Science X Newsletter Friday, Apr 30

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for April 30, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

The global race for a T cell receptor that zeros in on—and annihilates—solid tumors

New brain-like computing device simulates human learning

Boron insertion into alkyl ether bonds via zinc/nickel tandem catalysis

Researchers develop compact on-chip device for detecting electric-field waveforms with attosecond time resolution

Nano flashlight could allow future cell phones to detect viruses, more

Self-organization of nanoparticles and molecules in periodic Liesegang-type structures

New structural details about the specific arrangement of atoms in conjugated polymers

Researchers discover the mechanism that likely generates huge white dwarf magnetic fields

Mars helicopter makes 4th flight, gets extra month of flying

Cancer rates in medieval Britain around ten times higher than previously thought, study suggests

AI, captain! First autonomous ship prepares for maiden voyage

Study identifies diverse spectrum of neurons that govern movement

New genetic target for blood cancer treatment

Antarctic ice-sheet melting to lift sea level higher than thought, study says

New wearable sensor tracks children's suffering with eczema, and adults with itch symptoms

Physics news

Researchers develop compact on-chip device for detecting electric-field waveforms with attosecond time resolution

Understanding how light waves oscillate in time as they interact with materials is essential to understanding light-driven energy transfer in materials, such as solar cells or plants. Due to the fantastically high speeds at which light waves oscillate, however, scientists have yet to develop a compact device with enough time resolution to directly capture them.

Nano flashlight could allow future cell phones to detect viruses, more

In work that could turn cell phones into sensors capable of detecting viruses and other minuscule objects, MIT researchers have built a powerful nanoscale flashlight on a chip.

'Bat-sense' tech generates images from sound

By cleverly analyzing the results, the algorithm can deduce the shape, size and layout of a room, as well as pick out in the presence of objects or people. The results are displayed as a video feed which turns the echo data into three-dimensional vision.

'Awake' concept brings proton bunches into sync

The future of particle acceleration has begun. Awake is a promising concept for a completely new method with which particles can be accelerated even over short distances. The basis for this is a plasma wave that accelerates electrons and thus brings them to high energies. A team led by the Max Planck Institute for Physics now reports a breakthrough in this context. For the first time, they were able to precisely time the production of the proton microbunches that drive the wave in the plasma. This fulfills an important prerequisite for using the Awake technology for collision experiments.

Studying top quarks at high and not-so-high energies

CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is famous for colliding protons at world-record energies—but sometimes it pays to dial down the energy and see what happens under less extreme conditions. The LHC started operation in 2010 with a collision energy of 7 TeV, and ran at 13 TeV from 2015 to 2018. But for one week in 2017, the LHC produced moderate-intensity collisions at only 5 TeV—allowing scientists to analyze the production of various elementary particles at a lower collision energy.

World's first fiber-optic ultrasonic imaging probe for future nanoscale disease diagnostics

Scientists at the University of Nottingham have developed an ultrasonic imaging system, which can be deployed on the tip of a hair-thin optical fiber, and will be insertable into the human body to visualize cell abnormalities in 3D.

Researchers measure and synthesize the musical acoustics of a 5-string banjo

Musical instruments bring delight to players and listeners alike. Creating the voice—or characteristic style and tone—of an instrument is an exquisite balance of physics and craftsmanship. To date, there has been little analysis of the acoustics responsible for different plucked-string instruments' distinct voices.

Holographic histopathology enables fast, precise diagnostics

Histology is the study of biological tissues at a microscopic level. Also called microscopic anatomy, histology is widely used to provide diagnosis of cancer and other diseases. For example, tissue samples obtained during surgery might help to determine whether further surgical action is needed, and further surgery may be avoided if a diagnosis can be rapidly obtained during an operation.

Astronomy and Space news

Researchers discover the mechanism that likely generates huge white dwarf magnetic fields

A dynamo mechanism could explain the incredibly strong magnetic fields in white dwarf stars according to an international team of scientists, including a University of Warwick astronomer.

Mars helicopter makes 4th flight, gets extra month of flying

After proving powered, controlled flight is possible on the Red Planet, NASA's Mars Ingenuity helicopter has new orders: scout ahead of the Perseverance rover to assist in its search for past signs of microbial life.

