Best of Last Week: Water as stable supercooled liquid, carbon dioxide to ethylene, COVID-19 seasonality

September 21, 2020 by Bob Yirka
water
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

It was a good week for physics as a team of researchers from India and Japan found that the magnetic field in high-intensity lasers originates at the macroscopic scale as defined by electron beam boundaries, rather than from the small, nanometer scale in bulk plasma, as had been thought for many years. Also, a team at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory showed for the first time that supercooled water is a stable liquid—and that it is actually two liquids in one.

In technology news, a team with members from the University of Zurich and SONY AI Zurich demonstrated a deep-learning model that achieved super-human performance playing Gran Turismo Sport. Also, artificial intelligence expert Prakash Shenoy at the University of Kansas School of Business proposed a new theory for decision-making when the outcomes of a choice are uncertain and the uncertainty can be described by probability theory. And a combined team from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Baylor College of Medicine, proposed a way to make neural networks less forgetful by using the brain's memory abilities as a model. Also, a team with members from Vienna University of Technology, the University of Pisa and AMO GmbH, demonstrated an operational amplifier that uses a 2-D semiconductor.

In other news, a combined team from Caltech and the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering discovered an effective pathway to convert carbon dioxide into ethylene—possibly providing a replacement for fossil fuels. Also, a team at Imperial College London found that a rapid 90-minute COVID-19 test they developed is also highly accurate. And a small team with members from Norway, Denmark, Sweden and the U.S. found evidence that showed sea ice triggered the Little Ice Age that chilled Europe from the 1300s through the mid-1800s.

And finally, if you have been hoping that scientists will develop a vaccine for protection against the SARS-CoV-2 virus to end the pandemic once and for all, you might want to check out the results of a team working at the American University of Beirut—they found evidence suggesting that COVID-19 will become a seasonal virus after herd immunity is attained.

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