Science X Newsletter Monday, Jun 28

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for June 28, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

LyricJam: A system that can generate lyrics for live instrumental music

Study explores how the perception of internal bodily signals influences the concept of self

The discovery of a new type of supernova illuminates a medieval mystery

Paleonursery offers rare, detailed glimpse at life 518 million years ago

COVID-19's socio-economic fallout threatens global coffee industry

Shock find brings extinct mouse back from the dead

New ultra-high energy gamma-ray source detected

Uncovering hidden local states in a quantum material

Lack of water rules out life on Venus: study

Researchers engineer cells to destroy malignant tumor cells but leave the rest alone

Face masks that can diagnose COVID-19

Virtual reality boosts brain rhythms crucial for neuroplasticity, learning and memory

Gene discovery may hold key to better therapies for OCD

First-ever transient pacemaker harmlessly dissolves in body

Poor use of science jeopardizes climate lawsuits: research

Physics news

Uncovering hidden local states in a quantum material

Quantum materials display exotic behaviors due to the effects of quantum mechanics, or how matter acts on the very small scale of atoms and subatomic particles. The technologically relevant properties of quantum materials result from complex interactions of electron charge, orbital, and spin and their coupling to the material's crystal structure. For example, in some materials, electrons can flow freely without any resistance; this phenomenon, called superconductivity, could be harnessed to transmit power more efficiently. Typically, these properties emerge at low temperature, where crystals display low (broken) structural symmetry.

Researchers develop compact, intense XUV laser

An international team of researchers has demonstrated a new concept for the generation of intense extreme-ultraviolet (XUV) radiation by high-harmonic generation (HHG ). Its advantage lies in the fact that its footprint is much smaller than currently existing intense XUV lasers. The new scheme is straightforward and could be implemented in many laboratories worldwide, which may boost the research field of ultrafast XUV science. The detailed experimental and theoretical results have been published in Optica.

The first on-chip valley-dependent quantum interference

A research team led by academician Guo Guangcan from University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), collaborating with researchers from Sun Yat-sen University and Zhejiang University, realized two-photon quantum interference in the structure of valley-dependent topological insulators based on the valley Hall effect.

Is reality a game of quantum mirrors? A new theory suggests it might be

Imagine you sit down and pick up your favorite book. You look at the image on the front cover, run your fingers across the smooth book sleeve, and smell that familiar book smell as you flick through the pages. To you, the book is made up of a range of sensory appearances.

Multi-material, multi-photon 3D laser micro- and nanoprinting

Multi-photon approaches provide printing rates of up to about ten million voxels per second. Multi-photon-based 3D approaches structure matter with a resolution approaching sub-micrometer and nanometer feature sizes. Such spatial resolution is crucial for many applications in photonics and electronics and is inaccessible to most other 3D additive manufacturing approaches.

Astronomy and Space news

The discovery of a new type of supernova illuminates a medieval mystery

A worldwide team led by UC Santa Barbara scientists at Las Cumbres Observatory has discovered the first convincing evidence for a new type of stellar explosion—an electron-capture supernova. While they have been theorized for 40 years, real-world examples have been elusive. They are thought to arise from the explosions of massive super-asymptotic giant branch (SAGB) stars, for which there has also been scant evidence. The discovery, published in Nature Astronomy, also sheds new light on the thousand-year mystery of the supernova from A.D. 1054 that was visible all over the world in the daytime, before eventually becoming the Crab Nebula.

New ultra-high energy gamma-ray source detected

Using the Large High Altitude Air Shower Observatory (LHAASO), astronomers have performed a search for new high-energy gamma-ray sources. As a result, they have identified a new ultra-high energy gamma-ray source, which received designation LHAASO J2108+5157. The finding is reported in a paper published June 18 on the arXiv pre-print repository.

Lack of water rules out life on Venus: study

A study measuring water concentration in Venus's atmosphere concluded Monday that life as we know it is not possible among the sulphuric acid droplets that make up the planet's famously cloudy skies.

