Science X Newsletter Tuesday, May 18

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for May 18, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A procedure to directly measure the strength of Landau damping

Study shows erosion of ant genome tied to loss of functional, behavioral and social traits in 3 inquiline species

Scientists debut most efficient 'optical rectennas,' devices that harvest power from heat

Newly discovered quasicrystal was created by the first nuclear explosion at Trinity Site

Deep water on Neptune and Uranus may be magnesium-rich

Reseachers detect a new ultra-metal-poor star

Ancient Australian Aboriginal memory tool superior to 'memory palace' learning

'Seeing' previously unseen nano-level glass damage

Stunning simulation of stars being born is most realistic ever

Ozone-depleting chemicals may spend less time in the atmosphere than previously thought

Ability to alter color and ripening rates of tomatoes provides novel opportunity for crop improvements

NASA launches rocket in search of aurora answers

Indigenous co-management essential for protecting, restoring Bears Ears region

Linguistic and biological diversity linked

The environmental trade-offs of autonomous vehicles

Physics news

A procedure to directly measure the strength of Landau damping

Landau damping, a phenomenon originally predicted by Lev Landau in 1946, is essential to ensure the collective beam stability in particle accelerators. By precisely measuring the strength of Landau damping, physicists can predict the stability of beams in high-energy colliders.

Scientists identify key trends in high-energy-density mixing layers

Imagine a bottle of salad dressing containing oil and vinegar. The oil has a lower density than vinegar, so it floats on the vinegar. The oil will not stay trapped under the vinegar if the bottle is flipped upside down. It will bubble up through the vinegar until a stable state is restored.

Crystalline supermirrors for trace gas detection in environmental science and medicine

In an international cooperation with partners from industry and research, physicists from the University of Vienna, together with Thorlabs, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the University of Kansas, have now succeeded for the first time in demonstrating high-performance laser mirrors in the sensing-relevant mid-infrared wavelength range that absorb less than ten out of a million photons. Manufactured in a new process based on crystalline materials, these low-loss mirrors promise to open up completely new application areas, for example in optical respiratory gas analysis for early cancer detection or the detection of greenhouse gases. This work will be published in the current issue of the journal Optica.

Scientists get photons to interact, taking a step towards long-living quantum memory

Scientists believe that individual light particles, or photons, are ideally suited for sending quantum information. Encoded with quantum data, they could literally transfer information at the speed of light. However, while photons would make for great carriers because of their speed, they don't like to interact with each other, making it difficult to achieve quantum entanglement.

Spintronics: Improving electronics with finer spin control

Spintronics is an emerging technology for manufacturing electronic devices that take advantage of electron spin and its associated magnetic properties, instead of using the electrical charge of an electron, to carry information. Antiferromagnetic materials are attracting attention in spintronics, with the expectation of spin operations with higher stability. Unlike ferromagnetic materials, in which atoms align along the same direction like in the typical refrigerator magnets, magnetic atoms inside antiferromagnets have antiparallel spin alignments that cancel out the net magnetization.

Astronomy and Space news

Deep water on Neptune and Uranus may be magnesium-rich

While scientists have amassed considerable knowledge of the rocky planets in our solar system, like Earth and Mars, much less is known about the icy water-rich planets, Neptune and Uranus.

Reseachers detect a new ultra-metal-poor star

Astronomers report the discovery of a new ultra-metal-poor star as part of the Southern Photometric Local Universe Survey (S-PLUS). The newly found star, designated SPLUS J210428.01−004934.2, turns out to have the lowest carbon abundance among the ultra-metal-poor stars so far detected. The finding is detailed in a paper published May 10 on the arXiv pre-print repository.

Stunning simulation of stars being born is most realistic ever

A team including Northwestern University astrophysicists has developed the most realistic, highest-resolution 3D simulation of star formation to date. The result is a visually stunning, mathematically-driven marvel that allows viewers to float around a colorful gas cloud in 3D space while watching twinkling stars emerge.

NASA launches rocket in search of aurora answers

NASA launched one of its largest sounding rockets Sunday from an East Coast facility in an experiment led by a University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute space physics professor.

A new space instrument captures its first solar eruption

For new sun-watching spacecraft, the first solar eruption is always special.

