Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Jul 7

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for July 7, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

PHYSFRAME: a system to type check physical frames of reference for robotic systems

Methane in the plumes of Saturn's moon Enceladus: Possible signs of life?

New study helps explain 'silent earthquakes' along New Zealand's North Island

New type of massive explosion explains mystery star

Atmospheric acidity impacts oceanic ecology

Microscopy technique makes finer images of deeper tissue, more quickly

Research team shows complex, 3D-printed schwarzites withstand pressure when coated

New clues to why there's so little antimatter in the universe

Researchers examine properties of supernova SN 2012au

Scientists use artificial intelligence to detect gravitational waves

Canine faeces reveal more about 17th century working sled dogs

There's a man in the moon: Why our brains see human faces everywhere

UK public view COVID-19 as a threat because of lockdowns, new study suggests

Still waiting at an intersection? Banning certain left turns helps traffic flow

Scientists closing in on map of the mammalian immune system

Physics news

Microscopy technique makes finer images of deeper tissue, more quickly

To create high-resolution, 3D images of tissues such as the brain, researchers often use two-photon microscopy, which involves aiming a high-intensity laser at the specimen to induce fluorescence excitation. However, scanning deep within the brain can be difficult because light scatters off of tissues as it goes deeper, making images blurry.

New clues to why there's so little antimatter in the universe

Imagine a dust particle in a storm cloud, and you can get an idea of a neutron's insignificance compared to the magnitude of the molecule it inhabits.

Quantum laser turns energy loss into gain

Scientists at KAIST have fabricated a laser system that generates highly interactive quantum particles at room temperature. Their findings, published in the journal Nature Photonics, could lead to a single microcavity laser system that requires lower threshold energy as its energy loss increases.

Igniting plasmas in liquids

Physicists of Ruhr-Universit├Ąt Bochum (RUB) have taken spectacular pictures that allow the ignition process of plasma under water to be viewed and tracked in real time. Dr. Katharina Grosse has provided the first data sets with ultra-high temporal resolution, supporting a new hypothesis on the ignition of these plasmas: In the nanosecond range, there is not enough time to form a gas environment. Electrons generated by field effects lead to the propagation of the plasma. The nanosecond plasma ignites directly in the liquid, regardless of the polarity of the voltage. The report from the Collaborative Research Centre 1316 "Transient Atmospheric Pressure Plasmas: from Plasma to Liquids to Solids" has been published in the Journal of Applied Physics and Rubin, the RUB's science magazine.

Quantum particles: Pulled and compressed

Very recently, researchers led by Markus Aspelmeyer at the University of Vienna and Lukas Novotny at ETH Zurich cooled a glass nanoparticle into the quantum regime for the first time. To do this, the particle is deprived of its kinetic energy with the help of lasers. What remains are movements, so-called quantum fluctuations, which no longer follow the laws of classical physics but those of quantum physics. The glass sphere with which this has been achieved is significantly smaller than a grain of sand, but still consists of several hundred million atoms. In contrast to the microscopic world of photons and atoms, nanoparticles provide an insight into the quantum nature of macroscopic objects. In collaboration with experimental physicist Markus Aspelmeyer, a team of theoretical physicists led by Oriol Romero-Isart of the University of Innsbruck and the Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences is now proposing a way to harness the quantum properties of nanoparticles for various applications.

Researchers shed light on memory effects in multi-step evolution of open quantum system

In a study published in Physical Review Letters, academician Guo Guangcan's team from University of Science and Technology of China of the Chinese Academy of Sciences made progress in the open quantum system research. This team, collaborating with Austrian theoretical physicist Philip Taranto, demonstrated the non-Markovianity in the multi-step evolution of the open quantum system, and proved the measurement-dependent property of quantum memory effects.

Untappable communication becomes practical with new system in future quantum internet

Engineers from QuTech (a collaboration between TU Delft and TNO) can provide untappable communication that is cost-scaling to many users by using measurement-device independent (MDI) quantum key distribution (QKD). A notable side-feature is that, courtesy of Cisco, conventional internet operaltes in parallel, on the same optical fiber from Dutch telecom provider KPN. MDI-QKD is an important step towards an accessible quantum internet.

Researchers identify ultrastable single atom magnet

Researchers at the IBS Center for Quantum Nanoscience at Ewha Womans University (QNS) have shown that dysprosium atoms resting on a thin insulating layer of magnesium oxide have magnetic stability over days. In a study published in Nature Communications they have proven that these tiny magnets have extreme robustness against fluctuations in magnetic field and temperature and will flip only when they are bombarded with high energy electrons from a scanning tunneling microscope.

