Science X Newsletter Thursday, Jul 1

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for July 1, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

An approach to achieve compliant robotic manipulation inspired by human adaptive control strategies

Global climate dynamics drove the decline of mastodonts and elephants, new study suggests

Spatial patterns of gene transcripts captured across single cells of mouse embryo

Physicists observationally confirm Hawking's black hole theorem for the first time

Taking cues from nature, breakthrough 'cellular fluidics' technology could have sweeping impacts

The first commercially scalable integrated laser and microcomb on a single chip

Why are some fish warm-blooded? Predatory sharks gain speed advantage

New algorithms give digital images more realistic color

Deep Space Atomic Clock moves toward increased spacecraft autonomy

Researchers develop quantum dot smartphone device to diagnose and track COVID-19

Last ice-covered parts of summertime Arctic Ocean vulnerable to climate change

Instant water cleaning method 'millions of times' better than commercial approach

Scientists discover a new class of memory cells in the brain

How information beyond the genetic sequence is encoded in plant sperm

How planarians can regenerate during periods of starvation

Physics news

Physicists observationally confirm Hawking's black hole theorem for the first time

There are certain rules that even the most extreme objects in the universe must obey. A central law for black holes predicts that the area of their event horizons—the boundary beyond which nothing can ever escape—should never shrink. This law is Hawking's area theorem, named after physicist Stephen Hawking, who derived the theorem in 1971.

Taking cues from nature, breakthrough 'cellular fluidics' technology could have sweeping impacts

Inspired by the way plants absorb and distribute water and nutrients, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers have developed a groundbreaking method for transporting liquids and gases using 3D-printed lattice design and capillary action phenomena.

The first commercially scalable integrated laser and microcomb on a single chip

Fifteen years ago, UC Santa Barbara electrical and materials professor John Bowers pioneered a method for integrating a laser onto a silicon wafer. The technology has since been widely deployed in combination with other silicon photonics devices to replace the copper-wire interconnects that formerly linked servers at data centers, dramatically increasing energy efficiency—an important endeavor at a time when data traffic is growing by roughly 25% per year.

New algorithms give digital images more realistic color

If you've ever tried to capture a sunset with your smartphone, you know that the colors don't always match what you see in real life. Researchers are coming closer to solving this problem with a new set of algorithms that make it possible to record and display color in digital images in a much more realistic fashion.

Deep Space Atomic Clock moves toward increased spacecraft autonomy

Spacecraft that venture beyond our Moon rely on communication with ground stations on Earth to figure out where they are and where they're going. NASA's Deep Space Atomic Clock is working toward giving those far-flung explorers more autonomy when navigating. In a new paper published today in the journal Nature, the mission reports progress in their work to improve the ability of space-based atomic clocks to measure time consistently over long periods.

Physicists identify energy states of individual atoms following a collision

Physicists at Technische Universit├Ąt Kaiserslautern in the team of Professor Dr. Herwig Ott have succeeded for the first time in directly observing collisions between highly excited atoms, so-called Rydberg atoms, and atoms in the ground state. Particularly interesting is that they can precisely identify the energy states of the individual atoms, which was impossible until now. The researchers have developed a custom microscope for this purpose, with which they were able to directly measure the momenta of the atoms. The processes observed are important for understanding interstellar plasma and ultracold plasmas generated in the laboratory. The study was published in the renowned journal Nature Communications.

A crystal made of electrons

Researchers at ETH Zurich have succeeded in observing a crystal that consists only of electrons. Such Wigner crystals were already predicted almost ninety years ago but could only now be observed directly in a semiconductor material.

Scientists advance the understanding of potential topological quantum bits

Quantum computers promise great advances in many fields—from cryptography to the simulation of protein folding. Yet, which physical system works best to build the underlying quantum bits is still an open question. Unlike regular bits in your computer, these so-called qubits cannot only take the values 0 and 1, but also mixtures of the two. While this potentially makes them very useful, they also become very unstable.

Unlocking the potential of scanning near-field infrared microscopy

In NPL's Quantum Materials and Sensors group, we study the nanoscale properties of emerging quantum materials, including graphene, photonic metamaterials, and topological insulators. Recently the pioneering nature of our research was recognized with an invitation to write a short article for the journal Nature Reviews Physics. The Tools of the Trade article format is specifically targeted towards early-career researchers, so it was a great opportunity for me as I approach the end of my Ph.D.

Non-stop signal achieved in high-power Erbium-doped mid-infrared lasers

The Mid-infrared lasers (MIR) with high peak power and high repetition rate operating in the range of 2.7~3 ╬╝m have important application in laser surgery and optical parametric oscillator (OPO).

