Science X Newsletter Monday, May 17

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for May 17, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Mothers can influence offspring's height, lifespan and disease risk through mitochondria

Collective intelligence can be predicted and quantified, new study finds

New tools needed to prevent plant disease pandemics

Permafrost carbon feedbacks threaten global climate goals

Supernova remnant G53.41+0.03 investigated in detail

Part of the Greenland ice sheet may be close to a tipping point

Scientist dated some of the oldest stars with unprecedented precision

Scientists construct first-ever synthetic DNA-like polymer

Greenhouse gases are shrinking the stratosphere

The 1,000 rivers contributing the most to ocean plastics

Researchers create new zinc-air pouch cells

Diamonds engage both optical microscopy and MRI for better imaging

Researchers report first instance of COVID-19 triggering recurrent blood clots in arms

China lands on Mars in major advance for its space ambitions

Did the coronavirus escape from a lab? The idea deserves a second look, scientists say

Physics news

Diamonds engage both optical microscopy and MRI for better imaging

When doctors or scientists want to peer into living tissue, there's always a trade-off between how deep they can probe and how clear a picture they can get.

Quantum computing: Cold chips can control qubits

Researchers and engineers from QuTech in the Netherlands and from Intel Corp., jointly designed and tested a chip to control qubits that can operate at extremely low temperatures, and opens the door to solving the "wiring bottleneck," an important step toward a scalable quantum computer. Their results are published in the scientific journal Nature.

Researchers develop algorithm to see inside materials with subatomic particles

The University of Kent's School of Physical Sciences, in collaboration with the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the Universities of Cardiff, Durham and Leeds, have developed an algorithm to train computers to analyze signals from subatomic particles embedded in advanced electronic materials.

Astronomy and Space news

Supernova remnant G53.41+0.03 investigated in detail

Astronomers have conducted detailed X-ray observations of a recently discovered supernova remnant (SNR) known as G53.41+0.03. Results of the observational campaign provide important insights into the properties of this object. The study was detailed in a paper published May 7 on the arXiv pre-print server.

Scientist dated some of the oldest stars with unprecedented precision

Scientists have succeeded in dating some of the oldest stars in the galaxy with unprecedented precision by combining data from the stars' oscillations with information about their chemical composition.

China lands on Mars in major advance for its space ambitions

China landed a spacecraft on Mars for the first time on Saturday, a technically challenging feat more difficult than a moon landing, in the latest step forward for its ambitious goals in space.

Shrinking planets could explain mystery of universe's missing worlds

There's been a breakthrough in the case of the missing planets.

Supermassive black holes devour gas just like their petite counterparts

On Sept. 9, 2018, astronomers spotted a flash from a galaxy 860 million light years away. The source was a supermassive black hole about 50 million times the mass of the sun. Normally quiet, the gravitational giant suddenly awoke to devour a passing star in a rare instance known as a tidal disruption event. As the stellar debris fell toward the black hole, it released an enormous amount of energy in the form of light.

Rocket Lab's satellite launch from New Zealand site fails

California-based Rocket Lab said a launch of satellites from its facility in New Zealand failed Saturday.

60 years later, is it time to update the Drake equation?

On November 1, 1961, a number of prominent scientists converged on the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, for a three-day conference. A year earlier, this facility had been the site of the first modern SETI experiment (Project Ozma), where famed astronomers Frank Drake and Carl Sagan used the Green Bank telescope (aka "Big Ear") to monitor two nearby sun-like stars—Epsilon Eridani and Tau Ceti.

Scientists hunt for evidence of 'lensed' gravitational waves

Scientists searching for evidence of lensed gravitational waves have published new research outlining the most recent findings on their quest for the first detection of these elusive signals.

Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) starts 5-year survey

A five-year quest to map the universe and unravel the mysteries of "dark energy" is beginning officially today, May 17, at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Arizona. To complete its quest, the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) will capture and study the light from tens of millions of galaxies and other distant objects in the universe.

Space law protects you from falling debris, but there are no legal penalties for leaving junk in orbit

On May 8, 2021, a piece of space junk from a Chinese rocket fell uncontrolled back to Earth and landed in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives. A year ago, in May 2020, another Chinese rocket met the same fate when it plummeted out of control into the waters off the West African coast. No one knew when or where either of these pieces of space junk were going to hit, so it was a relief when neither crashed on land or injured anyone.

Solar Orbiter images first coronal mass ejections

The Solar Orbiter launched on 10 February 2020 and is currently in cruise phase ahead of the main science mission, which begins November this year. While the four in situ instruments have been on for much of the time since launch, collecting science data on the space environment in the vicinity of the spacecraft, the operation of the six remote sensing instruments during cruise phase is focused primarily on instrument calibration, and they are only active during dedicated checkout windows and specific campaigns.

Technology news

Researchers create new zinc-air pouch cells

Zinc-air batteries (ZABs) are among the most promising next-generation battery technologies due to their many advantageous characteristics. Most notably, these batteries have unique half-open structures, a significant theoretical energy density (1,086 and 1,370 Wh kg−1 when including and excluding oxygen, respectively), flexible electrodes and an inherently aqueous electrolyte. Moreover, in contrast with other materials used in batteries, Zinc (Zn) is less harmful for the environment and more abundant.

