Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Jun 1

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for June 1, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A recurrent neural network that infers the global temporal structure based on local examples

Tweaking gene therapy: Scientists experimentally boost red blood cells to aid sickle cell and other hemoglobin diseases

Rare iron mineral from rocks found in mollusk teeth

Charge transport physics of a unique class of rigid-rod conjugated polymers

Researchers explore the surroundings of globular cluster NGC 6809

Eurasian jays less likely than people to be deceived by magic tricks

Why deep freezing iron-based materials makes them both magnetic and superconducting

Researchers demonstrate a quantum advantage

Light-shrinking material lets ordinary microscope see in super resolution

Greenhouse gas emissions from reservoirs higher than previously expected

Scientists say active early learning shapes the adult brain

18th century graveyard found at former Caribbean plantation

Biologists find invasive snails using new DNA-detection technique

Role of sleep-related brain activity in clearing toxic proteins and preventing Alzheimer's disease

Vitamin D may not provide protection from COVID-19 susceptibility or disease severity

Physics news

Why deep freezing iron-based materials makes them both magnetic and superconducting

Physicists at the University of Bath in the UK, in collaboration with researchers from the USA, have uncovered a new mechanism for enabling magnetism and superconductivity to co-exist in the same material. Until now, scientists could only guess how this unusual coexistence might be possible. The discovery could lead to applications in green energy technologies and in the development of superconducting devices, such as next-generation computer hardware.

Researchers demonstrate a quantum advantage

Quantum computing and quantum sensing have the potential to be vastly more powerful than their classical counterparts. Not only could a fully realized quantum computer take just seconds to solve equations that would take a classical computer thousands of years, but it could have incalculable impacts on areas ranging from biomedical imaging to autonomous driving.

Light-shrinking material lets ordinary microscope see in super resolution

Electrical engineers at the University of California San Diego developed a technology that improves the resolution of an ordinary light microscope so that it can be used to directly observe finer structures and details in living cells.

Stimulated scattering in supermode microcavities: Single- or dual-mode lasing?

Stimulated scattering in supermode microcavities, such as Raman or Brillouin lasers, has shown unprecedented merit for precision measurements by exploiting the beat note in their lasing spectra. This beat note corresponds to the energy splitting of supermodes and is highly sensitive to any external perturbations. However, a pivotal question has puzzled the researchers for two decades: are these supermode microcavity lasers single or dual modes? Now, a research team led by Professor Xiao Yunfeng at Peking University has revealed the lasing dynamics of a stimulated scattering laser in a supermode microcavity, and experimentally demonstrated its single-mode nature. This work has been published online in PNAS.

Christie's to sell Isaac Newton's notes for greatest work

Handwritten notes that show one of history's greatest scientific minds in action are going up for auction in London.

Researchers model new method of generating gamma-ray combs

Skoltech researchers used the resources of the university's Zhores supercomputer to study a new method of generating gamma-ray combs for nuclear and X-ray photonics and spectroscopy of new materials. The paper was published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Drone-mounted millimeter-wave radar sees through inner walls of chimneys

A team of researchers at Osaka University, together with Rediscovery of the wheel Inc., and JFE Shoji Electronics Corporation, has developed an ultra-wideband radar system, which can be mounted on drones. With the cooperation of the Tokuyama Plant of Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd., a drone equipped with the radar was flown in a chimney with a height of 150 m during a regular inspection period (Fig. 1). The researchers have succeeded in inspecting the thickness of the lining material, which covers the chimney wall as a protection layer.

A new direction of topological research is ready for take off

In a joint effort, ct.qmat scientists from Dresden, Rostock, and Würzburg have accomplished non-Hermitian topological states of matter in topolectric circuits. The latter acronym refers to topological and electrical, giving a name to the realization of synthetic topological matter in electric circuit networks. The main motif of topological matter is its role in hosting particularly stable and robust features immune to local perturbations, which might be a pivotal ingredient for future quantum technologies. The current ct.qmat results promise a knowledge transfer from electric circuits to alternative optical platforms, and have just been published in Physical Review Letters.

Harmonious electronic structure leads to enhanced quantum materials

The electronic structure of metallic materials determines the behavior of electron transport. Magnetic Weyl semimetals have a unique topological electronic structure—the electron's motion is dynamically linked to its spin. These Weyl semimetals have come to be the most exciting quantum materials that allow for dissipationless transport, low power operation, and exotic topological fields that can accelerate the motion of the electrons in new directions. The compounds Co3Sn2S2 and Co2MnGa, recently discovered by the Felser group, have shown some of the most prominent effects due to a set of two topological bands.

