Science X Newsletter Thursday, Jun 24

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for June 24, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Researchers create an artificial tactile skin that mimics human tactile recognition processes

Genome study reveals East Asian coronavirus epidemic 20,000 years ago

Multiple dinosaur species not only lived in the Arctic, they also nested there

Protocells spring into action

No lab required: New technology can diagnose infections in minutes

Ultralight material withstands supersonic microparticle impacts

Nanotech and AI could hold key to unlocking global food security challenge

Nesher Ramla Homo: New fossil discovery from Israel points to complicated evolutionary process

Scientists can predict and design single atom catalysts for important chemical reactions

Asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs still shaping life beneath impact crater

Unusual coronavirus protein is potential drug target to fight COVID-19

Observing a prethermal discrete time crystal

Cosmic dawn occurred 250 to 350 million years after Big Bang

How mRNA vaccines help fight cancer tumors

Physicists use electric fields to induce oscillations in tiny particles

Physics news

Observing a prethermal discrete time crystal

A framework of statistical physics can be extended to the nonequilibrium setting to discover previously unidentified phases of matter catalyzed by periodic driving. Scientists aim to reduce the runaway heating associated with driving a strongly interacting quantum system in order to investigate newly discovered phases.

Physicists use electric fields to induce oscillations in tiny particles

A challenging frontier in science and engineering is controlling matter outside of thermodynamic equilibrium to build material systems with capabilities that rival those of living organisms. Research on active colloids aims to create micro- and nanoscale "particles" that swim through viscous fluids like primitive microorganisms. When these self-propelled particles come together, they can organize and move like schools of fish to perform robotic functions, such as navigating complex environments and delivering "cargo" to targeted locations.

How physics breaks down in a black hole

One of the most cherished laws of physics—the conservation of charge—has come under fire in "startling" research by physicists.

The fifth quartet: Excited neon discovery could reveal star qualities

Scientists from the Department of Physics and the Research Center for Nuclear Physics (RCNP) at Osaka University, in collaboration with Kyoto University, used alpha particle inelastic scattering to show that the theorized "5α condensed state" does exist in neon-20. This work may help us obtain a better understanding the low-density nucleon many-body systems.

Theoretical proof that a strong force can create lightweight subatomic particles

Using only a pen and paper, a theoretical physicist has proved a decades-old claim that a strong force called Quantum Chromo Dynamics (QCD) leads to light-weight pions, reports a new study published on June 23 in Physical Review Letters.

Mechanism behind XFEL-induced melting of diamond unveiled

The ultrafast melting of diamond under intense x-ray irradiation has been visualized for the first time by RIKEN researchers. This observation will help scientists improve experimental methods that use high-intensity x-ray pulses to determine the structures of materials.

Quantum simulation: Measurement of entanglement made easier

University of Innsbruck researchers have developed a method to make previously hardly accessible properties in quantum systems measurable. The new method for determining the quantum state in quantum simulators reduces the number of necessary measurements and makes work with quantum simulators much more efficient.

Calibration method enables microscopes to make accurate measurements in all 3 dimensions

Conventional microscopes provide essential information about samples in two dimensions—the plane of the microscope slide. But flat is not all that. In many instances, information about the object in the third dimension—the axis perpendicular to the microscope slide—is just as important to measure.

A high-resolution microscope built from LEGO and phone bits

Microscopy is an essential tool in many fields of science and medicine. However, many groups have limited access to this technology due to its cost and fragility. Now, researchers from the Universities of Göttingen and Münster have succeeded in building a high-resolution microscope using nothing more than children's plastic building bricks and affordable parts from a mobile phone. They then went on to show that children aged nine to 13 had significantly increased understanding of microscopy after constructing and working with the LEGO microscope. Their results were published in The Biophysicist.

Rearranging orchestral musicians to reduce disease-spreading aerosols

A team of researchers at the University of Utah Salt Lake City has found, via simulation, that it is possible to rearrange musicians playing wind instruments in an orchestra to reduce the spread of disease-laden aerosols. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes simulations they ran that showed airflow patterns during orchestral performances and what they found.

Researchers resolve magnetic structures of different topological semimetals

Topological semimetals are one of the major discoveries in condensed-matter physics in recent years. The magnetic Weyl semimetal, in which the Weyl nodes can be generated and modulated by magnetization, provides an ideal platform for the investigation of the magnetic field-tunable link between Weyl physics and magnetism. But due to the lack of appropriate or high quality specimens, most of the theoretically expected magnetic topological semimetals have not been experimentally confirmed. Therefore, exploration of new magnetic topological semimetals is of great importance.