'Europium stars' in the dwarf galaxy Fornax lend new insight into the origin of the elements

Europium is the key for understanding the formation of the heavy elements by the fast neutron capture process, the so-called r-process. This is crucial both for the formation of half of the elements heavier than iron and for the total abundance of thorium and uranium in the universe. The EUROPIUM group has combined theoretical astrophysical simulations with observations of the oldest stars in our Galaxy and in dwarf galaxies. The latter are small, dark-matter dominated galaxies orbiting our Galaxy. Dwarf galaxies are excellent test objects for studying the r-process, as some of the oldest metal-poor stars, those that have existed for 10 to 13 billion years, have exhibited an overabundance of r-process elements. Studies have even postulated that only a single neutron-rich event could be responsible for this enrichment in the smallest dwarf galaxies.

Observatory discovers a dozen PeVatrons and photons exceeding 1 PeV, launches ultra-high-energy gamma astronomy era

China's Large High Altitude Air Shower Observatory (LHAASO)—one of the country's key national science and technology infrastructure facilities—has found a dozen ultra-high-energy (UHE) cosmic accelerators within the Milky Way. It has also detected photons with energies exceeding 1 peta-electron-volt (quadrillion electron-volts or PeV), including one at 1.4 PeV. The latter is the highest energy photon ever observed.

Researchers find stratified structure in broad-line region for changing-look active galactic nuclei

It is generally believed that double-peaked broad emission lines originate from an elliptical disk. Appearance or disappearance of the broad Balmer emission lines correspond to type 1 and type 2 active galactic nuclei (AGNs), respectively. Hence, the name changing-look AGN.

NASA rocket chasing the source of the sun's hot atmosphere

After glimpsing faint but widespread super-heated material in the Sun's outer atmosphere, a NASA sounding rocket is going back for more. This time, they're carrying a new instrument optimized to see it across a wider region of the Sun.

US Space Force missile-warning satellite rockets into orbit

A $1 billion missile-warning satellite for the U.S. Space Force rocketed toward orbit Tuesday.

Technology news

Scientists debut most efficient 'optical rectennas,' devices that harvest power from heat

Scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder have tapped into a poltergeist-like property of electrons to design devices that can capture excess heat from their environment—and turn it into usable electricity.

Helping drone swarms avoid obstacles without hitting each other

There is strength in numbers. That's true not only for humans, but for drones too. By flying in a swarm, they can cover larger areas and collect a wider range of data, since each drone can be equipped with different sensors.

Using machine learning to predict high-impact research

An artificial intelligence framework built by MIT researchers can give an "early-alert" signal for future high-impact technologies, by learning from patterns gleaned from previous scientific publications.

World first concept for rechargeable cement-based batteries

Imagine an entire 20-storey concrete building that can store energy like a giant battery. Thanks to unique research from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, this vision could someday be a reality. Researchers from the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering recently published an article outlining a new concept for rechargeable batteries made of cement.

Wake steering potentially boosts energy production at US wind plants

Wake steering is a strategy employed at wind power plants involving misaligning upstream turbines with the wind direction to deflect wakes away from downstream turbines, which consequently increases the net production of wind power at a plant.

Engineers harvest Wi-Fi signals to power small electronics

With the rise of the digital age, the amount of Wi-Fi sources to transmit information wirelessly between devices has grown exponentially. This results in the widespread use of the 2.4GHz radio frequency that Wi-Fi uses, with excess signals available to be tapped for alternative uses.

Mahle developing magnet-free electric motor that does not require rare earth elements

German car parts company Mahle has announced that it is in the process of developing a magnet-free electric motor that does not require rare earth elements. Company reps report that the new motor is efficient and extremely durable.

A bug lets Eufy security camera access strangers' feeds

The owners of Eufy security cameras have announced a critical privacy bug. According to user reports on the Eufy parent company Anker's forums as well as Reddit, Eufy users can now access the camera feeds of strangers, including both account details and footage recordings.

Researchers develop framework incorporating renewables and flexible carbon capture

As the global energy demand continues to grow along with atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), there has been a major push to adopt more sustainable and more carbon-neutral energy sources. Solar/wind power and CO2 capture—the process of capturing waste CO2 so it is not introduced into the atmosphere—are two promising pathways for decarbonization, but both have significant drawbacks.