Astronomy and Space news

Researchers explore the surroundings of globular cluster NGC 6809

Using the 4-meter Blanco telescope at the Cerro Tololo InterAmerican Observatory (CTIO), astronomers have mapped the outermost regions of a galactic globular cluster known as NGC 6809. Results of the study, published May 24 on the arXiv pre-print server, could improve our understanding of this cluster and its surroundings.

FAST is promising in interplanetary scintillation observation

The radio signal from a distant compact radio source is scattered by the density inhomogeneities of the solar wind, and consequently a random diffraction pattern is observed on the Earth.

Study reveals diverse magnetic fields in solar-type star forming cores

Magnetic fields are ubiquitous throughout the Milky Way galaxy and play a crucial role in all dynamics of interstellar medium. However, questions like how solar-type stars form out of magnetized molecular clouds, whether the role of magnetic fields changes at various scales and densities of molecular clouds, and what factors can change the morphology of magnetic fields in low-mass dense cores still remain unclear.

ASKAP takes a first glimpse at the galactic plane

With the findings detailed in two Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society papers, a group of astronomers, led by the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) and Macquarie University, reported the first radio observations toward the galactic plane using the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP), developed and managed by CSIRO—Australia's national science agency. The region mapped by the researchers includes the entire area of the Stellar Continuum Originating from Radio Physics In Ourgalaxy (SCORPIO) survey, one of the exploration projects of the Evolutionary Map of the Universe (EMU) program, which will use the new ASKAP telescope to make a census of radio sources of the whole southern hemisphere.

Turbulence in interstellar gas clouds reveals multi-fractal structures

In interstellar dust clouds, turbulence must first dissipate before a star can form through gravity. A German-French research team has now discovered that the kinetic energy of the turbulence comes to rest in a space that is very small on cosmic scales, ranging from one to several light-years in extent. The group also arrived at new results in the mathematical method: Previously, the turbulent structure of the interstellar medium was described as self-similar—or fractal. The researchers found that it is not enough to describe the structure mathematically as a single fractal, a self-similar structure as known from the Mandelbrot set. Instead, they added several different fractals, so-called multifractals. The new methods can thus be used to resolve and represent structural changes in astronomical images in detail. Applications in other scientific fields such as atmospheric research is also possible.

New Zealand latest nation to sign space agreement with NASA

New Zealand announced Tuesday it was the latest country to sign a space agreement with NASA, just as New Zealand's nascent space industry begins to take off.

Exoplanet surveys are leaning toward the possibility that our solar system is normal

One of the unspoken caveats of most exoplanet discovery missions is that they only operate for a few years. Such a short observing window means there are planets with longer orbital periods, usually further out from the star, that those surveys would completely miss. Knowing this would be a problem, a team of astronomers arranged the California Legacy Survey three decades ago in order to monitor as many stars as possible for as long a time as possible. Recently, they released their first results, which show solar systems that are surprisingly like our own.

Image: Jupiter antenna that came in from the cold

An instrument destined for Jupiter orbit is checked after completing eight days of cryogenic radio-frequency testing at ESA's ESTEC technical center in the Netherlands.

JAXA using water bottle technology for sample-return missions from the ISS

The International Space Station (ISS) is not only the largest and most sophisticated orbiting research facility ever built, it is arguably the most important research facility we have. With its cutting-edge facilities and microgravity environment, the ISS is able to conduct lucrative experiments that are leading to advances in astrobiology, astronomy, medicine, biology, space weather and meteorology, and materials science.

How were the carbon contents in terrestrial and lunar mantles established?

Carbon degassed from planetary mantles by volcanic activity plays an important role in the planetary surface environment. However, how the carbon content in the Earth's mantle was established is still poorly understood. Here we show that the mantle of planetary embryos may have been nearly saturated with carbon by new high-pressure experiments and point out that the carbon solubility of magma is very consistent with the estimated carbon contents in terrestrial and lunar mantles.

Dunes trapped in a crater on Mars form this interesting pattern

Symmetry in nature is pleasing to look at, and even more so when that symmetry is novel. There's plenty of it to see on Earth, as biological processes have a penchant for patterns. But finding it off-world is trickier, and sometimes more striking. Which is why a picture from HiRISE of some Martian dunes is so spectacular.

Technology news

A recurrent neural network that infers the global temporal structure based on local examples

Most computer systems are designed to store and manipulate information, such as documents, images, audio files and other data. While conventional computers are programmed to perform specific operations on structured data, emerging neuro-inspired systems can learn to solve tasks more adaptively, without having to be engineered to carry out a set type of operations.