Scientists present new measurements of β-delayed two-proton decay of 27S

Two-proton decay is a quantum tunneling process. The tunneling probability depends on the available energy and the height of the Coulomb barrier, which in turn depends on the nuclear charge Z (number of protons). Two-proton emission is a typical three-body breakup process, including the daughter nucleus and two protons, in which pairing correlations play an important role. Therefore, a detailed study of two-proton emission is of great significance for exploring the open quantum system, pairing correlations and exotic nuclear structure.

Artificial intelligence speeds forecasts to control fusion experiments

Machine learning, a technique used in the artificial intelligence (AI) software behind self-driving cars and digital assistants, now enables scientists to address key challenges to harvesting on Earth the fusion energy that powers the sun and stars. The technique recently empowered physicist Dan Boyer of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) to develop fast and accurate predictions for advancing control of experiments in the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U)—the flagship fusion facility at PPPL that is currently under repair.

A simple method to enhance responsivity of terahertz radiation detectors

Scientists of Tomsk Polytechnic University jointly with colleagues from Spanish universities have offered a simple method how to enhance the responsivity of terahertz radiation detectors by 3.5 times using a small Teflon cube. The 1 mm cube must be put on the surface of the detector without changing the inner design of the detector.

Astronomy and Space news

Cosmic dawn occurred 250 to 350 million years after Big Bang

Cosmic dawn, when stars formed for the first time, occurred 250 million to 350 million years after the beginning of the universe, according to a new study led by researchers at University College London (UCL) and the University of Cambridge.

Astrophysicists prepare for age of multi-messenger astronomy, build galaxy catalog to study black holes

Led by postdoctoral fellow researcher Maria Charisi, a team of international researchers known as the NANOGrav collaboration has created a catalog of 45,000 galaxies to detect gravitational waves created by pairs of black holes known as binaries. Using pulsars—the most precise clocks of the sky—a galactic scale detector dubbed a pulsar timing array and infrared data from across the sky, Charisi used the catalog to input hypothetical binaries to measure differences in the masses of the two black holes or their distance from each other within a galaxy. "Since we haven't found gravitational waves with pulsar timing arrays yet, we can play with our binary parameters and a range of gravitational wave frequencies to find the limits of the sizes of black hole binaries in specific galaxies," Charisi said.

Cosmic 'hand' hitting a wall

Motions of a remarkable cosmic structure have been measured for the first time, using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. The blast wave and debris from an exploded star are seen moving away from the explosion site and colliding with a wall of surrounding gas.

Research looks to outer space to learn about human health on Earth

As an oncologist, Adam Dicker has seen how cancer treatments can pummel the body to knock out tumors, sometimes leading to deteriorating bones, more infections, and haywire sleep cycles. But others have observed similar ailments in a group of healthy people: astronauts who spend time in space.

Scientists explain the behavior of the optical emission of blazars

Researchers from St. Petersburg University have analyzed data from optical telescopes covering more than eight years and managed to explain the mechanism of polarization plane rotations in blazars.

Image: Thomas and the blue marble

A snap of ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet during the second spacewalk to upgrade the International Space Station's power system, taken by NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough.

Technology news

Researchers create an artificial tactile skin that mimics human tactile recognition processes

Over the past few decades, roboticists and computer scientists have developed artificial systems that replicate biological functions and human abilities in increasingly realistic ways. This includes artificial intelligence systems, as well as sensors that can capture various types of sensory data.

New, tiny battery powers big insight into fish passage for hydropower

With the worldwide decline of lamprey and eel populations, tracking their movement and survival is a first step toward conservation. However, some tracking sensors—or tags—are too large for smaller fish.

First demonstration of Mcity's test concept for highly automated vehicles

Highly automated vehicles need a different kind of test to prove they are safe before testing moves to public roads, leaders of Mcity at the University of Michigan said today as they conducted the first demonstration of a protocol they developed to do just that.

Microsoft issues warning about a malware campaign involving a call center

Microsoft, via its Security Intelligence account on Twitter, has issued a warning to Windows users of a new type of phishing scam that involves emails requesting users to dial a call center. They warn users to not dial the call center because following the instructions given by a human operator can lead to malware infections. The malware scam only works with Windows computers that have Microsoft Excel.

Microsoft debuts Windows 11, first major update in 6 years

Microsoft has unveiled the next generation of its Windows software, called Windows 11, that has sleeker visual features and is more open to third-party apps.

