean, microbes are active and poised to eat whatever comes their way

Mapping the electronic states in an exotic superconductor

Drones provide bird's eye view of how turbulent tidal flows affect seabird foraging habits

Researchers find how tiny plastics slip through the environment

RNA scientists identify many genes involved in neuron development

One dose of COVID vaccine cuts household spread by up to 50%: UK study

Scientists' discovery of blood clotting mechanism could lead to new antithrombotic drugs

Researchers identify a psychedelic-like drug without the hallucinogenic side effects

Physics news

Scientists harness molecules into single quantum state

Researchers have big ideas for the potential of quantum technology, from unhackable networks to earthquake sensors. But all these things depend on a major technological feat: being able to build and control systems of quantum particles, which are among the smallest objects in the universe.

Mapping the electronic states in an exotic superconductor

Scientists characterized how the electronic states in a compound containing iron, tellurium, and selenium depend on local chemical concentrations. They discovered that superconductivity (conducting electricity without resistance), along with distinct magnetic correlations, appears when the local concentration of iron is sufficiently low; a coexisting electronic state existing only at the surface (topological surface state) arises when the concentration of tellurium is sufficiently high. Reported in Nature Materials, their findings point to the composition range necessary for topological superconductivity. Topological superconductivity could enable more robust quantum computing, which promises to deliver exponential increases in processing power.

Helping symmetric quantum systems survive in an imperfect world

Symmetry principles of classical physics that help keep our solar system stable have an intriguing counterpart in the quantum world, according to new research by a team of physicists from Australia, Italy and Japan.

Steering light to places it isn't supposed to go

Light that is sent into a photonic crystal can't go deeper than the so-called Bragg length. Deeper inside the crystal, light of a certain color range can simply not exist. Still, researchers of the University of Twente, the University of Iowa and the University of Copenhagen managed to break this law: They steered light into a crystal using a programmed pattern, and demonstrated that it will reach places far beyond the Bragg length. They publish their findings in Physical Review Letters.

Ion beams mean a quantum leap for color-center qubits

Achieving the immense promise of quantum computing requires new developments at every level, including the computing hardware itself. A Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)-led international team of researchers has discovered a way to use ion beams to create long strings of "color center" qubits in diamond. Their work is detailed in the journal Applied Physics Letters.

Black hole-neutron star collisions may help settle dispute over Universe's expansion

Studying the violent collisions of black holes and neutron stars may soon provide a new measurement of the Universe's expansion rate, helping to resolve a long-standing dispute, suggests a new simulation study led by researchers at UCL (University College London).

Team makes single photon switch advance

The ability to turn on and off a physical process with just one photon is a fundamental building block for quantum photonic technologies. Realizing this in a chip-scale architecture is important for scalability, which amplifies a breakthrough by City College of New York researchers led by physicist Vinod Menon. They've demonstrated for the first time the use of "Rydberg states" in solid state materials (previously shown in cold atom gases) to enhance nonlinear optical interactions to unprecedented levels in solid state systems. This feat is a first step towards realizing chip-scale scalable single photon switches.

Reducing blue light with a new type of LED that won't keep you up all night

To be more energy efficient, many people have replaced their incandescent lights with light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. However, those currently on the market emit a lot of blue light, which has been linked to eye troubles and sleep disturbances. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces have developed a prototype LED that reduces—instead of masks—the blue component, while also making colors appear just as they do in natural sunlight.

Astronomy and Space news

Quasi-periodic dipping detected in an ultraluminous X-ray source

Astronomers have performed a timing analysis of the ultraluminous X-ray source NGC 247 ULX-1 using ESA's XMM-Newton spacecraft. The study detected quasi-periodic dipping in the X-ray light curve of this source. The finding is reported in a paper published April 22 on the arXiv pre-print server.

Scientists don spacesuits to explore Hawaiian lava tubes as if they were on Mars

Imagine trying to pick up a pebble or scrape microbes off a cave wall in a bulky spacesuit with puffy gloves on, under a time constraint because you don't want to run out of oxygen. That's what the analog astronauts do daily at the HI-SEAS moonbase habitat in Hawaii as they prepare for future missions to the moon and Mars, says Michaela Musilova of the International MoonBase Alliance (IMA) and director of HI-SEAS, the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation.

Radio astronomers discover 8 new millisecond pulsars

A group of astronomers has discovered eight millisecond pulsars located within the dense clusters of stars, known as "globular clusters," using South Africa's MeerKAT radio telescope.

New computer model helps brings the sun into the laboratory

Every day, the sun ejects large amounts of a hot particle soup known as plasma toward Earth where it can disrupt telecommunications satellites and damage electrical grids. Now, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and Princeton University's Department of Astrophysical Sciences have made a discovery that could lead to better predictions of this space weather and help safeguard sensitive infrastructure.

