Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Jun 22

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for June 22, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Researchers propose the use of quantum cascade lasers to achieve private free-space communications

Study sheds more light on the properties of open cluster IC 1434

Drinking any type of coffee associated with reduced risk of chronic liver disease

Study shows brain differences in interpreting physical signals in mental health disorders

Twin study is first to reveal genetic risk factors for PTSD and migraine

Tradition of keeping mementos in memory of loved ones dates back at least 2,000 years

Metal catalysts used for environmental sustainability found to degrade and become less effective

Researchers trace dust grain's journey through newborn solar system

Engineers examine urban cooling strategies using reflective surfaces

Bee-impersonating flies show pollinator potential

Future wood use assures long-term climate benefit from commercial forests

Aviation's contribution to cutting climate change likely to be small

No northern escape route for Florida's coral reefs

Julia programming language tackles differential equation challenges

Cannabis use may be associated with suicidality in young adults

Physics news

Researchers propose the use of quantum cascade lasers to achieve private free-space communications

Free-space optical communication, the communication between two devices at a distance using light to carry information, is a highly promising system for achieving high-speed communication. This system of communication is known to be immune to electromagnetic interference (EMI), a disturbance generated by external sources that affects electrical circuits and can disrupt radio signals.

First wave COVID-19 data underestimated pandemic infections

Two COVID-19 pandemic curves emerged within many cities during the one-year period from March 2020 to March 2021.

Tree pollen carries SARS-CoV-2 particles farther, facilitates virus spread

Most models explaining how viruses are transmitted focus on viral particles escaping one person to infect a nearby person. A study on the role of microscopic particles in how viruses are transmitted suggests pollen is nothing to sneeze at.

Do bubble cascades form only in a glass of Guinness beer?

As far back as 1959, brewers at Guinness developed a system that fundamentally altered the texture of their draft beer. Now, researchers from Japan have solved the physics of Guinness' cascading flow, which will have widespread applications to technology in life and environmental sciences.

What the Muon g-2 results mean for how we understand the universe

The news that muons have a little extra wiggle in their step sent word buzzing around the world this spring.

Self-assembly of stimuli-responsive coiled-coil fibrous hydrogels

Jin Kim Montclare, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, with affilations at NYU Langone Health and NYU College of Dentistry, directed this research with first author Michael Meleties, fellow Ph.D. student Dustin Britton, postdoctoral associate Priya Katyal, and undergraduate research assistant Bonnie Lin.

Reducing errors in X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) is often used to determine the chemical composition of materials. It was developed in the 1960s and is accepted as a standard method in materials science. Researchers at Linköping University, Sweden, however, have shown that the method is often used erroneously.

Using nanoscale 3D printing to create high-resolution light field prints

Wouldn't it be amazing if printed images can look three-dimensional (3D)? Unfortunately, conventional prints like photographs display two-dimensional (2D) images with a fixed appearance as they contain only intensity and color information. These prints are unable to display a 3D image because they lack directional control of light rays, hence resulting in the loss of depth information.

Exotic superconductors: The secret that wasn't there

A single measurement result is not a proof—this has been shown again and again in science. We can only really rely on a research result when it has been measured several times, preferably by different research teams, in slightly different ways. In this way, errors can usually be detected sooner or later.

Synthetic tree enhances solar steam generation for harvesting drinking water

About 2.2 billion people globally lack reliable access to clean drinking water, according to the United Nations, and the growing impacts of climate change are likely to worsen this reality.

Classic magic trick may enable quantum computing

Quantum computing could solve problems that are difficult for traditional computer systems. It may seem like magic. One step toward achieving quantum computing even resembles a magician's trick: levitation. A new project at the U.S. Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility will attempt this trick by levitating a microscopic particle in a superconducting radiofrequency (SRF) cavity to observe quantum phenomena.

Researchers prepare radiation resistance of Er-doped silica glass and optical fiber

Rare earth-doped active fibers are crucial in space-based applications, such as space laser communication, laser radar, and space waste disposal. However, the space radiation environment can lead to a sharp increase in the optical loss of rare earth-doped active fibers, and a sharp decrease in the output laser slope efficiency or gain performance. Therefore, it is very important to improve the radiation-resistance property of rare earth-doped silica fiber.

A fiber optic monitoring system for 5G light-powered networks

The Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), together with the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (UPV), has patented a multicore fiber optic monitoring system for future use in 5G networks. This system will optimize energy consumption, preserving data transmission capacity.

Astronomy and Space news

Study sheds more light on the properties of open cluster IC 1434

Astronomers have performed a detailed photometric and kinematical study of an open cluster known as IC 1434. Results of the research provide essential information regarding the properties of this stellar grouping. The study was detailed in a paper published June 10 on the arXiv pre-print server.

Researchers trace dust grain's journey through newborn solar system

A research team led by the University of Arizona has reconstructed in unprecedented detail the history of a dust grain that formed during the birth of the solar system more than 4.5 billion years ago. The findings provide insights into the fundamental processes underlying the formation of planetary systems, many of which are still shrouded in mystery.