New tool uses AI to target smarter building repairs with limited funds

Researchers have developed a tool to help governments and other organizations with limited budgets spend money on building repairs more wisely.

California places Tesla's 'Full Self-Driving' under review

California's Department of Motor Vehicles is reviewing whether Tesla is violating a state regulation by advertising its vehicles as being fully autonomous without meeting the legal definition of self-driving.

Irish health system struggling to recover from cyberattack

Ireland's health system struggled to restore computers and treat patients Tuesday, four days after it shut down its entire information technology system in response to a ransomware attack.

Germany opens antitrust probe into Amazon with tougher law

Germany's competition authority said Tuesday it had opened an inquiry into online retail giant Amazon over potential "anti-competitive practices", using a new law giving regulators more power to rein in big tech companies.

Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack a warning of infrastructure's vulnerability

Hours-long lines at the pump, gas stations that ran dry, and images of people hoarding gas in jerry cans, across multiple Eastern states, dominated the news last week.

How a tougher skin could change the shape of stealth aircraft

Stealth fighters and bombers are among the most expensive aircraft in the world, and they rely on a radar-absorbent polymer skin to avoid detection. But that polymer is so fragile that these high-end aircraft have to be designed in ways that protect the skin—even if that means hurting their performance in the air.

Amazon reported in talks with MGM as streaming deals accelerate

Amazon is in talks to acquire the fabled MGM studios, which would bolster the US tech giant's ambitions in streaming media with James Bond, Rocky and other film franchises, media reports said Tuesday.

India's Tata Motors posts $1 billion loss as Jaguar costs hit bottom line

India's Tata Motors announced a $1 billion loss Tuesday despite a strong performance in the first quarter of 2021 as restructuring costs related to its British luxury car brand Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) hit the automaker's bottom line.

Lamborghini hits accelerator on electric future

Italian sports car maker Lamborghini on Tuesday unveiled Tuesday a 1.5-billion-euro ($1.8 billion) electrification plan for its luxury vehicles, joining a global push away from fossil fuels at the risk of upsetting fans.

Invention reduces risk of battery explosions

A deceptively simple sensor system developed at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory can prevent dangerous conditions from developing in outdoor battery cabinets.

Google teams with Samsung for wearables platform

Google and Samsung said they were teaming up on a joint software platform for smartwatches and other wearables in a move ramping up competition with market leader Apple.

EXPLAINER: How AT&T-Discovery deal affects consumers, rivals

AT&T said Monday it will combine its massive WarnerMedia media assets, which includes HBO and CNN, with Discovery Inc. to create a new media heavyweight in a $43 billion deal.

Novel methods to improve the range and safety of e-vehicles

A University of Surrey project has revealed innovative methods that could dramatically improve the performance of future electrical vehicles (e-vehicles).

Stellantis, Foxconn team up to make cars more connected

Carmaker Stellantis and Taiwan's Foxconn on Tuesday announced plans to develop a jointly operated automotive supplier focusing on technology to make vehicles more connected, including artificial intelligence-based applications and 5-G communications.

Novel intelligent vehicles to monitor water source safety for 2022 Winter Olympic Games

As the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games are approaching, it's a high priority to guarantee the water quality of Guanting Reservoir, one of the water resources of the Games.

Server problems hit Colonial Pipeline, flow unaffected

Colonial Pipeline, the US oil conduit shut down for days by a cyber attack earlier this month, said on Tuesday a server had been disrupted but deliveries of petroleum products were not affected.

Biden to spotlight electric vehicle future he sees for US

President Joe Biden is putting the spotlight Tuesday on the electric vehicle future he envisions for the United States, as a way to tackle climate change and create jobs.

Amazon aims to cut its workplace injury rate by half

Amazon, which has faced criticism for above-industry-average injury rates at its warehouses, said it is taking steps to halve the rate of workplace injuries in them by 2025.

Helping students of all ages flourish in the era of artificial intelligence

A new cross-disciplinary research initiative at MIT aims to promote the understanding and use of AI across all segments of society. The effort, called Responsible AI for Social Empowerment and Education (RAISE), will develop new teaching approaches and tools to engage learners in settings from preK-12 to the workforce.

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