Measuring the Moon's nano dust is no small matter

Like a chameleon of the night sky, the moon often changes its appearance. It might look larger, brighter or redder, for example, due to its phases, its position in the solar system or smoke in Earth's atmosphere. (It is not made of green cheese, however.)

China to launch Heavenly Harmony space station core module

China plans to launch the core module for its first permanent space station this week in the latest big step forward for the country's space exploration program.

Hot and cold space radio testing

ESA's newest radio-frequency test facility allows direct measurement of antenna systems in the very vacuum conditions and thermal extremes they will work in, including the chill of deep space. It will soon be put to work testing the Juice mission's radiometer—destined to probe the thin atmospheres of Jupiter's largest moons.

Space tourism—20 years in the making—is finally ready for launch

For most people, getting to the stars is nothing more than a dream. On April 28, 2001, Dennis Tito achieved that lifelong goal—but he wasn't a typical astronaut. Tito, a wealthy businessman, paid US$20 million for a seat on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to be the first tourist to visit the International Space Station. Only seven people have followed suit in the 20 years since, but that number is poised to double in the next 12 months alone.

Astronaut Michael Collins, Apollo 11 pilot, dead of cancer

Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, who orbited the moon alone while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made their historic first steps on the lunar surface, died Wednesday. He was 90.

Technology news

Scientists develop new type of artificial muscle inspired by DNA supercoiling

University of Wollongong (UOW) researchers have mimicked the supercoiling properties of DNA to develop a new type of artificial muscle for use in miniature robot applications. Their research is published today in Science Robotics.

Can the 'belief propagation' algorithm accurately describe complex networked systems?

A messaging-passing algorithm known as "belief propagation" can be used to analyze large systems by breaking them down into smaller pieces and ensuring all of the smaller solutions are consistent with each other. To model the spread of disease when people are in close contact, for example, researchers tend to explore infected individuals' network of contacts because they are large systems.

How to keep automated electric vehicles safe

Having your social media account hacked is a pain. Having your credit card account hacked can be devastating. Having your new electric vehicle hacked could be disastrous.

Why some electric car owners revert back to buying gasoline-powered vehicles

A pair of researchers with the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis has looked into the problem of some people who buy electric vehicles reverting back to gasoline powered cars as their follow-up vehicles. In their paper published in the journal Nature Energy, Scott Hardman and Gil Tal describe the survey they sent out to electric vehicle buyers in California and what they learned from those who filled out and returned them.

Category killers of the internet are significantly reducing online diversity

The number of distinctive sources and voices on the internet is proven to be in long-term decline, according to new research.

Neurable introduces brain-computer interface headphones

The neurotechnology company Neurable has revealed plans for brain-computer interface (BCI) headphones, similar to previous products designed to learn from human movement and predict intent.

Researchers develop new protocols to validate integrity of machine-learning models

Machine learning is widely used in various applications such as image recognition, autonomous vehicles and email filtering. Despite its success, concerns about the integrity and security of a model's predictions and accuracy are on the rise.

Sony reports record net profit but issues cautious forecast

Sony announced its biggest-ever annual net profit Wednesday, driven by unprecedented pandemic-fuelled demand as people around the world turned to gaming to liven up lockdowns.

Huawei first-quarter sales drop 16.5% as US sanctions bite

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei said Wednesday that first-quarter revenue tumbled after harsh US sanctions ripped into its phone business.

Cognitive neuroscience could pave the way for emotionally intelligent robots

Human beings have the ability to recognize emotions in others. Although perfectly capable of communicating with humans through speech, robots and virtual agents are only good at processing logical instructions, which greatly restricts human-robot interaction (HRI). Consequently, a great deal of research in HRI is about emotion recognition from speech. But first, how do we describe emotions?

Paving the way for new light-powered devices

The field of photonics involves the study of new ways to generate and harness light, akin to how many of the devices used in everyday life run on electric current. While photonic devices have the potential to transform the current technology paradigm through increased speed, efficiency, and information density, their broad application is limited by the size, strength, and stability of the light sources, often lasers, in these devices

How does Apple's new 'app tracking transparency' work, what's all the fuss about, and should you use it?

Apple users across the globe are adopting the latest operating system update, called iOS 14.5, featuring the now-obligatory new batch of emojis.

Police want access to Tinder's sexual assault data: Cybersafety experts explain why it's a date with disaster

Dating apps have been under increased scrutiny for their role in facilitating harassment and abuse.

Spotify posts rare profit, shares tumble on timid user growth

Spotify posted on Wednesdaya rare net profit in the first quarter and a sharp increase in paid subscribers as the music streaming giant launched in dozens of new markets, but disappointing total users sent shares tumbling.