Decoding electron dynamics

Electron motion in atoms and molecules is of fundamental importance to many physical, biological and chemical processes. Exploring electron dynamics within atoms and molecules is essential for understanding and manipulating these phenomena. Pump-probe spectroscopy is the conventional technique. The 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry provides a well-known example wherein femtosecond pumped laser pulses served to probe the atomic motion involved in chemical reactions. However, because the timescale of electron motion within atoms and molecules is on the order of attoseconds (10-18 seconds) rather than femtoseconds (10-15 seconds), attosecond pulses are required to probe electron motion. With the development of the attosecond technology, lasers with pulse durations shorter than 100 attoseconds have become available, providing opportunities for probing and manipulating electron dynamics in atoms and molecules.

New ternary hydrides of lanthanum and yttrium join the ranks of high-temperature superconductors

A team led by Skoltech professor Artem R. Oganov studied the structure and properties of ternary hydrides of lanthanum and yttrium and showed that alloying is an effective strategy for stabilizing otherwise unstable phases YH10 and LaH6, expected to be high-temperature superconductors. The research was published in the journal Materials Today.

Beam steering angle expander with two liquid crystal polymeric diffractive optical elements

Scientists have developed a high-efficiency beam steering angle expander consisting of two liquid crystal polymeric diffractive optical elements. For a LiDAR (light detection and ranging) operating at 905 nm, the steering angle can be expanded by 5.4 times. Potential applications include autonomous vehicles and eye-tracking for virtual reality displays.

Astronomy and Space news

'Lonely cloud' bigger than Milky Way found in a galaxy 'no-man's land'

A scientifically mysterious, isolated cloud bigger than the Milky Way has been found by a research team at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) in a "no-man's land" for galaxies.

Researchers account for some of the lithium missing from our universe

There is a significant discrepancy between theoretical and observed amounts of lithium in our universe. This is known as the cosmological lithium problem, and it has plagued cosmologists for decades. Now, researchers have reduced this discrepancy by around 10%, thanks to a new experiment on the nuclear processes responsible for the creation of lithium. This research could point the way to a more complete understanding of the early universe.

Russia races Tom Cruise and Musk for first movie in space

Six decades after Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit Earth, earning Moscow a key win in the Cold War, Russia is again in a space race with Washington.

Asteroid-hunting space telescope gets two-year mission extension

NEOWISE has provided an estimate of the size of over 1,850 near-Earth objects, helping us better understand our nearest solar system neighbors.

Jeff Bezos picks female aerospace pioneer to launch with him

Sixty years after acing astronaut tests but barred because she was a woman, Wally Funk will rocket into space alongside Jeff Bezos in just three weeks.

Russian rocket launches UK telecom satellites

A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying 36 UK telecommunication and internet satellites blasted off from the Vostochny cosmodrome in Russia's Far East on Thursday, the Roscosmos space agency said.

Technology news

An approach to achieve compliant robotic manipulation inspired by human adaptive control strategies

Over the past few decades, roboticists have created increasingly advanced and sophisticated robotics systems. While some of these systems are highly efficient and achieved remarkable results, they still perform far poorly than humans on several tasks, including those that involve grasping and manipulating objects.

Using optogenetics to control movement of a nematode

A team of researchers from the University of Toronto and Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, has developed a technique for controlling the movements of a live nematode using laser light. In their paper published in the journal Science Robotics, the group describes their technique. Adriana San-Miguel with North Carolina State University has published a Focus piece in the same journal issue outlining the work done by the team.

Team uses AI to predict 3D printing processes

Additive manufacturing has the potential to allow one to create parts or products on demand in manufacturing, automotive engineering, and even in outer space. However, it's a challenge to know in advance how a 3D printed object will perform, now and in the future.

Using computation to improve words: Novel tool could improve serious illness conversations

Conversations between seriously ill people, their families and palliative care specialists lead to better quality-of-life. Understanding what happens during these conversations—and particularly how they vary by cultural, clinical, and situational contexts—is essential to guide healthcare communication improvement efforts. To gain true understanding, new methods to study conversations in large, inclusive, and multi-site epidemiological studies are required. A new computer model offers an automated and valid tool for such large-scale scientific analyses.

Skin in the game: Transformative approach uses the human body to recharge smartwatches

As smart watches are increasingly able to monitor the vital signs of health, including what's going on when we sleep, a problem has emerged: Those wearable, wireless devices are often disconnected from our body overnight, being charged at the bedside.

Amazon says its carbon footprint grew 19% last year

Amazon said Wednesday that its carbon footprint grew 19% last year as it rushed to deliver a surge of online orders during the pandemic.

Nissan to make new electric cars, batteries in Britain

Japanese carmaker Nissan and its partners plan to invest 1 billion ($1.4 billion) pounds to expand production of electric vehicles and batteries in northeast England, a major victory for the U.K. government's efforts to attract jobs and investment following the country's departure from the European Union.

World Wide Web source code NFT sells for $5.4 mn

Tim Berners-Lee's source code for the World Wide Web sold Wednesday for $5.4 million in the form of non-fungible token (NFT).

Web-based design tool for better job safety

The safety of people interacting with robots has top priority, especially when humans and robots are working side by side instead of being separated from each other by safety fencing. The Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF's web-based design tool helps companies design their cobots. The Cobot Designer helps minimize the risk of accidents and increases employee safety. The tool is available as a free web application.

