Science X Newsletter Friday, Jun 18

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

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Order from disorder in the sarcomere

'Doomsday Glacier' may be more stable than initially feared

Team discovers unexpected quantum behavior in kagome lattice

For the first time, researchers visualize metabolic process at the single-cell level

Tug-of-war receptors for sour taste in fruit flies sheds light on human taste biology

Vaccination, previous infection, protect against SARS-CoV-2 gamma variant in animal model

Managed retreat: A must in the war against climate change

Surprising spider hair discovery may inspire stronger adhesives

Meringue-like material could make aircraft as quiet as a hairdryer

Altered microstructure improves organic-based, solid state lithium EV battery

mRNA vaccine yields full protection against malaria in mice

Bio-inspired hydrogel protects the heart from post-op adhesions

System linked to operational hospitals, shorter lockdowns, lives saved

Researchers dig deeper into how cells transport their waste for recycling

Memory helps us evaluate situations on the fly, not just recall the past

Physics news

Team discovers unexpected quantum behavior in kagome lattice

An international team led by researchers at Princeton University has uncovered a new pattern of ordering of electric charge in a novel superconducting material.

Tailored laser fields reveal properties of transparent crystals

The surface of a material often has properties that are very different from the properties within the material. For example, a non-conducting crystal, which actually exhibits no magnetism, can show magnetisation restricted to its surface because of the way the atoms are arranged there. These distinct properties at interfaces and surfaces of materials often play a key role in the development of new functional components such as optoelectronic chips or sensors and are therefore subject to extensive research. An international research team from the University of Göttingen, the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry Göttingen and the National Research Council Canada has now succeeded in investigating the surfaces of transparent crystals using powerful irradiation from lasers. The results of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications.

Approaching zero: Super-chilled mirrors edge toward the borders of gravity and quantum physics

The LIGO gravitational wave observatory in the United States is so sensitive to vibrations it can detect the tiny ripples in space-time called gravitational waves. These waves are caused by colliding black holes and other stellar cataclysms in distant galaxies, and they cause movements in the observatory much smaller than a proton.

Imaging at the tip of a needle

A team of physicists, led by Dr. David Phillips from the University of Exeter, have pioneered a new way in which to control light that has been scrambled by passage through a single hair-thin strand of optical fiber. These ultra-thin fibers hold much promise for the next generation of medical endoscopes—enabling high-resolution imaging deep inside the body at the tip of a needle.

Stop-motion photons: Localized light particles on the road

Professor Alexander Szameit and his group of physicists from the University of Rostock, in collaboration with Professor Stefano Longhi from the Polytechnic University of Milan, discovered a novel and paradoxical behavior of light waves: Despite being tightly confined in a microscopic volume, a new kind of disorder allows optical signals to suddenly show up at far away regions. Such abrupt transport had previously been considered impossible, and challenges the current understanding of light waves. Their discovery was recently published in the prestigious journal Nature Photonics.

Compact quantum computer for server centers

Quantum computers developed to date have been one-of-a-kind devices that fill entire laboratories. Now, physicists at the University of Innsbruck have built a prototype of an ion trap quantum computer that can be used in industry. It fits into two 19-inch server racks like those found in data centers throughout the world. The compact, self-sustained device demonstrates how this technology will soon be more accessible.

CERN: How we're probing the universe's origins using record precision measurements

What happened at the beginning of the universe, in the very first moments? The truth is, we don't really know because it takes huge amounts of energy and precision to recreate and understand the cosmos on such short timescales in the lab. But scientists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Switzerland aren't giving up.

Unique terahertz microscope can be operated remotely

With a wave length of about half a millimeter, terahertz radiation fills the gap between visible light and radio waves. This radiation lends itself very well to the in-depth measurement of the electrical properties of new materials, as doctoral candidate Niels van Hoof has demonstrated. He helped build a unique terahertz microscope that can be operated entirely remotely—handy in a pandemic.

Harnessing sound for health

When a person develops a kidney stone or a gall stone—hard accumulations of minerals and other compounds created by the body—they can experience a great deal of pain and discomfort. In more advanced cases, these stones can have serious health effects.

Graphene drum: A new phonon laser design

Professor Konstantin Arutyunov of the HSE Tikhonov Moscow Institute of Electronics and Mathematics (MIEM HSE), together with Chinese researchers, has developed a graphene-based mechanical resonator, in which coherent emission of sound energy quanta, or phonons, has been induced. Such devices, called phonon lasers, have wide potential for application in information processing, as well as classical and quantum sensing of materials. The study is published in the journal Optics Express.

On the road to practical, low-cost superconductors with unexplored materials

Superconductors' unique property of zero resistance can revolutionize power transmission and transport. However, most conventional superconductors require cooling to extremely low temperatures that can only be achieved with liquid helium, an expensive coolant. Materials scientists are now investigating high-temperature superconductors (HTSs) that can be cooled to a superconducting state by using the significantly cheaper liquid nitrogen, which has a remarkably higher temperature than liquid helium.

Astronomy and Space news

Cosmic ray influences on star formation in galaxies

The triggering of star formation, and also its quenching, is regulated by young massive stars in galaxies which inject energy and momentum into the interstellar medium. Feedback from the supermassive black holes at galaxies' nuclei plays a similarly important role. These processes drive the massive gas outflows observed in galaxies, for example. However the details including how they work and the relative roles of the different feedback processes are actively debated. Cosmic rays in particular are accelerated in strong shocks formed by supernova explosions and stellar winds (both aspects of star formation), and generate considerable pressure in the interstellar medium. They play a central role in regulating thermal balance in dense molecular clouds where most stars form and may play an important role in regulating star formation, driving galactic winds, and even in determining the character of the intergalactic medium. Astronomers believe that a key property limiting cosmic ray influence is the ability to propagate out of the sites where they are produced into the interstellar medium and beyond the disk, but the details are not very well understood.

