Friday, December 28, 2018

Science X Newsletter Friday, Dec 28

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for December 28, 2018:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Using ablation to examine the structure of artificial neural networks

Reactive optical matter: Light-induced motion

Researchers investigate molecular gas emission from the galaxy NGC 3557

New optogenetic technique could help restore limb movement, treat muscle tremor

Australia swelters in record-breaking heatwave

Reliable tropical weather pattern to change in a warming climate

Moderate drinking not harmful for older patients with heart failure

When lithium-ion batteries are placed on best behavior

Description of rotating molecules made easy

Synaptic protein regulates anxiety behaviour

Study shows dementia care program delays nursing home admissions, cuts Medicare costs

Hybrid qubits solve key hurdle to quantum computing

Plants have a plan for all seasons

Study identifies genetic mutation responsible for tuberculosis vulnerability

Research reveals machinery of a deadly childhood brain cancer

Astronomy & Space news

Researchers investigate molecular gas emission from the galaxy NGC 3557

Using Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), researchers have conducted interferometric observations of the elliptical galaxy NGC 3557 to investigate molecular gas emission from this source. Results of these observations, available in a paper published December 13 on, could be helpful for understanding the process of star formation in this galaxy.

Rings make Saturn shadier, bluer and less hazy in winter

On Saturn, changing seasons can mean changes in the haziness—and color—of the skies.

Scientists model Mercury's glaciers

The processes that led to glaciation at the cratered poles of Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, have been modeled by a University of Maine-led research team.

NASA spaceship closes in on distant world

NASA's unmanned New Horizons spacecraft is closing in on its historic New Year's flyby target, the most distant world ever studied, a frozen relic of the solar system some four billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers) away.

Nancy Grace Roman, involved with Hubble telescope, dies

Nancy Grace Roman, the first woman to hold an executive position at NASA and who helped with development of the Hubble Space Telescope, has died.

Mission accomplished for ESA's butane-propelled CubeSat

The cereal-box sized GomX-4B – ESA's biggest small CubeSat yet flown – has completed its mission for the Agency, testing out new miniaturised technologies including: intersatellite link communication with its GomX-4A twin, a hyperspectral imager, star tracker and butane-based propulsion system.

ESA sets clock by distant spinning stars

ESA's technical centre in the Netherlands has begun running a pulsar-based clock. The "PulChron' system measures the passing of time using millisecond-frequency radio pulses from multiple fast-spinning neutron stars.

A virtual reality experience of being inside an exploded star

Cassiopeia A, the youngest known supernova remnant in the Milky Way, is the remains of a star that exploded almost 400 years ago. The star was approximately 15 to 20 times the mass of our sun and sat in the Cassiopeia constellation, almost 11,000 light-years from earth.

India to send three-person crew on landmark space mission

India will send a three-member team into orbit for up to a week when it launches its first manned space mission expected in 2022, the government announced Friday.

When you look up, how far back in time do you see?

Our senses are stuck in the past. There's a flash of lightning, and then seconds pass until we hear the rumble of distant thunder. We hear the past.

A brief history of black holes

Late in 2018, the gravitational wave observatory, LIGO, announced that they had detected the most distant and massive source of ripples of spacetime ever monitored: waves triggered by pairs of black holes colliding in deep space. Only since 2015 have we been able to observe these invisible astronomical bodies, which can be detected only by their gravitational attraction. The history of our hunt for these enigmatic objects traces back to the 18th century, but the crucial phase took place in a suitably dark period of human history – World War II.

New research reveals how galaxies stay hot and bothered

It's relatively easy for galaxies to make stars. Start out with a bunch of random blobs of gas and dust. Typically those blobs will be pretty warm. To turn them into stars, you have to cool them off. By dumping all their heat in the form of radiation, they can compress. Dump more heat, compress more. Repeat for a million years or so.