Dead lithium: The culprit of low Coulombic efficiency with LIBs

The target of carbon-neutral and net-zero emissions is the development and utilization of renewable energy. High-energy-density energy storage systems are critical technologies for the integration of renewable energy.

Girl Scout cookies take flight in Virginia drone deliveries

Missing out on Thin Mints in the pandemic? A Google affiliate is using drones to deliver Girl Scout cookies to people's doorsteps in a Virginia community.

Show me your playlist and I'll tell you who you are

According to the researchers, three songs from a playlist are enough to identify the person who chose the songs. Hence, companies like YouTube and Spotify can accumulate a great deal of information about their users based only on their musical preferences.

'Can I see your parts list?' What AI's attempted chat-up lines tell us about computer-generated language

Have you ever wondered what flirting with artificial intelligence would look like? Research scientist and engineer Janelle Shane has given us an idea by training a neural network—an algorithm loosely inspired by biological brain structures—to produce chat-up lines.

Shhhh, they're listening—inside the coming voice-profiling revolution

You decide to call a store that sells some hiking boots you're thinking of buying. As you dial in, the computer of an artificial intelligence company hired by the store is activated. It retrieves its analysis of the speaking style you used when you phoned other companies the software firm services. The computer has concluded you are "friendly and talkative." Using predictive routing, it connects you to a customer service agent who company research has identified as being especially good at getting friendly and talkative customers to buy more expensive versions of the goods they're considering.

Developing the world's 'hottest' heat pump

The heat pumps we use to heat our homes and domestic water operate at temperatures of between 30 and 60 degrees, but many industrial processes require much higher temperatures—and some industries require an entirely different technology.

New approach enables search engines to describe objects with negative statements

Computers answer questions, have conversations or advise customers on their problems. More and more IT applications are relying on structured knowledge. For this, the information has to be organized in a way that a computer can process it—in so-called knowledge bases. These knowledge bases are the field of expertise of computer scientist Simon Razniewski and his team at the Saarbr├╝cken Max-Planck-Institute for Informatics. The researchers are the first to develop a method for adding a crucial, previously neglected aspect to these knowledge bases.

UK signals self-driving cars could hit road this year

Self-driving vehicles could hit the road this year on motorways in Britain, the government said Wednesday, under plans to permit motorists to temporarily take their hands off the wheel.

Uber adds 'valet' car rentals as it looks to rev rides

Uber on Wednesday added valet delivery of rental cars as part of a suite of offerings as it aims to be "one-stop-shop" for post-pandemic venturing out or dining in.

Microsoft weighs revamping flaw disclosures after suspected leak

Microsoft Corp. may revise a program that shares coding flaws in its products with other companies after a suspected leak led to a sprawling cyber-attack against thousands of Microsoft Exchange email clients globally.

Facebook reports soaring quarterly ad revenue, stock jumps

Facebook's stock is trading higher after the social media giant reported stronger-than-expected results for the first quarter thanks to soaring ad revenue.

Journalists create their brands in growing 'direct' sales model

Anna Codrea-Rado built a name for herself as a freelance journalist, building an audience of 2,500 for her email newsletter, "Lance," aimed at helping other independent writers.

Baromorphing: Playing the piano on the trailing edge of an aerofoil

City MEng final year student, Alecsandra Court provides a peek into the future of aviation and variable morphing wing designs.

Massive tech show set to return in person in 2022

The Consumer Electronics Show will resume its in-person event in Las Vegas in January after the pandemic forced it to become virtual this year, organizers said Wednesday.

'We're trying to solve a problem here': Senate takes Facebook, YouTube, Twitter to task over 'addictive' algorithms

Policy executives from Facebook, YouTube and Twitter testified Tuesday before bipartisan members of the Senate Judiciary Committee amid accusations that their social media platforms create algorithms critics believe are "addictive."

Latest Boeing loss shows drag of pandemic, production problems

Boeing lost money for the sixth consecutive quarter as production issues dragged down revenues, but on Wednesday pointed to signs of an uneven airline industry recovery as Covid-19 vaccines become more widespread.

Five new EVs to wait for in 2021

Electric vehicle shoppers have an increasing number of models to choose from. There are nearly two dozen EVs on the market today, and that selection will only grow over the next eight months. Here are five upcoming EVs, organized by price, that the experts at Edmunds are most excited to see in 2021.

New algorithm makes it easier for computers to solve decision making problems

Computer scientists often encounter problems relevant to real-life scenarios. For instance, "multiagent problems," a category characterized by multi-stage decision-making by multiple decision makers or "agents," has relevant applications in search-and-rescue missions, firefighting, and emergency response.

Spotify CEO 'very serious' about Arsenal takeover bid

Spotify co-founder Daniel Ek says he wants to bring back the "glory" to Arsenal as he plans to test the resolve of the club's American billionaire owner Stan Kroenke with a takeover bid.

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