Science X Newsletter Friday, Aug 6

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for August 6, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Study reveals an increase in the frequency of nuclear power outages caused by climate change

Identifying an elusive molecule key to combustion chemistry

Antibody findings spark ideas for pan-coronavirus vaccine

Humans could recolonize Earth after mass extinctions with ectogenesis

A test that detects COVID-19 variants in your spit

NASA Mars rover begins collecting rock in search of alien life

Licensed drug could reduce SARS-CoV-2 infection by up to 70 per cent, reveals study

Scientists discover inherited neurodegenerative disease in monkeys

Scientists reverse a key hallmark of motor neuron disease in the laboratory

Expert: Using carbon is key to decarbonizing economy

Observatory in Chile takes highest-resolution measurements of asteroid surface temperatures ever obtained from earth

Virgin Galactic restarts space-trip sales at $450,000 and up

Novel research identifies gene targets of stress hormones in the brain

Minor volcanic eruptions could 'cascade' into global catastrophe, experts argue

Global economic policies driving toward a climate crisis

Physics news

Understanding the ionisation of proton-impacted helium

Advanced mathematical analysis of the ionization of a helium atom by an impacting proton has revealed where discrepancies arise between experiments and existing theoretical calculations of the process

Uncovering fragmentation differences in chiral biomolecules

By combining mass spectroscopy with further analytical and simulation techniques, researchers have revealed key differences in the fragmentation of dipeptide biomolecules with different chiral structures.

Emergent magnetic monopoles controlled at room temperature

Three dimensional (3D) nano-networks promise a new era in modern solid state physics with numerous applications in photonics, bio-medicine, and spintronics. The realization of 3D magnetic nano-architectures could enable ultra-fast and low-energy data storage devices. Due to competing magnetic interactions in these systems, magnetic charges or magnetic monopoles can emerge, which can be utilized as mobile, binary information carriers. Researchers at University of Vienna have now designed the first 3D artificial spin ice lattice hosting unbound magnetic charges. The results published in the journal npj Computational Materials present a first theoretical demonstration that, in the new lattice, the magnetic monopoles are stable at room temperature and can be steered on-demand by external magnetic fields.

Novel molecular imaging technique casts complex coordination molecules in a new light

High-angle annular dark-field scanning transmission electron microscopy can be used to determine complex conformational structures of both crystalline and amorphous polynuclear non-planar coordination molecules, as shown by scientists from Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech). Using iridium as a tracer metal, they were successful in determining the different conformations of a highly branched coordination compound molecule. This has opened up possibilities for imaging and designing of complex inorganic and organic molecules.

'Seeing' single cells with sound

If you are a researcher who wants to see how just a few cells in an organism are behaving, it is no simple task. The human body contains approximately 37 trillion cells; the fruit fly flitting around the overripe bananas on your counter might have 50,000 cells. Even Caenorhabditis elegans, a tiny worm commonly used in biological research, can have as many as 3,000 cells. So, how do you monitor a couple of microscopic specks amid all of that?

Revisiting Clebsch's early papers on the flow of incompressible fluids

New analysis of two recently translated papers, first published in the 1850s, assesses the early methods used by Alfred Clebsch to describe the flow of incompressible fluids, and explores their impact on active areas of cutting-edge research

Using particle accelerators to investigate the quark-gluon plasma of the infant universe

In the early stages of the Universe, quarks and gluons were quickly confined to protons and neutrons which went on to form atoms. With particle accelerators reaching increasingly higher energy levels the opportunity to study this fleeting primordial state of matter has finally arrived.

Astronomy and Space news

Humans could recolonize Earth after mass extinctions with ectogenesis

Lately it seems that every movie, book and video game we see is about future apocalypses. Science articles are also painting a grim future for Earth and its inhabitants. If it's not global warming that will get us, it will be nuclear weapons, pandemics or AI gone rogue. Even if we could overcome such threats, we must still contend with the many natural forces that have caused mass extinctions in the past. Could we actually divert the asteroids, squelch volcanic upheavals and find oases of food and warmth deep enough to survive severe ice ages? Despite the heroics that we see in disaster movies, the answers to these questions are more likely to be no, no and no.

NASA Mars rover begins collecting rock in search of alien life

NASA's Perseverance rover has begun drilling into the surface of Mars and will collect rock samples to be picked up by future missions for analysis by scientists on Earth.

