Science X Newsletter Friday, Aug 20

Dear ymilog,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for August 20, 2021:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Self-healing 'living materials' used as 3D building blocks

How schools of 'microswimmers' can increase their cargo capacity

Humans ditched swiveling hips for shorter stride than chimps

China's astronauts make spacewalk to upgrade robotic arm

Risdiplam improves motor function in infants with spinal muscular atrophy

New fossils show what the ancestral brains of arthropods looked like

We can expect more emissions from oil refineries in the near-term future, analysis finds

Hackers steal $97 mn from Japanese crypto exchange

AstraZeneca hails trial results for COVID treatment

Elon Musk says Tesla's robot will make physical work a 'choice'

Team isolates antibodies that target alphaviruses

Dual-phase alloy extremely resistant to fractures

Ultrafast charge transfer in Prussian blue analogues

Flawed quality control in the brain traced through misfolded proteins

Human brain organoid model matches aspects of fragile X syndrome more closely than mice models

Physics news

How schools of 'microswimmers' can increase their cargo capacity

A new study published in Physical Review Letters describes a way to increase the cargo capacity of microscopic, self-propelled droplets known as "microswimmers." Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organisation found that when a school of microswimmers move in the same direction inside a narrow channel, they can increase the number of particles they can carry by 10-fold. Their findings have implications for applications ranging from drug delivery systems to materials with active coatings.  

New imaging tool visualizes cell functions in a microphysiological system

A microphysiological system (MPS), also known as an organ-on-a-chip, is a 3D organ construct using human cells that help reveal how organs respond to drugs and environmental stimuli.

Researchers open a path toward quantum computing in real-world conditions

The quantum computing market is projected to reach $65 billion by 2030, a hot topic for investors and scientists alike because of its potential to solve incomprehensibly complex problems.

Although counter-intuitive, noise can help image reconstruction

People are always eager to obtain clear imaging results through some turbid media, so a variety of methods have been developed to filter out noise and strive to improve the quality of imaging, as if noise is born as the evilest enemy.

Cross-pollinating physicists use novel technique to improve the design of facilities that aim to harvest fusion energy

Physicists are like bees—they can cross-pollinate, taking ideas from one area and using them to develop breakthroughs in other areas. Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have transferred a technique from one realm of plasma physics to another to enable the more efficient design of powerful magnets for doughnut-shaped fusion facilities known as tokamaks. Such magnets confine and control plasma, the fourth state of matter that makes up 99 percent of the visible universe and fuels fusion reactions.

Astronomy and Space news

China's astronauts make spacewalk to upgrade robotic arm

Chinese astronauts edged into space on Friday to add the finishing touches to a robotic arm on the Tiangong space station.

Under the northern lights: Mesospheric ozone layer depletion explained

The same phenomenon that causes aurorae—the magical curtains of green light often visible from the polar regions of the Earth—causes mesospheric ozone layer depletion. This depletion could have significance for global climate change and therefore, understanding this phenomenon is important.

Wandering black holes

Every massive galaxy is believed to host a supermassive black hole (SMBH) at its center. Its mass is correlated with the mass of the inner regions of its host (and also with some other properties), probably because the SMBH grows and evolves as the galaxy itself grows, through mergers with other galaxies and the infall of material from the intergalactic medium. When material makes its way to the galactic center and accretes onto the SMBH, it produces an active galactic nucleus (AGN); outflows or other feedback from the AGN then act disruptively to quench star formation in the galaxy. Modern cosmological simulations now self-consistently trace star formation and SMBH growth in galaxies from the early universe to the present day, confirming these ideas.

Radiation-detecting optical fibers installed on the International Space Station

In a spacecraft, in order to protect both crew and electronics from radiation, it is mandatory to invest in effective radiation monitoring systems. The International Space Station (ISS), just like the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, is a complex radiation environment that requires bespoke dosimetry devices. Optical-fiber-based technologies can provide both distributed and point radiation dose measurements with high precision.

Here comes the sun: Planetary scientists find evidence of solar-driven change on the moon

Tiny iron nanoparticles unlike any found naturally on Earth are nearly everywhere on the moon—and scientists are trying to understand why. A new study led by Northern Arizona University doctoral candidate Christian J. Tai Udovicic, in collaboration with associate professor Christopher Edwards, both of NAU's Department of Astronomy and Planetary Science, uncovered important clues to help understand the surprisingly active lunar surface. In an article recently published in Geophysical Research Letters, the scientists found that solar radiation could be a more important source of lunar iron nanoparticles than previously thought.

