Science X Newsletter Thursday, May 13

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for May 13, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Kelp, maggots and mycoprotein among future foods that must be mass-farmed to combat malnutrition

Trace gases from ocean are source of particles accelerating Antarctic climate change

Fossilized tracks show earliest known evidence of mammals at the seashore

What makes plant cell walls both strong and extensible?

A universal method to easily design tough and stretchable hydrogels

New evidence for electron's dual nature found in a quantum spin liquid

New research reveals hidden processes at work in the hearts of large stars

Contact-free nanoscopy concept shows potential for investigating conductivity of materials

Previously unknown letter reveals Einstein's thinking on bees, birds and physics

Measuring brain blood flow and activity with light

Orangutan finding highlights need to protect habitat

Largest-ever study of artificial insemination in sharks—and the occasional 'virgin birth'

Food dyes may cause disease when the immune system is dysregulated, researchers report

Cancer has ripple effect on distant tissues

After near extinction, new genome data bodes well for condors' future

Physics news

New evidence for electron's dual nature found in a quantum spin liquid

A new discovery led by Princeton University could upend our understanding of how electrons behave under extreme conditions in quantum materials. The finding provides experimental evidence that this familiar building block of matter behaves as if it is made of two particles: one particle that gives the electron its negative charge and another that supplies its magnet-like property, known as spin.

Previously unknown letter reveals Einstein's thinking on bees, birds and physics

The 1949 letter by the physicist and Nobel laureate discusses bees, birds and whether new physics principles could come from studying animal senses.

Quantum machine learning hits a limit

A new theorem from the field of quantum machine learning has poked a major hole in the accepted understanding about information scrambling.

Researchers 3D print complex micro-optics with improved imaging performance

In a new study, researchers have shown that 3D printing can be used to make highly precise and complex miniature lenses with sizes of just a few microns. The microlenses can be used to correct color distortion during imaging, enabling small and lightweight cameras that can be designed for a variety of applications.

Current trend reversed: Scientists investigate the Seebeck effect in electric current

When a piece of conducting material is heated up at one of its ends, a voltage difference can build up across the sample, which in turn can be converted into a current. This is the so-called Seebeck effect, the cornerstone of thermoelectric effects. In particular, the effect provides a route to creating work out of a temperature difference. Such thermoelectric engines do not have any movable part and are therefore convenient power sources in various applications, including propelling NASA's Mars rover Perseverance. The Seebeck effect is interesting for fundamental physics, too, as the magnitude and sign of the induced thermoelectric current is characteristic of the material and indicates how entropy and charge currents are coupled. Writing in Physical Review X, the group of Prof. Tilman Esslinger at the Department of Physics of ETH Zurich now reports on the controlled reversal of such a current by changing the interaction strength among the constituents of a quantum simulator made of extremely cold atoms trapped in shaped laser fields. The capability to induce such a reversal means that the system can be turned from a thermoelectric engine into a cooler.

Why precision luminosity measurements matter

The ATLAS and CMS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) have performed luminosity measurements with spectacular precision. A recent physics briefing from CMS complements earlier ATLAS results and shows that by combining multiple methods, both experiments have reached a precision better than 2%. For physics analyses—such as searches for new particles, rare processes or measurements of the properties of known particles—it is not only important for accelerators to increase luminosity, but also for physicists to understand it with the best possible precision.

Long-lost letter from Einstein discusses link between physics and biology—70 years before evidence emerges

Since the dawn of the electronic age, it has never been easier for researchers to engage with the general public—gaining access to precious resources otherwise unavailable.

CDEX listens to the sound of cosmology from a laboratory deep underground

Much compelling evidence from astroparticle physics and cosmology indicate that the major matter component in the Universe is dark matter, accounting for about 85% with the remaining 15% ordinary matter. Nevertheless, people still know little about dark matter, including its mass and other properties. Many models predict dark matter particles could couple with ordinary particles at the weak interaction level, so it is possible to capture the signal of dark matter particles with direct detection experiment.

Non-linear optics meets X-rays

The recent advent of femtosecond X-ray sources offers unprecedented opportunities for structural and dynamical studies. It requires, however, manipulating spectral properties, as commonly done by non-linear optics at visible/infrared wavelengths. Here we show the first evidence for Self-Phase Modulation, a key non-linear effect in ultrafast laser science, in soft X-Rays. Building on such an effect, we demonstrate how to tune spectral properties in this wavelength region critical for core electron pump-probe spectroscopy and nanoimaging.

