Science X Newsletter Monday, Jul 26

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for July 26, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Is it possible to deliver a knockout punch to HIV?

Through the thin-film glass, researchers spot a new liquid phase

Plant root–associated bacteria preferentially colonize their native host-plant roots

Earth's interior is swallowing up more carbon than thought

French astronomers explore supercluster PLCK G334.8-38.0

Hubble finds first evidence of water vapor on Jupiter's moon Ganymede

Fermi spots a supernova's 'fizzled' gamma-ray burst

The mechanics of puncture finally explained

Extreme heat, dry summers main cause of tree death in Colorado's subalpine forests

New study sheds light on function of sex chromosomes in turtles

Brain's 'memory center' needed to recognize image sequences but not single sights

65+ and lonely? Don't talk to your doctor about another prescription

Second COVID-19 mRNA vaccine dose found safe following allergic reactions to first dose

Scientists model 'true prevalence' of COVID-19 throughout pandemic

New breakthrough to help immune systems in the fight against cancer

Physics news

Through the thin-film glass, researchers spot a new liquid phase

Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes a new type of liquid in thin films, which forms a high-density glass. Results generated in this study, conducted by researchers in Penn's Department of Chemistry, demonstrate how these glasses and other similar materials can be fabricated to be denser and more stable, providing a framework for developing new applications and devices through better design.

The mechanics of puncture finally explained

The feeling of a needle piercing skin is familiar to most people, especially recently as COVID-19 vaccinations gain momentum. But what exactly happens when a needle punctures skin? The answer is revealed in a new paper published recently in the Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids.

To de-ice planes on the fly, researchers aim to control rather than combat ice formation

How do you control ice formation on a plane, even when it's in flight? Jonathan Boreyko, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, is leading a team working with Collins Aerospace to develop an approach using ice itself. In a study published in Physical Review Letters, they created a de-icing method that exploits how frost grows on pillar structures to suspend ice as it forms into a layer that's easier to remove.

Artificial intelligence discovers long-term influencers hiding in noisy systems

They say in chaos theory that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil could unwittingly set up a tornado in Texas. Well, maybe it does. But that tornado should at least need some time to form, given the 5,000-mile distance between the two regions. This time delay between cause and effects in climate patterns is well apparent in the less-dramatized example of El Niño events (as explained in this video).

Combining two approaches to advance quantum computing

Quantum computers hold the potential to out-perform all conventional computing systems. Two promising physical implementations for the storage and manipulation of quantum information are the electromagnetic modes of superconducting circuits and the spins of small numbers of electrons trapped in semiconductor quantum dots.

Scientists discover how high-energy electrons strengthen magnetic fields

More than 99% of the visible universe exists in a superheated state known as plasma—an ionized gas of electrons and ions. The motion of these charged particles produces magnetic fields that form an interstellar magnetic web. These magnetic fields are important for a wide range of processes, from the shaping of galaxies and the formation of stars to controlling the motion and acceleration of high-energy particles like cosmic rays—protons and electrons that zoom through the universe at nearly the speed of light.

Now in 3D: Deep learning techniques help visualize X-ray data in three dimensions

Computers have been able to quickly process 2D images for some time. Your cell phone can snap digital photographs and manipulate them in a number of ways. Much more difficult, however, is processing an image in three dimensions, and doing it in a timely manner. The mathematics are more complex, and crunching those numbers, even on a supercomputer, takes time.

ATLAS reports first observation of WWW production

The ATLAS Collaboration at CERN announces the first observation of "WWW production": The simultaneous creation of three massive W bosons in high-energy Large Hadron Collider (LHC) collisions.

Acoustic tweezers can pick up objects without physical contact

Researchers from Tokyo Metropolitan University have developed a new technology which allows non-contact manipulation of small objects using sound waves. They used a hemispherical array of ultrasound transducers to generate a 3D acoustic field that stably trapped and lifted a small polystyrene ball from a reflective surface. Their technique employs a method similar to laser trapping in biology, but adaptable to a wider range of particle sizes and materials.

Physicists create polarization vortices in a two-dimensional material

A University of Arkansas research team, in conjunction with researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics and Beijing Academy of Quantum Information Sciences, has discovered polarization vortices in two-dimensional (2D) ferroelectrics.