Musk hopes "Mechazilla" will catch and assemble the Starship and Super Heavy boosters for rapid reuse

In January of 2021, Elon Musk announced SpaceX's latest plan to increase the number of flights they can mount by drastically reducing turnaround time. The key to this was a new launch tower that would "catch" first stage boosters after they return to Earth. This would forego the need to install landing legs on future Super Heavy boosters and potentially future Starship returning to Earth.

Technology news

Hackers steal $97 mn from Japanese crypto exchange

Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Liquid was scrambling Friday to recover stolen assets worth nearly $100 million, in the second such major heist by hackers in recent days.

Elon Musk says Tesla's robot will make physical work a 'choice'

After dominating the electric vehicle market and throwing his hat into the billionaire space race, Tesla boss Elon Musk announced the latest frontier he's aiming to conquer: humanoid robots.

LG sets new record for 6G transmission of data at 100 meters

A team of researchers at Korea's LG Electronics, working with a group at Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, has successfully sent data 100 meters over a 6G signal. Officials at LG have posted details of their test of the next step wireless transmission technology on their company news page.

Smart material-sensing platform for laser cutters can differentiate between 30 different materials

With the addition of computers, laser cutters have rapidly become a relatively simple and powerful tool, with software controlling shiny machinery that can chop metals, woods, papers, and plastics. While this curious amalgam of materials feels encompassing, users still face difficulties distinguishing between stockpiles of visually similar materials, where the wrong stuff can make gooey messes, give off horrendous odors, or worse, spew out harmful chemicals.

China passes tough new online privacy law

China passed a sweeping privacy law aimed at preventing businesses from collecting sensitive personal data Friday, as the country faces an uptick in internet scams and Beijing targets tech giants hoovering up personal data.

Tokyo robot cafe offers new spin on disability inclusion

At a Tokyo cafe, Michio Imai greets a customer, but not in person. He's hundreds of kilometres away, operating a robot waiter as part of an experiment in inclusive employment.

Novel resilient state estimation method for process control in cyber-physical systems

A new process control method developed by researchers from Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology uses a special mathematical structure to accurately estimate the internal process variables of a system, even when external sensors are damaged.

Data mining tools combat COVID-19 misinformation and identify symptoms

UC Riverside computer scientists are developing tools to help track and monitor COVID-19 symptoms and to sift through misinformation about the disease on social media.

Cooperative control brings 'smart shipping' closer to port

Drones are not the only autonomous vehicles at the forefront of automating deliveries and human services—ships may be about to turn the corner, assisted by helpful tugboats. Researchers at the Delft University of Technology in China have developed a control strategy for ships and their partnered tugs to navigate windy and somewhat unpredictable environments safely and efficiently. They published their results in the August 2021 Issue, IEEE/CAA Journal of Automatica Sinica.

VW reins in production due to ongoing chip shortage

German car giant Volkswagen will slash production at its main plant due to ongoing problems with the global supply of computer chips, a spokesman told AFP on Friday.

Team creates software to optimize pharmaceutical development

The development of a new medication is an incredibly complex process. From laboratory research, to testing for safety and efficacy, to setting up manufacturing and obtaining regulatory approval, the process can take up to a decade—and that's only for one pharmaceutical product. Coordinating such long and complicated processes both to ensure that they are the most resource-efficient and to guarantee that the development process proceeds without delays is the difficult job of research and development schedulers.

New Chinese law tightens control over company data on users

China is tightening control over information gathered by companies about the public under a law approved Friday by its ceremonial legislature, expanding the ruling Communist Party's crackdown on internet industries.

China Telecom up nearly 20% in Shanghai debut

Shares in China Telecom surged nearly 20 percent in their Shanghai debut Friday after the world's biggest public offering of the year, coming after the company was delisted in the United States amid China-US tensions.

With Madden NFL 22 arriving, these are the best football video games ever made

Are you ready for some football?

Call of Duty: Vanguard video game will take players back to World War II and the birth of special forces

Call of Duty is parachuting back into World War II.

Going the way of Tumblr: OnlyFans to ban sexually explicit content from platform

OnlyFans will be removing sexually explicit content after it rose to fame for its ... sexually explicit content.

GM extends recall to cover all Chevy Bolts due to fire risk

General Motors is recalling all Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles sold worldwide to fix a battery problem that could cause fires.

This email is a free service of Science X Network
You received this email because you subscribed to our list.
If you do not wish to receive such emails in the future, please unsubscribe here.
You are subscribed as You may manage your subscription options from your Science X profile


i'm packin'

Or how the hell do you choose what to put in your suitcase when you travel?
TNW View in browser →
Plugged In

This week, Plugged In mugged a swan, stole the creature's wings, and has now attached them to its back, hoping to save some cash on long-haul flights.

