TOI-519 b: A Short-period Substellar Object Around An M Dwarf (Planetary Science)

H. Parviainen & colleagues, reported the discovery of TOI-519 b, a transiting substellar object, having a radius of 1.07 times that of the radius of the Jupiter (RJup), orbiting a faint M dwarf (TIC 218795833) on a very short-period orbit of 1.26 day.

Fig1. MuSCAT2 field observed in r band. TOI-519 is marked with a cross, and the dotted circle marks the 2.5′-radius region centred around TOI-519. © H. Parviainen et al.

Brown dwarfs and massive planets orbiting M dwarfs on short-period orbits are rare, but more have already been discovered than expected from planet formation models. TOI-519 is a valuable addition into this group of unlikely systems, and adds towards our understanding of the boundaries of planet formation.

The object was originally identified in the TESS Sector 7 photometry by the TESS Science Processing Operations Center (SPOC) pipeline, and was later followed up from the ground using multicolour transit photometry and low-resolution spectroscopy.

Astronomers estimated the radius of the transiting object using multicolour transit modelling, and set upper limits for its mass, effective temperature, and Bond albedo using a phase curve model that includes Doppler boosting, ellipsoidal variations, thermal emission, and reflected light components.

The radius, effective temperature, and mass constraints from the multicolour and phase curve analyses validate TOI-519 b is a substellar object with a radius posterior median of 1.07 RJup and 5th and 95th percentiles of 0.66 and 1.20 RJup, respectively, where most of the uncertainty comes from the uncertainty in the stellar radius. The phase curve analysis sets an upper effective temperature limit of 1800 K, an upper Bond albedo limit of 0.49, and a companion mass upper limit of 14 MJup.

After estimating the companion radius, they combined it with the effective temperature (Teff) and mass limits which suggested that the companion is more likely a planet than a brown dwarf, but a brown-dwarf scenario is more likely a priori given the lack of known massive planets in ≈ 1 day orbits around M dwarfs with Teff < 3800 K, and the existence of some (but few) brown dwarfs.

Fig. 2. TOI-519 b in the context of currently known transiting planet and brown dwarf systems. First (top), they show the radius as a function of orbital period for transiting planets and brown dwarfs (BDs) with a focus on companions around cool (Teff < 4000 K) host stars. Transiting planets around cool hosts are shown as orange-rimmed stars, transiting BDs around cool hosts as orange-rimmed circles, transiting BDs around hot host (Teff > 4000 K) as dark-blue-rimmed circles, and transiting planets around hot hosts as blue shading. Next (bottom), they showed the radius as a function of the effective temperature of the host star for transiting planets (stars) and brown dwarfs (circles). Objects with P < 1 d are coloured as dark blue, 1 < P < 5 d as orange, & P > 5 d as light grey. © H. Parviainen et al.

“We note that giant planets and brown dwarfs seem to be found orbiting distinct spectral types. All large objects (R > 0.5 RJup) around the coolest dwarfs (Teff < 3400 K) are brown dwarfs, except for HATS- 71 A b, and these transiting brown dwarfs seem to be clustered orbiting cool dwarfs with Teff ∼ 3100-3400 K. On the contrary, giant planets are found around spectral types with Teff > 3700 K. For the spectral types with Teff ∼ 3400-3700 K there is a desert of any companions with a R > 0.5 RJup. Whether this apparent clustering is of any significance needs to be verified by more hot Jupiter and brown dwarf discoveries around cool dwarfs.”, wrote authors in their research paper.

According to authors, “Further research is needed in order to confirm whether TOI-519b is a low mass brown dwarf or a massive planet.”

References: H. Parviainen, E. Palle, M.R. Zapatero-Osorio, G. Nowak, A. Fukui, F. Murgas, N. Narita, K.G. Stassun, J.H. Livingston, K.A. Collins, D. Hidalgo Soto, V.J.S. Béjar, J. Korth, M. Monelli, P. Montanes Rodriguez, N. Casasayas-Barris, G. Chen, N. Crouzet, J.P. de Leon, A. Hernandez, K. Kawauchi, P. Klagyivik, N. Kusakabe, R. Luque, M. Mori, T. Nishiumi, J. Prieto-Arranz, M. Tamura, N. Watanabe, T. Gan, K.I. Collins, E.L.N. Jensen, T. Barclay, J.P. Doty, J.M. Jenkins, D.W. Latham, M. Paegert, G. Ricker, D.R. Rodriguez, S. Seager, A. Shporer, R. Vanderspek, J. Villaseñor, J.N. Winn, B. Wohler, I. Wong, “TOI-519 b: a short-period substellar object around an M dwarf validated using multicolour photometry and phase curve analysis”, ArXiv, pp. 1-15, 2020.