Researchers create a camera that knows exactly where it is

Researchers from the University of Bristol have demonstrated how a new special type of camera can build a pictorial map of where it has been and use this map to know where it currently is, something that will be incredibly useful in the development of smart sensors, driverless cars and robotics.

Making batteries live longer with ultrathin lithium

Our lives today are governed by electronics in all shapes and forms. Electronics, in turn, are governed by their batteries. However, the traditional lithium-ion batteries (LIBs), that are widely used in electronic devices, are falling out of favor because researchers are beginning to view lithium metal batteries (LMBs) as a superior alternative due to their remarkably high energy density that exceeds LIBs by an order of magnitude. The key difference lies in the choice of anode material: LIBs use graphite, whereas LMBs use lithium metal.

Trust the machine—it knows what it is doing

Machine learning, when used in climate science builds an actual understanding of the climate system, according to a study published in the journal Chaos by Manuel Santos Gutiérrez and Valerio Lucarini, University of Reading, UK, Mickäel Chekroun, the Weizmann Institute, Israel and Michael Ghil, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France. This means we can trust machine learning and further its applications in climate science, say the authors.

A new model enables the recreation of the family tree of complex networks

In a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a research team of the Institute of Complex Systems of the University of Barcelona (UBICS) analyzed the time evolution of real complex networks and developed a model in which the emergence of new nodes can be related to pre-existing nodes, similarly to the evolution of species in biology.

Researchers fine-tune control over AI image generation

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new state-of-the-art method for controlling how artificial intelligence (AI) systems create images. The work has applications for fields from autonomous robotics to AI training.

Google announces Half-Double, a new technique used in the Rowhammer DRAM security exploit

Google has just revealed the discovery of a new technique used by attackers to take advantage of the Rowhammer security exploit present in Dynamic Random-Access Memory (DRAM). This new strategy involves capitalizing on the issues with some of the newer DRAM chips in the ways memory cells interact with each other.

Japan approves chip development project with Taiwan's TSMC

Japan has signed off on a $338 million semiconductor research project to develop cutting-edge chip technology in the country with the market-leading Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC).

Lean and mean: Maximizing 5G communications with an energy-efficient relay network

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) have developed a wirelessly powered relay network for 5G systems. The proposed battery-free communication addresses the challenges of flexible deployment of relay networks. This design is both economical and energy-efficient. Such advances in 5G communications will create tremendous opportunities for a wide range of sectors.

Powering ahead with community batteries

Community-scale batteries are already achievable in Australia, will complement existing household batteries and will allow more solar energy to be stored in our suburbs, analysis from The Australian National University (ANU) shows.

Underwater robot does not need help on the ocean floor

Robots can perform jobs underwater that are too complex or dangerous for humans. That is, if they can manage on their own, because no one can help them down there. The REMARO project works on its control systems and trains Ph.D. students in programming work.

Spiking neural network chip combines low latency and energy consumption with high inference accuracy

In April 2020, imec introduced the world's first chip to process radar signals using a spiking recurrent neural network (SNN). Its flagship use-case? The creation of a smart, low-power multi-sensor perception system for drones that identifies obstacles in a matter of milliseconds.

New mathematical models and algorithms for intelligent image processing inspired by the human visual cortex

Using the visual cortex as a model in the human brain, the research group led by ERC-award-winner Thomas Pock has developed new mathematical models and algorithms as the basis for faster and more intelligent image processing programs.

Machine learning is changing culture: This text-altering tool shows how

Most of us benefit every day from the fact computers can now "understand" us when we speak or write. Yet few of us have paused to consider the potentially damaging ways this same technology may be shaping our culture.

Bird-like robots could assist in medical emergencies and hunt down drones

A bird flaps its wings, glides using air currents and then smoothly descends to perch on a pole. But this is not just any bird, it's a robot bird. And robots like these could in the next decade be used to respond to emergencies or to hunt down drones posing a threat to safety or security.

Technology toolkit for bipolar plate production of fuel cells

Fuel cells have huge potential, but there are not yet any clear structures and standards surrounding their manufacture. The huge number of options when it comes to production technologies makes it challenging for users or potential users to maintain an overview in their mind and to select the right production process to suit their needs. To help overcome this problem, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU and the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT are developing a virtual technology toolkit. This toolkit will help users to make the best production decisions when manufacturing fuel cells by enabling them to select the forming technology for bipolar plates that is most appropriate to the specific application.

