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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 May 17, 2019

01. New method developed to detect and trace homemade bombs
02. Underwater power generation
03. Virtually energy-free superfast computing invented by scientists using light pulses
04. Locating a shooter from the first shot via cellphone
05. Silicon two-qubit gate achieves 98% fidelity
06. Lab builds autopilot software allowing UAVs to soar on thermals
07. A new sensor for light, heat and touch
08. Computing faster with quasi-particles
09. A step towards probabilistic computing (w/video)
10. Better microring sensors for optical applications

And others…

Assessing battery performance: Compared to what?
This Chilling Simulation Shows What a Measles Outbreak Could Do to Your City
Glassy menagerie of particles in beach sands near Hiroshima is fallout debris, study concludes
Gravitational waves leave a detectable mark, physicists say
It’s Official: Atmospheric CO2 Just Exceeded 415 Ppm For The First Time in Human History

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

01. Physicists propose perfect material for lasers
02. Flexible, transparent monolayer graphene device for power generation and storage
03. Sculpting super-fast light pulses
04. Researchers take a step towards light-based, brain-like computing chip
05. Air Force Research Laboratory completes successful shoot down of air-launched missiles
06. Machine learning paves the way for next-level quantum sensing
07. Promising material could lead to faster, cheaper computer memory
08. Mimicking squid skin to improve thermoregulating blankets
09. Move over, silicon switches: There’s a new way to compute
10. Novel thermoelectric nanoantenna design for use in solar energy harvesting

And others…

America may outsmart China in 5G with AI and blockchains
Climate extremes: Impact on global crop yield variations
‘Impossible’ research produces 400-year El Niño record, revealing startling changes
In 2025 the USA Could Produce More Oil Than Saudi Arabia and Russia Combined
A novel method for improving imaging techniques in geophysical and material studies

 

Top 10 Science and Technology Inventions for the Week of April 26, 2019

01. Catalyst renders nerve agents harmless
02. Cornell Engineers Create a Robotic Material That Displays 3 of The Key Traits For Life
03. Breakthrough research to revolutionise internet communication
04. Study opens a new route to achieving invisibility without using metamaterials
05. Tiny, fast, accurate technology on the radar
06. New way to improve cybersecurity
07. Bioengineers program cells as digital signal processors
08. Creating a cloak for grid data in the cloud
09. Printing self-powered sensor systems on plastic
10. Biosensor ‘bandage’ collects and analyzes sweat

And others…

Earth’s North Magnetic Pole Is Moving Fast, And We Might Finally Know Why
Forecasting contagious ideas: ‘Infectivity’ models accurately predict tweet lifespan
Is defense acquisition at an ‘inflection point?’
A “Laser for Sound” from a Levitated Nanoparticle
Lasers make magnets behave like fluids

Top 10 Science and Technology Inventions for the Week of April 19, 2019

01. Ultrafast Cluster Electronics
02. SLAC develops novel compact antenna for communicating where radios fail
03. Bionics: Electric view in murky waters
04. A novel data-compression technique for faster computer programs
05. The cost of computation
06. Graphene coating could help prevent lithium battery fires
07. Printable nanogenerator creates electricity from snowfall
08. Heads in the cloud: Scientists predict internet of thoughts ‘within decades’
09. Newly devised static negative capacitor could improve computing
10. Biosensor Could Scale New Sensitivity Heights

And others…

A New ‘State’ of Matter Can Be Solid And Liquid at The Same Time
Observing a molecule stretch and bend in real-time
Scientists Have Found a Way to Prevent Water From Ever Becoming Ice
Warfighters need trusted sensors
What you may not understand about China’s AI scene

RECENT POSTS

Top 10 Science and Technology Inventions for the Week of May 17, 2019

01. New method developed to detect and trace homemade bombs
02. Underwater power generation
03. Virtually energy-free superfast computing invented by scientists using light pulses
04. Locating a shooter from the first shot via cellphone
05. Silicon two-qubit gate achieves 98% fidelity
06. Lab builds autopilot software allowing UAVs to soar on thermals
07. A new sensor for light, heat and touch
08. Computing faster with quasi-particles
09. A step towards probabilistic computing (w/video)
10. Better microring sensors for optical applications

And others…

Assessing battery performance: Compared to what?
This Chilling Simulation Shows What a Measles Outbreak Could Do to Your City
Glassy menagerie of particles in beach sands near Hiroshima is fallout debris, study concludes
Gravitational waves leave a detectable mark, physicists say
It’s Official: Atmospheric CO2 Just Exceeded 415 Ppm For The First Time in Human History

Silicon two-qubit gate achieves 98% fidelity

Physics World  May 13, 2019
Two-qubit gates are essential for creating practical quantum computers.
An important parameter is how resistant a qubit is to decoherence which can very quickly destroy quantum information. While the fidelity does not have to be a perfect 100%, anything lower will eventually lead to errors creeping into calculations after multiple operations are performed. An international team of researchers (Australia, UK, Japan) has created a two-qubit gate from two silicon quantum dots and using Clifford-based fidelity benchmarking system they demonstrated that it can achieve a fidelity of 98% when performing the controlled-rotation operation. More than 50 gate operations could be performed on their two-qubit device…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Virtually energy-free superfast computing invented by scientists using light pulses

Science Daily  May 15, 2019
An international team of researchers (Germany, USA- UC Santa Barbara, Russia, the Netherlands) utilized the efficient interaction mechanism of coupling between spins and terahertz electric field, which was discovered by the same team. They developed and fabricated a very small antenna on top of the magnet to concentrate and thereby enhance the electric field of light. This strongest local electric field was sufficient to navigate the magnetization of the magnet to its new orientation in just one trillionth of a second without increasing the temperature. Future storage devices would also exploit the excellent spatial definition of antenna structures enabling practical magnetic memories with simultaneously maximal energy efficiency and speed…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Digital computing concept. Credit: © Jürgen Fälchle / Adobe Stock