Beyond 5G: Wireless communications may get a boost from ultra-short collimating metalens

Screens may be larger on smartphones now, but nearly every other component is designed to be thinner, flatter and tinier than ever before. The engineering requires a shift from shapely, and bulky lenses to the development of miniaturized, two-dimensional metalenses. They might look better, but do they work better?

Tiny tools: Controlling individual water droplets as biochemical reactors

Miniaturization is rapidly reshaping the field of biochemistry, with emerging technologies such as microfluidics and "lab-on-a-chip" devices taking the world by storm. Chemical reactions that were normally conducted in flasks and tubes can now be carried out within tiny water droplets not larger than a few millionths of a liter. Particularly, in droplet-array sandwiching techniques, such tiny droplets are orderly laid out on two parallel flat surfaces opposite to each other. By bringing the top surface close enough to the bottom one, each top droplet makes contact with the opposite bottom droplet, exchanging chemicals and transferring particles or even cells. In quite a literal way, these droplets can act as small reaction chambers or cell cultures, and they can also fulfill the role of liquid-handling tools such as pipettes but on a much smaller scale.

Astronomy and Space news

Methane in the plumes of Saturn's moon Enceladus: Possible signs of life?

An unknown methane-producing process is likely at work in the hidden ocean beneath the icy shell of Saturn's moon Enceladus, suggests a new study published in Nature Astronomy by scientists at the University of Arizona and Paris Sciences & Lettres University.

New type of massive explosion explains mystery star

A massive explosion from a previously unknown source—10 times more energetic than a supernova—could be the answer to a 13-billion-year-old Milky Way mystery.

Researchers examine properties of supernova SN 2012au

An international team of astronomers has performed photometric, polarimetric and spectroscopic observations of the Type Ib supernova SN 2012au. Results of this comprehensive study deliver important information regarding the properties of this cosmic explosion. The research was detailed in a paper published June 30 on the arXiv pre-print server.

Scientists use artificial intelligence to detect gravitational waves

When gravitational waves were first detected in 2015 by the advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), they sent a ripple through the scientific community, as they confirmed another of Einstein's theories and marked the birth of gravitational wave astronomy. Five years later, numerous gravitational wave sources have been detected, including the first observation of two colliding neutron stars in gravitational and electromagnetic waves.

Small amount of lithium production in classical nova

A new study of lithium production in a classical nova found a production rate of only a couple of percent that seen in other examples. This shows that there is a large diversity within classical novae and implies that nova explosions alone cannot explain the amount of lithium seen in the current universe. This is an important result for understanding both the explosion mechanism of classical novae and the overall chemical evolution of the universe.

Image: The heart of a lunar sensor

The heart of the Exospheric Mass Spectrometer (EMS) is visible in this image of the key sensor that will study the abundance of lunar water and water ice for upcoming missions to the Moon.

Sea to stars: first Arab woman astronaut in training

The UAE's Nora al-Matrooshi is the first Arab woman to start training to be an astronaut, one of two Emiratis picked from thousands of applicants as the Gulf nation looks to the stars.

Technology news

PHYSFRAME: a system to type check physical frames of reference for robotic systems

To move efficiently and safely within different environments, robotic systems typically monitor both their own movements and their surroundings as they try to navigate safely and avoid nearby obstacles. The measurements they gather generally make sense with respect to a given frame of reference, also known as a coordinate system.

Still waiting at an intersection? Banning certain left turns helps traffic flow

When traffic is clogged at a downtown intersection, there may be a way to reduce some of the congestion: Eliminate a few left turns.

Scientists home in on recipe for entirely renewable energy

Scientists from Trinity College Dublin are homing in on a recipe that would enable the future production of entirely renewable, clean energy from which water would be the only waste product.

Mapping urban greenspace use with cellphone GPS data

GPS data from cell phones may provide insight into how city inhabitants are using their urban greenspaces, in a study published July 7, 2021 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Meghann Mears and Paul Brindley from the University of Sheffield, UK, and colleagues.

Machine learning tool sorts the nuances of quantum data

An interdisciplinary team of Cornell and Harvard University researchers developed a machine learning tool to parse quantum matter and make crucial distinctions in the data, an approach that will help scientists unravel the most confounding phenomena in the subatomic realm.

Cutting through noise for better solar cells

As society moves towards a renewable energy future, it's crucial that solar panels convert light into electricity as efficiently as possible. Some state-of-the-art solar cells are close to the theoretical maximum of efficiency—and physicists from the University of Utah and Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin have figured out a way to make them even better.

A universal approach to tailoring soft robots

By combining two distinct approaches into an integrated workflow, Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) researchers have developed a novel automated process for designing and fabricating customized soft robots. Their method, published in Advanced Materials Technologies, can be applied to other kinds of soft robots—allowing their mechanical properties to be tailored in an accessible manner.