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Neanderthal Thumbs Better Adapted to Holding Tools With Handles (Archeology)

Neanderthal thumbs were better adapted to holding tools in the same way that we hold a hammer, according to a paper published in Scientific Reports. The findings suggest that Neanderthals may have found precision grips — where objects are held between the tip of the finger and thumb — more challenging than power ‘squeeze’ grips, where objects are held like a hammer, between the fingers and the palm with the thumb directing force.

Figure. Joint shape comparison of the Mc1 (top 1st row, palmar view; top 2nd row, proximal view) and trapezium (middle row, palmar view 1st row from bottom, proximal view; 2nd row from bottom, distal view) in modern human (2nd from left) and five early humans (3rd to 7th from the left) and five Neanderthals (1st to 5th from right). Key colors: yellow, trapezial-Mc1 joint; blue, 2nd metacarpal joint; green, trapezoid joint; red, scaphoid joint. The first column (left) represents the landmark templates used in their analyses to quantify shape covariation. The illustration is not scaled, and bones from the left-hand side (Le Régourdou 1, Kebara 2, Shanidar 4, Abri Pataud P1, Abri Pataud P3, Dame du Cavillon) are mirrored for fair comparison.

Using 3D analysis, Ameline Bardo and colleagues mapped the joints between the bones responsible for movement of the thumb — referred to collectively as the trapeziometacarpal complex — of five Neanderthal individuals, and compared the results to measurements taken from the remains of five early modern humans and 50 recent modern adults.

The authors found covariation in shape and relative orientation of the trapeziometacarpal complex joints that suggest different repetitive thumb movements in Neanderthals compared with modern humans. The joint at the base of the thumb of the Neanderthal remains is flatter with a smaller contact surface, and better suited to an extended thumb positioned alongside the side of the hand. This thumb posture suggests the regular use of power ‘squeeze’ grips, like the ones we now use to hold tools with handles. In comparison, these joint surfaces are generally larger and more curved in recent modern human thumbs, an advantage when gripping objects between the pads of the finger and thumb, known as a precision grip.

Although the morphology of the studied Neanderthals is better suited for power ‘squeeze’ grips, they would still have been capable of precision hand postures, but would have found this more challenging than modern humans, according to the authors.

Comparison of fossil morphology between the hands of Neanderthals and modern humans may provide further insight into the behaviours of our ancient relatives and early tool use.

References: Bardo, A., Moncel, MH., Dunmore, C.J. et al. The implications of thumb movements for Neanderthal and modern human manipulation. Sci Rep 10, 19323 (2020).

Provided by Nature Publishing Group

Ultrathin Nanomesh Sensor to Measure Sense of touch (Neuroscience)

World’s first fingertip-mounted sensor that maintains user’s sensitivity.

Scientists from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the University of Tokyo have developed an ultrathin pressure sensor that can be attached directly to the skin. It can measure how fingers interact with objects to produce valuable data for technological or medical applications. The sensor has an unnoticeable effect on the users’ sensitivity and ability to grip objects, and it is highly resistant to disruption from rubbing.

The ultrathin nanomesh sensor has an unnoticeable effect on the users’ sensitivity and ability to grip objects. Image: Someya-Yokota-Lee Group / The University of Tokyo

Our hands and fingers are our primary tools for direct interaction with materials, other human beings and our immediate environment. Finding out how the sense of touch actually works and having ways to record it would be a great benefit not only for research in the fields of medicine, sports or neuroengineering, but also for archiving skills.

However, capturing this data is not easy. A wearable sensor on a finger has to be extremely thin and flexible, because fingertips are so sensitive that anything could affect the feeling. In addition, a sensor worn on hands needs to be resistant to rubbing or other physical damage.

