Science X Newsletter Monday, Jun 21

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for June 21, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

New insight into how the brain makes decisions in changing environments

New possibilities for detecting Hawking radiation emitted by primordial black holes

New research adds a wrinkle to our understanding of the origins of matter in the Milky Way

'Pack ice' tectonics reveal Venus' geological secrets

New study on climate change impacts on plants could lead to better conservation strategies

A cavitation-on-a-chip device with a multiple microchannel configuration

How a protein named STING assaults viruses and cancer cells that invade us

Astronomers inspect the formation of millisecond pulsar PSR J1946+3417

Common perovskite superfluoresces at high temperatures

Lead from leaded petrol persists in London air despite '90s ban

NASA reports trouble with Hubble Space Telescope

Researchers find biological links between red meat and colorectal cancer

Take 2: Spacewalking astronauts install new solar panel

Smaller bodies, longer wings, earlier migrations: Untangling the multiple impacts of climate warming on birds

Genetic cause of neurodevelopmental disorder discovered

Physics news

New possibilities for detecting Hawking radiation emitted by primordial black holes

While many physicists have predicted the existence of dark matter, a type of matter that does not absorb, reflect or emit light, so far no one has been able to observe it experimentally or determine its fundamental nature. Light primordial black holes (PBHs), black holes the formed in the early universe, are among the most promising dark matter candidates. However, the existence of these black holes has not yet been confirmed.

Common perovskite superfluoresces at high temperatures

A commonly studied perovskite can superfluoresce at temperatures that are practical to achieve and at timescales long enough to make it potentially useful in quantum computing applications. The finding from North Carolina State University researchers also indicates that superfluorescence may be a common characteristic for this entire class of materials.

New research into the spreading of infections reveals need for greater collaboration between biology and physics

Researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, together with epidemiologist Lone Simonsen from Roskilde University form part of the panel advising the Danish government on how to tackle the different infection-spreading situations we have all seen unfold over the past year. Researchers have modeled the spread of infections under a variety of scenarios, and the Coronavirus has proven to not follow the older models of disease spreading.

New high-speed method for spectroscopic measurements

Researchers at Tampere University and their collaborators have shown how spectroscopic measurements can be made much faster. By correlating polarization to the color of a pulsed laser, the team can track changes in the spectrum of light by simple and extremely fast polarization measurements. The method opens new possibilities to measure spectral changes on a nanosecond time scale over the entire color spectrum of light.

New cold atom source lays groundwork for portable quantum devices

Although quantum technology has proven valuable for highly precise timekeeping, making these technologies practical for use in a variety of environments is still a key challenge. In an important step toward portable quantum devices, researchers have developed a new high-flux and compact cold-atom source with low power consumption that can be a key component of many quantum technologies.

Physicists create platform to achieve ultra-strong photon-to-magnon coupling

A team of scientists from NUST MISIS and MIPT have developed and tested a new platform for realization of the ultra-strong photon-to-magnon coupling. The proposed system is on-chip and is based on thin-film hetero-structures with superconducting, ferromagnetic and insulating layers. This discovery solves a problem that has been on the agenda of research teams from different countries for the last 10 years, and opens new opportunities in implementing quantum technologies. The study was published in the highly ranked journal Science Advances.

PhD student obtains the Higgs mode via dimensional crossover in quantum magnets

In 2013, François Englert and Peter Higgs won the Nobel Prize in Physics for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, which was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle by the A Toroidal LHC Apparatus (ATLAS) and the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiments at The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)'s Large Hadron Collider in 2012. The Higgs mode or the Anderson-Higgs mechanism (named after another Nobel Laureate Philip W Anderson), has widespread influence in our current understanding of the physical law for mass ranging from particle physics—the elusive "God particle" Higgs boson discovered in 2012 to the more familiar and important phenomena of superconductors and magnets in condensed matter physics and quantum material research.

