Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Jun 29

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for June 29, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A model to predict how much humans and robots can be trusted with completing specific tasks

Neuroscientists assess the impact of a short-term musical training on implicit emotion regulation

A proprioceptive mechanism to enable fish-like swimming in robots

Dinosaurs were in decline before the end, according to new study

A new piece of the quantum computing puzzle

Massive quiescent galaxy found in a distant protocluster

Study sheds new light on composition at base of Martian southern polar cap

Rise of the diatoms—a new timeline

Speedy nanorobots could someday clean up soil and water, deliver drugs

Fungi embrace fundamental economic theory as they engage in trading

Researchers discover unique 'spider web' mechanism that traps, kills viruses

How to build a better wind farm

How humans brought change to a tropical paradise

Key mutations in Alpha variant enable SARS-CoV-2 to overcome evolutionary weak points

New insight into photosynthesis could help grow more resilient plants

Physics news

A proprioceptive mechanism to enable fish-like swimming in robots

Over the past few decades, roboticists have developed a variety of robots inspired by nature, humans and animals. To effectively mimic animals or humans, however, these robots should not only look like them; they should also move in similar ways.

A new piece of the quantum computing puzzle

Research from the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis has found a missing piece in the puzzle of optical quantum computing.

New type of metasurface allows unprecedented laser control

The ability to precisely control the various properties of laser light is critical to much of the technology that we use today, from commercial virtual reality (VR) headsets to microscopic imaging for biomedical research. Many of today's laser systems rely on separate, rotating components to control the wavelength, shape and power of a laser beam, making these devices bulky and difficult to maintain.

'Edge of chaos' opens pathway to artificial intelligence discoveries

Scientists at the University of Sydney and Japan's National Institute for Material Science (NIMS) have discovered that an artificial network of nanowires can be tuned to respond in a brain-like way when electrically stimulated.

Quantum random number generator sets benchmark for size, performance

As pervasive as they are in everyday uses, like encryption and security, randomly generated digital numbers are seldom truly random.

Butterfly effect can double travel of virus-laden droplets

Computer simulations have been used with great success in recent months to visualize the spread of the COVID-19 virus in a variety of situations. In Physics of Fluids, researchers explain how turbulence in the air can create surprising and counterintuitive behavior of exhaled droplets, potentially laden with virus.

Turning plastic into foam to combat pollution

Biodegradable plastics are supposed to be good for the environment. But because they are specifically made to degrade quickly, they cannot be recycled.

Identifying a topological fingerprint

A FLEET theoretical study out this week has found a 'smoking gun' in the long search for the topological magnetic monopole referred to as the Berry curvature.

A new type of quasiparticle

Russian scientists have experimentally proved the existence of a new type of quasiparticle—previously unknown excitations of coupled pairs of photons in qubit chains. This discovery could be a step towards disorder-robust quantum metamaterials. The study was published in Physical Review B.

Hunting dark energy with gravity resonance spectroscopy

Dark Energy is widely believed to be the driving force behind the universe's accelerating expansion, and several theories have now been proposed to explain its elusive nature. However, these theories predict that its influence on quantum scales must be vanishingly small, and experiments so far have not been accurate enough to either verify or discredit them. In new research published in EPJ ST, a team led by Hartmut Abele at TU Wien in Austria demonstrates a robust experimental technique for studying one such theory, using ultra-cold neutrons. Named "Gravity Resonance Spectroscopy" (GRS), their approach could bring researchers a step closer to understanding one of the greatest mysteries in cosmology.

Astronomy and Space news

Massive quiescent galaxy found in a distant protocluster

Using the Keck I telescope, Japanese astronomers have identified a massive quiescent galaxy in a distant galaxy protocluster known as SSA22. The galaxy, designated ADF22-QG1, turns out to be the most distant quiescent galaxy in a protocluster to date. The finding is reported in a paper published June 21 on the arXiv pre-print repository.

Study sheds new light on composition at base of Martian southern polar cap

An earlier discovery of liquid water lakes beneath Mars' south pole may not be as wet as believed, a new paper says.

Astrophysicists detect first black hole-neutron star mergers

A long time ago, in two galaxies about 900 million light-years away, two black holes each gobbled up their neutron star companions, triggering gravitational waves that finally hit Earth in January 2020.

Clearest images emerge of galaxies headed for collision on intergalactic 'highway'

An international group of astronomers has created images with never-before-seen detail of a galaxy cluster with a black hole at its center, traveling at high speed along an intergalactic "road of matter." The findings also support existing theories of the origins and evolution of the universe.

Glauconitic-like clay found on Mars suggests the planet once had habitable conditions

A team of researchers from Spain, France and the U.S. has found evidence of a glauconitic-like clay on Mars that suggests the planet once had habitable conditions. In their paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy, the group describes their study of clay minerals extracted from Gale Crater by Curiosity rover back in 2016 and what they found.

Bend it like Einstein: Astronomers turn galaxies into magnifiers

Astronomers have turned a cluster of galaxies into a gargantuan magnifying lens, using it to study another galaxy, 10.7 billion light years away, in unprecedented detail.

Exploring deep space: How can we get there safely and sustainably?

Once the sole dominion of sci-fi movies and novels, the subject of deep space exploration and interplanetary colonization has moved several steps closer to becoming a reality thanks to major advances in aerospace engineering, medicine, and physics.

Musk set to invest up to $30 billion in Starlink

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk said Tuesday he plans to invest up to 30 billion dollars to develop his ambitious Starlink satellite internet service.