Observatory in Chile takes highest-resolution measurements of asteroid surface temperatures ever obtained from earth

A close examination of the millimeter-wavelength emissions from the asteroid Psyche, which NASA intends to visit in 2026, has produced the first temperature map of the object, providing new insight into its surface properties. The findings, described in a paper published in Planetary Science Journal (PSJ) on August 5, are a step toward resolving the mystery of the origin of this unusual object, which has been thought by some to be a chunk of the core of an ill-fated protoplanet.

Virgin Galactic restarts space-trip sales at $450,000 and up

The ticket window is open again for space flights at Virgin Galactic, with prices starting at $450,000 a seat.

NASA's Juno celebrates 10 years with new infrared view of moon Ganymede

The spacecraft used its infrared instrument during recent flybys of Jupiter's mammoth moon to create this latest map, which comes out a decade after Juno's launch.

Experiment bound for space station turns down the heat

A lot of power means a lot of heat.

A few steps closer to Europa: Spacecraft hardware makes headway

Take a closer look at the complex choreography involved in building NASA's Europa Clipper as the mission to explore Jupiter's moon Europa approaches its 2024 launch date.

Technology news

Study reveals an increase in the frequency of nuclear power outages caused by climate change

Past research suggests that climate change and energy systems have a bidirectional relationship. In other words, just like emissions from energy systems can fuel climate change, climate change could also expose the vulnerabilities or shortcomings of energy systems.

Speed and absorption key to optimizing a new type of rechargeable battery

Rechargeable batteries are a necessity to meet the world's growing energy demands in a sustainable fashion, but not all are equal. Researchers in the Energy Materials and Surface Sciences Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University have worked to optimize a promising candidate of such energy sources—lithium sulfur batteries. The study was published in Nature Communications.  

Apple update will check iPhones for images of child sexual abuse

Apple Thursday said iPhones and iPads will soon start detecting images containing child sexual abuse and reporting them as they are uploaded to its online storage in the United States, a move privacy advocates say raises concerns.

Biden targets half of US car sales to be zero-emission by 2030

With executives from the Detroit automakers watching, President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a target for half of all cars sold in the United States to be zero-emission vehicles by 2030.

Huawei revenue plunges further in 'challenging times'

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei's second-quarter revenue plunged 38 percent, according to figures released Friday, with smartphone sales suffering from US sanctions and the offloading of its budget brand Honor.

Big win for Amazon in battle with Indian conglomerate

US e-commerce giant Amazon won a major legal victory in India on Friday as the country's top court blocked a $3.4-billion deal struck by domestic rival Reliance.

Poor urban, rural areas could bear financial burden of move from natural gas to electricity for energy needs

The push for consumers to go electric for their energy needs has significant environmental benefits as the world deals with the disruptive, deadly effects of climate change. Yet the economic burden of a big switch could fall more on lower income, minority communities.

Doubling the performance of visual recognition AI

Prof. Sunghoon Im, from the Department of Information & Communication Engineering, DGIST, developed an artificial intelligence(AI) neural network module that can separate and convert environmental information in the form of complex images using deep learning. The developed network is expected to significantly contribute to the future advancement in the field of AI, including image conversion and domain adaptation.

Reimagining an iconic design class for remote learning

For the past 50 years, mechanical engineering students at MIT have convened on campus for a boisterous robot competition. Since the 1970s, when the late Professor Emeritus Woodie Flowers first challenged students to build a machine using a "kit of junk," students in class 2.007 (Design and Manufacturing I) have designed and built their own robots to compete in the class's final robot competition. For many students, the class and competition are a driving factor in their decision to enroll in MIT.

Startups, researchers race in the Wild West of electric vehicle battery recycling

Electric vehicles are expected to take off dramatically in the coming years. They'll be followed, eventually, by a wave of used batteries that—as it stands now—will be headed mostly for landfills.

Apple revives encryption debate with move on child exploitation

Apple's announcement that it would scan encrypted messages for evidence of child sexual abuse has revived debate on online encryption and privacy, raising fears the same technology could be used for government surveillance.

FTC official raps Facebook for booting political ads probe

A senior Federal Trade Commission official is criticizing Facebook's move to shut down the personal accounts of two academic researchers and terminate their probe into misinformation spread through political ads on the social network.

EXPLAINER: The impact of Joe Biden's new fuel economy rules

President Joe Biden wants to erase Donald Trump's rollback of automobile pollution and fuel economy standards.