Astronomy and Space news

French astronomers explore supercluster PLCK G334.8-38.0

Using ESA's XMM-Newton telescope, a team of French astronomers has conducted an X-ray study of a supercluster known as PLCK G334.8-38.0. Results of this research, published July 16 on the arXiv pre-print server, deliver important insights into the nature of this structure.

Hubble finds first evidence of water vapor on Jupiter's moon Ganymede

For the first time, astronomers have uncovered evidence of water vapor in the atmosphere of Jupiter's moon Ganymede. This water vapor forms when ice from the moon's surface sublimates—that is, turns from solid to gas.

Fermi spots a supernova's 'fizzled' gamma-ray burst

On Aug. 26, 2020, NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected a pulse of high-energy radiation that had been racing toward Earth for nearly half the present age of the universe. Lasting only about a second, it turned out to be one for the record books—the shortest gamma-ray burst (GRB) caused by the death of a massive star ever seen.

Planetary remnants around white dwarf stars

When a star like our sun gets to be old, in another seven billion years or so, it will no longer be able to sustain burning its nuclear fuel. With only about half of its mass remaining it will shrink to a fraction of its radius and become a white dwarf star. White dwarf stars are common; over 95% of all stars will become white dwarfs. The most famous one is the companion to the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, but more particularly all stars known to host exoplanets will also end their lives as white dwarfs.

Large meteor lights up skies in Norway

Norwegian experts say an unusually large meteor was visible over large parts of southern Scandinavia and illuminated southeast Norway with a powerful flash of light for a few seconds as many observers were reported to also hear a roaring sound afterwards.

Astronomers seek evidence of tech built by aliens

An international team of scientists led by a prominent Harvard astronomer announced a new initiative Monday to look for evidence of technology built by extraterrestrial civilizations.

Jeff Bezos is still not an astronaut, according to the FAA

Just because you were in space doesn't mean you get the wings of an astronaut.

Astronomers uncover briefest supernova-powered gamma-ray burst

Astronomers have discovered the shortest-ever gamma-ray burst (GRB) caused by the implosion of a massive star. Using the international Gemini Observatory, a program of NSF's NOIRLab, astronomers identified the cause of this 0.6-second flurry of gamma rays as a supernova explosion in a distant galaxy. GRBs caused by supernovae are usually more than twice as long, which suggests that some short GRBs might actually be imposters—supernova-produced GRBs in disguise.

Technology news

Flexible 32-bit microprocessor could pave the way to fully flexible smart integrated systems

A team of researchers at ARM Inc., has developed a 32-bit microprocessor on a flexible base which the company claims could pave the way to fully flexible smart integrated systems. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the group describes how they used metal−oxide thin-film transistors along with a type of plastic to create their chip and outline ways they believe it could be used.

Nimble robotic arms that perform delicate surgery may be one step closer to reality

Researchers at Northeastern are working to eliminate the stiff, herky-jerky motions in robotic arms to make them graceful and deft enough to gently pick up an egg or sturdy enough to stack dinner plates. The findings could one day allow doctors to remotely perform surgery on a distant battlefield or help bomb disposal experts safely remove an explosive device.

Form Energy announces Iron-Air 100-hour storage battery

Officials with battery maker Form Energy have announced the development of the Iron-Air 100-hour storage battery—a battery meant to store electricity created from renewable sources such as solar and wind. As part of their announcement, they note that their new battery is based on iron, not lithium, and thus is much less expensive to produce.

Study explores tensions between IoT device owners and 'incidental users'

In the fall of 2019, a nanny in Boston wrote in the New York Times about the time she learned that audio and video of herself was being recorded while on the job without her knowledge or permission.

'Holy moly!': Inside Texas' fight against a ransomware hack

It was the start of a steamy Friday two Augusts ago when Jason Whisler settled in for a working breakfast at the Coffee Ranch restaurant in the Texas Panhandle city of Borger. The most pressing agenda item for city officials that morning: planning for a country music concert and anniversary event.

