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Science & Technology News Bulletin

Every week, we editorially select the best S&T stories released from major news outlets. These stories are then ranked and posted (with appropriate credit and references to the originals) on our Blog by Friday afternoon. Hema Viswanath curates this content and has been doing so for ASDR&E's Office of Net Technical Assessments and Office of Technical Intelligence for over seven years before performing the same work for us. Currently, we are experimenting with distributing this content through a free, advertising-supported model. We intend to continue experimenting using paywalls, direct e-mail subscriptions and donations. Hosting this content is important to us and we would like to retain it on at least a revenue-neutral basis. We are also experimenting with enriching the content to make it more relevant to our Government clients.

Top 10 Science and Technology Inventions for the Week of March 15, 2019

01. Triton is the world’s most murderous malware, and it’s spreading
02. Unlocking the untapped potential of light in optical communications
03. An AI for generating fake news could also help detect it
04. Future Communication Satellite
05. ‘Meta-mirror’ reflects sound waves in any direction
06. Researchers develop ‘acoustic metamaterial’ that cancels sound
07. Combs of light for molecules
08. Your body is your internet — and now it can’t be hacked
09. Listening to quantum radio
10. Efficiency boost for robot submarines

And others…

Autonomous drones can help search and rescue after disasters
Capturing bacteria that eat and breathe electricity
China’s Huawei has big ambitions to weaken the US grip on AI leadership
China’s masses of data give it an edge in AI—but they may not forever
Einstein ‘puzzle’ solved as missing page emerges

Top 10 Science and Technology Inventions for the Week of March 8, 2019

01. New shapes of laser beam ‘sneak’ through opaque media
02. Physicists train the oscillatory neural network to recognize images
03. Concept of the laser can be reversed
04. Data transfer by controlled noise
05. Light pulses provide a new route to enhance superconductivity
06. Magnonic devices can replace electronics without much noise
07. Researchers create a ‘universal entangler’ for new quantum tech
08. One device, many frequencies: Researchers create a unique, tiny resonator
09. A New Layer of Medical Preparedness to Combat Emerging Infectious Disease
10. Toward Nanoparticle “Night-Vision Goggles”

And others…

Assembly in the air: Using sound to defy gravity
IBM Quantum Computer Roadmap
Organic electronics: Scientists develop a high-performance unipolar n-type thin-film transistor
Special Operations Command is calling all creative technology futurists
Tracking firefighters in burning buildings

Top 10 Science and Technology Inventions for the Week of March 01, 2019

01. New program picks out targets in a crowd quickly and efficiently
02. Machines whisper our secrets
03. X-rays might be a better way to communicate in space
04. Signals from distant lightning could help secure electric substations
05. Magnetization reversal achieved at room temperature using only an electric field
06. Chilling New Research Shows How Dire a Smallpox Bioterror Attack Could
07. Entangling photons of different colors
08. Predicting the monsoon a year ahead
09. Causal disentanglement is the next frontier in AI
10. Superintelligence as a Service is Coming and It Can Be Safe AGI

And others…

Best of arXiv.org for AI, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning – January 2019
Big data is being reshaped thanks to 100-year-old ideas about geometry
Earth’s atmosphere stretches out to the moon – and beyond
Global Artificial Intelligence Patent Survey
Material that shields beetle from being burned by its own weapons, holds promise

Top 10 Science and Technology Inventions for the Week of February 22, 2019

01. Exotic spiraling electrons discovered by physicists
02. The first walking robot that moves without GPS
03. A polariton filter turns ordinary laser light into quantum light
04. Researchers discover anti-laser masquerading as perfect absorber
05. Sound waves let quantum systems ‘talk’ to one another
06. Watch a harpoon successfully spear a piece of space junk
07. Engineered metasurfaces reflect waves in unusual directions
08. Across the spectrum: Researchers find way to stabilize color of light in next-gen material
09. Protecting the Nation from Emerging and Pandemic Infectious Diseases and CBRN Threats
10. International research collaboration computes climate past, present, and future