Energycane produces more biodiesel than soybean at a lower cost: study

Bioenergy from crops is a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. New crops such as energycane can produce several times more fuel per acre than soybeans. Yet, challenges remain in processing the crops to extract fuel efficiently.

Biden: US damage appears minimal in big ransomware attack

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that damage to U.S. businesses in the biggest ransomware attack on record appears minimal, though information remained incomplete. The company whose software was exploited said fewer than 1,500 businesses worldwide appeared compromised but cybersecurity experts caution that the incident isn't over.

Samsung Electronics says Q2 operating profit to jump more than half

South Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics forecast an expectations-beating jump of more than 53 percent in second-quarter operating profit Wednesday, thanks to strong chip prices and operations resuming at a key US factory.

Chinese Tesla challenger debuts in Hong Kong with $1.8 bn IPO

Shares in electric carmaker XPeng debuted in Hong Kong on Wednesday, as Chinese-based firms trading in the United States seek to avoid the glare of Beijing's regulators by listing closer to home.

China's Huawei scores 4G patent deal for VW cars

Huawei has struck a licensing deal that will allow use of its 4G technologies in connected vehicles manufactured by Volkswagen Group, the Chinese tech giant said on Wednesday.

Holding the world to ransom: the top 5 most dangerous criminal organisations online right now

"On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog!"

U.S. freight railroads bolstered supply chain resilience during pandemic

Even as other parts of the U.S. supply chain faced disruptions and setbacks, the freight rail industry demonstrated resilience and reliability during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report by the Northwestern University Transportation Center (NUTC).

Deciding where and when to locate electric vehicle charging stations along interstate highways

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a nationwide modeling tool to help infrastructure planners decide where and when to locate electric vehicle charging stations along interstate highways. The goal is to encourage the adoption of EVs for cross-country travel.

Building a better thermostat

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers designed and field-tested an algorithm that could help homeowners maintain comfortable temperatures year-round while minimizing utility costs.

Efficient, low-consumption cooling systems work with solar air conditioning

This equipment would help tackle the increase of electricity bills during the summer. They are based on using thermo-solar panels to cool the room.

Facebook leads surging 'social commerce' market: survey

Facebook is leading the fast-growing market of "social commerce" that is expected to be worth some $36 billion in the United States this year, a research firm said Wednesday.

Improving AI road sign recognition

Technology adds new safety features to every generation of road vehicle—seatbelts, airbags, parking sensors, and in work published in the International Journal of Vehicle Safety, the possibility of an in-vehicle road sign recognition system is discussed. Researchers from the University of Monastir, Monastir, Tunisia, have turned to an algorithm known as an edited shuffled leapfrog algorithm to carry out the recognition task.

Battery-powered trains could be a climate game changer. Is everyone all aboard?

Colossal freight locomotives are a fixture of the American landscape, but their 4,400-horsepower engines collectively burn 3.5 billion gallons of diesel annually, at a time when railroads and other fossil fuel users face pressure to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Windows 11: Everything you must know about Microsoft's latest software

PC owners will experience some big changes to their Windows software later this year.

US-listed Chinese shares slump in wake of Beijing crackdown

Shares of Didi Chuxing plunged Tuesday after Beijing required app stores to pull the Chinese ride-hailing program as part of a widening crackdown on technology companies.

China fines internet giants in anti-monopoly cases

Companies including internet giants Alibaba and Tencent were fined Wednesday by anti-monopoly regulators in a new move to tighten control over their fast-developing industries.

Heathrow airport to fast-track vaccinated passengers

London's Heathrow airport said Wednesday it plans to offer fast-track lanes for fully vaccinated arriving passengers, as the UK government winds down its pandemic curbs.

Edmunds highlights five affordable off-road vehicles

Does a little outdoor adventure sound enticing to you? To many Americans it does, as evidenced by crowded national parks and increased demand for trucks and SUVs. If you're looking for a vehicle that can handle going off-road yet still be your inexpensive source for daily transportation, there are several options at your disposal.

Better gripping with intelligent picking robots

Production, warehouse, shipping—where goods are produced, stored, sorted or packed, picking also takes place. This means that several individual goods are removed from storage units such as boxes or cartons and reassembled. Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), together with partners from Germany and Canada, want to make picking robots smarter using distributed AI methods. To do this, they are investigating how to use training data from multiple stations, from multiple plants, or even companies without requiring participants to hand over sensitive company data.

Is Thursday the new Monday? Flexible working is in flux

Last year, companies around the U.S. scrambled to figure out how to shut down their offices and set up their employees for remote work as the COVID-19 virus suddenly bore down on the world.

Trump announces anti-censorship lawsuit against Facebook, Twitter

Former US president Donald Trump on Wednesday unveiled a class-action lawsuit against Facebook, Twitter and Google, escalating his years-long free speech battle with tech giants who he argues have wrongfully censored him.

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