Freeform imaging systems: Fermat's principle unlocks 'first time right' design

Researchers at Brussels Photonics, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, have developed a 'first time right' design method that eliminates the "step-and-repeat" and "trial-and-error" approach in optical system design. They demonstrated the systematic, deterministic, scalable, and holistic character of their disruptive technique with various freeform lens- and mirror-based high-end examples and invite optical designers to experience their new method hands-on via an open-access trial web application.

Astronomy and Space news

New research reveals hidden processes at work in the hearts of large stars

Astronomers commonly refer to massive stars as the chemical factories of the Universe. They generally end their lives in spectacular supernovae, events that forge many of the elements on the periodic table. How elemental nuclei mix within these enormous stars has a major impact on our understanding of their evolution prior to their explosion. It also represents the largest uncertainty for scientists studying their structure and evolution.

Scientists find molecular patterns that may help identify extraterrestrial life

Scientists have begun the search for extraterrestrial life in the solar system in earnest, but such life may be subtly or profoundly different from Earth life, and methods based on detecting particular molecules as biosignatures may not apply to life with a different evolutionary history. A new study by a joint Japan/US-based team, led by researchers at the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, reports on a machine learning technique that assesses complex organic mixtures using mass spectrometry to classify them as biological or abiological.

How scientists are tuning in to the universe, man

You're driving down the freeway listening to the radio, but you're getting static. Enjoy it. That's the sounds of the universe.

Crashing Chinese rocket highlights growing dangers of space debris

This weekend, a Chinese rocket booster, weighing nearly 23 tons, came rushing back to Earth after spending more than a week in space—the result of what some critics, including NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, have attributed to poor planning by China. Pieces of the rocket, dubbed Long March 5B, are believed to have splashed down in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives, and no one was injured.

Russia to send film crew, Japanese billionaire to space

Russia said Thursday it would send an actress and a director into space to make the first feature film in the cosmos and also deliver an eccentric Japanese billionaire to the International Space Station.

SpaceX signs deal with Google Cloud for satellite broadband

Elon Musk's SpaceX announced Thursday that Google would team up with its Starlink satellite internet service to deliver cloud computing services to business customers.

Japanese tycoon planning space station visit, then moon trip

The Japanese fashion tycoon who's booked a SpaceX ride to the moon is going to try out the International Space Station first.

Technology news

Making AI algorithms show their work

Artificial intelligence (AI) learning machines can be trained to solve problems and puzzles on their own instead of using rules that we made for them. But often, researchers do not know what rules the machines make for themselves. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Assistant Professor Peter Koo developed a new method that quizzes a machine-learning program to figure out what rules it learned on its own and if they are the right ones.

Laser communications: Empowering more data than ever before

Launching this summer, NASA's Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) will showcase the dynamic powers of laser communications technologies. With NASA's ever-increasing human and robotic presence in space, missions can benefit from a new way of "talking" with Earth.

A highly dexterous robot hand with a caging mechanism

A team of researchers at Yale University's Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, has developed a robot hand that employs a caging mechanism. In their paper published in the journal Science Robotics, the group describes their research into applying a caging mechanism to robot hands and how well their demonstration models worked.

Breakthrough in reverse osmosis may lead to most energy-efficient seawater desalination ever

Making fresh water out of seawater usually requires huge amounts of energy. The most widespread process for desalination is called reverse osmosis, which works by flowing seawater over a membrane at high pressure to remove the minerals.

Newly discovered Wi-Fi vulnerabilities called FragAttacks place all mobile devices at risk

Fragmentation and aggregation attacks—or frag attacks—refer to a series of design flaws and programming security vulnerabilities affecting Wi-Fi devices. Recent studies have shown that any attacker within radio range of a target can potentially exploit these flaws.

Congestion pricing could shrink car size

Rush hour will likely return when pandemic lockdowns lift, but a new study suggests that congestion pricing—policies that charge tolls for driving during peak hours—could not only cure traffic jams but also convince motorists it is safe to buy smaller, more efficient cars.

A new visual library to achieve successful Plus Energy Building design

Researchers from RMIT University, Eurac Research and University Ca' Foscari Venezia have launched an innovative GIS map with a difference: The European Climate and Cultural Atlas for Plus Energy Building Design—the 2CAP-Energy Atlas.

How AIs ask for personal information is important for gaining user trust

People may be reluctant to give their personal information to artificial intelligence (AI) systems even though it is needed by the systems for providing more accurate and personalized services, but a new study reveals that the manner in which the systems ask for information from users can make a difference.