Chinese superconducting dipole magnet reaches 12 Tesla

The high-field superconducting magnet team of Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has made progress in a new round of performance tests that ended on June 13. The magnetic field of the dipole magnet developed by the team exceeded 12 Tesla (Tesla) in two apertures at 4.2 K, reaching more than 85% of the critical performance capacity of the superconducting wire. This magnet, including its design, superconducting materials, cables, coils, and related equipment and platform, is based on domestic technologies.

A colorful look at fast-flying particles

The strong nuclear force is one of the four fundamental forces of nature, along with the electromagnetic, gravitational and weak nuclear forces. The branch of particle physics that deals with the strong nuclear force is called quantum chromodynamics (QCD). The term "chromo" refers to the charge in the theory, which is called color (not related to the everyday meaning of the word in terms of visible light). It is important to understand more about QCD, since it gives us a better understanding of nature as a whole and of the universe we occupy. This thesis develops new equations that describe how quantities measured in experiments depend on energy. One such equation describes the energy dependence of the odderon, a particle that has been made famous in international news recently due to its observation at CERN in late 2020. We also use a new method to calculate evolution equations without making the usual assumption that QCD has infinitely many colors, instead of the three colors it has in reality.

Astronomy and Space news

New research adds a wrinkle to our understanding of the origins of matter in the Milky Way

New findings published this week in Physical Review Letters suggest that carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen cosmic rays travel through the galaxy toward Earth in a similar way, but, surprisingly, that iron arrives at Earth differently. Learning more about how cosmic rays move through the galaxy helps address a fundamental, lingering question in astrophysics: How is matter generated and distributed across the universe?

'Pack ice' tectonics reveal Venus' geological secrets

A new analysis of Venus' surface shows evidence of tectonic motion in the form of crustal blocks that have jostled against each other like broken chunks of pack ice. The movement of these blocks could indicate that Venus is still geologically active and give scientists insight into both exoplanet tectonics and the earliest tectonic activity on Earth.

Astronomers inspect the formation of millisecond pulsar PSR J1946+3417

A team of Chinese astronomers has conducted a study aimed at inspecting formation scenarios for the millisecond pulsar PSR J1946+3417. They found that the pulsar was most likely formed as a result of a phase transition. The research was published June 10 on the arXiv pre-print server.

NASA reports trouble with Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope, which has been peering into the universe for more than 30 years, has been down for the past few days, NASA said Friday.

Take 2: Spacewalking astronauts install new solar panel

Spacewalking astronauts equipped the International Space Station with the first in a series of powerful new solar panels Sunday, overcoming suit problems and other obstacles with muscle and persistence.

NASA balloon detects California earthquake—next stop, Venus?

Between July 4 and July 6, 2019, a sequence of powerful earthquakes rumbled near Ridgecrest, California, triggering more than 10,000 aftershocks over a six-week period. Seeing an opportunity, researchers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech flew instruments attached to high-altitude balloons over the region in hopes of making the first balloon-borne detection of a naturally occurring earthquake. Their goal: To test the technology for future applications at Venus, where balloons equipped with science instruments could float above the planet's exceedingly inhospitable surface.

Technology news

Scientists develop energy saving technique paving way for a carbon neutral society

Researchers at the University of Bristol have discovered a method which will allow for faster communication systems and better energy saving electronics.

Engineers develop inexpensive, scalable method to make metamaterials that manipulate microwave energy

Engineers at Tufts University have developed new methods to more efficiently fabricate materials that behave in unusual ways when interacting with microwave energy, with potential implications for telecommunications, GPS, radar, mobile devices, and medical devices. Known as metamaterials, they are sometimes referred to as "impossible materials" because they could, in theory, bend energy around objects to make them appear invisible, concentrate the transmission of energy into focused beams, or have chameleon like abilities to reconfigure their absorption or transmission of different frequency ranges.

