Science X Newsletter Friday, May 14

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for May 14, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Mexican paleontologists identify new 'talkative' dinosaur species

Fibre-optics used to take the temperature of Greenland Ice Sheet

Observations show marine clouds amplify warming

Reaction kinetics drive chiral nanocrystal formation in tellurium atoms

Bird species central to seed-dispersal networks have stable evolutionary lineages

Advance may enable 2D transistors for tinier microchip components

Mammals can breathe through anus in emergencies

Politically polarized brains share an intolerance of uncertainty

Force-sensing PIEZO proteins are at work in plants, too

Bio-inspired scaffolds help promote muscle growth

The First Cell: Jump-starting the global cancer revolution

Two-in-one: Wide-angle monitoring meets high-resolution capture in new camera platform

New research shows: Antoni van Leeuwenhoek led rivals astray

Extraterrestrial radioactive isotope found in seabed has implications for Earth's origins

Genome of wild legume provides insights into tolerance to environmental stress

Physics news

Modular blue light-sensitive photoswitch developed for optogenetic engineering

Recently, Prof. WANG Junfeng from the High Magnetic Field Laboratory of the Hefei Institutes of Physical Science (HFIPS), together with international scholars, developed a novel circular permutated light-oxygen-voltage 2 (LOV2) to expand the repertoire of genetically encoded photoswitches, which will accelerate the design of novel optogenetic devices. The result was published in Nature Chemical Biology.

Detector technology yields unprecedented 3D images, heralding far larger application to study neutrinos

An experiment to capture unprecedented 3D images of the trajectories of charged particles has been demonstrated using cosmic rays as they strike and travel through a cryostat filled with a ton of liquid argon. The results confirm the capabilities of a novel detector technology for particle physics developed by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) in collaboration with several university and industrial partners.

To make particles flow more efficiently, put an obstacle in their way

Scientists used to perform experiments by stirring biological and chemical agents into test tubes.

Is the past (and future) there when nobody looks?

In 1961, the Nobel prize winning theoretical physicist Eugene Wigner proposed what is now known as the 'Wigner's friend' thought experiment as an extension of the notorious Schroedinger's cat experiment. In the latter, a cat is trapped in a box with poison that will be released if a radioactive atom decays. Governed by quantum mechanical laws, the radioactive atom is in a superposition between decaying and not decaying, which also means that the cat is in a superposition between life and death. What does the cat experience when it is in the superposition? Wigner sharpened the question by pushing quantum theory to its conceptual limits. He investigated what happens when an observer also has quantum properties.

Using micro-sized cut metal wires, team forges path to new uses for terahertz waves

Japanese researchers successfully tested reflectionless, highly refractive index metasurface that may eventually be used in practical applications to send, receive, and manipulate light and radio waves in the terahertz waveband (THz). THz is measured in millionths of a meter, known as micrometers. The metasurface, an artificial two-dimensional flat material, was made of micro-sized cut metal wires of silver paste ink placed on both the front and back of a polyimide film. The team, led by Takehito Suzuki, Associate Professor at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT) Institute of Engineering, published their findings on April 29, 2021 in Optics Express.

Fully integrated 'hot qubit' quantum processor using commercially available technology

Equal1 Laboratories (Equal1), a silicon-based quantum computing company, today announced the company is the first to demonstrate a fully integrated quantum processor unit (QPU) operating at 3.7 kelvin ― a major milestone with implications for the trajectory of quantum computing.

Nanophotonics enhanced coverslip for phase imaging in biology

The ability to visualize transparent objects such as biological cells is of fundamental importance in biology and medical diagnostics. Conventional approaches to achieve this include phase-contrast microscopy and techniques that rely on chemical staining of biological cells. These techniques, however, rely on expensive and bulky optical components or require changing, and in some cases damaging, the cell by introducing chemical contrast agents. Significant recent advances in nanofabrication technology permit structuring materials on the nanoscale with unprecedented precision. This has given rise to the revolutionary field of meta-optics that aims to develop ultra-compact optical components that replace their bulk-optical counterparts as for example lenses and optical filters. Such meta-optical devices exhibit unusual properties for which they have recently drawn significant scientific interest as novel platforms for imaging applications.