Technology news

A model to predict how much humans and robots can be trusted with completing specific tasks

Researchers at University of Michigan have recently developed a bi-directional model that can predict how much both humans and robotic agents can be trusted in situations that involve human-robot collaboration. This model, presented in a paper published in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, could help to allocate tasks to different agents more reliably and efficiently.

How to build a better wind farm

Location, location, location—when it comes to the placement of wind turbines, the old real estate adage applies, according to new research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Carnegie's Enrico Antonini and Ken Caldeira.

Kiriform structures harness buckling for stable, deployable structures

Deployable structures—objects that transition from a compact state to an expanded one—are used everywhere from backyards to Mars. But as anyone who has ever struggled to open an uncooperative folding chair knows, transforming two-dimensional forms into three-dimensional structures is sometimes a challenge.

Steering wind turbines creates greater energy potential

As wind passes through a turbine, it creates a wake that decreases the downstream average wind velocity. The faster the spin of the turbine blades relative to the wind speed, the greater the impact on the downstream wake profile.

Conductive seams, when strategically placed in clothing, can accurately track body motion: study

When positioned strategically, garment seams sewn with conductive yarn can be used to accurately track body motion, according to computer scientists at the University of Bath in the UK. Best of all, these charged seams are able to respond to subtle movements that aren't picked up by popular fitness trackers, such as watches and wristbands.

Longer-lived lithium-metal battery marks step forward for electric vehicles

Researchers have increased the lifetime of a promising electric vehicle battery to a record level, an important step toward the goal of lighter, less expensive and long-lasting batteries for future electric vehicles. The work is reported June 28 in the journal Nature Energy.

Japan's SoftBank suspends production of chatty robot Pepper

Japan's SoftBank has suspended production of its humanoid robot Pepper, a company spokeswoman said Tuesday, seven years after the conglomerate unveiled the signature chatty white android to much fanfare.

Wind and the sun power Greek islands' green energy switch

In the tranquil Greek island of Tilos, a wind turbine hums over a silvery sea while scorching sun rays hit a hill lined with solar panels.

Facebook wins antitrust dismissal, surges to $1 trillion value

A US judge on Monday dismissed the blockbuster antitrust action against Facebook filed last year by federal and state regulators, helping lift the value of the social media giant above $1 trillion for the first time.

Apple's car obsession is all about taking eyes off the road

At first glance, the forays Apple Inc., Google and other technology giants are making into the world of cars don't appear to be particularly lucrative.

Spending in mobile apps surges to new high: survey

App revenue from mobile phone users around the world climbed to new heights in the first half of this year, nearly reaching $65 billion, market tracker Sensor Tower said Monday.

Boeing's next airplane likely to be delayed by FAA concerns

Federal regulators have indicated they likely won't certify Boeing's next airliner until 2023 because of questions about changes the aircraft manufacturer is making in software and hardware on a new version of the two-aisle 777 jet.

Computer science researcher creates game to teach blockchain to children

The financial technology industry predicts that digital currency will replace paper money by 2030. In 2019 alone, the demand to find blockchain developers grew fivefold. To solve this societal challenge, researchers at UTSA have developed a new game to teach kids the concepts of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.

Faster, greener technique to improve recycling process for electric vehicle batteries

Researchers working on the Faraday Institution project on the recycling of lithium-ion batteries (ReLiB) at the Universities of Leicester and Birmingham have solved a critical challenge in the recovery of materials used in electric vehicle batteries at the end of their life, enabling their re-use in the manufacture of new batteries. The new method, which uses ultrasonic waves to separate out valuable material from the electrodes, is 100 times quicker, greener and leads to a higher purity of recovered materials relative to current separation methods.

United offers ray of hope to Boeing amid turbulent times

United Airlines' huge order for the 737 MAX offers a vote of confidence in the plane at the center of a historic crisis for Boeing, but the manufacturer still faces challenges, including China's ongoing ban of the aircraft.

US agency orders automated vehicle makers to report crashes

The U.S. government's highway safety agency has ordered automakers to report any crashes involving fully autonomous vehicles or partially automated driver assist systems.

Amazon stays atop fast-growing cloud computing market: survey

Amazon remained the dominant global cloud computing firm in 2020 as rivals including Microsoft, Alibaba and Google gained ground in the fast-growing market, a research firm said.

Team proposes a data-driven approach for a more sustainable utility rate structure

Many drivers use tollways to get from point A to point B because they are a faster and more convenient option. The fees associated with these roadways are higher during peak traffic hours of the day, such as during the commute to and from work. With this structure, drivers who are not adding to the heavy flow of traffic do not have to pay higher toll prices. However, those who utilize the toll road during more congested hours pay a premium to use the faster, more convenient highways.

Amazon dispatches Alexa to tell stories to kids

Amazon on Tuesday said that its Alexa digital assistant can now be a reading buddy for children, coaching them when they get stuck on words.

Canada mandates new cars to be zero-emissions by 2035

All new cars and light-duty trucks in Canada will be required to be zero-emissions by 2035, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced Tuesday, moving up the timeline for eliminating vehicle pollution.

From tattoos to tokens at Tokyo's first crypto art show

Tokyo tattoo artist Ichi Hatano's usual business has dwindled during the pandemic, but now he's keen to mine a new stream of income at Japan's first crypto art exhibition.

Efforts to curb tech giants

Facebook won a key court case in the US this week, but the US tech industry still faces challenges at home and in the European Union in particular.

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