Technology news

Using ablation to examine the structure of artificial neural networks

A team of researchers at RWTH Aachen University's Institute of Information Management in Mechanical Engineering have recently explored the use of neuroscience techniques to determine how information is structured inside artificial neural networks (ANNs). In their paper, pre-published on arXiv, the researchers applied a technique called ablation, which entails cutting away parts of the brain to determine their function, on neural network architectures.

When lithium-ion batteries are placed on best behavior

Amionx, the California company has won headlines for its explosion-free battery technology; the company expects to license its advance for use in commercial products by the end of 2019.

Army looks for a few good robots, sparks industry battle

The Army is looking for a few good robots. Not to fight—not yet, at least—but to help the men and women who do.

Tesla names independent board members in SEC settlement (Update)

Tesla named two independent board members Friday as part of a settlement with U.S. regulators who demanded more oversight of CEO Elon Musk.

Vietnam court orders ride-hailing app to compensate taxi firm

A Vietnam court Friday ordered ride-hailing app Grab to pay a cab company more than $200,000 for losses incurred due to competition—a judgement blasted by the firm as "a giant step backwards" for the country's tech community.

Researchers develop 128Mb STT-MRAM with world's fastest write speed for embedded memory

A research team, led by Professor Tetsuo Endoh at Tohoku University, has successfully developed 128Mb-density spin-transfer torque magnetoresistive random access memory (STT-MRAM) with a write speed of 14 ns for use in embedded memory applications, such as cache in IoT and AI. This is currently the world's fastest write speed for embedded memory application with a density over 100Mb and will pave the way for the mass-production of large capacity STT-MRAM.

New hydraulic actuator will make robots tougher

Researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) have developed a hydraulic actuator that will allow tough robots to operate in disaster sites and other harsh environments. The Tokyo Tech Venture H-MUSCLE Corporation was established to pursue applications for the actuator, and shipping of product samples will begin in February 2019.

Researchers link realism to blockchain's promise

Depending on who you ask, blockchain technology is poised to revolutionize the world—from creating a universal currency to building a free and truly private internet. Or, the new technology, built with a combination of encryption and transparency, is a solution in search of a problem.

The development of a hybrid micro mixer for biological and chemical experiments

An international team of scientists including an employee of I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University (MSMU) has developed a device for mixing chemical and biological reaction feeds. The team managed to increase the mixing efficiency up to 90 percent. The new device will be used in biological and chemical experiments. The article was published in the RSC Advances journal.

Deep learning for electron microscopy

Finding defects in electron microscopy images takes months. Now, there's a faster way. It's called MENNDL, the Multinode Evolutionary Neural Networks for Deep Learning. It creates artificial neural networks—computational systems that loosely mimic the human brain—that tease defects out of dynamic data. It runs on all available nodes of the Summit supercomputer, performing 152 thousand million million calculations a second.

AI, robotics, automation: The fourth industrial revolution is here

For Chinese guests at Marriott International hotels, the check-in process will soon get easier. The hotel giant announced last summer that it's developing facial recognition systems that will allow guests to check in at a kiosk in less than a minute via a quick scan of their facial features.

Spotlight on role of automated trading amid Wall Street swoon

The recent tumult in financial markets has shined a light on the rising role of automated trading on Wall Street and whether it is exacerbating volatility.

Zuckerberg sees 'progress' for Facebook after tumultuous year

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said Friday the world's biggest social network has "fundamentally" changed to focus on securing its systems against manipulation and misinformation.

Historic UK music retailer HMV collapses due to digital surge

British music retailer HMV, which was launched by English composer Edward Elgar in 1921 and helped propel the Beatles to fame, collapsed into administration on Friday as consumers switch to digital streaming in droves.

Ryanair cabin crew in Spain to strike in January

Unions for Ryanair's 1,800 cabin crew in Spain threatened Friday to strike in January unless the Irish low-cost airline agrees to improve work and pay conditions.