Astronomy and Space news

Extraterrestrial radioactive isotope found in seabed has implications for Earth's origins

The first-ever discovery of an extraterrestrial radioactive isotope on Earth has scientists rethinking the origins of the elements on our planet.

Supercomputer simulations unlock an old space weather puzzle

Scientists have long questioned why the bursts of hot gas from the sun do not cool down as fast as expected, and have now used a supercomputer to find out.

Physicists predict neutron stars may be bigger than previously imagined

When a massive star dies, first there is a supernova explosion. Then, what's left over becomes either a black hole or a neutron star.

Charting the expansion history of the universe with supernovae

An international research team analyzed a database of more than 1000 supernova explosions and found that models for the expansion of the Universe best match the data when a new time dependent variation is introduced. If proven correct with future, higher-quality data from the Subaru Telescope and other observatories, these results could indicate still unknown physics working on the cosmic scale.

China rover to attempt Mars landing over coming days

China's "Zhurong" rover, part of its ambitious space programme to send a probe to Mars, is set to attempt the challenging landing on the Red Planet in the next five days, Beijing's space agency said Friday.

Solar wind from the center of the Earth

High-precision noble gas analyses indicate that solar wind particles from our primordial Sun were encased in the Earth's core over 4.5 billion years ago. Researchers from the Institute of Earth Sciences at Heidelberg University have concluded that the particles made their way into the overlying rock mantle over millions of years. The scientists found solar noble gases in an iron meteorite they studied. Because of their chemical composition, such meteorites are often used as natural models for the Earth's metallic core.

Extrasolar Object Interceptor could chase down interstellar objects, return samples

What if we had the ability to chase down interstellar objects passing through our solar system, like 'Oumuamua or Comet Borisov? Such a spacecraft would need to be ready to go at a moment's notice, with the capacity to increase speed and change direction quickly.

Gaia might even be able to detect the gravitational wave background of the universe

The Gaia spacecraft is an impressive feat of engineering. Its primary mission is to map the position and motion of more than a billion stars in our galaxy, creating the most comprehensive map of the Milky Way thus far. Gaia collects such a large amount of precision data that it can make discoveries well beyond its main mission. For example, by looking at the spectra of stars, astronomers can measure the mass of individual stars to within 25% accuracy. From the motion of stars, astronomers can measure the distribution of dark matter in the Milky Way. Gaia can also discover exoplanets when they pass in front of a star. But one of the more surprising uses is that Gaia could help us detect cosmic gravitational waves.

Tiangong: China may gain a monopoly on space stations—here's what to expect

China launched Tianhe-1, the first and main module of a permanent orbiting space station called Tiangong (Heavenly Palace 天 宫), on April 29. Two additional science modules (Wentian and Mengtian) will follow in 2022 in a series of missions that will complete the station and allow it to start operations.

Where do meteorites come from? We tracked hundreds of fireballs streaking through the sky to find out

If asked where meteorites come from, you might reply "from comets." But according to our new research, which tracked hundreds of fireballs on their journey through the Australian skies, you would be wrong.

Using cell phones as space weather vanes

Your smartphone may be able to sense space weather and even get a little disoriented by it, according to researchers, who tested how geomagnetic storms affect the magnetic sensors in cell phones. The new research suggests that apps being developed to use cell phone magnetometers to pinpoint locations could be susceptible to space weather errors. On the other hand, millions of phones sensing changes in Earth's magnetic field could potentially create a vast observatory to help scientists understand these geomagnetic storms.

Getting ready to rocket

The pieces are stacking up for the launch of Artemis 1 mission around the moon and back. The massive Space Launch Systems (SLS) rocket that will launch the first crewless test flight of the Orion spacecraft, powered by the European Service Module, is being integrated at the Vehicle Assemble Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, U.S..

Vandenberg Air Force Base to be renamed Space Force Base

California's Vandenberg Air Force Base will be renamed as a U.S. Space Force Base on Friday.

Technology news

Two-in-one: Wide-angle monitoring meets high-resolution capture in new camera platform

If you're a fan of spy movies, you've probably come across scenes where the intelligence agents try to identify or detect a perpetrator using some sophisticated image enhancement technology on surveillance camera images. While the idea behind surveillance cameras and object detection is the same in real life, unlike in movies, there is often a trade-off between the camera's field of view and its resolution.