New type of wireless charger can charge multiple devices simultaneously

Mobile phones and tablets have allowed us to stay in touch regardless of our location, yet they still rely on plugs, sockets, and charging pads to power up. New technology developed at Aalto University may be the key to true wireless charging for these and other electronics in years to come. The research team includes researches Dr. Prasad Jayathurathnage and Dr. Xiaojie Dang, and professors Sergei Tretyakov and Constantin Simovski. The findings are published in IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics on July 21, 2021.

Ultra-wideband micro-location technology developed

From Augmented Reality games to automatic car locks: Gauging the location of devices is becoming increasingly important in modern life. Except that the precision we demand is far beyond the reach of GPS or Bluetooth. With Ultra-Wideband (UWB) micro-location technology from imec, the location of objects in a space can be pinpointed in minute detail. "Over the coming years, the use of this technology is set to increase dramatically," said Christian Bachmann, imec at Holst Center's Program Manager Ultra-Wideband and Bluetooth Secure Proximity.

Structural health of world's first 3D printed steel bridge monitored by sensors and 'digital twin' technologies

The world's first 3D printed steel bridge has been installed and unveiled in Amsterdam—with the potential to revolutionize how urban infrastructure is designed, built and maintained. Project lead Professor Mark Girolami led the structural integrity testing, as well as the design and installation of the bridge's sensor network. The team from the Department of Engineering and The Alan Turing Institute are currently working on developing and deploying a 'digital twin' of the bridge.

Study: More than 4.6 million English homes experience summertime overheating

The summer of 2018 saw temperatures far above the long-term average in the Northern Hemisphere. It was England's hottest ever summer, with four heat waves resulting in 1,067 excess deaths. The temperatures experienced in 2018 were typical of those the country is expected to reach by the 2050s.

Parks in UK count on new technology to monitor footfalls

New technology is being trialed at selected parks across the UK to count people using phone signals, providing valuable data that can be used to improve safety and services.

Microwave-powered rocket propulsion investigated

Sending a rocket into space typically requires about 90% of the rocket's initial weight to be fuel. This limitation could be overcome by wirelessly transmitting the needed power to the rocket through a beam of microwave radiation. A research team from Japan has investigated the viability of using such microwave-powered propulsion for real-world applications.

Covid woes and chip shortages keep Tata Motors in the red

Losses at India's Tata Motors narrowed between April and June, boosted by a 108-percent jump in revenues, the company said Monday, even as Covid-19 lockdowns and semi-conductor shortages hit its bottom line.

US seeks more time to refile Facebook antitrust case

US antitrust enforcers have asked a federal court for extra time in refiling a monopoly abuse case against Facebook which could roll back its acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp, but was thrown out last month.

Development of a novel technology to check body temperature with smartphone camera

Thermal-imaging sensors that detect and capture images of the heat signatures of human bodies and other subjects have recently sprung into use in thermostats to check facial temperatures for contactless COVID-19 screening at building entrances. Under these circumstances, the smartphone industry is actively considering the incorporation of such sensors as portable features to create the add-on function of measuring temperature in real time. Additionally, the application of such technology to autonomous vehicles may facilitate safer autonomous driving.

A reliable solution for passive acoustic and environmental monitoring

In a study published in Methods in Ecology & Evolution, researchers from the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and their collaborators developed a new acoustic recorder which enables long-term monitoring of both bioacoustics and abiotic factors to enable more detailed bioacoustic monitoring, especially in tropical or wet conditions.

Hedge fund may invest up to $400M in Lordstown Motors

Lordstown Motors has received an investment of up to $400 million as the struggling electric truck maker continues to push toward production of its new pickup this fall.

American Airlines urges pilots to conserve jet fuel

American Airlines on Monday urged its pilots to do everything possible to save fuel, warning that a supply crunch in the United States is challenging company operations.

China launches 6-month campaign to clean up apps

China's industry ministry has announced a 6-month campaign to clean up what it says are serious problems with internet apps violating consumer rights, cyber security and "disturbing market order."

Philips takes profit hit from product safety fault

Dutch electronics giant Philips said Monday sales were up for the second quarter, but that profits took a hit from a recall of faulty sleep and respiratory care equipment.

Ryanair losses widen on Covid travel restrictions

Irish no-frills airline Ryanair on Monday announced a widening of losses in its first quarter, hit by COVID travel restrictions in Europe.