Novel 'smart cement' can be used to build more durable roads and cities

Forces of nature have been outsmarting the materials we use to build our infrastructure since we started producing them. Ice and snow turn major roads into rubble every year; foundations of houses crack and crumble, in spite of sturdy construction. In addition to the tons of waste produced by broken bits of concrete, each lane-mile of road costs the U.S. approximately $24,000 per year to keep it in good repair.

Engineers create solar energy collectors grown from seeds

Rice University engineers have created microscopic seeds for growing remarkably uniform 2D perovskite crystals that are both stable and highly efficient at harvesting electricity from sunlight.

As Cyberpunk reboots, can unloved games win an extra life?

Retro-futurist video game Cyberpunk 2077 will be back in the Playstation store on Monday after a disastrous launch marred by bugs forced a 184-day time-out.

Hit by a ransomware attack? Your payment may be deductible

As ransomware attacks surge, the FBI is doubling down on its guidance to affected businesses: Don't pay the cybercriminals. But the U.S. government also offers a little-noticed incentive for those who do pay: The ransoms may be tax deductible.

Europe powers up electric car battery drive

As electric car sales soar, Europe has started to build up its capacity to produce batteries on the continent but it remains far from reducing its dependence on Asia.

Behind Airbus-Boeing truce lies a common rival: China

While the United States and Europe waged a 17-year trade battle over subsidies to Boeing and Airbus, China poured money into its own commercial aircraft to take on the Western aviation duopoly.

Huge changes for internet and Big Tech under US antitrust proposal

The antitrust overhaul package unveiled in Congress targeting Big Tech, if enacted, could have far-reaching effects on how people use the internet and on America's biggest and most successful companies.

Bitcoin dives as China widens crackdown on crypto mining

Bitcoin tumbled more than 10 percent Monday after China broadened a crackdown on its massive cryptocurrency mining industry with a ban on mines in a key southwestern province.

Iran's sole nuclear power plant undergoes emergency shutdown

Iran's sole nuclear power plant has undergone an unexplained temporary emergency shutdown, state TV reported on Sunday.

Ransomware gangs get paid off as officials struggle for fix

If your business falls victim to ransomware and you want simple advice on whether to pay the criminals, don't expect much help from the U.S. government. The answer is apt to be: It depends.

Robot-assisted surgery: Putting the reality in virtual reality

Cardiac surgeons may be able to better plan operations and improve their surgical field view with the help of a robot. Controlled through a virtual reality parallel system as a digital twin, the robot can accurately image a patient through ultrasound without the hand cramping or radiation exposure that hinder human operators. The international research team published their method in IEEE/CAA Journal of Automatica Sinica.

Upcoming national carbon pricing accelerates energy transition away from coal power

The implementation of national carbon pricing means that coal plant managers may have to pay for carbon emissions from power generation, leading to higher generation costs, and they may suffer losses in future and even be forced to decommission coal plants before the normal end of plants' technical lifetime.

Advertising and Android apps: A detailed study of data privacy

The concept of privacy in the age of the web and social media remains high on the agenda for many people—those on the business and marketing side who would like to advertise with greater precision and those on the consumer side who would not wish for their personal information and profile to be compromised. A new survey of data privacy in the context of applications, apps, available on the Android operating system and the mobile devices it runs, such as smartphones and tablets, has now been published in the International Journal of Information Privacy, Security and Integrity.

The multilayered challenges of broadband expansion

In the Biden Administration's proposal to invest in the country's infrastructure, $100 billion is carved out to address gaps in broadband access. According to the Federal Communications Commission, at least 19 million Americans remain without any access to broadband, and many more either can't afford it or have speeds below the 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload standard speeds set by the FCC, last changed in 2015.

The weather's effects on commercial drones may hinder their widespread use

Small aerial drones are touted as a disruptive technology, with massive investment and hype surrounding their use. They may deliver our morning coffee, pizzas, time-sensitive medical supplies and Amazon orders.

Top economists call for budget measures to speed the switch to electric cars

Australia's top economists overwhelmingly back government measures to speed the transition to electric cars in order to meet emission reduction targets.