And others…

5 Times People Thought a Science Idea Was Crackpot, And Were Proven Spectacularly Wrong
Can we trust scientific discoveries made using machine learning?
China Is Reportedly Building a Solar Power Station in Space
China Stumbles on Path to Solar Thermal Supremacy
Russia Is Preparing to Disconnect The Entire Country From The Internet

RECENT POSTS

Top 10 Science and Technology Inventions for the Week of March 15, 2019

01. Triton is the world’s most murderous malware, and it’s spreading
02. Unlocking the untapped potential of light in optical communications
03. An AI for generating fake news could also help detect it
04. Future Communication Satellite
05. ‘Meta-mirror’ reflects sound waves in any direction
06. Researchers develop ‘acoustic metamaterial’ that cancels sound
07. Combs of light for molecules
08. Your body is your internet — and now it can’t be hacked
09. Listening to quantum radio
10. Efficiency boost for robot submarines

And others…

Autonomous drones can help search and rescue after disasters
Capturing bacteria that eat and breathe electricity
China’s Huawei has big ambitions to weaken the US grip on AI leadership
China’s masses of data give it an edge in AI—but they may not forever
Einstein ‘puzzle’ solved as missing page emerges

Your body is your internet — and now it can’t be hacked

Science Daily  March 12, 2019
Radiative communication using electro-magnetic fields amongst the wearable and implantable devices act as the backbone for information exchange around a human body enabling applications in the fields of connected healthcare, virtual reality etc. As EM signals propagate in all directions, they allow an eavesdropper to intercept the information. Researchers at Purdue University have developed a method called Electro-Quasistatic Human Body Communication (EQS-HBC) for localizing signals within the body using low-frequency carrier-less transmission, thereby making it extremely difficult for a nearby eavesdropper to intercept critical private data. Detailed experiment reveals that the quasi-static leakage due to the on-body EQS-HBC transmitter human body interface is detectable up to <0.15 m, whereas the human body alone leaks only up to ~0.01 m, compared to >5 m detection range for on-body EM wireless communication, highlighting the underlying advantage of EQS-HBC to enable covert communication…read more. Open Access TECNICAL ARTICLE 

Unlocking the untapped potential of light in optical communications

Phys.org  March 8, 2019
The optical vortex carries the orbital angular momentum of light and can be used to multiplex signals by assigning each signal to a light wave of different momentum. Researchers in Japan designed and fabricated an orbital angular momentum multiplexing/demultiplexing module that could take five independent signals as input. Using a combination of two tiny circuit structures, called a star coupler and an optical-vortex generator, each of the five signals is “encoded” with a unique optical angular momentum. The output signal consists of a combination of the five signals, and the receiver circuit carries out the multiplexing operation in reverse (demultiplexing) to end up again with the five independent signals. The tips of the waveguides of the optical-vortex generator were made of silicon and measured a few micrometers. Such devices will be crucial for improving optical networks…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE

The multiplexing/demultiplexing module fabricated employs optical vortex to transmit/receive multiple signals simultaneously through a shared optical medium. Credit: The Optical Networking and Communication Conference & Exhibition 2019

Triton is the world’s most murderous malware, and it’s spreading

MIT technology Review  March 5, 2019
Triton malware came to light in 2017 when hackers took over the safety instrumented systems of a petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia. Fortunately, a flaw in the code gave the hackers away before they could do any harm. The malware has not been deconstructed and the hacking group’s identity has not been established with certainty. The hackers behind Triton had tested elements of the code used during the intrusion to make it harder for antivirus programs to detect. Researchers are still digging into the malware’s origins. Experts are urging companies to revisit all their operations in the light of Triton and other cyber-physical threats, and to radically reduce, or eliminate, the digital pathways hackers could use to get to critical processes…read more.