French Minitel pioneer dies aged 88

Gerard Thery, the telecoms engineer whose Minitel project brought internet-style communications to France long before other industrialised countries, has died aged 88, officials said Monday.

PayPal working with Anti-Defamation League on research to cut funding to extremist groups

PayPal is collaborating with the Anti-Defamation League on research aimed at cutting off funding for extremist or hate groups.

Smart robot can lend hospitals a big hand

Recently, researchers from the Hefei Institutes of Physical Science (HFIPS) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences developed a smart functional robot that realized simultaneous disinfection of both air and object surface.

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Big Surveillance, keen-eyed AI, and Zuck's hellish vision of the future.
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Spam Fam, it's Napier here, and I need to vent. I've been writing about tech for years now, but one of my greatest personal disappointments has been the lack of any real Apple scoops. I'm always covering Apple leaks and rumors from other reporters and analysts, but it sure would be nice to make a leak of my own!

That moment has finally come. After meditating on my failings as a journalist and praying to Steve Jobs' ghost during a stroll through my walled garden, Apple's future came into sudden focus. I could hear the company's plans with the clarity befitting a true reporter, as if Bono himself had forced me to download the company's plans into my brain.


Thusly, I present my first Apple research note:

  • The 2021 iPhone is expected to be the best iPhone yet. It will bring an improved processor dubbed 'A15' and an improved camera with technological technology to make your photos look closer to life.
  • Apple plans on releasing a Mac Pro with a new ARM-based processor. My sources tell me it will be more powerful than any Mac released between 1976 and 2021.
  • Within the next 20-30 years, Apple will use unibody silicon dioxide to create an Apple Watch with a 3.14D display. The groundbreaking technology, codenamed ICR (Infinity Corner Rounding), will allow Apple to create a watch without any flat sides.
  • Apple will make the bezels smaller on the future MacBook. Eventually, it is expected the bezels will be small enough for tech journos to shut up about them.
  • Tim Cook will be replaced as CEO before the year 2074.
  • Apple once thought about adding a touchscreen to the MacBook Air before deciding against it. I cannot confirm the duration of said consideration, however my sources tell me the company has all sorts of thoughts from time to time.
  • The Apple Pencil may or may not include Face ID by 2023. At this point it seems more likely Apple will omit this feature, because you know, chip shortage and all, but the company's plans could change at any moment.
  • In a move to further differentiate itself from Google's offerings, Apple will create a new time zone to accompany the future Apple Watch and other devices. Apple Standard Time (AST) will have a 9:41 offset from Pacific Standard Time, ensuring Apple users are always in sync, regardless of the sun's position in the sky. One analyst predicts "the move will ensure Apple users never have to acknowledge Android peasants again."
  • To reduce environmental impact, Apple is expected to stop including iPhones inside iPhone packaging. A survey of customers found most actually retained one or two iPhones that still worked perfectly with the new box. The move will allow the company to release the thinnest smartphone box ever, thereby reducing shipping weight and allowing the company to fit 300% more boxes on a shipping pallet.

Apple is expected to position the change as providing consumers with more choice. Customers who'd still like an iPhone with their iPhone box will be able to purchase one separately for an additional fee of nine-ninety-nine.

As always, take these leaks with a grain of salt — there's always a chance Apple could switch things up at the last moment, which is the only reason I could possibly be wrong. That said, given the sheer vividness of my acid trip, I expect at least 23% of these predictions to come true, which means you should trust me on all leaks for the rest of time.

Stay tuned to Big Spam for more.

What we're talking about

Big Surveillance, keen-eyed AI, and Zuck's hellish vision of the future.


Here's why you should be concerned about surveillance tools like that Pegasus spyware you've been hearing about.


It's not easy to locate shipwrecks from above the ocean, but AI is getting good at it now.


Is object-oriented programming dead yet? Not quite.


Here's a bunch of prominent games that had tremendous potential — and could be redeemed with thoughtful remakes.


Of course Mark Zuckerberg wants to build a VR metaverse — just end me already.


Lil Uzi Vert wants to buy a planet — good thing it's not exactly next door.


A gift for you.

Tweet of the day

billionaire space tweet


~™ CommeRcial bReak® ~

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