Medicine & Health news

New optogenetic technique could help restore limb movement, treat muscle tremor

For the first time, MIT researchers have shown that nerves made to express proteins that can be activated by light can produce limb movements that can be adjusted in real-time, using cues generated by the motion of the limb itself. The technique leads to movement that is smoother and less fatiguing than similar electrical systems that are sometimes used to stimulate nerves in spinal cord injury patients and others.

Moderate drinking not harmful for older patients with heart failure

A new study suggests that people over age 65 who are newly diagnosed with heart failure can continue to drink moderate amounts of alcohol without worsening their condition.

Synaptic protein regulates anxiety behaviour

Anxiety disorders are severe mental disorders in which patients suffer from intense fears and anxiety or from sudden, inexplicable panic attacks. In extreme cases, the affected individuals barely leave their homes, which can have serious consequences for their relationships with family and friends as well as for their professional lives. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine in Göttingen have now identified a synaptic protein which, when inactivated, has an anxiolytic effect in mice.

Study shows dementia care program delays nursing home admissions, cuts Medicare costs

New research shows that a comprehensive, coordinated care program for people with dementia and their caregivers significantly decreased the likelihood that the individuals would enter a nursing home. The study also shows that the program saved Medicare money and was cost-neutral after accounting for program costs.

Study identifies genetic mutation responsible for tuberculosis vulnerability

If you live in the United States, you are unlikely to come into contact with the microbe that causes tuberculosis. Your odds of encountering the microbe are so low, in fact, that risk factors for the disease can easily go unnoticed: If you happened to carry a gene that predisposed you to tuberculosis, you likely wouldn't know.

Research reveals machinery of a deadly childhood brain cancer

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital scientists have mapped the effects of aberrant biological machinery that drives a deadly brain cancer called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). The research included development of a genetically engineered mouse that will offer ways to further understanding of such brain cancers, as well as a laboratory model for developing more effective treatments.

Study raises potential for development of skin microbiome-based acne treatments

Isotretinoin, a form of vitamin A, has been prescribed to treat acne for decades. It reduces oil production in the skin, which helps prevent acne from forming.

Gene variations linked to higher risk of diabetes and heart attacks

People who are less likely to put on excess fat around their hips due to their genes are at higher risk of type 2 diabetes and heart attacks, according to a new study led by scientists from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge.

How dietary fiber and gut bacteria protect the cardiovascular system

The fatty acid propionate helps defend against the effects of high blood pressure, including atherosclerosis and heart tissue remodeling, a study on mice has found. Gut bacteria produce the substance—which calms the immune cells that drive up blood pressure—from natural dietary fiber.

Rich people found to be more charitable if given a sense of control

A pair of researchers, one with Harvard Business School, the other with the University of British Columbia, found that when soliciting donations from wealthy people, it pays to offer them a sense of control. In their paper published on the open access site PLOS ONE, Ashley Whillans and Elizabeth Dunn describe their study, which involved sending donation request letters to wealthy alumni.

After naloxone, when can opioid overdose patients be safely discharged?

Naloxone has saved thousands of lives. But can patients be safely discharged from the Emergency Department (ED) just an hour after they receive the medication that curtails drug overdoses?

Sexual/gender minority patients prefer written self-report for identity info collection

Health care and government organizations call for routine collection of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) information in the clinical setting. However, what little research exists suggests that many sexual and gender minority patients find disclosing SOGI to a clinician as difficult as disclosing the same information to other people in their lives. Understanding how health care providers can collect SOGI information in a manner that is patient-centered is critical to improving health care inequities experienced by sexual and gender minorities in the U.S. To this end, researchers at the Center for Surgery and Public Health at Brigham and Women's Hospital, in conjunction with Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, conducted a matched cohort trial to determine which of two different SOGI collection methods was associated with higher patient satisfaction with their emergency department (ED) visit.

Low-priced generic drugs most likely to have shortages

(HealthDay)—The lowest-priced generic drugs are more likely to experience shortages, according to a study published in the November issue of Value in Health.

