Science X Newsletter Monday, Aug 16

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for August 16, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Air Learning: A gym environment to train deep reinforcement algorithms for aerial robot navigation

Nearby star-forming region yields clues to the formation of our solar system

Pollinators: First global risk index for species declines and effects on humanity

The Arctic Ocean's deep past provides clues to its imminent future

Robotic floats provide new look at ocean health and global carbon cycle

Polymers 'click' together using green chemistry

Radio source J2102+6015 investigated in detail

Saturn makes waves in its own rings

Study of structural variants in cacao genomes yields clues about plant diversity

Quick way to create molecular cages could revamp search for new materials

Fizzing sodium could explain asteroid Phaethon's cometlike activity

New technique surveys microbial spatial gene expression patterns

Sensor spies hideouts for ​virus replication inside cell membranes

Is it cheaper to be bigger? Lessons from the extreme weapons of giraffe weevil warriors

Metasurfaces control polarized light at will

Physics news

Metasurfaces control polarized light at will

For years, researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have engineered metasurfaces to manipulate light based on its polarization state. That research has contributed to advances in polarization technology—but metasurface technology has proven more powerful than even the researchers themselves realized.

'Fingerprints' of extreme weather revealed by new statistical approach

Determining if particular extreme hot or cold spells were caused by climate change could be made easier by a new mathematical method.

Shape-based model sheds light on simplified protein binding

Can something as simple as shape fully determine whether or not proteins will bind together? Scientists are commissioning supercomputers to find out.

How ions get their electrons back

What happens when ions are passing through solid materials? It is nearly impossible to observe this directly, but scientists at TU Wien found a way to overcome this problem.

Scientists realize noiseless photon-echo protocol

Prof. LI Chuanfeng and Prof. Zhou Zongquan from University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) innovatively raised and realized noiseless photon echo (NLPE) protocol. The research of entire originality reduced the noise by 670 times compared with previous strategies and achieved solid quantum memory with high fidelity. The results were published in Nature Communications.

Heavily enriched: An energy-efficient way of enriching hydrogen isotopes in silicon

Deuterium, a heavier but less abundant version of the hydrogen atom, has many practical applications. Unfortunately, producing deuterium and using it to protect silicon-based semiconductors requires a lot of energy and very expensive deuterium gas. Now, scientists from Japan have discovered an energy-efficient exchange reaction to swap hydrogen atoms for deuterium on the surface of nanocrystalline silicon. Their results pave the way to more durable electronic devices while keeping costs and the environmental impact low.

Table-top electron camera catches ultrafast dynamics of matter

Scientists at DESY have built a compact electron camera that can capture the inner, ultrafast dynamics of matter. The system shoots short bunches of electrons at a sample to take snapshots of its current inner structure. It is the first such electron diffractometer that uses Terahertz radiation for pulse compression. The developer team around DESY scientists Dongfang Zhang and Franz Kärtner from the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science CFEL validated their Terahertz-enhanced ultrafast electron diffractometer with the investigation of a silicon sample and present their work in the first issue of the journal Ultrafast Science, a new title in the Science group of scientific journals.

Astronomy and Space news

Nearby star-forming region yields clues to the formation of our solar system

A region of active star formation in the constellation Ophiuchus is giving astronomers new insights into the conditions in which our own solar system was born. In particular, a new study of the Ophiuchus star-forming complex shows how our solar system may have become enriched with short-lived radioactive elements.

Radio source J2102+6015 investigated in detail

An international team of astronomers has conducted a detailed study of a high-redshift young radio source designated J2102+6015. Results of the research, presented in a paper published August 4 on arXiv pre-print repository, deliver more hints regarding the nature of this source.

Saturn makes waves in its own rings

In the same way that earthquakes cause our planet to rumble, oscillations in the interior of Saturn make the gas giant jiggle around ever so slightly. Those motions, in turn, cause ripples in Saturn's rings.

Fizzing sodium could explain asteroid Phaethon's cometlike activity

Models and lab tests suggest the asteroid could be venting sodium vapor as it orbits close to the Sun, explaining its increase in brightness.

Boeing astronaut capsule grounded for months by valve issue

Boeing's astronaut capsule is grounded for months and possibly even until next year because of a vexing valve problem.

Deciphering the binary compact object mergers through gamma-ray astronomy

During the height of the cold war in 1967, the Vela military satellites of the United States observed mysterious flashes of gamma rays. Due to the lack of information regarding their origin, the discovery of these events was kept confidential. Eventually, in 1973, the discovery was made public when it was determined to be originating from the sky.

The search for life on Mars expands to studying its moons

A pair of researchers at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has published a perspective piece in the journal Science outlining the efforts being conducted this decade to find out if Mars once hosted life. In their article, Ryuki Hyodo and Tomohiro Usui outline the three main efforts that are involved in looking for evidence of life on Mars over the next ten years, and explain why they and others at JAXA believe the best chance of finding evidence of life on Mars lies on one or both of its moons.

Amyloid fibrils experiment operating aboard International Space Station

A novel experiment aimed at studying the mechanics of amyloid fibrils—a type of protein aggregation associated with diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's—started today aboard the International Space Station (ISS), led by a team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Technology news

Air Learning: A gym environment to train deep reinforcement algorithms for aerial robot navigation

Roboticists worldwide have been trying to develop autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that could be deployed during search and rescue missions or that could be used to map geographical areas and for source-seeking. To operate autonomously, however, drones should be able to move safely and efficiently in their environment.