The DALI experiment: Searching for the axion, a proposed component of dark matter

The detection of the axion would mark a key episode in the history of science. This hypothetical particle could resolve two fundamental problems of Modern Physics at the same time: the problema of Charge and Parity in the strong interaction, and the mystery of dark matter. However, in spite of the high scientific interest in finding it, the search at high radio frequency—above 6 GHz—has been almost left aside for the lack of the high sensitivity technology which could be built at reasonable cost. Until now.

Not just for finding planets: Exoplanet-hunter TESS telescope spots bright gamma-ray burst

NASA has a long tradition of unexpected discoveries, and the space program's TESS mission is no different. SMU astrophysicist and her team have discovered a particularly bright gamma-ray burst using a NASA telescope designed to find exoplanets—those occurring outside our solar system—particularly those that might be able to support life.

SpaceX making 1st US crew splashdown in dark since Apollo 8

SpaceX this weekend will attempt the first U.S. splashdown of returning astronauts in darkness since the Apollo 8 moonshot in 1968.

NASA Wallops May 7 rocket launch exploring energy transport in space

A mission to explore energy transport in space using a NASA suborbital sounding rocket is scheduled to be conducted the evening of May 7 from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Latest observations by MUSER help clarify solar eruptions

Prof. Yan Yihua and his research team from the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) recently released detailed results of observations by the new generation solar radio telescope—Mingantu Spectral Radio Heliograph (MUSER)—from 2014 to 2019.

ESA to build second deep space dish in Australia

On 29 April, ESA and the Australian Space Agency announced the construction of a second 35-meter, deep space antenna at ESA's New Norcia station, located 140 kilometers north of Perth in Western Australia.

Technology news

New brain-like computing device simulates human learning

Researchers have developed a brain-like computing device that is capable of learning by association.

AI, captain! First autonomous ship prepares for maiden voyage

The "Mayflower 400"—the world's first intelligent ship—bobs gently in a light swell as it stops its engines in Plymouth Sound, off England's southwest coast, before self-activating a hydrophone designed to listen to whales.

A zero-gap gas diffusion electrode-based electrolyzer with improved stability

A team of researchers from the University of Szeged has developed a zero-gap GDE-based electrolyser that has better stability than others in its category. In their paper published in the journal Nature Energy, the group describes their work, which involved attempting to improve the prospects of using electrolysers as a means for creating fuel sources. Klaas Jan P. Schouten with the University of Amsterdam has published a News & Views piece describing the work in the same journal issue.

How to invest in a fairer and low carbon energy system

Governments throughout the world have accelerated their ambitions towards effective climate change mitigation. What is clear, in this challenge of how to tackle the complex and global issue of climate change, is that there is no one technology or stakeholder that will drive the full and timely decarbonization that the world and its citizens require.

Scientists discover new vulnerability affecting computers globally

In 2018, industry and academic researchers revealed a potentially devastating hardware flaw that made computers and other devices worldwide vulnerable to attack.

Microsoft fixes Windows automatic apps rearrangement issue

Historically, many users of Microsoft Windows desktop devices have encountered the frustrating issue of letting their device go to sleep and then returning later to find some or all of their apps rearranged. Now, Microsoft seeks to mitigate this annoying glitch.

FAA to audit Boeing's 'minor' design changes after latest MAX issue

US air safety regulators are auditing Boeing's procedures for making "minor" design changes to planes in the wake of the latest problem with its troubled 737 MAX, regulators said Thursday.

Spending on cloud computing hits $42 bn worldwide: tracker

A record-high $41.8 billion was spent on cloud computing in the recently ended quarter as businesses leaned heavily on the internet to survive the pandemic, market tracker Canalys said on Thursday.

Open-source GPU technology for supercomputers

Researchers from the HSE International Laboratory for Supercomputer Atomistic Modeling and Multi-scale Analysis, JIHT RAS and MIPT have compared the performance of popular molecular modeling programs on GPU accelerators produced by AMD and Nvidia. In a paper published by the International Journal of High Performance Computing Applications, the scholars ported LAMMPS on the new open-source GPU technology, AMD HIP, for the first time.