Microsoft requires vaccinations for workers, as office returns slow

Microsoft on Thursday joined the ranks of tech companies requiring returning workers to be vaccinated, as Amazon delayed its plan to reopen offices until next year.

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obviously obvious

Or why the dumbest word in the English language is obvious.
TNW View in browser →
Plugged In

This week, Plugged In is right in front of you, begging that you can't see it.

Obvious is a weird old concept.

You'd think, by its very definition, we wouldn't even need the word. If something simply is, then surely it's obvious by its nature?

To put it another way, if it's obvious, why are we even mentioning it?

Well, tech companies are here to answer this rhetorical question loudly and shirtless on my roof. 

source-Jul-30-2021-03-09-55-14-PM"NOTHING IS OBVIOUS," the organizations shout.


I began trudging down this path of teenage-level philosophy last week. I had one of those moments where long-term irritation turned elegantly into irrational rage.

Why? Because there's no goddamn warmup mode on the Apple Watch Workout app.

While my anger has subsided, my bafflement has not.

If I was creating an exercise tracking app, one of the first things I'd include a warmup mode. Surely that's obvious

Yet, here we are, six years after launch — and still nothing.

source-Jul-30-2021-03-17-53-95-PMMe, waiting for the launch of warmup mode.

This is hardly the only situation where a company has missed an obvious feature for a long fucking time.

It took EIGHT YEARS for Fitbit — a literal health trackerto monitor periods. Thank the lord that almost no humans menstruate. Would be really embarrassing if, say, about 50% of the world did.

Another example are the Cowboy ebikes. These took four years from launch to include mudguards as standard. My ass got splashed a lot.

And the iPad? Well, that still doesn't have a native calculator app.

I can imagine one person missing these things — but multitudes of them? Teams of designers and marketers and engineers? And none of them thought, "Maybe you should be able to copy folders on Google Docs?"

simpsons"He's about to do something stupid."


Of course, some of these... oversights (?) are straight-up failures and deserve derision.

For example, the only rational explanation for the Fitbit "omission" is no one working there had heard of "women."

The rest of these cases just prove to me once again that obvious is a dumbass word. Obvious to who?

(P.S. We're keen to improve Plugged In and hear what you think about it, so head to the bottom of this email to give us your thoughts!)

News you need



Let Daddy Microsoft release you from HORIZONTAL TAB HELL


Apple wants to scan every picture on your iPhone and experts aren't happy


Google 'leaked' the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro because why the fuck not


I'm so excited about this HP laptop I just peed a little


YES! Microsoft is finally making the OneNote to rule them all

A review you're required to read

The hottest new earbuds around are made by... Nothing?

This London-based company was started by former OnePlus CEO, Carl Pei.

Even more intriguingly, Nothing's founding partner is teenage engineering — a high-end audio company known for its innovative products.

Well, you'll be glad to know that we made a video reviewing these hyped earbuds.

thumbnail (3)

Are these strangely designed headphones good? Bad? Mediocre?

Well, you're gonna have to watch the video to find out.

I'd say sorry about that, but I'm not.

Sponsored by TNW

Hold on one hot minute... is that Tom Cruise?

Oh lord I'm getting all sweaty in excitement about TNW2021 — and you really should be feeling the same.

Why? Because of speakers like Chris Ume. He's the co-founder of, and is widely recognized as the world expert in the emerging field of hyper-real videos.

Yoy may remember him as the creator of the deepfake Tom Cruise on TikTok.

Anyway, you can find out more about the body-tingling TNW2021 right here. Come and hang in Amsterdam.

Here's a cool thing (also, cya)


The other week, one of my friends asked me what my favorite album of 2021 was.

This is not an easy question. Nor is it one I had a single answer for.

But... there were a few albums that immediately came to mind — and one of those was Goat Girl's On All Fours.

Genuinely, this is one of the most impressive evolutions I've seen between records.

Goat Girl's first album took a (reasonably) straightforward indie rock/post-punk route. It was (and is) a fantastic release. The songs are terrific and the whole thing rumbles with energy.

On All Fours is a step above though.

Whether it's the synth-y and swelling 'Sad Cowboy,' or the off-kilter nature of 'The Crack,' Goat Girl sound more at ease, more skilled, and more experimental than before.

Basically, On All Fours is the sound of a band truly hitting their stride.


Tell your enemies all about Plugged In. I'll see the rest of you jabronis later.


Peas & Louvre,


(Find me on Twitter here and on Instagram here).

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