Scientists detect signatures of life remotely

It could be a milestone on the path to detecting life on other planets: Scientists under the leadership of the University of Bern and of the National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS detect a key molecular property of all living organisms from a helicopter flying several kilometers above ground. The measurement technology could also open up opportunities for remote sensing of the Earth.

LLNL/Tyvak space telescope goes into orbit

Thousands of images of Earth and space have been taken by a compact space imaging payload developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers and its collaborator Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems.

Space sustainability rating to shine light on debris problem

There's a problem brewing overhead. Invisible to the naked eye and relatively unheard of, it threatens our future in space—space debris.

Researchers reveal rapid mass transfer between twin components in hierarchical triple system

In a study published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Dr. Zhao Ergang and Prof. Qian Shengbang from Yunnan Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences revealed rapid mass transfer between the two twin components in the eclipsing binary system GK Cepheus (GK Cep), suggesting that GK Cep is a key target to understand the mass transfer during binary evolution. They found that this system contains a solar-type stellar component expect the eclipsing binary.

Student experiments to blast off from NASA Wallops

After being developed via a virtual learning experience, more than 70 experiments built by university students across the United States are ready for flight on NASA suborbital flight vehicles.

The Lunar Lantern could be a beacon for humanity on the moon

In October of 2024, NASA's Artemis Program will return astronauts to the surface of the moon for the first time since the Apollo Era. In the years and decades that follow, multiple space agencies and commercial partners plan to build the infrastructure that will allow for a long-term human presence on the moon. An important part of these efforts involves building habitats that can ensure the astronauts' health, safety, and comfort in the extreme lunar environment. A new resource to accelerate AI application in space science and exploration

The SETI Institute and Frontier Development Lab ( are announcing the launch of SpaceML is a resource that makes AI-ready datasets available to researchers working in space science and exploration, enabling rapid experimentation and reproducibility.

Technology news

Altered microstructure improves organic-based, solid state lithium EV battery

Only 2% of vehicles are electrified to date, but that is projected to reach 30% in 2030. A key toward improving the commercialization of electric vehicles (EVs) is to heighten their gravimetric energy density—measured in watt hours per kilogram—using safer, easily recyclable materials that are abundant. Lithium-metal in anodes are considered the "holy grail" for improving energy density in EV batteries compared to incumbent options like graphite at 240 Wh/kg in the race to reach more competitive energy density at 500 Wh/kg.

Swiss-cheese design could help scientists harness the power of the sun

The big holes in Swiss cheese help make it a tasty treat. Now, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) are adding tiny, Swiss-cheese-type holes to components to improve the process of bringing to Earth the fusion energy that powers the sun and stars.

Combining energy storage and solar offers unexpected power reliability boost

New research from North Carolina State University and North Carolina Central University finds that when a power system combines energy storage and solar power generation, the end result is greater than the sum of its parts in terms of the system's ability to handle peak energy demand. This is encouraging news for renewable energy.

Google could develop locator for Android devices

With Apple locator devices such as AirTag and Find My iPhone, Google is now looking to follow in Apple's footsteps with its new accessibility measure for the Find My Device feature commonly used to locate Android devices. However, Find My Device only really works when the user has access to an Internet connection and their Google account.

Ford says outlook for its 2nd quarter is improving

Ford's second-quarter outlook is improving, with large numbers of customers making reservations for four of its new vehicles.

Unlocking the potential of blockchain technology

The Republic of the Marshall Islands is a country of around 50,000 people spread across more than 1,000 islands in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean. The country relies heavily on cross-border finance and trade, and the complexities of that system can make it difficult for citizens to get certain goods and financial services efficiently.

New standard for vaccine fridges unveiled

You know that part of your fridge that always freezes your lettuce? Or the section in your freezer door that leaves your popsicles a little mushy?

AI-powered Mayflower, beset with glitch, returns to England

The Mayflower had a few false starts before its trailblazing sea voyage to America more than 400 years ago. Now, its artificial intelligence-powered namesake is having some glitches of its own.

Better control of heavy-lift crane vessels

Massive heavy-lift crane vessels, capable of hauling thousands of tons, navigate the rough waves and strong winds offshore to construct wind turbines and oil fields in the ocean. An international team of researchers has developed a new modeling system to help improve the control, and ultimately the safety, of such vessels. They published their approach in the April issue in IEEE/CAA Journal of Automatica Sinica.

Newest Boeing 737 MAX to make first test flight

Boeing said Friday the newest version of its 737 MAX plane, which just recently returned to service following a worldwide grounding after two fatal crashes, will undertake its first test flight near Seattle.

Bank, airline web outage 'not caused' by cyberattack

A major online outage that hit bank and airline websites on both sides of the Pacific was not caused by a cyberattack, the tech provider responsible said Friday.

Germany's Lufthansa aims to pay back government aid quickly

Lufthansa's chief executive said Friday that the company aims to pay back billions of euros in aid provided to help the airline through the coronavirus pandemic before Germany's election in late September.

A new protocol for faster, safer crypto transactions

Researchers from the research unit 'Security and Privacy' at TU Wien (Lukas Aumayr and his supervisor Prof. Matteo Maffei) in collaboration with the IMDEA Software Institute (Prof. Pedro Moreno-Sanchez, previously postdoc at TU Wien) and the Purdue University (Prof. Aniket Kate) have jointly developed a protocol that makes more secure and faster transactions in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

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