Navy ditches futuristic railgun, eyes hypersonic missiles

The U.S. Navy pulled the plug, for now, on a futuristic weapon that fires projectiles at up to seven times the speed of sound using electricity.

Paris court fines Airbnb 8 mn euros over unregistered listings

Paris won a major court fight against Airbnb on Thursday after a court ordered the home-sharing giant to pay an eight million euro ($9.5 million) fine for allowing over 1,000 listings to flout registration rules.

Chatbot can explain apps and how they access hardware or data

Chatbots have already become a part of our everyday lives with their quick and intuitive way to complete tasks like scheduling and finding information using natural language conversations. Researchers at Aalto University have now harnessed the power of chatbots to help designers and developers develop new apps and allow end users to find information on the apps on their devices.

Recent technology cost forecasts underestimate the pace of technological change

A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge, University College London, University of Oxford, and University of Brescia/RFF-CMCC European Institute on Economics and the Environment carried out the first systematic analysis of the relative performance of probabilistic cost forecasts from expert-based methods and model-based methods.

Texas Instruments to buy semiconductor factory in $900 million deal

Dallas-based Texas Instruments Inc. will acquire Micron Technology Inc.'s semiconductor factory in a $900 million cash transaction, the company announced Wednesday.

New data science platform speeds up Python queries

Researchers from Brown University and MIT have developed a new data science framework that allows users to process data with the programming language Python—without paying the 'performance tax' normally associated with a user-friendly language.

License plate cameras can help police, but privacy concerns raise call for regulation

On a Friday night this spring, surveillance cameras detected a stolen car driving through a Vernon Hills, Illinois neighborhood. Police were alerted, tracked the car to a nearby gas station, and charged the driver with illegally possessing a stolen vehicle, drugs and a gun.

Qualcomm touts global momentum for the fastest version of 5G

It's no secret that Qualcomm aims to ride the 5G wave for growth—supplying processors not only for smartphones but also connected cars, laptops, virtual reality headsets and myriad other devices as they link up to these fifth-generation cellular networks.

Scalable manufacturing of integrated optical frequency combs

A collaboration between EPFL and UCSB has developed a long-anticipated breakthrough, and demonstrated CMOS technology—used for building microprocessors and memory chips—that allows wafer-scale manufacturing of chip-scale optical frequency combs.

NHTSA unveils new, easy-to-use auto recall search tool

Searching for a vehicle recall just got a little more user-friendly.

Watch what you like on streaming—assuming you can find it

Content is king—if you can find it.

Global tax deal backed by 130 nations

A total of 130 countries have agreed a global tax reform ensuring that multinationals pay their fair share wherever they operate, the OECD said on Thursday, but some EU states refused to sign up.

US encourages El Salvador to regulate use of bitcoin

A senior US State Department official met El Salvador President Nayib Bukele on Wednesday and recommended the regulation of bitcoin once it becomes legal tender in the Central American country from September.

Miniature spectrometer for the smartphone

Recognizing fake drugs? Testing water samples ourselves? Checking the quality of air? In the future, it could be possible to do all this using a smartphone in a quick, cost-effective and straightforward way. The process is being made possible by a spectrometer, weighing just one gram, from the Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems ENAS. The aim is to mass-produce this component for around a euro using conventional technologies.

Pinterest bans weight loss ads to thwart body shame

Pinterest on Thursday banned weight loss ads, calling it a move against "body shaming" and protecting mental health on online platforms.

Sustainably produced high-speed helicopters

Fast, lightweight and fuel efficient: RACER, the high-speed helicopter reaches flying speeds of up to 400 kilometers per hour. The components of its outer shell are made by an innovative, highly automated manufacturing process. A research team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology IGCV developed the innovative, sustainable method together with Airbus Helicopters.

Washington state blackouts hit same customers repeatedly

The rolling blackouts that cut electricity for tens of thousands of Spokane, Washington, residents amid this week's record-breaking heat wave mostly hit the same power customers repeatedly because of strains on equipment that couldn't handle the blistering temperatures, utility officials said.

Robinhood officially files to go public on Wall Street

High-flying online investment service Robinhood officially filed paperwork Thursday to take the company public, submitting plans to US securities authorities to trade on Nasdaq under the ticker "HOOD".

US carmakers report higher 2Q sales as inventories shrink

Automakers reported huge jumps in second-quarter US sales Thursday, but face a challenging summer as the global semiconductor shortage continues to plague the industry.

At mobile show, techies enjoy face-to-face socialising

On a luxury yacht moored at Barcelona port, dozens of tech and telecoms executives from around the world are busy sipping cocktails and nibbling on petit fours as the sun sets.

Judge blocks Florida law on social media 'censorship'

A federal judge has blocked a Florida law which sought to prevent social media firms from taking down content from political candidates, saying the measure was "wholly at odds with accepted constitutional principles" of free speech.

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