Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Jul 14

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for July 14, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Researchers realize a printed millimetre-wave modulator and antenna array for backscatter communications

New study puts disparities of climate change on the map

Outburst of Cepheus X-4 pulsar inspected with AstroSat

New evidence of an anomalous phase of matter brings energy-efficient technologies closer

The next generation of information processing is through coherent gate operations

First measurement of isotopes in atmosphere of exoplanet

DNA from 1,600-year-old Iranian sheep mummy brings history to life

How does the world use emojis? Study finds universal expressions across countries and continents

Physicists describe sun's electric field

To track elephants, scientists keep an ear to the ground

Bacteria are key to vaginal health, researchers say

Study finds 'thriving gap' between students who attend high school remotely vs. in person

Study evaluates biodiversity impacts of alternative energy strategies

Hard to swallow: Coral cells seen engulfing algae for first time

Impairments found in neurons derived from people with schizophrenia and genetic mutation

Physics news

New evidence of an anomalous phase of matter brings energy-efficient technologies closer

Researchers have found evidence for an anomalous phase of matter that was predicted to exist in the 1960s. Harnessing its properties could pave the way to new technologies able to share information without energy losses. These results are reported in the journal Science Advances.

The next generation of information processing is through coherent gate operations

Many of us swing through gates every day—points of entry and exit to a space like a garden, park or subway. Electronics have gates too. These control the flow of information from one place to another by means of an electrical signal. Unlike a garden gate, these gates require control of their opening and closing many times faster than the blink of an eye.

A scattering-type scanning nearfield optical microscope probes materials at the nanoscale

An MIT physicist has built a new instrument of interest to MIT researchers across a wide range of disciplines because it can quickly and relatively inexpensively determine a variety of important characteristics of a material at the nanoscale. It's capable of not only determining internal properties of a material, such as how that material's electrical or optical conductivity changes over exquisitely short distances, but also visualizing individual molecules, like proteins.

Approaching the Heisenberg limit

A football is not a quantum particle. There are crucial differences between the things we know from everyday life and tiny quantum objects. Quantum phenomena are usually very fragile. To study them, one normally uses only a small number of particles, well shielded from the environment, at the lowest possible temperatures.

Scientists find way to navigate a heavy uphill climb

A team of scientists has uncovered how heavy, motorized objects climb steep slopes—a newly discovered mechanism that also mimics how rock climbers navigate inclines.

Scientists develop a new tool for measuring radio waves in fusion plasmas

Scientists seeking to bring to Earth the fusion energy that drives the sun and stars use radio frequency (RF) waves—the same waves that bring radio and television into homes—to heat and drive current in the plasma that fuels fusion reactions. Scientists now have developed a path-setting way to measure the waves that could be used to validate predictions of their impact, setting the stage for enhanced future experiments that could result in bringing energy from fusion to Earth.

Watching subsurface defects as they move

A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientist and collaborators have demonstrated the first-ever "defect microscope" that can track how populations of defects deep inside macroscopic materials move collectively.

Improving lab constraint on exotic spin interaction

Prof. Du Jiangfeng, Prof. Rong Xing, and their colleagues from the Key Laboratory of Micromagnetic Resonance, University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have set the most stringent laboratory constraint on the exotic spin- and velocity-dependent interaction at the micrometer scale. This study was published in Physical Review Letters.

Higher-order topological superconductivity in monolayer iron-based superconductor

In particle physics, a Majorana fermion is charge neutral and its antiparticle is just itself. In condensed matter physics, a Majorana zero mode (MZM) is a quasi-particle excitation that appears in the surfaces or edges of topological superconductors. Unlike the ordinary particles or quasi-particles that obey boson or fermion statistics, MZM obeys non-abelian statistics, a key property that makes MZM the building block for realizing topological quantum computation.

Improving deep optical microscope imaging of biological tissues

A team of researchers affiliated with UNIST has succeeded in developing a new optical microscope technology, capable of deeper imaging beyond the biological tissues. This breakthrough has been led by Professor Jung-Hoon Park and his research team in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at UNIST.

Astronomy and Space news

Outburst of Cepheus X-4 pulsar inspected with AstroSat

Using the AstroSat spacecraft, Indian astronomers have observed the Cepheus X-4 X-ray pulsar during its outburst in 2018. Results of these observations provide important insights into the properties of this outburst and shed more light on the nature of the pulsar. The study was presented in a paper published July 8 on arXiv.org.

First measurement of isotopes in atmosphere of exoplanet

An international team of astronomers have become the first in the world to detect isotopes in the atmosphere of an exoplanet. It concerns different forms of carbon in the gaseous giant planet TYC 8998-760-1 b at a distance of 300 light years in the constellation Musca. The weak signal was measured with ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile and seems to indicate that the planet is relatively rich in carbon-13. The astronomers speculate that this is because the planet formed at a great distance from its parent star. The research will be published in the scientific journal Nature on Thursday.

Physicists describe sun's electric field

As the Parker Solar Probe ventures closer to the sun, we are learning new things about our home star.