Credit: ARIEL DAVIS

Researchers develop ‘acoustic metamaterial’ that cancels sound

Phys.org  March 7, 2019
Based on the premise that metamaterial needs to be shaped in such a way that it sends incoming sounds back to where they came from, researchers at Boston University calculated the dimensions and specifications that the metamaterial would need to have in order to interfere with the transmitted sound waves. Using the calculation they created a structure made of plastic that could silence sound from a loudspeaker. In tests they found that 94 percent of the sound emanating from the loudspeaker was imperceptible to the human ear. The shape of acoustic-silencing metamaterials is also completely customizable. The research has applications in smart sound barriers, fan or engine noise reduction in factory settings etc…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Inside the outer ring, a helical pattern interferes with sounds, blocking them from transmitting through the open center while preserving air’s ability to flow through. Credit: Cydney Scott for Boston University

‘Meta-mirror’ reflects sound waves in any direction

Science Daily  March 7, 2019
To break the law of reflection with sound waves, an international team of researchers (Finland, USA – Duke University) designed a meta-mirror out of plastic with precisely etched channels on the surface of the metamaterial. Between the meta-mirror’s shape and the depth of its channels, the interference pattern results in the sound wave reflecting in a desired direction without any of its energy being absorbed or scattered in an unwanted direction. In demonstration the device reflected a soundwave traveling directly toward it at 3,000 Hertz and perfectly reflects it at an angle of 70 degrees. They plan to design devices that can reflect different frequencies in different directions including underwater. The research shows that metasurfaces are a versatile platform for arbitrary control of reflection…read more. Open Access TECHNICAL ARTICLE 

The ‘meta-mirror’ was carefully engineered to make a sound wave coming straight at it reflect at a different angle with zero scattering losses. Credit: Steve Cummer, Duke University

Listening to quantum radio

Science Daily  March 8, 2019
It becomes increasingly difficult to detect long-wavelength single photons because of thermal fluctuations in the background. Researchers in the Netherlands used a superconducting qubit to directly observe the quantization of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields stored in a photonic microresonator. They were then able to manipulate the quantum state of the radio-frequency field, forming one- and two-photon Fock states within the microresonator, and analyze how the system interacts dynamically with its environment. Extending circuit quantum electrodynamics approach could be used for fundamental studies in quantum thermodynamics and find practical application in imaging…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE 

This quantum chip (1×1 cm big) allows the researchers to listen to the smallest radio signal allowed by quantum mechanics. Credit: TU Delft

Future Communication Satellite

Next Big Future  March 5, 2019
The European Space Agency projected the shift from Geosynchronous satellites to medium and low earth orbit satellite constellations. This will drive large changes in the technologies that are used as well as the numbers of satellites, business models and changes to the economics of the satellite business. These satellites are only visible from within a small area (about 1000 km radius) beneath the satellite as it passes overhead. A large number of satellites are needed if the mission requires uninterrupted connectivity. Low earth orbiting satellites are less expensive to launch into orbit than geostationary satellites and, due to proximity to the ground, do not require a high signal strength. They can appear to move as fast as a high-flying jet airliner and sometimes take about four to five minutes to cross the sky…read more.

The article

Einstein ‘puzzle’ solved as missing page emerges

Phys.org.  March 6, 2019
The handwritten page, part of an eight-page appendix to a 1930 paper on the Nobel winner’s efforts towards a unified field theory, was discovered among the 110-page trove the university’s Albert Einstein archives received some two weeks ago. This article was one of many in Einstein’s attempts to unify the forces of nature into one, single theory and he devoted the last 30 years of his life to this effort. The eight-page appendix of the 1930 unified theory paper had never been published, though researchers had copies, this one page was missing in the copies…read more.

Some of Albert Einstein’s manuscript pages on display at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in an exhibition to mark 140 years since his birth.

Efficiency boost for robot submarines

Phys.org  March 8, 2019
Control algorithms for AUVs are not necessarily optimized for distance nor energy consumption. Researchers in China have designed an improved energy-aware and self-adaptive deployment method for a group of AUVs taking on collaborative tasks. Taking into account the movement priority of AUVs and the initial deployment scheme a self-adaptive deployment strategy is presented for redeploying the AUVs when the available energy of some AUVs has fallen below a certain threshold. Simulation results showed that the method decreases energy consumption by about 30%. than its traditional counterpart and it can redeploy AUVs adaptively and rapidly…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICE 

Credit: CC0 Public Domain