To overcome this problem, David Franklin, Professor for Neuromuscular Diagnostics at TUM and his colleagues teamed up with researchers from the University of Tokyo. Here, a group of scientists led by Professor Takao Someya had developed a sensor covered by four ultrathin layers of a functional and porous material named “nanomesh sensor”, which “turned out to be just perfect”, as Franklin says.

Thinner than a human hair

A layer of polyurethane nanofibers serves as a passivation and carrier layer. This is followed by an ultra-thin layer of gold mesh, an intermediate layer of parylene-coated polyurethane nanofibers and finally another layer of gold mesh. A thin top-layer of polyurethane and polyvinyl alcohol nanofibers mechanically protects the four layers of the sensor.

“Both nanomesh layers were made by a process called electro spinning,” Someya says. The polyurethane fibers are between 200 to 400 nanometers thick, about two hundreds the thickness of a human hair.

The other two layers are a stencil-like network of lines that form the functional electronic component of the sensor. They are made from gold and use a supporting frame of polyvinyl alcohol, a polymer which is also used for contact lenses. After the manufacturing process, the polymer is washed away to leave only the gold traces it was supporting.

Minimal effect on sensitivity

The researchers performed a rigorous set of tests on the sensors with the help of 18 participants. All of them confirmed that the sensors were imperceptible and affected neither the ability to grip objects through friction, nor the perceived sensitivity compared to performing the same task without a sensor attached. This was exactly the result the researchers were looking for.

“In the past, we only had relatively rigid measuring instruments that interfere with the sense of touch” Franklin says. “Think about your pet at home, perhaps your cat or dog. Which instrument is both soft and sensitive enough to measure how much pressure you use when caressing it? Until now this was impossible, but with this new nanomesh sensor applied on our fingers we suddenly can.”

Designed to archive knowledge of any delicate work

One way the novel applications could be used is the digital archiving of delicate craftwork by artisans. “Let’s say you want to study how to make a handcrafted watch,” says Franklin. “How could we capture the ability of the incredible talented watchmakers for posterity? We would like to know how they actually pick up and manipulate the tiny pieces while building the watch. By applying the ultrathin nanomesh sensor on the fingertips, we could measure the force and record it without influencing the finger’s sense of touch.”

In fact, this is the first time in the world that a fingertip-mounted sensor with no effect on skin sensitivity has been successfully demonstrated. And the sensor maintained its performance as a pressure sensor even after being rubbed against a surface with a force equivalent to atmospheric pressure, 300 times without breaking, the scientists discovered. “This shows that we can actually measure the manipulation of a huge range of objects – this has never been possible before.”

References: Sunghoon Lee, Sae Franklin, Faezeh Arab Hassani, Tomoyuki Yokota, Md Osman Goni Nayeem, Yan Wang, Raz Leib, Gordon Cheng, David W. Franklin, Takao Someya:
Nanomesh pressure sensor for monitoring finger manipulation without sensory interference. Science, Vol. 370, Issue 6519, pp. 966-970, 2020. DOI: 10.1126/science.abc9735

Provided by TUM

Global Study Shows Teenage Motherhood is Still High (Psychology)

The high rate of adolescent motherhood across developing countries isn’t shifting, with reductions either modest or absent in some regions and rising in others, according to University of Queensland-led research.

Image: Julien Pouplard on Unsplash

The study found an urgent need for effective interventions such as sexual education, teenage health services, and national policies that promote economic growth and decrease income inequality in these countries.

M. Mamun Huda from UQ’s Institute for Social Science Research said data from more than 700,000 girls aged 15-19 years across 74 low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) over 28 years was analysed.

“Young women living in the most disadvantageous conditions, those who are poorest, have no education and live in rural locations, have the highest rates of adolescent motherhood,” Mr Huda said.

“Not only do these groups have the highest prevalence, but they also have elevated risk of poor maternal and child health outcomes as well as wider social and economic burdens on family, community and country.”

Adolescent health and well-being is a key target in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which include the aim of assisting adolescent girls with sexual and reproductive health to delay motherhood.

The World Health Organization estimates 21 million girls aged 15-19 in LMICs become pregnant every year and about 12 million give birth.

Pregnancy and childbirth complications are a leading cause of death in adolescent girls in LMICs, and children of adolescent mothers are at increased risk of infant and child mortality.

Adolescent mothers also have high levels of school dropout and lack of decent work opportunities due to the ‘double burden’ of household duties and child rearing.