Study tests viability of Tesla's 100-year old patented device

A valve invented by engineer Nikola Tesla a century ago is not only more functional than previously realized, but also has other potential applications today, a team of researchers has found after conducting a series of experiments on replications of the early 20th-century design.

US Air Force autonomous drone Skyborg completes first flight

Last month, the United States Air Force successfully test flew an unnamed aerial vehicle (UAV) called Skyborg, operating on an autonomous hardware/software suite, for the very first time.

Ireland rejects Facebook bid to block regulatory data probe

Ireland's High Court on Friday rejected Facebook's bid to block an investigation that could potentially stop data transfers from the European Union to the United States.

'Any business with a web presence is a potential target': Washington state sues 'patent troll'

In February, SaltWorks, a Woodinville maker of sea salt consumer products, got some unsettling legal news: The 19-year-old company was being sued for allegedly infringing on a patent covering technology in its e-commerce system.

Flared natural gas latest prize in bitcoin miners' energy quest

As the value of bitcoin soars and concerns rise about the energy-intensive process needed to obtain it, cryptocurrency entrepreneurs in the United States believe they have found a solution in flared natural gas.

'Through the looking glass': How conspiracy theories wreck lives

Suddenly a loved one becomes a stranger. A dad, a mom or a friend lost to a parallel world made up of conspiracy theories and dangerous fantasies destroying couples and families.

Iraqis find escape, success on a virtual battleground

Bashar Abo Khalil's PUBG character dashes around a wall in a pink dress and samurai helmet, thwacking an enemy with a frying pan—standard fare in the mobile game that is a mega-sensation in Iraq.

Robotic navigation tech will explore the deep ocean

On May 14, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ship Okeanos Explorer will depart from Port Canaveral in Florida on a two-week expedition led by NOAA Ocean Exploration, featuring the technology demonstration of an autonomous underwater vehicle. Called Orpheus, this new class of submersible robot will showcase a system that will help it find its way and identify interesting scientific features on the seafloor.

Biased algorithms and moderation are censoring activists on social media

Following Red Dress Day on May 5, a day aimed to raise awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), Indigenous activists and supporters of the campaign found posts about MMIWG had disappeared from their Instagram accounts. In response, Instagram released a tweet saying that this was "a widespread global technical issue not related to any particular topic," followed by an apology explaining that the platform "experienced a technical bug, which impacted millions of people's stories, highlights and archives around the world."

New intelligent antenna tech passes the test

An intelligent antenna developed by researchers at Waterloo Engineering has been successfully tested, a major milestone in a multi-year, multi-million-dollar project.

Uploading thoughts to the mainframe may be the stuff of science fiction—but humans have imagined it for centuries

Modern transhumanism is the belief that, in the future, science and technology will enable us to transcend our bodily confines. Scientific advances will transform humans and, in the process, eliminate aging, disease, unnecessary suffering, and our earthbound status.

Remember, Apple AirTags and 'Find My' app only work because of a vast, largely covert tracking network

Apple recently launched the latest version of its operating system, iOS 14.5, which features the much-anticipated app tracking transparency function, bolstering the tech giant's privacy credentials.

Researchers develop method for increasing the capacity of next-generation metal-ion battery cathode materials

Scientists at Skoltech Center for Energy Science and Technology have developed an enriched and scalable approach for increasing the capacity of a broad range of metal-ion battery cathode materials. These findings, published in Journal of Materials Chemistry A, can be useful for developing a new generation of advanced rechargeable energy storage devices.

A Gen Z fund? How this 22-year-old raised $1.6 million to invest in underrepresented entrepreneurs

A newly graduated San Diego State University alum has raised $1.6 million—largely through her Twitter following—to invest in startups founded by diverse people rarely seen in the entrepreneurial world.

Parler is back on iPhones: Social media app returns to Apple's App Store

Parler, the social media app removed from iPhones and Android devices in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, is back on Apple's App Store.

New medical image fusion method draws on deep learning to improve patient outcomes

Image fusion is a process that can enhance the clinical value of medical images, improving the accuracy of medical diagnoses and the quality of patient care.

Caltech professor helps solve Hindenburg disaster

On the evening of May 6, 1937, the largest aircraft ever built by mankind, a towering example of technological prowess, slipped through the stormy skies of New Jersey and prepared to land. The airship Hindenburg was nearing the end of a three-day voyage across the Atlantic Ocean from Frankfurt, Germany. It was a spectacle and a news event. Onlookers and news crews gathered to watch the 800-foot-long behemoth touch down.

AT&T will merge WarnerMedia operations with rival Discovery

AT&T and Discovery will merge their media operations in a $43 billion deal that will create a new company overseeing CNN, HBO, TNT and TBS, along with Discovery's Food Network, HGTV and others.

Study: Hope for US boost pushes global luxury goods recovery

Luxury brands are already cashing in on promises of a 21st-century version of the "Roaring '20s" in the United States, where hefty stimulus packages and an advanced vaccine campaign are accelerating post-pandemic recovery in high-end sales, according to a new study by Bain & Co. consultancy released on Monday.

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