AI re-stains images of tissue biopsy with new stains, improving accuracy of diagnoses

In order to perform medical diagnoses, pathologists visually inspect histochemically stained tissue biopsy sections. The hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) stain is the most used histochemical stain in pathology, covering the majority of the human tissue biopsy stains performed globally. However, in many clinical cases, additional "special stains" are needed to provide contrast and color to different tissue components and allow pathologists to get a clearer diagnostic picture. These special stains often require significantly longer tissue preparation time, along with laborious effort and monitoring by expert histotechnologists, all of which increase the costs and time to diagnosis.

Stretchable sweat-powered battery developed for wearable tech

Scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have developed a soft and stretchable battery that is powered by human perspiration.

Silicon nanowire offers efficient high-temperature thermoelectric system

With a $2-million grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC), Berkeley Lab has developed a cost-effective thermoelectric waste-heat recovery system to reduce electricity-related carbon emissions. Industries such as the glass, cement, power, and steel sectors expel a huge amount of high-temperature waste heat. Converting this waste heat cost effectively to electricity can provide a zero-carbon source of energy.

New thermal wave diagnostic technique advances battery performance testing

With rising interest in backup power, solar power storage, and electric vehicles, the race is on to improve the performance of rechargeable lithium batteries. A Berkeley Lab team has developed an easy, fast, and inexpensive method to measure battery performance.

Apple defends child protection features over privacy concerns

Apple on Friday defended new child protection features that would check images uploaded to its cloud storage and on its messaging platform, rejecting concerns the updates pose threats to privacy.

Facebook encrypts Messenger calls in privacy move

Facebook on Friday began rolling out encryption for voice or video calls made through its Messenger texting app, ratcheting up privacy for users.

Big Tech rolls on as investors shrug off regulatory pressure

Pressure is rising on Big Tech firms, signaling tougher regulation in Washington and elsewhere that could lead to the breakup of the largest platforms. But you'd hardly know by looking at their share prices.

China's youth react to gaming curbs with anguish and cunning

It is Zhang Yuchen's last summer break before high school, but events have taken an unwelcome turn—the 14-year-old's game time has been decimated as China's tech firms try to dispel accusations that they are selling "spiritual opium" to the country's youth.

Developing next-gen, smart engine fan blades

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) is transforming the way companies in many industries are manufacturing their products, and the aerospace industry is no exception. For example, aircraft manufacturers are improving manufacturing processes by embedding sensor technologies into engine components. An EU-funded project called MORPHO has also jumped on the Industry 4.0 bandwagon with an innovative proposal: embed printed and fiber optical sensors in aircraft engine fan blades to endow them with cognitive capabilities while they are being manufactured.

How hackers can use message mirroring apps to see all your SMS texts and bypass 2FA security

It's now well known that usernames and passwords aren't enough to securely access online services. A recent study highlighted more than 80% of all hacking-related breaches happen due to compromised and weak credentials, with three billion username/password combinations stolen in 2016 alone.

Which air cleaners work best to remove aerosols that contain viruses?

Air cleaners (sometimes also called air purifiers or scrubbers) have been used for decades to filter out particles in the air from our homes, offices and laboratories.

New drone technology helps track relocated birds

Massey University Ph.D. student Chris Muller's novel "Drone Ranger" technology is being used to track the 40 Toutouwai North Island robins that were translocated to Palmerston North's Turitea Dam in April.

Water consumption and conservation evaluated in the coal power industry in China

Coal power is still a main source of power generation for China. The coal power industry, the largest industrial water consumer, is facing extreme pressure, since China is a typical water-scarce country, representing 20% of the global population and only 7% of the globe's freshwater. Effective water conservation is urgent for the sustainable development of this industry.

High-performance detection tool for ReDoS-vulnerability

Regular expressions (regexes) are widely used in different fields of computer science. However, the Regular expression Denial of Service (ReDoS) vulnerability forms a class of common and serious algorithmic complexity attacks.

New Asia undersea data cable plan unveiled by Google, Facebook

Google and Facebook on Monday unveiled plans for a new undersea internet cable connecting Singapore, Japan, Guam, the Philippines, Taiwan and Indonesia.

US probing Autopilot problems on 765,000 Tesla vehicles

The U.S. government has opened a formal investigation into Tesla's Autopilot partially automated driving system after a series of collisions with parked emergency vehicles.

Automated disassembly line aims to make battery recycling safer, faster

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a robotic disassembly system for spent electric vehicle battery packs to safely and efficiently recycle and reuse critical materials while reducing toxic waste.

T-Mobile acknowledges breach of customer data, launches probe

T-Mobile on Monday acknowledged a breach of customer information after a hacker group claimed to have obtained records of 100 million of the operator's US customers and offered some of the data on the dark web.

With redesigned 'brains,' W88 nuclear warhead reaches milestone

Sandia National Laboratories and its nuclear security enterprise partners recently completed the first production unit of a weapon assembly responsible for key operations of the W88 nuclear warhead.

'Thermal switches' dynamically moderate heat of electronic devices

Modern devices that use lithium ion batteries, like smartphones and electric cars, seem pretty robust. But try to use one in extreme heat or cold, and you'll see how susceptible they are to malfunctions and low performance due to temperature. Purdue University engineers have developed a solution: a "thermal switch" made up of compressible graphene foam, that dynamically adjusts to temperatures both inside and outside the device to maintain consistent thermal management.

Prominent fact-checker Snopes apologizes for plagiarism

The co-founder and CEO of the fact-checking site Snopes.com has acknowledged plagiarizing from dozens of articles done by mainstream news outlets over several years, calling the appropriations "serious lapses in judgment."

Berlin to sell part of its stake in Lufthansa group

The German government said Monday it will sell part of the 20 percent stake it took last year in Lufthansa to prop up the airline group during the coronavirus pandemic.


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