Giant comet found in outer solar system by Dark Energy Survey

A giant comet from the outskirts of our solar system has been discovered in six years of data from the Dark Energy Survey. Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein is estimated to be about 1000 times more massive than a typical comet, making it arguably the largest comet discovered in modern times. It has an extremely elongated orbit, journeying inward from the distant Oort Cloud over millions of years. It is the most distant comet to be discovered on its incoming path, giving us years to watch it evolve as it approaches the Sun, though it's not predicted to become a naked-eye spectacle.

Astronomers uncover evidence that there could be many more Earth-sized planets than previously thought

Some exoplanet searches could be missing nearly half of the Earth-sized planets around other stars. New findings from a team using the international Gemini Observatory and the WIYN 3.5-meter Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory suggest that Earth-sized worlds could be lurking undiscovered in binary star systems, hidden in the glare of their parent stars. As roughly half of all stars are in binary systems, this means that astronomers could be missing many Earth-sized worlds.

Unique exoplanet photobombs Cheops satellite study of nearby star system

While exploring two exoplanets in a bright nearby star system, ESA's exoplanet-hunting Cheops satellite has unexpectedly spotted the system's third known planet crossing the face of the star. This transit reveals exciting details about a rare planet "with no known equivalent," say the researchers.

Could life exist in the atmosphere of a sub-Neptune planet?

Earth is perfectly suited for organic life. It stands to reason then that similar worlds orbiting distant stars might also be rich with life. But proving it will be a challenge. One of the better ways to discover extraterrestrial life will be to study the atmospheres of inhabited exoplanets, but Earth is fairly small for a planet and has a thin atmosphere compared to larger worlds. It will be much easier to study the atmospheres of gas planets, but could such worlds harbor life? A new paper in Universe argues it could.

LightSail 2 has now been in space for 2 years, and should last even longer before re-entering the atmosphere

The Planetary Society's crowdfunded solar-sailing CubeSat, LightSail 2, launched on June 25th 2019, and two years later, the mission is still going strong. A pioneering technology demonstration of solar sail capability, LightSail 2 uses the gentle push of photons from the Sun to maneuver and adjust its orbital trajectory. Within months of its launch, LightSail 2 had already been declared a success, breaking new ground and expanding the possibilities for future spacecraft propulsion systems. Since then, it's gone on to test the limits of solar sailing in an ongoing extended mission.

Searching for the hidden signal from the universe's beginning

Astronomers are on the search for a mysterious signal that could map the early universe.

Image: Hubble images a dazzling dynamic duo

A cataclysmic cosmic collision takes center stage in this image taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The image features the interacting galaxy pair IC 1623, which lies around 275 million light-years away in the constellation Cetus (the Whale). The two galaxies are in the final stages of merging, and astronomers expect a powerful inflow of gas to ignite a frenzied burst of star formation in the resulting compact starburst galaxy.

Technology news

LyricJam: A system that can generate lyrics for live instrumental music

Over the past few decades, computer scientists have developed computational tools that can generate specific types of data, such as images, words or audio recordings. These systems could have a variety of valuable applications, particularly in creative fields that entail the production of new and unique artworks.

Using photos of toasters and fridges to train algorithms in detecting COVID-19

New research using machine learning on images of everyday items is improving the accuracy and speed of detecting respiratory diseases, reducing the need for specialist medical expertise.

AI learns to predict human behavior from videos

Predicting what someone is about to do next based on their body language comes naturally to humans but not so for computers. When we meet another person, they might greet us with a hello, handshake, or even a fist bump. We may not know which gesture will be used, but we can read the situation and respond appropriately.

DNA databases: New method cuts indexing from weeks to hours, searches to minutes

Rice University computer scientists are sending RAMBO to rescue genomic researchers who sometimes wait days or weeks for search results from enormous DNA databases.