The study showed the highest prevalence of adolescent motherhood was in Sub-Saharan Africa, Niger had the highest rate with 40.4 per cent of 15-19 year-old girls reported to be pregnant or have had a child.

In South and South East Asia, Bangladesh had the highest prevalence of adolescent motherhood at 30.77 per cent; and in Latin America and the Caribbean, Honduras had the highest observed rate at 24 per cent.

Over time, the change in the rate of adolescent motherhood is slow, according to the study.

In some high-burden countries such as Nigeria and India there has been a decline in the average annual change, but countries such as Bangladesh had only a slight change.

Cambodia (+2.42%), Honduras (+1.88%), and the Philippines (+1.59%) had rising rates of adolescent motherhood over time.

Associate Professor Abdullah Mamun said providing a more detailed understanding helped to better target interventions.

“Several countries not only have widespread poverty, lack of economic opportunity and high rates of school dropout, but also have high rates of sexual violence, unmet need for contraception, and legal restrictions on emergency contraception and abortion.”

Strategic interventions, such as school-based sexual education and adolescent-friendly reproductive health services, could help reduce adolescent motherhood in LMICs, the study concluded.

National-level policies that promote economic growth, increase expenditure on education, decrease income inequality and improve gender equality also have an important role to play.

The study is published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

The research was a collaboration between Life Course Centre researchers at UQ’s Institute for Social Science Research and the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

Provided by University of Queensland

Exercise Found to Reduce Menopausal Symptoms in Cancer Survivors (Physiology)

Physical activity can reduce the severity of early menopausal symptoms in women who have had cancer treatment, a University of Queensland study has found.

©University of Queensland

Dr Tom Bailey from UQ’s School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work said the results showed a clear association between physical activity and an easing in menopausal symptoms.

“Women who remained physically active and met guidelines for more intense physical activity, reported fewer symptoms associated with the menopause,” Dr Bailey said.

“The main benefits were reduced depressive symptoms and reduced somatic symptoms, such as nausea, dizziness, tiredness, muscle and joint pain, as well as some improvement in sleep patterns and sexual function.”

Dr Bailey said menopausal symptoms were common in women treated for early-stage breast, reproductive and blood cancers.

“Menopausal symptoms arise when radiotherapy to the pelvic field, surgical removal or systemic chemotherapy damage the ovaries, initiating ovarian failure,” he said.

“In women who are premenopausal or perimenopausal before treatment, cancer therapies result in a sudden and sometimes irreversible menopause, the symptoms of which can be far more frequent and severe than in natural menopause.

“Women often report treatment-induced menopausal symptoms as a distressing side effect that goes on long after they resume their usual work and social roles.”

The Women’s Wellness After Cancer Program trialled a digitally-delivered holistic lifestyle intervention for women treated for early stage breast, reproductive and blood cancers.

More than 350 women treated for such cancers within the past two years took part in the study.

Lifestyle behaviours targeted in the program included physical activity, nutrition, sleep, stress management, smoking cessation and reduction of alcohol intake.

Dr Bailey said the results of the trial could help inform future programs for cancer services that do not currently provide post-treatment support.

“There are currently no programs tailored for the menopausal symptoms that eventuate from these types of cancer treatments and many women are unable to, or decide not to take hormone therapy, as it may exacerbate cancer growth,” he said.

“Supervised and individualised exercise training that improves cardiovascular and physical fitness could be of most benefit in women for alleviation of menopausal symptoms, and we hope to investigate this next.

“Undertaking regular moderate to vigorous physical activity has also been shown to reduce the risk of other treatment-related chronic conditions, mortality, and cancer recurrence.”

The study is published in the journal Menopause.

References: Bailey, Tom G., Mielke, Gregore I., Skinner, Tina S., Anderson, Debra, Porter-Steele, Janine Balaam, Sarah, Young, Leonie D.Univ, McCarthy, Alexandra L., “Physical activity and menopausal symptoms in women who have received menopause-inducing cancer treatments”, Menopause, 2020. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001677

Provided by University of Queensland

MOXIE Could Help Future Rockets Launch Off Mars (Planetary Science)

NASA’s Perseverance rover carries a device to convert Martian air into oxygen that, if produced on a larger scale, could be used not just for breathing, but also for fuel.