The surface of Venus is cracked and moves like ice floating on the ocean, likely due to tectonic activity

Much of the brittle, upper crust of Venus is broken into fragments that jostle and move—and the slow churning of Venus' mantle beneath the surface might be responsible. My colleagues and I arrived at this finding using decades-old radar data to explore how the surface of Venus interacts with the interior of the planet. We describe it in a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on June 21, 2021.

Is dark matter real, or have we misunderstood gravity?

For many years now, astronomers and physicists have been in a conflict. Is the mysterious dark matter that we observe deep in the Universe real, or is what we see the result of subtle deviations from the laws of gravity as we know them? In 2016, Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde proposed a theory of the second kind: emergent gravity. New research, published in Astronomy & Astrophysics this week, pushes the limits of dark matter observations to the unknown outer regions of galaxies, and in doing so re-evaluates several dark matter models and alternative theories of gravity. Measurements of the gravity of 259,000 isolated galaxies show a very close relation between the contributions of dark matter and those of ordinary matter, as predicted in Verlinde's theory of emergent gravity and an alternative model called Modified Newtonian Dynamics. However, the results also appear to agree with a computer simulation of the Universe that assumes that dark matter is 'real stuff'.

Space object with orbit stretching into the Oort cloud discovered

Astronomers Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein discovered a space object recently that has an orbit around the sun and also stretches into the Oort cloud—they have named it 2014 UN271. The researchers made the discovery while studying archival images collected for the Dark Energy Survey over the years 2014 to 2018. Since its discovery, entities such as the MMPL forum, the Minor Planet Center and JPL Solar System Dynamics have been tracking the object and have found that it will make its closest approach to Earth in 2031.

Dirty laundry in space? NASA, Tide tackle cleaning challenge

How do astronauts do laundry in space? They don't.

Patents help build a global map of new space industry

Skoltech researchers and their colleagues from Russia and Serbia have reviewed almost a thousand patents held by some two hundred organizations involved in the New Space economy. The analysis helped draw a comprehensive picture of technology trends in the field. The paper was published in the journal Progress in Aerospace Sciences.

Technology news

Julia programming language tackles differential equation challenges

Emerging open-source programming language Julia is designed to be fast and easy to use.

AI may soon predict how electronics fail

Think of them as master Lego builders, only at an atomic scale. Engineers at CU Boulder have taken a major step forward in combing advanced computer simulations with artificial intelligence to try to predict how electronics, like the transistors in your cell phone, will fail.

Toyota announces new capabilities for domestic robots

Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has announced on its press blog that engineers with the company have developed new capabilities for its line of domestic robots. The new capabilities include recognizing and manipulating transparent objects and wiping down counters and tables. In the video accompanying the announcement, a robot grabs a smartphone off a table and uses it to take a selfie video as it carries on with cleaning a kitchen.

Researchers identify near-term opportunity for heavy-duty electric trucks

Heavy-duty trucks, or semi-trucks with a gross vehicle weight greater than 26,000 pounds, are responsible for around 15% of total U.S. transportation energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Electrifying these vehicles would be a significant step toward transportation decarbonization in the United States. However, the opportunity for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in heavy-duty trucking is highly debated due to concerns about vehicle range, charging requirements, and battery weights.

Speeding up machine learning for particle physics

Machine learning is everywhere. For example, it's how Spotify gives you suggestions of what to listen to next or how Siri answers your questions. And it's used in particle physics too, from theoretical calculations to data analysis. Now a team including researchers from CERN and Google has come up with a new method to speed up deep neural networks—a form of machine-learning algorithms—for selecting proton–proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) for further analysis. The technique, described in a paper just published in Nature Machine Intelligence, could also be used beyond particle physics.

Studies suggest finding automatic ways to spot fake news may be more complicated than anticipated

Clickbait headlines might not be as enticing to readers as once thought, according to a team of researchers. They added that artificial intelligence—AI—may also come up short when it comes to correctly determining whether a headline is clickbait.

Intelligent carpet gives insight into human poses

The sentient magic carpet from 'Aladdin' might have a new competitor. While it can't fly or speak, a new tactile sensing carpet from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) can estimate human poses without using cameras, in a step towards improving self-powered personalized healthcare, smart homes, and gaming.

Machine learning enhances non-verbal communication in online classrooms

Researchers in the Center for Research on Entertainment and Learning (CREL) at the University of California San Diego have developed a system to analyze and track eye movements to enhance teaching in tomorrow's virtual classrooms—and perhaps future virtual concert halls.

Why are augmented reality apps designed mainly for youngsters?

Augmented reality (AR) is poised to revolutionize the way people complete essential everyday tasks, yet older adults—who have much to gain from the technology—will be excluded from using it unless more thought goes into designing software that makes sense to them.