More than two-thirds of drug OD deaths in 2017 involved opioids

(HealthDay)—More than two-thirds of drug overdose deaths in 2017 involved an opioid, with increases in overdose deaths from all opioids and synthetic opioids seen from 2016 to 2017, according to research published in the Dec. 21 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Kidney patients are the most complex patients

A study published in JAMA Network Open shows nephrologists treat the most complex patients. As ERA-EDTA president Professor Carmine Zoccali explains, kidney patients are highly vulnerable and need special care, but nephrology is a neglected discipline in many European healthcare systems. According to the ERA-EDTA, it is time for better financial funding of nephrology as well as more efforts to raise awareness of kidney disease in the population.

Human blood cells can be directly reprogrammed into neural stem cells

Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the stem cell institute HI-STEM in Heidelberg have succeeded for the first time in directly reprogramming human blood cells into a previously unknown type of neural stem cell. These induced stem cells are similar to those that occur during the early embryonic development of the central nervous system. They can be modified and multiplied indefinitely in lab and represent a candidate for the development of regenerative therapies.

Poll: Most support gene editing to protect babies

Most Americans say it would be OK to use gene-editing technology to create babies protected against a variety of diseases—but a new poll shows they'd draw the line at changing DNA so children are born smarter, faster or taller.

Children with poor diet drink alcohol more often in adolescence

Children with unhealthy eating habits are at a higher risk of becoming regular alcohol drinkers at too early an age, even in their early teens, a study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition shows. The association with young teens' drinking habits is stronger than with other factors, such as parents' education and income.

A neuroscientist's tips for a new year tuneup for your brain

Unlike the effervescent bubbles that stream to the top of champagne flutes on New Year's Eve, what I call brain bubbles are far from celebratory. These bubbles are metaphorical rather than physical, and they distort the stream of reality processed by our brains. Like a real estate bubble that reflects an inflated perception of home values, a brain bubble twists your perception of the world around you. And when either of these bubbles bursts, the results can be devastating.

How 'Dry January' is the secret to better sleep, saving money and losing weight

New research from the University of Sussex shows that taking part in Dry January – abstaining from booze for a month – sees people regaining control of their drinking, having more energy, better skin and losing weight. They also report drinking less months later.

Everything you ever wanted to know about the history of haemorrhoids

Haemorrhoids are one of the best-described diseases in medical history.

Making New Year's resolutions personal could actually make them stick

If you feel you consistently fail at your New Year's resolutions, you are not alone. Despite our good intentions, we're pretty poor at changing our own behaviour. We continue to smoke, eat or drink too much, and exercise too little, all of which affect our health and well-being.

Diseases through the decades – here's what to look out for in your 40s, 60s, 80s and beyond

Many diseases develop and become more likely as we age. Here are some of the most common conditions, and how you can reduce your risk of getting them as you clock over into a new decade.

How parents can help their young children develop healthy social skills

As the new year dawns, parents likely turn their thoughts to their child and new beginnings they may experience as they enter an early childhood education and care centre or preschool. Naturally, it's a time of reflection on the previous year, and excitement about the possibilities for the new year to come.

New study suggests earlier interventions are needed to prevent inactivity in children

Physical activity is presumed to decline with the start of adolescence, however, new research shows that this decline begins earlier than previously thought.

Innovative way to block HIV runs into a roadblock

Taking aim at a promising molecular target can combat the spread of retroviruses that can cause blood cancer and AIDS—but at the risk of leaving the host vulnerable to infections by other viral pathogens, a new Yale study has shown.

Why two people see the same thing but have different memories

Does it ever strike you as odd that you and a friend can experience the same event at the same time, but come away with different memories of what happened? So why is it that people can recall the same thing so differently?

Statins are more effective for those who follow the Mediterranean diet

For those who have already had a heart attack or a stroke, the combination of statins and the Mediterranean diet appears to be the most effective choice to reduce the risk of mortality, especially from cardiovascular causes. This is the conclusion of an Italian study conducted at the I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed, Pozzilli, Italy on over 1,000 adults recruited in the Moli-sani Study, published in the International Journal of Cardiology.