Plans in place to build carbon capture facility in Scotland that can capture a million tonnes a year

Storegga Geotechnologies, a UK energy transition company, and Carbon Engineering, a Canadian company involved in projects that remove carbon from the air, have teamed up to build a direct air capture (DAC) facility in Scotland. Current plans call for the construction of a facility able to extract approximately 1 million tons of carbon from the air each year (equivalent to 40 million trees) and to store it in under-the-sea storage sites. Both companies have outlined their plans on their respective websites.

Team uncovers the danger caused by subdomains

The internet is full of dangers: Sensitive data can be leaked, malicious websites can allow hackers to access private computers. The Security & Privacy Research Unit at TU Wien in collaboration with Ca' Foscari University has now uncovered a new important security vulnerability that has been overlooked so far. Large websites often have many subdomains—for example, "sub.example.com" could be a subdomain of the website "example.com." With certain tricks, it is possible to take control of such subdomains. And if that happens, new security holes open up that also put people at risk who simply want to use the actual website (in this example, example.com).

Using the ancient art of kirigami to make an eyeball-like camera

Cunjiang Yu, Bill D. Cook Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston, is reporting the development of a camera with a curvy, adaptable imaging sensor that could improve image quality in endoscopes, night-vision goggles, artificial compound eyes and fish-eye cameras.

Study offers plan to overcome hurdles for hydrogen energy

The U.S. is counting on hydrogen to play a significant role in the low-carbon economy of the future, but fundamental questions about transportation, storage and cost need to be addressed in order to integrate hydrogen gas into the nation's existing infrastructure, according to a preliminary study from a new research program at The University of Texas at Austin.

Why nuclear energy isn't a safe bet in a warming world

The overwhelming majority of nuclear power stations active today entered service long before the science of climate change was well-established. Two in five nuclear plants operate on the coast and at least 100 have been built just a few meters above sea level. Nuclear energy is, quite literally, on the frontline of climate change—and not in a good way.

Creating a sustainable city: Time, common sense and persistence

Cities want to become more sustainable but bringing that ambition to life can be quite the challenge. Academics have to work together with urban planners to help realize sustainability transformations. But when transformation does take place, it is unlikely to come from a single radical moment of change; instead, it requires persistent small steps over time. There is always an opportunity to take such a step, according to Professor of Environmental Law Niko Soininen and collaborators. Their new paper on the challenge of finding feasible action for urban transformation was published in Urban Sustainability.

Danish media unite to push tech giants on rights

Denmark's main media outlets said Monday they are banding together to negotiate copyright payments for news content used by tech platforms such as Google and Facebook.

World's second-largest hydropower dam goes online in China

China began operating the world's second-largest hydropower station on Monday in what officials hailed as a milestone towards Beijing's carbon neutrality goals, despite warnings of environmental damage.

Honda changing course, will build its own electric vehicles

Although General Motors will build Honda's first two fully electric vehicles for North America, the Japanese automaker plans to change course and manufacture its own later this decade.

Breakthrough in 3D scanning leads to 4500% more accurate results

Scientists have created a new method for increasing the precision of 3D body scans by 4500%.

Google adds search warning for queries with fast-changing results

Google will display a warning for searches where the results are "rapidly evolving."

Mobile congress opens in Spain with tight virus rules

A scaled-back version of the world's biggest mobile telecommunications fair got underway Monday in Spain under tight virus controls, with top firms avoiding an in-person presence after the pandemic derailed last year's edition.

United Airlines said to be near new Boeing, Airbus orders

United Airlines has scheduled of two public events for Tuesday raising expectations it will announce orders for more than 200 new Airbus and Boeing planes, an aviation industry expert said on Monday.

US regulator says new Boeing 777X needs more testing

US air safety regulators have notified Boeing that the aviation giant's newest widebody plane will require more than two years of additional testing and analysis before it can be certified.

Samsung lagging on renewables pledge: Greenpeace

Smartphone and chip giant Samsung Electronics' fulfilment of a headline-grabbing pledge to switch to renewable energy in the US, China and Europe accounts for less than 20 percent of its global electricity use, environmentalists Greenpeace said Tuesday.


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