Climate harm puts brakes on buying Teslas with bitcoin

Tesla hit the brakes Wednesday on letting people pay for electric cars with bitcoin, saying the computing-intense mining process of creating new cryptocurrency spews climate-harming emissions.

Amazon cloud technology aids NFL in schedule making

The process of building the NFL schedule used to be a painstaking one with executives such as Val Pinchbeck spending months slotting the games one by one on his board until there was a final product for the commissioner to approve.

New design for isolated power supply chip

Recently, a research group led by Prof. Cheng Lin from School of Microelectronics, University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has made achievements in the field of fully integrated isolated power chip design.

Scientists develop intelligent fault diagnosis method for nuclear power plants

Recently, a research group from the Institute of Nuclear Energy Safety Technology of the Hefei Institutes of Physical Science (HFIPS) made new progress in intelligent fault diagnosis methods for complex systems of nuclear power plants (NPP), which provided theoretical and methodological support for fault diagnosis of the complex systems of NPP.

Fatigue test trial for drowsy drivers

Monash University researchers have found drivers with only three hours sleep are 10 times more likely to be involved in a crash.

Definitive valuation guide for pumped storage hydropower

A new U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored guidebook, spearheaded by Argonne, helps illustrate the value of investing in the world's best clean energy storage technology.

Turbine cooling turns night into day

Keeping turbines running efficiently during a hot Australian summer's day can be hard work. But a new technology is drawing on the cold night air to make it easier.

Australia installs record-breaking number of rooftop solar panels

Data from the Clean Energy Regulator analyzed by CSIRO shows that in 2020, around Australia, over 362,000 rooftop solar PV installations were issued with small-scale renewable energy scheme certificates (STCs) under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme.

An automated box on wheels—with personality

Robots are becoming more and more omnipresent in our lives, even though we may not notice. New research shows that when a boxy motorized hospital robot can talk, people find it funny and engaging. And that may help people be more willing to accept new technologies, like robots, in their everyday lives.

Beautiful or handsome? Neural language models try their hand at word substitution

Researchers from Skoltech and their colleagues have run a first of its kind large-scale computational study of the most advanced neural language models to see how they handle lexical substitution, a crucial task in natural language processing. The paper was presented at the 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics (COLING-2020).

Colonial Pipeline paid hackers nearly $5 million in ransom

Colonial Pipeline Co. paid nearly $5 million to Eastern European hackers on Friday, contradicting reports earlier this week that the company had no intention of paying an extortion fee to help restore the country's largest fuel pipeline, according to two people familiar with the transaction.

New Ford models can get over-the-internet software updates

Ford says it is starting to send out over-the-internet software updates to some of its newer models as it moves to offer technology to match electric car maker Tesla.

Boeing says US approves fix for 737 MAX electrical issue

Boeing on Thursday said it had received approval from US regulators for a fix to an electrical problem that has grounded more than 100 737 MAX planes globally since early April.

Why does bitcoin consume 'insane' energy?

Cryptocurrency fans have counted Tesla boss Elon Musk as among their champions, but this week he rocked their world by questioning the future of the digital assets and singling out carbon emissions from bitcoin mining for particular criticism.

Colonial Pipeline restarts operations days after major hack

The nation's largest fuel pipeline restarted operations Wednesday, days after it was forced to shut down by a gang of hackers.

Video: Reverse osmosis: How engineers save lives

We all know that water quality is very important when it comes to public health.

Biden signs order to bolster cybersecurity after pipeline hack

President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order intended to strengthen U.S. cybersecurity through the sharing of information on attacks and adopting better practices throughout the government, as administration officials urged the private sector to build more secure software.

Amazon seeks to hire 75,000; offers $100 to vaccinated hires

Amazon is seeking to hire 75,000 people in a tight job market and is offering bonuses to attract workers, including $100 for new hires who are already vaccinated for COVID-19.

Alibaba records first quarterly operating loss since IPO

Alibaba had its first quarterly operating loss since it went public in 2014 after Beijing slapped a record $2.8 billion fine on the nation's largest e-commerce company for abusing its market position.

Back to square one? Trump decision still weighs on Facebook

Suppose you were Mark Zuckerberg, recently ordered by an advisory board to decide how long former President Donald Trump should stay banned from Facebook. How do you make that decision without alienating key constituencies—advertisers, shareholders, users, lawmakers and others—while staying true to your own sense of what Facebook should be?

DC Police victim of massive data leak by ransomware gang

The police department in the nation's capital has suffered a massive leak of internal information after refusing to meet the blackmail demands of Russian-speaking ransomware syndicate. Experts say it's the worst known ransomware attack ever to hit a U.S. police department.

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