Discovered: Energetic hot wind from low-luminosity active galactic nucleus

Supermassive black holes in the universe swallow gas around them. The infalling gas is called black hole accretion flow. In a study published in Nature Astronomy, the group led by Prof. YUAN Feng at Shanghai Astronomical Observatory (SHAO) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, together with the group led by Prof. LI Zhiyuan at Nanjing University, found direct evidence for the existence of an energetic hot wind launched from the hot accretion flow onto a weakly accreting supermassive black hole, representing a step toward understanding accretion processes around black hole.

Ride with Juno as it flies past the solar system's biggest moon and Jupiter

On June 7, 2021, NASA's Juno spacecraft flew closer to Jupiter's ice-encrusted moon Ganymede than any spacecraft in more than two decades. Less than a day later, Juno made its 34th flyby of Jupiter, racing over its roiling atmosphere from pole to pole in less than three hours. Using the spacecraft's JunoCam imager, the mission team has put together an animation to provide a "starship captain" point of view of each flyby.

NASA, European Space Agency join forces on climate change

NASA and the European Space Agency joined forces Tuesday in the battle against climate change, a move they said paves the way to a global response to the problem.

NASA solar sail asteroid mission readies for launch on Artemis I

Sailing on sunlight, NEA Scout will capture images of an asteroid for scientific study.

Ariane 6 targets new missions with Astris kick stage

ESA will enhance the versatility of Europe's Ariane 6 rocket with a kick stage called Astris in a €90 m development contract with prime contractor, ArianeGroup. This is part of ESA's strategy to extend Ariane 6's capabilities to serve a wider range of space transportation requirements.

Technology news

Researchers realize a printed millimetre-wave modulator and antenna array for backscatter communications

The number of smartphones, laptops and other devices connected to the internet is continuously increasing. This expanding network of connected devices, also known as the Internet of Things (IoT), entails the transfer of large amounts of data over the internet.

Singapore unveils one of world's biggest floating solar farms

Singapore Wednesday unveiled one of the world's biggest floating solar power farms, covering an area the size of 45 football pitches, as part of the city-state's push to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Enabling the 'imagination' of artificial intelligence

A team of researchers at USC is helping AI imagine the unseen, a technique that could also lead to fairer AI, new medicines and increased autonomous vehicle safety.

The hidden culprit killing lithium-metal batteries from the inside

For decades, scientists have tried to make reliable lithium-metal batteries. These high-performance storage cells hold 50% more energy than their prolific, lithium-ion cousins, but higher failure rates and safety problems like fires and explosions have crippled commercialization efforts. Researchers have hypothesized why the devices fail, but direct evidence has been sparse.

Looking Glass develops second-generation holographic displays

Holographic display maker Looking Glass has announced that it has developed two versions of its second-generation holographic display. On its website, the team at Looking Glass provide a video showing off features that buyers can expect from the two new products, the 4K Gen2 and the 8K Gen2, both powered by what the company calls its advanced light-field technology.

Liquid metal sensors and AI could help prosthetic hands to 'feel'

Each fingertip has more than 3,000 touch receptors, which largely respond to pressure. Humans rely heavily on sensation in their fingertips when manipulating an object. The lack of this sensation presents a unique challenge for individuals with upper limb amputations. While there are several high-tech, dexterous prosthetics available today—they all lack the sensation of 'touch'. The absence of this sensory feedback results in objects inadvertently being dropped or crushed by a prosthetic hand.

Encrypting photos on the cloud to keep them private

The past decade has witnessed scandal after scandal over private images maliciously or accidentally made public. A new study from computer scientists at Columbia Engineering reveals what may be the first way to encrypt personal images on popular cloud photo services, such as those from Google, Apple, Flickr and others, all without requiring any changes to—or trust in—those services.

ECB inches closer to 'digital euro'

The European Central Bank inched closer to a "digital euro" on Wednesday with the formal launch of a pilot project, but questions remain about potential pitfalls and benefits for eurozone citizens.

NIST evaluates face recognition software's accuracy for flight boarding

The most accurate face recognition algorithms have demonstrated the capability to confirm airline passenger identities while making very few errors, according to recent tests of the software conducted at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Study puts charge into drive for sustainable lithium production

An important new study by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory has yielded critical fresh insights into the lithium production process and how it relates to long-term environmental sustainability, particularly in the area of transportation with batteries and electric vehicles.

What electric vehicle batteries will look like in the future

"Gigafactories" could one day be churning out millions of electric vehicle batteries in the UK. The government has already committed the country to a ban on selling new petrol- and diesel-engined cars by 2030, so it seems that electric vehicles (or EVs, as they're often abbreviated) are likely to replace much of today's fleet.

Putting a strain on semiconductors for next-gen chips

Skoltech researchers and their colleagues from the U.S. and Singapore have created a neural network that can help tweak semiconductor crystals in a controlled fashion to achieve superior properties for electronics. This enables a new direction of development of next-generation chips and solar cells by exploiting a controllable deformation that may change the properties of a material on the fly. The paper was published in the journal npj Computational Materials.