One of the hardest things about sending astronauts to Mars will be getting them home. Launching a rocket off the surface of the Red Planet will require industrial quantities of oxygen, a crucial part of propellant: A crew of four would need about 55,000 pounds (25 metric tons) of it to produce thrust from 15,000 pounds (7 metric tons) of rocket fuel.

Engineers lower MOXIE into the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

That’s a lot of propellant. But instead of shipping all that oxygen, what if the crew could make it out of thin (Martian) air? A first-generation oxygen generator aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover will test technology for doing exactly that.

The Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, or MOXIE, is an experimental instrument that stands apart from Perseverance’s primary science. One of the rover’s main purposes is capturing returnable rock samples that could carry signs of ancient microbial life. While Perseverance has a suite of instruments geared toward helping achieve that goal, MOXIE is focused solely on the engineering required for future human exploration efforts.

Since the dawn of the space age, researchers have talked about in-situ resource utilization, or ISRU. Think of it as living off the land and using what’s available in the local environment. That includes things like finding water ice that could be melted for use or sheltering in caves, but also generating oxygen for rocket fuel and, of course, breathing.

Breathing is just a side benefit of MOXIE’s true goal, said Michael Hecht of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the instrument’s principal investigator. Rocket propellant is the heaviest consumable resource that astronauts will need, so being able to produce oxygen at their destination would make the first crewed trip to Mars easier, safer, and cheaper.

“What people typically ask me is whether MOXIE is being developed so astronauts have something to breathe,” Hecht said. “But rockets breathe hundreds of times as much oxygen as people.”

An illustration of MOXIE and its components. An air pump pulls in carbon dioxide gas from the Martian atmosphere, which is then regulated and fed to the Solid OXide Electrolyzer (SOXE), where it is electrochemically split to produce pure oxygen. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Making Oxygen Requires Heat

Mars’ atmosphere poses a major challenge for human life and rocket propellant production. It’s only 1% as thick as Earth’s atmosphere and is 95% carbon dioxide.

MOXIE pulls in that air with a pump, then uses an electrochemical process to separate two oxygen atoms from each molecule of carbon dioxide, or CO2. As the gases flow through the system, they are analyzed to check how much oxygen has been produced, how pure it is, and how efficiently the system is working. All the gases are vented back into the atmosphere after each experiment is run.

Powering this electrochemical conversion requires a lot of heat – about 1,470 degrees Fahrenheit (800 degrees Celsius). Because of those high temperatures, MOXIE, which is a little larger than a toaster, features a variety of heat-tolerant materials. Special 3D-printed nickel alloy parts help distribute the heat within the instrument, while superlight insulation called aerogel minimizes the power needed to keep it at operating temperatures. The outside of MOXIE is coated in a thin layer of gold, which is an excellent reflector of infrared heat and keeps those blistering temperatures from radiating into other parts of Perseverance.

“MOXIE is designed to make about 6 to 10 grams of oxygen per hour – just about enough for a small dog to breathe,” said Asad Aboobaker, a MOXIE systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “A full-scale system geared to make (propellant for the flight home) would need to scale up oxygen production by about 200 times what MOXIE will create.”

Video: MOXIE engineer Asad Aboobaker of JPL explains how the instrument works in this video interview. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Future Martians

Hecht estimates that a full-scale MOXIE system on Mars might be a bit larger than a household stove and weigh around 2,200 pounds (1,000 kilograms) – almost as much as Perseverance itself. Work is ongoing to develop a prototype for one in the near future.

The team expects to run MOXIE about 10 times over the course of one Mars year (two Earth years), allowing them to watch how well it works in varying seasons. The results will inform the design of future oxygen generators.

“The commitment to developing MOXIE shows that NASA is serious about this,” Hecht said. “MOXIE isn’t the complete answer, but it’s a critical piece of it. If successful, it will show that future astronauts can rely on this technology to help get them home safely from Mars.”

More About the Mission

A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Subsequent missions, currently under consideration by NASA in cooperation with ESA (the European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these cached samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 mission is part of a larger program that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration plans.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

For more about Perseverance:

Provided by NASA JPL

Replicating Surfaces, Right Down to a Fraction of an Atom (Engineering / Material Science)

The ability to replicate materials at the atomic level has attracted significant attention from materials scientists. However, the current technology is limited by a number of factors. Udo Schwarz, professor of mechanical engineering & materials science and department chair, has recently published two papers on research that could significantly open up what’s possible within this emerging field. His methods include a process that can replicate a surface’s features to details of less than one 10 billionth of a meter, or less 1/20th the diameter of an atom.