Supplying rural areas with electricity sustainably

Germany is supposed to become climate-neutral by 2045. The federal govern-ment's new climate protection law stipulates this. Greenhouse gas emissions are supposed to drop at 65 percent below their 1990 values by the year 2030. Many innovative ideas and solutions are needed to implement this ambitious plan. Together with their partners, research scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF are making a contribution in the RIGRID project: Its objective is to supply rural areas with power sustainably, cost-effectively and reliably.

Automated detection of security vulnerabilities in cloud applications

Cloud computing is a growing market. But cyberattacks on cloud software systems are on the rise, too, as these applications often contain security vulnerabilities that hackers are able to exploit. CodeShield software—which is produced by the company of the same name—uncovers these vulnerabilities and fixes them using automated methods. CodeShield is a spin-off of the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechatronic Systems Design IEM and the Heinz Nixdorf Institute at Paderborn University.

Intelligent system to improve vehicle stability systems

Researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) have developed an intelligent system for estimating a vehicle's dynamic behavior and improving its stability. This will help to optimize the performance of skid and rollover control systems in cars, as well as to prevent potential traffic accidents.

Digital wind tunnels could help develop more fuel efficient airplanes

New research has demonstrated how simulations could produce more detailed and accurate data quicker than physical wind tunnel experiments.

Missing the moment: Virtual reality's breakout still elusive

Virtual reality—computer generated 3D environments that can range from startlingly realistic to abstract wonderlands—has been on the cusp of wide acceptance for years without ever really taking off.

What could possibly go wrong with virtual reality?

YouTube is a treasure trove of virtual reality fails: users tripping, colliding into walls and smacking inanimate and animate objects. By investigating these "VR fails' on YouTube, researchers at the University of Copenhagen have sought to learn more about when and why things go sideways for users and how to improve VR design and experiences so as to avoid accidents.

Artificial intelligence enables smart control and fair sharing of resources in energy communities

Energy communities will play a key role in building the more decentralized, less carbon intensive, and fairer energy systems of the future. Such communities enable local prosumers (consumers with own generation and storage) to generate, store and trade energy with each other—using locally owned assets, such as wind turbines, rooftop solar panels and batteries. In turn, this enables the community to use more locally generated renewable generation, and shifts the market power from large utility companies to individual prosumers.

The role of computer voice in the future of speech-based human-computer interaction

In the modern day, our interactions with voice-based devices and services continue to increase. In this light, researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology and RIKEN, Japan, have performed a meta-synthesis to understand how we perceive and interact with the voice (and the body) of various machines. Their findings have generated insights into human preferences, and can be used by engineers and designers to develop future vocal technologies.

New hardware systems bring the future of artificial intelligence into view

Machine learning is the process by which computers adapt their responses without human intervention. This form of artificial intelligence (AI) is now common in everyday tools such as virtual assistants and is being developed for use in areas from medicine to agriculture. A challenge posed by the rapid expansion of machine learning is the high energy demand of the complex computing processes. Researchers from The University of Tokyo have reported the first integration of a mobility-enhanced field-effect transistor (FET) and a ferroelectric capacitor (FE-CAP) to bring the memory system into the proximity of a microprocessor and improve the efficiency of the data-intensive computing system. Their findings were presented at the 2021 Symposium on VLSI Technology.

No space wasted: Embedding capacitors into interposers to increase miniaturization

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology develop a 3D functional interposer—the interface between a chip and the package substrate—containing an embedded capacitor. This compact design saves a lot of package area and greatly reduces the wiring length between the chip's terminals and the capacitor, allowing for less noise and power consumption. Their approach paves the way to new semiconductor package structures with greater miniaturization.

Automotive chip maker says it's nearly recovered from blaze

A fire-damaged Japanese factory that supplies many of the auto industry's computer chips is producing about 88% of what it was making before the March blaze, its owner says.

How AI could alert firefighters of imminent danger

Firefighting is a race against time. Exactly how much time? For firefighters, that part is often unclear. Building fires can turn from bad to deadly in an instant, and the warning signs are frequently difficult to discern amid the mayhem of an inferno.

US subsidiary of meat-packing giant JBS hit by cyberattack

The American subsidiary of the world's largest meat processing companies said Monday it had been hacked, paralyzing some of its operations and impacting thousands of workers in Australia.

Russian lawmakers pass bill to make web giants go local

Russian lawmakers on Tuesday backed a bill that would force foreign internet companies to set up local offices or face harsh penalties, including an outright ban.

A peek behind the IT curtain of EU's 'vaccine passport'

From video calls involving 130 people to no-shows at the general rehearsal, Josef Lieven and his team of software engineers faced their share of challenges on the road to Europe's digital COVID certificate.


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