Printing our way out of the Netherlands housing crisis: 'It is desperately needed'

Eindhoven leads the way: for the first time, Dutch residents are moving into a 3D-printed concrete home. Professor Theo Salet of Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) is the driving force behind Project Milestone, which is more relevant than ever before due to the housing crisis. An interview with an impassioned man: "We are facing an unprecedented challenge."

The trucking industry has begun to go electric—but passenger vehicles will take longer

Australia's trucking industry is making moves to go electric. The latest development—a system for using swappable batteries instead of time-consuming recharge stations for long-haul trucks between Sydney and Brisbane—shows how this transition is gathering momentum.

EU accuses Apple of antitrust breach over App Store rules

European Union regulators accused Apple on Friday of violating the bloc's antitrust laws, alleging the iPhone maker distorts competition for music streaming by imposing unfair rules for rival services in its App Store.

Remember Atari? We played its latest video game console, Atari VCS

It is 2021, and I'm not playing on an Xbox, PlayStation or Nintendo Switch. Instead, I'm playing Atari.

Roku pulls YouTube TV from its store, saying Google let contract expire

Roku said it has removed the app for Google's streaming service YouTube TV after its contract to carry it expired.

GM spending on Mexico electric vehicle plant angers US union

An announcement by General Motors that it would invest more than $1 billion at a Mexican factory that will build electric vehicles has angered the United Auto Workers union.

Big Chinese firms fined over anti-monopoly law

China fined 11 companies including tech giant Tencent on Friday, taking aim at their acquisitions and joint ventures as authorities target monopolistic practices.

TikTok taps new CEO from Chinese parent firm

The fast-growing video-sharing app TikTok named a new top executive Friday who will keep his responsibilities at Chinese parent firm ByteDance.

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High Energy Cosmic Ray Sources Mapped Out for the First Time

Math and Science News from Quanta Magazine
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My Bookmarks



Cosmic Map of Ultrahigh-Energy Particles Points to Long-Hidden Treasures


Ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays twist and turn on their way to Earth, which has made it nearly impossible to identify the colossal monsters that create them.

Read the article



New Proof Reveals
That Graphs With
No Pentagons Are Fundamentally Different


Researchers have proved a special case of the Erdős-Hajnal conjecture, which shows what happens in graphs that exclude anything resembling a pentagon.

Read the blog

Mathematicians Settle
Erdős Coloring Conjecture

by Kelsey Houston-Edwards



How to Rewrite
the Laws of Physics
in the Language
of Impossibility


Chiara Marletto is trying to build a master theory — a set of ideas so fundamental that all other theories would spring from it. Her first step: Invoke the impossible.

Read the interview | Watch the video

Imaginary Numbers May Be
Essential for Describing Reality

by Charlie Wood



A Backdoor Lets the Immune System Monitor the Brain


A newfound hub of immune system activity at the back of the brain solves a century-old puzzle and offers a possible target for treatments.

Read the blog post

Cells That 'Taste' Danger
Set Off Immune Responses

by Carrie Arnold (2019)



Emery Brown and the Truth About Anesthesia

Podcast hosted by STEVEN STROGATZ;
Produced by DANA BIALEK

Anesthesia is very different from sleep — which is why it offers unique opportunities for studying the human brain, says the physician-researcher and statistician.

Listen to the podcast

Read the transcript




Rumbles on Mars Raise Hopes of Underground Magma Flows

Podcast hosted by SUSAN VALOT

Small and cold, Mars has long been considered a dead planet. But a series of recent discoveries has forced scientists to rethink how recently its insides stopped churning — if they ever stopped at all.

Listen to the podcast


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Around the Web

Stellar S'mores, Anyone?
Data from the Solar Orbiter hint that mini-solar flares, or "campfires," could supply the missing energy needed to heat the sun's corona, Daniel Clery reports for Science Magazine. By studying a sunlike ball of plasma in the lab, researchers hope to understand how tangles in our star's magnetic field might also contribute to heating things up, Erika Carlson reported for Quanta in 2019.

Big Headed Hominins
Carrying an oversized brain is often taken as a mark of evolved intelligence in mammals, but it could also be a sign that natural selection has merely shrunk the body, Natalie Grover reports for The Guardian. Cognition is about much more than just brain size, Ferris Jabr reported for Quanta in 2015. It's also about distribution, for instance. We humans pack more neurons into our cerebral cortex than other mammals do — even the gigantic African elephant.
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