Underwater power generation

Science Daily  May 13, 2019
Inspired by marine organisms that have switchable energy extraction modes (aerobic respiration for long‐term living or anaerobic respiration to propose instantaneously high output power for fast movement),researchers in China have designed an auto‐switchable dual‐mode seawater energy extraction system to provide high energy density and power density both by initiatively choosing different solutes in seawater as electron acceptors. The key to the discovery is a cathode made of Prussian blue, an open framework structure with cyanide ions as “struts” and iron ions as “nodes,” which can easily accept and release electrons. When combined with a metal anode, this structure can be used to generate electricity from seawater. The device had a theoretical energy density of 3960 Wh kg−1, and a high practical power density of 100±4 mW cm−2 with exceptional stability and low cost, making practical applications in seawater to be possible…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE

A step towards probabilistic computing (w/video)

Eurekalert  May 14, 2019
In the search for new computer concepts, research is concentrating, amongst others, on probability-based computing. Researchers in Germany have succeeded in developing a material in which skyrmions can form. The researchers have also developed a method to exploit thermal diffusion of skyrmions in what is referred to as a reshuffler, a component of probability-based computing that automatically scrambles input data. The reshuffler produces a sequence with the same number of memory units but in a different order. Their probability has therefore remained the same. They have shown according to which laws diffusion occurs, its length and time scales and that it can be measured…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE

A new sensor for light, heat and touch

Phys.org  May 14, 2019
Voltage arises in pyroelectric materials when they are heated or cooled. It is the change in temperature that gives a signal, which is rapid and strong, but it decays almost as rapidly. In thermoelectric materials, in contrast, a voltage arises when the material has one cold and one hot side. The signal here arises slowly, and some time must pass before it can be measured. Researchers in Sweden combined a pyroelectric polymer with a thermoelectric gel developed by them in a previous project. The combination gives a rapid and strong signal that lasts as long as the stimulus is present. The two materials interact in a way that reinforces the signal. The sensor will be suitable for use with electronic skin. It can measure changes in body temperature and react to both sunlight and warm touch…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE

The sensor that can measure changes in body temperature and react to both sunlight and warm touch. Credit: Thor Balkhed

New method developed to detect and trace homemade bombs

Science Daily  May 10, 2019
The new method for detecting trace amounts of explosives developed by researchers in the UK uses ion chromatography. The method is less time consuming. The technique can tell us so much more than just the explosives content. They have demonstrated that the technique detects thousands of different compounds simultaneously, which means there is an element of in-built future-proofing capability to detect new types of explosives if needed or provide critical information about where a device came from or who it belongs to. In particular, linearity for 19 targeted compounds yielded R2 > 0.99 across several orders of magnitude, with trace analysis possible at the low-mid level…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE 

Graphical abstract. Credit: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aca.2019.04.048

Locating a shooter from the first shot via cellphone

Phys.org   May 13, 2019
Tactical Communication and Protective Systems (TCAPS), earmuffs or earplugs with built-in microphones allowing active hearing protection, have four microphones: two outside the ear canal and two inside it, underneath the hearing protection. Researchers in France have developed a proof of concept shooter location device because most modern combat weapons fire bullets at supersonic speeds, creating two acoustic wave – supersonic shock wave and the second one is a muzzle wave. The device uses the microphone underneath the hearing protection to detect the shock and muzzle waves generated by supersonic shots and record the time difference of arrival of the Mach wave between the left and right ear. By combining the information sent by all the TCAPS deployed on the field, this gives the direction of arrival of the waves and thus the direction in which the shooter is. This information is sent via Bluetooth or USB to a soldier’s smartphone which uses a data fusion algorithm developed by the researchers to calculate the shooter’s position. Research will be presented at the Acoustical Society of America, in May 2019…read more.

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Lab builds autopilot software allowing UAVs to soar on thermals

Phys.org  May 10, 209
Prior systems relied on batch estimation processes that require storing large arrays of data, which is not ideal for operation on small microcontrollers with limited memory resources. Researchers at Naval Research Laboratory working on the Autonomous Locator of Thermals (ALOFT) project have developed software that uses extended Kalman filtering software which detects and estimates the position of thermals helping orbit drones like the tiny CICADA glider or long-endurance solar-soaring UAVs that might also have photovoltaic or fuel cells feeding battery-powered propellers. UAVs don’t need large batteries because they harvest energy from the environment using intelligent software increasing the range and endurance of an aircraft without having to add additional fuel/batteries. The method is parameterized, therefore it can be quickly tailored to a variety of aircraft types…read more.

The Naval Research Laboratory is building solar-soaring drones that harvest energy from the sun and thermals to stay aloft for extended time periods. Credit: Naval Research Laboratory. Credit: The article

It’s Official: Atmospheric CO2 Just Exceeded 415 Ppm For The First Time in Human History

Science Alert  May 13, 2019
Researchers at UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography sensors in Hawaii recorded Earth’s atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide passing 415 parts per million for the first time since before the ancient dawn of humanity. As recently as 1910, atmospheric CO2 stood at 300 ppm – higher than it had been for some 800,000 years at least. It’s that ongoing fossil fuel use that’s the real problem here. According to the scientists we basically have no idea how bad things could get if we don’t stop adding to the problem at such an accelerated rate. There is still hope, but we can only change this trajectory if we collectively focus on changing the systems driving it, from how we get our energy to how we do economics…read more.

Latest CO2 reading, May 11, 2019. Credit: The Keeling Curve