Helping robots collaborate to get the job done

Sometimes, one robot isn't enough.

New sensors detect explosive materials, viral particles at part-per-quadrillion level

We are frequently reminded of how vulnerable our health and safety are to threats from nature or those who wish to harm us.

Artificial intelligence identifies the tiger mosquito from photos in the Mosquito Alert

Researchers from Mosquito Alert (who belong to CEAB-CSIC, CREAF and UPF) together with researchers from the University of Budapest have shown that an artificial intelligence algorithm is capable of recognizing the tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) in the photos sent by Mosquito Alert users.

Researchers suggest pathway for improving stability of next-generation solar cells

Scientists have uncovered the exact mechanism that causes new solar cells to break down, and suggest a potential solution.

Ford announces infotainment screens to show ads from local billboards

The Ford Motor Company has announced the passing of a patent for a new program that will draw information from the billboard ads surrounding the area where a Ford-manufactured car is driving and display segments of that data on the vehicle's infotainment display for the driver's viewing.

Researchers use deep learning to 'denoise' nanopore data

Scientists from the Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research at Osaka University have used machine-learning methods to enhance the signal-to-noise ratio in data collected when tiny spheres are passed through microscopic nanopores cut into silicon substrates. This work may lead to much more sensitive data collection when sequencing DNA or detecting small concentrations of pathogens.

Improving touch screens with AI

ETH Computer scientists have developed a new AI solution that enables touchscreens to sense with eight times higher resolution than current devices. Thanks to AI, their solution can infer much more precisely where fingers touch the screen.

Finding control in hard-to-predict systems

Input one, output one; input two, output two; input three; output purple—what kind of system is this? Computer algorithms can exist as non-deterministic systems, in which there are multiple possible outcomes for each input. Even if one output is more likely than another, it doesn't necessarily eliminate the possibility of putting in three and getting purple instead of three. Now, a research team from Iowa State University has developed a way to control such systems with more predictability. The results were published in IEEE/CAA Journal of Automatica Sinica.

Irish health system targeted in 'serious' ransomware attack

Ireland's health service shut down its IT systems on Friday after being targeted in a ransomware attack by what it called "international criminals."

Passing on your password? Streaming services are past it

Many of us were taught to share as kids. Now streaming services ranging from Netflix to Amazon to Disney+ want us to stop.

Businesses have a moral duty to explain how algorithms make decisions that affect people

Increasingly, businesses rely on algorithms that use data provided by users to make decisions that affect people. For example, Amazon, Google, and Facebook use algorithms to tailor what users see, and Uber and Lyft use them to match passengers with drivers and set prices. Do users, customers, employees, and others have a right to know how companies that use algorithms make their decisions? In a new analysis, researchers explore the moral and ethical foundations to such a right. They conclude that the right to such an explanation is a moral right, then address how companies might do so.

Servers of Colonial Pipeline hacker Darkside forced down: security firm

Servers for Darkside were taken down by unknown actors Friday, a week after the cyber extortionist forced the shutdown of a large US oil pipeline in a ransomware scam, a US cyber security firm said.

Airbnb sees massive travel rebound ahead

Airbnb said Thursday it expects "a travel rebound unlike anything we have seen before" as the home sharing platform posted a big loss for the past quarter.

Ferraris for the people: luxury goods now sold in fractions

Anyone can easily own a Basquiat painting, a pair of Yeezy sneakers or even a Ferrari—at least, that's the promise of a growing number of fractional ownership platforms that sell shares of these rare items, starting at just a few dollars.

Disney sees positive signs for business as streaming growth cools

The Walt Disney Company on Thursday said it was seeing "encouraging signs of recovery" across a wide range of its businesses while its streaming television service grew slower than expected in the recently ended quarter.

The unwitting are the target of COVID-19 falsehoods online

Dr. Michelle Rockwell lost a pregnancy in December and shared her heartache with her 30,000 Instagram followers. Weeks later, she received the COVID-19 vaccine and posted about that, too.

Missouri set to require online stores to collect taxes

Missouri is set to become the last state to require out-of-state online stores to collect sales taxes on residents' purchases after the GOP House gave its approval Friday.

Officials: Tesla in fatal California crash was on Autopilot

A Tesla involved in a fatal crash on a Southern California freeway last week was operating on Autopilot at the time, authorities said.

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