In last week's newsletter I talked about journeying back to the UK. As someone who likes to milk a gift horse, this is great news — free travel content forever!

Friends, prepare your mindmouths for a lactose-y newsletter explosion about… packing.

JovialSoreGoose-size_restrictedThe greatest packing scene in movie history? Change my mind.

You'll never believe this. I, a person who's paid to write about gadgets and gear, like stuff. Dangerously, I enjoy taking it with me when I travel too.

There are parts of packing that are simple. I know I'm going to need toiletries, a selection of clothes, and some #FitBoyExerciseGear. This can be solved with a simple list.

The issue I have is expanding beyond the bare "necessities."

giphy-Aug-19-2021-07-25-35-34-AMThe all-time OG and a man (bear?) whose vibe I try to embody every day.


What I'm talking about here is separating bringing things I'll actually use from what Imaginary Future Callum believes he'll use.

Here's an example. Last time I visited the UK, I brought along my Nintendo Switch, a Magic: The Gathering boxset, and a board game called Regenwormen.

I used none of them.

I'd pictured myself gaming on train journeys, battling with friends, and competing with family. But, in reality, I was too busy to do any of it.

This pattern is like the changing of the seasons — if that process was the most uninspiring thing you've ever seen.

giphy-Aug-19-2021-07-31-33-94-AMPicture this without any sort of beauty or interest. 


And, like the seasons, My Battle never ends. On this trip, the things I brought along include two laptops, an iPad, several pairs of headphones, and a… synth.

While I should be annoyed by this aspect of my personality, fundamentally, I'm fine with it.

Why? Because I dare to dream.

At the end of the day, I have a mental image of blossoming into the sort of person who's constantly whipping out boardgames and serenading friends with sick synth lines as we play.

That's a noble goal. Also a ridiculous one. But a bit noble too.

This is my point: pack for the life you want to have, not the one you do. 

There's a lesson in there somewhere.


(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



GHOST OF GATES! Give the Xbox a 'media mode,' you spooky coward.


Google is potentially making a foldable Pixel. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. 


I command thee, Apple, to go through everything on my damn phone.


Currently, I'm on my knees... begging... praying... SCREAMING... about why the hell you can't copy folders on Google Drive.


Here's a brief history of YakYak, a gossip platform that has stumbled back into life.

A review you're required to read

Remember the start of this intro? Where I was talking all about what to bring while you're traveling?


best gadgets for travelers 2021

Yes, I've compiled a list of what I believe are the essential bits of travel gear you need to take on your journeying. And, I don't want to toot my own horn, but... [HORN TOOTS]... it's brimming with sick stuff.

You can go and salivate over the full thing here.

Sponsored by TNW

Winner winner, Boris... dinner?

Friends, you're invited to dinner. The host? Our very own CEO, style guru, and instigator of parties, Boris!

Who's Boris? Serial entrepreneur, professional juggler, or just a guy down the block?

Well, if you enter our competition to win an exclusive dinner with Boris this September you can find out for your own damn self. I'm not your Dad — unless you want me to be.

When you order an in-person ticket to TNW Conference 2021 between August 9 and August 24, you'll automatically be entered into the contest. How about that for efficiency? 

Even better — tickets are currently up to 60% off and going fast!

Don't miss your chance to eat what Boris is cooking (he's like a Dutch version of The Rock — minus everything). So grab your ticket to TNW2021 on September 30 & October 1 today!

Here's a cool thing (also, cya)


You may not know this, but I co-host a literature podcast. It's called Smug Book ClubSomething we do each year is round up the best novels we've read over the past twelve months.

This is not only fun to think about and record, it's also fascinating to see what my reader-in-crime, Ryan, suggests.

One of those novels this time was At Night All Blood is Black.

Written by David Diop, this is a story about a Senegalese soldier fighting for France in the First World War.

Originally written in French, At Night All Blood is Black was translated by Anna Moschovakis and won the 2021 International Man Booker Prize.

Oh, did I forget to say it's amazing?

Over only 192 pages, Diop spins a horrifying, heart-racing, contemplative, and magical story that somehow covers vast swathes of the human experience without ever seeming forced.

And the end... oh my lord the end. If you'd like to hear more about At Night All Blood is Black, you can listen to our podcast featuring it here.

Or, indeed, just go and buy and read the damn thing.


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).

Any good?

How was today's newsletter? Amazing? Awful?! Help us make it better by sharing your brutally honest emoji feedback 👇

Positive Meh Negative

From Amsterdam with <3