Is your phone really listening to your conversations? Well, turns out it doesn't have to

Have you ever chatted with a friend about buying a certain item and been targeted with an ad for that same item the next day? If so, you may have wondered whether your smartphone was "listening" to you.

Inside a ransomware attack: How dark webs of cybercriminals collaborate to pull one off

In their Carbis Bay communique, the G7 announced their intention to work together to tackle ransomware groups. Days later, U.S. president Joe Biden met with Russian president Vladimir Putin, where an extradition process to bring Russian cybercriminals to justice in the U.S. was discussed. Putin reportedly agreed in principle, but insisted that extradition be reciprocal. Time will tell if an extradition treaty can be reached. But if it is, who exactly should extradited—and what for?

Texas power companies are adjusting residents' smart thermostats to higher temps. Here's why.

Live in Texas and notice your thermostat temperature happened to go up by itself?

As urban life resumes, can US cities avert gridlock?

Traffic is so ubiquitous in U.S. cities that until recently, imagining urban life without it meant looking to other nations for examples. Then, in 2020, COVID-19 closures and lockdowns took drivers off the roads. The thought experiment became real.

Facebook rolls out Live Audio Rooms, podcasts in new push to take on Clubhouse

Facebook has officially jumped into the audio space.

Volvo, Northvolt team up for electric battery factory

Volvo and Sweden's Northvolt have joined forces to build a new battery factory in Europe as the automaker aims to sell only fully electric cars by 2030, the companies said Monday.

Germany opens antitrust probe against Apple

Germany on Monday opened an investigation against Apple over anti-competition practices, making the iPhone maker the fourth US tech giant to be hit by such probes.

Why China is getting tough on crypto

Cryptocurrency prices have fluctuated wildly in recent weeks as China intensifies a crackdown on trading and mining operations.

Israel cites progress in laser that shoots down drones

The Israeli military said Monday it has successfully tested an airborne high-power laser that can shoot down drones, technology it hopes to deploy on a larger scale in the coming years.

A robot on EBRAINS has learned to combine vision and touch

How the brain lets us perceive and navigate the world is one of the most fascinating aspects of cognition. When orienting ourselves, we constantly combine information from all six senses in a seemingly effortless way—a feature that even the most advanced AI systems struggle to replicate.

Albania holds 1st wind power tender to diversify energy base

Albania launched a tender Monday for its first onshore wind power program, trying to diversify its water-based energy production.

EU data watchdogs want ban on AI facial recognition

The EU's data protection agencies on Monday called for an outright ban on using artificial intelligence to identify people in public places, pointing to the "extremely high" risks to privacy.

How shipping ports are being reinvented for the green energy transition

When it comes to launching the energy transition, maritime policy is one of the key battlegrounds. But many ports, aware of their ecological and economic vulnerability, have committed to sustainable development strategies.

COVID-19 hastened the digital shift with consequences for the 'data divide'

People now entrust much of their data to cloud computing services and social media sites. The problems with this new digital way of life are well known. Social media is thought to produce echo chambers in which people aren't exposed to healthy debates. Big tech companies make money from our personal data. Workers in the gig economy are paid a pittance to deliver groceries to the better off.

Video games for all seasons: Microsoft and Nintendo reveal upcoming releases

Much of the country is reopening as concerns about the coronavirus pandemic lessen, but video game makers have a message: If you want to stay inside, we can keep you entertained.

Deep learning application to MRI could cut scan time in half

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive diagnostic tool used to detect and evaluate brain disease, musculoskeletal damage, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Though MRI has many advantages over other medical imaging technologies, it is slow, which increases cost, compromises patient comfort, can hinder image quality and necessitates the use of sedation for children.

Spielberg signs major streaming deal with Netflix

Steven Spielberg will produce multiple new films for Netflix every year, the company said Monday, in a major deal that highlights how fully Hollywood has embraced streaming platforms.

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