Will wearing your coat indoors make you feel colder outside? A scientist explains

If you've ever had to work in a draughty office, warehouse or classroom, you've probably been tempted to keep your coat on inside. And you were probably also advised against it because you wouldn't "feel the benefit" when you went outside. This might seem counter intuitive. If you're cold already, surely you should do whatever you can to retain warmth? It turns out things aren't that simple. To understand what's really going on, we need to know a bit about why we feel cold in the first place.

Medical scientists describe optimal immune therapeutic strategies for liver cancer

KAIST medical scientists have presented a novel pathways involving T immune cell exhaustion, providing evidence and rationale for designing optimal strategies for immune checkpoint blockades in cancer patients.

Guidelines for a healthy pregnancy

(HealthDay)—If you're pregnant you already know the importance of eating a healthful diet and taking prenatal vitamins, including folic acid and possibly B12 and iron supplements.

Can you predict your common cold risk?

(HealthDay)—How highly you rate your health could predict how likely you are to catch a cold—and, even more important, how healthy you'll be in later years.

Dial down the stress

(HealthDay)—Stress and uncertainty plague many Americans, but there are a number of steps you can take to cope, a psychiatrist suggests.

Ring in the New Year resolved to improve your health

(HealthDay)—If you're thinking about making some health-related resolutions for 2019, the American Medical Association (AMA) has some suggestions.

Opioid overdose deaths triple among teens, kids

(HealthDay)—In the past two decades, opioid overdose death rates among U.S. kids and teens have tripled, a new study shows.

Many veterans oppose cessation of colorectal cancer screening

(HealthDay)—Many veterans have strong preferences against colorectal cancer (CRC) screening cessation even when provided with information about the potential low benefit of screening, according to a study published online Dec. 7 in JAMA Network Open.

Risk for breast cancer increased with false-positive screening result

(HealthDay)—Women with prior false-positive screening results have an increased risk for screen-detected and interval breast cancer for more than 10 years, according to a study published online Dec. 18 in the British Journal of Cancer.

Alzheimer's study to look at gut health link

Researchers will study the gut health of people with Alzheimer's to see if diet can play a role in managing the behavioural and psychological symptoms of the disease.

Biology news

Plants have a plan for all seasons

Many plants need to avoid flowering in the autumn – even if conditions are favourable – otherwise they would perish in winter.

Indonesia tsunami raises fears for endangered Javan rhino

Indonesia's tsunami has raised fears that another deadly wave could wipe out the few dozen Javan rhinos still living in the wild, conservation authorities said Friday.

Record for decoding the longest DNA sequence is impressive – here's what to expect next

Like other professionals, scientists like to be the best at what they do, but they also like to have fun in their job. And in 2018, my colleagues managed just that in claiming a record for decoding the world's longest DNA sequence.

Producers of white colonies on kimchi surface, mistaken as molds, have been identified

The World Institute of Kimch (WiKim) has reported that the white colonies on the surface of kimchi are not formed by molds but by yeasts. The researchers also acquired genomic data regarding the hygienic safety of the yeast strains.

New epigenetic study: Guinea pig fathers pass on adaptive responses to environmental changes

Adaptations to environmental change are the most important asset for the persistence of any plant or animal species. This is usually achieved through genetic mutation and selection, a slow process driven by chance. Faster and more targeted are so called epigenetic modifications which do not alter the genetic code but promote specialisations during cell maturation. A new study carried out by scientists from the Leibniz-IZW in Germany shows that in wild guinea pigs, epigenetic modifications specific to individual environmental factors are passed on to the next generation. The study is published in the scientific journal Genes.

Galapagos bans fireworks to protect unique wildlife

Fireworks have been banned on the Galapagos Islands to protect the archipelago's unique fauna, the local government said on Friday.

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