Banning fossil fuels in sub-Saharan Africa could slow the transition to renewable energy

Worldwide, the ugly consequences of a warming planet are rearing their heads. Many countries are increasing efforts to decarbonise their energy systems in a bid to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. But the path to decarbonisation is complex, requiring a unique approach from each country.

Fintech industry wants guidance as lawmakers focus on risks

Financial technology innovators are hoping there's no such thing as bad press when it comes to cryptocurrencies.

Fighting modern slavery in Greek strawberry fields using satellite technology

A consortium of modern slavery experts, led by the University of Nottingham, have assisted the Greek government to tackle a humanitarian crisis unfolding in the strawberry fields of southern Greece.

Swarm of autonomous tiny drones can localize gas leaks

When there is a gas leak in a large building or at an industrial site, human firefighters currently need to go in with gas sensing instruments. Finding the gas leak may take considerable time, while they are risking their lives. Researchers from TU Delft (the Netherlands), University of Barcelona, and Harvard University have now developed the first swarm of tiny—and hence very safe—drones that can autonomously detect and localize gas sources in cluttered indoor environments.

Building a multifunctional pressure sensor with 3D printing technology

The treatment of many medical issues like abnormal gait and muscular disorders require an accurate sensing of applied pressure. In this regard, flexible pressure sensors that are simple, lightweight, and low-cost, have garnered considerable attention. These sensors are designed and manufactured through 'additive manufacturing', or what is more commonly called '3D printing', using conductive polymer composites as their building blocks.

Ammonia may be the key to making long-haul shipping green

SINTEF research scientist Andrea Gruber crunches numbers, albeit with the help of the supercomputer "Betzy." A seemingly infinite string of calculations is now answering open scientific questions about how a widespread and long-established chemical substance—ammonia—may help the shipping industry to become climate-friendly.

Researchers convert tamarind shells into an energy source for vehicles

Shells of tamarind, a tropical fruit consumed worldwide, are discarded during food production. As they are bulky, tamarind shells take up a considerable amount of space in landfills where they are disposed as agricultural waste.

Facebook asks for recusal of FTC head in antitrust probes

Facebook is asking that the new head of the Federal Trade Commission step away from antitrust investigations into the social network giant, asserting that past public criticism of the company's market power makes it impossible for her to be impartial.

Will drivers get burned by EU ban on ICE cars?

The European Commission unveiled Wednesday plans to accelerate its bid to reach carbon neutrality that effectively bans the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines from 2035. What will this mean for drivers?

That was fleeting: Twitter kills off ephemeral 'fleets'

Twitter is disappearing its disappearing tweets, called fleets, after they didn't catch on.

Have an old iPhone? It might not support iOS 15 and you'll miss out on these features

This fall for tech lovers means new iPhones, which also usher in the arrival of a new version of iOS.

Facebook says $1 bn to be spent boosting creators

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday said that the internet titan will pour $1 billion into programs for creators of popular content at the social network through 2022.

Road to future: Dutch province unveils solar bicycle path

Authorities in a central Dutch province opened what they are billing as the world's longest solar bicycle path Wednesday, mixing sustainable energy with emission-free travel.

GM warns some Bolt owners to park outdoors due to fire risk

General Motors is telling owners of some older Chevrolet Bolts to park them outdoors and not to charge them overnight because two of the electric cars caught fire after recall repairs were made.

Delta goes shopping for deals on the used-airplane lot

Delta Air Lines said Tuesday it will buy or lease 36 used planes at good prices to position itself for growth after the pandemic.

India food delivery giant Zomato kicks off $1.3bn IPO

Food delivery giant Zomato on Wednesday launched its much-anticipated IPO to raise 93.75 billion rupees ($1.3 billion), India's biggest this year and the first of a series of public listings by tech unicorns.

Australia is a sitting duck for ransomware attacks

Australian organizations are a soft target for ransomware attacks, say experts who yesterday issued a fresh warning that the government needs to do more to stop agencies and businesses falling prey to cyber-crime. But in truth, the danger has been growing worldwide for more than three decades.

Testing candidate materials for space missions

Going to space equals stress. As launcher propellant tanks are filled with fuel, or spacecraft structural panels experience the strain of orbital ascent, they undergo major force loading in multiple directions at once.

Apple gives $1 billion to fund affordable housing projects in California

Apple said it has deployed more than $1 billion in funding for housing projects across California as part of its ongoing effort to combat the state's enormous housing crisis.

India's Infosys posts highest revenues in decade on strong demand

Indian software giant Infosys reported a 22.7-percent increase in quarterly net profit Wednesday after its revenues soared to their highest in a decade as global demand for digital services boomed during the pandemic.

Jeff Bezos donates record breaking $200 mn to Smithsonian

Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos will donate $200 million to the Smithsonian, the largest gift in the history of the institute, a statement said Wednesday.

Raleigh software company Insightsoftware draws a $1 billion investment

Raleigh-based Insightsoftware has drawn a nearly $1 billion investment from a London-based private-equity firm.


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