Smart elastomers are making the robots of the future more touchy-feely

Imagine flexible surgical instruments that can twist and turn in all directions like miniature octopus arms, or how about large and powerful robot tentacles that can work closely and safely with human workers on production lines. A new generation of robotic tools are beginning to be realized thanks to a combination of strong 'muscles' and sensitive 'nerves' created from smart polymeric materials. A research team led by the smart materials experts Professor Stefan Seelecke and Junior Professor Gianluca Rizzello at Saarland University is exploring fundamental aspects of this exciting field of soft robotics.

Combating fatigue with autonomy: Human-robot collaboration for manufacturing

Humans and robots may be sharing some of the same goals and manufacturing spaces soon as autonomy and robot technology continue to advance. Researchers at Texas A&M University are analyzing how they can work in unison to allow for one party to step up where the other may temporarily lack.

Smartphones and contact-tracing: Balancing care and surveillance

The astonishing rise of smartphones in everyday life has created many solutions (GPS maps, internet browsing and messaging, to name just a few). But they have also brought new moral dilemmas. One issue in particular stands out in the wake of the pandemic—the fine line between care and surveillance.

What users think about logging in without a password

Many users consider passwords extremely burdening. An authentication protocol for websites, called WebAuthn, could render them obsolete. Users can use it to log on to a service such as a social network or an online shopping platform with their smartphone or computer. The process is quick and easy when using biometric data such as fingerprint or face recognition, which are often already stored to unlock the device. "It is not surprising that this can create the impression that the biometric data is transmitted to the website to which you want to log in, similar to a password. But this is a misconception," says Leona Lassak from Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB).

Chinese pressure pushes bitcoin below $30,000

Bitcoin fell below $30,000 Tuesday for the first time in more than five months, hit by China's crackdown on the world's most popular cryptocurrency.

Tinder adds new features as love seekers stay virtual

Dating app Tinder on Tuesday added more ways for people to get to know each other from afar before meeting in a world changed by the pandemic.

EU investigates Google's conduct in digital ad tech sector

European Union regulators have launched a fresh antitrust investigation of Google, this time over whether the U.S. tech giant is stifling competition in digital advertising technology.

EU court says YouTube may be liable for copyright breaches

The EU's top court on Tuesday said online platforms like YouTube can in some circumstances be held responsible for copyrighted material illegally uploaded by users.

Perovskite memory devices with ultra-fast switching speed

A research team led by Professor Jang-Sik Lee of Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) has successfully developed the halide perovskite-based memory with ultra-fast switching speed. The findings from this study were published in Nature Communications on June 10, 2021.

Audi to stop making fossil fuel cars by 2033: CEO

German luxury carmaker Audi said Tuesday it will stop manufacturing diesel and petrol cars by 2033 as part of an industry-wide pivot towards more environmentally friendly electric cars.

El Salvador is banking on bitcoin, but will it work?

El Salvador will soon become the only country in the world accepting bitcoin as legal tender, a cutting-edge but potentially risky new avenue for its large expat community to send money back home.

New machine learning methods could improve environmental predictions

Machine learning algorithms do a lot for us every day—send unwanted email to our spam folder, warn us if our car is about to back into something, and give us recommendations on what TV show to watch next. Now, we are increasingly using these same algorithms to make environmental predictions for us.

Twitter stars to dabble with getting fans to pay

Twitter announced Tuesday that a small flock of high-flying tweeters in the United States will get to test a feature letting fans pay for special access to online content.

An overview of protected satellite communications in the intelligent age

Protected Satellite Communications (SatComs) exhibit specific characteristics such as security, intelligence, anti-jamming, and nuclear disaster survivability. They constitute one of the key research topics in modern communications. Currently, the United States is using the latest Advanced Extremely High-Frequency (AEHF) system to provide protected communications. Other countries are also employing their own protected SatCom systems to meet future operational requirements. Furthermore, in the modern intelligent age, many intelligent-related technologies are introduced into the protected SatCom systems to provide more secure and efficient communication services.

Hottest seller at GameStop is its own stock, $1B raised

GameStop raised more than $1 billion in its latest stock sale, capitalizing on a newly arrived and fervent army of online investors.

EU's Google ad tech probe part of bloc's antitrust crackdown

The European Union's move on Tuesday to investigate Google over alleged antitrust behavior in the digital ad tech sector is the bloc's latest crackdown on U.S. tech giants. Here's a look at enforcement actions taken by the EU's competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, in recent years, as well as actions by U.S. antitrust regulators and states.

Amazon's Prime Day US shoppers spending less per order so far Inc. shoppers in the U.S. spent less per order during the first 32 hours of the annual Prime Day sale than the previous two years, according to Numerator, suggesting shoppers are flocking to the site to buy diapers and cereal rather than flat-screen televisions and laptops.

Some used vehicles now cost more than original sticker price

When it was new, the window sticker price on a typical 2019 Toyota Tacoma SR double cab pickup was just under $29,000. Two years later, dealers are paying almost $1,000 more than that to buy the same vehicle, even though it's used.

American Airlines cutting flights as summer season starts

American Airlines will cut hundreds of flights over the next three weeks to avoid overloading its operation as demand for summer air travel rises faster than once expected.

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