Making phone displays see better

Every few months smartphone companies release a newly designed phone—one with a larger screen, or a clearer camera. A selling point for many, the camera's capabilities are an important factor for consumers and amateur photographers alike. In an effort to improve the aesthetics of the display by maximizing its area, the cameras are now situated beneath the screen, which ultimately impacts picture clarity.

Recycling next-generation solar panels fosters green planet

Tossing worn-out solar panels into landfills may soon become electronics waste history.

China's crypto-miners look abroad as regulators tighten noose

When a prefecture in northwestern China's Xinjiang region ordered a halt on cryptocurrency mining projects this month, Chris Zhu scrambled to move clients' machines southward, spending over a week to reassemble in Sichuan.

Designing temporal networks that synchronize under resource constraints

Synchronization is critical for the function of many distributed systems—whether it's computers or power grids or neuronal populations—but doing it using the least amount of energy and resources possible can be a daunting task.

Optical music recognition with convolutional neural network

Optical character recognition (OCR) commonly used to convert the text in scanned documents into a searchable and editable form on the computer is a well-established digitisation technique. But, what about other kinds of documents, rich with meaning, such as musical manuscripts? New work in the International Journal of Arts and Technology discusses the possibility of optical musical recognition, OMR.

Cramming cities full of electric vehicles means we're still depending on cars—and that's a huge problem

This week, the NSW government announced almost A$500 million towards boosting the uptake of electric vehicles. In its new electric vehicle strategy, the government will waive stamp duty for cars under $78,000, develop more charging infrastructure, offer rebates to 25,000 drivers, and more.

Ransomware, data breach, cyberattack: What do they have to do with your personal information?

The headlines are filled with news about ransomware attacks tying up organizations large and small, data breaches at major brand-name companies and cyberattacks by shadowy hackers associated with Russia, China and North Korea. Are these threats to your personal information?

Solar geoengineering could limit global warming, but Canada should study risks and benefits first

The Swedish Space Corporation recently canceled a field test of a high altitude balloon, intended to better understand solar geoengineering techniques that might be used to cool the Earth.

European system speeds data flow with 50,000 links

Valuable data is flowing rapidly from Earth observing satellites back to the planet, thanks to the most sophisticated laser communication network ever built.

Dutch group launches data harvesting claim against TikTok

A Dutch consumer group is launching a 1.5 billion euro ($1.8 billion) claim against TikTok over what it alleges is unlawful harvesting of personal data from users of the popular video sharing platform.

Google delays phase out of tracking tech by nearly 2 years

Google will delay by nearly two years the phase out of Chrome web browser technology that tracks users for ad purposes, saying that it needs more time to develop a replacement system.

BuzzFeed to become a publicly traded company

Digital media company BuzzFeed is setting its sights on growth. It plans to become a publicly traded company with an implied value of $1.5 billion through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company.

France takes Apple to court over 'abusive' practices

A Paris court will hear in September a lawsuit supported by the French government against Apple that alleges the US tech giant uses abusive commercial practices against startups, a source said Thursday.

From Windows 1.0 to Windows 10: A history of Microsoft's signature PC software

On Thursday, PC owners got a first look at the future of Windows.

Uber pays $3.4M for Seattle gig worker leave law mistakes

Uber has agreed to pay more than $3.4 million to 15,000 drivers after making mistakes related to Seattle's pioneering paid sick leave law covering gig workers.

Microsoft's Windows 11 will allow for Android apps

Microsoft on Thursday unveiled a new version of the Windows software powering most of the world's computers, opening the door to apps tailored for Google-backed Android operating system.

Tsunamis, earthquakes, nuclear meltdowns, pandemic: What Japan has learned from centuries of disaster

A decade on from 3/11—the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear catastrophe that hit Japan—the country is again amid a crisis caused by COVID-19.

Scientists unveil new sound blind which reduces noise while allowing air to flow freely

A pioneering material that gives unprecedented control on sound and noise is to be trialed in hospitals and other noisy locations such as beside motorways.

Beeple, the artist behind $69M NFT auction, unveils website where you can buy moments as NFT collectibles

Earlier this year, digital artist Mike Winkelmann, commonly known as Beeple, made headlines after Christie's auctioned his artwork as an NFT for $69 million.

US lawmakers advance major antitrust package targeting Big Tech

US lawmakers advanced blockbuster legislation Thursday aimed at curbing the power of Big Tech firms with a sweeping reform of antitrust laws, setting the stage for a tough floor fight in Congress.

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