Nanostructured and nanopatterned surfaces are an integral component in many nanotechnological applications. Easy to use and economical, the method of nanoimprinting has great potential for applications such as high-density data storage, photonic devices, holograms, bio-nanofluidic chips, water filtration, and electrodes in fuel cells. However, the precision of replication is limited in most materials due to those materials’ atomic structures.

In APL Materials, Schwarz shows that when working with metallic glasses, there’s virtually no limit to the accuracy that you can have when replicating surface features. In fact, the level of precision reaches down to the subatomic level. The key is the atomic structure of the materials. Unlike crystalline materials, which have atoms that are specifically arranged, atoms in glasses are arranged without restrictive periodic order principles.

“Crystals always want to put atoms in specific places, and if your mold doesn’t match with that, you’re out of luck,” Schwarz said.

But metallic glasses don’t have such rigidly arranged atoms, allowing them to adjust to where they’re needed. By heating the glass, the researchers were able to weaken the material’s internal cohesion just enough to allow the atoms to move however way needed with near perfect accuracy.

“For the first time, we demonstrated that any structure you have, you can replicate it – the metallic glass will correctly conform to it,” he said. “You can do that with practically no limit in accuracy.”

That means they can provide an ideal platform for advancing research in the fundamental study of structure, deformation, and phase transitions of glasses as well as enabling novel applications in fields that make use of surface functionalization through topography.

Co-authors of the APL Materials paper, which the journal promotes as a “Featured Article”, are Chao Zhou, Amit Datye, Zheng Chen, Georg H. Simon, Xinzhe Wang, and Jan Schroers.

In a second paper, in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, Schwarz also looks at nanofabrication of bulk metallic glasses, but with a different approach.

For that study, which received an “Editor’s Choice” designation by the journal, Schwarz developed a method based on magnetron sputtering. In magneton sputtering, gas ions, typically argon, are hitting a “target” and eject target atoms in the process. The ejected atoms then travel across vacuum to eventually reach a substrate on which they form a film. Due to the wide range of alloys that can be used as targets and the large substrate areas that can be covered, the method provides researchers a large toolbox for selecting a desired surface chemistry while being extremely versatile in terms of size, shape, and the nature of the surface pattern and of the molds that can be used. Schwarz said it could effectively elevate atomic-scale replication from a “scientific curiosity” to a widely used nanofabrication tool.

During the replication process, the high degree of accuracy is based partly on the sputtering technique, but also decisively on the fact that the target alloys used to sputter the films do not crystallize. Because of this, there are no dimensional limitations from films that attempt to establish crystalline order.

“It shows that we can replicate surface structures down to sub-angstrom [less than one 10 billionth of a meter] on a large scale, and that this may open the way to use these materials on a large scale for the production of actual workpieces and for affordable prices,” he said.

Since only scarce amounts of material are needed, the new approach is economical. It’s also applicable to a vast array of alloys, flexible in the type of molds it can replicate, and can easily be scaled up. Potential applications of this new approach include the development of nanowires and nanotubes for nanoelectronic applications.

Co-authors are Zheng Chen, Amit Datye, Georg H. Simon, Chao Zhou, Sebastian A. Kube, Naijia Liu, Jingbei Liu, and Jan Schroers.

References: (1) Chao Zhou, Amit Datye, Zheng Chen et al., “Atomic imprinting in the absence of an intrinsic length scale”, APL Materials 8, 111104 (2020); (2) Zheng Chen, Amit Datye, Georg H. Simon, Chao Zhou, Sebastian A. Kube, Naijia Liu, Jingbei Liu, Jan Schroers, and Udo D. Schwarz, “Atomic-Scale Imprinting by Sputter Deposition of Amorphous Metallic Films”, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2020, 12, 47, 52908–52914.

Provided by Yale School of Engineering And Applied Science

No Matter What We Earn, We Believe Our Richer Neighbors Have More to Give (Psychology)

According to a new study co-authored by Yale SOM’s Gal Zauberman, people of a wide range of income levels believe that they are giving what they should to charity—but that even richer people have more spare income and a greater obligation to give.

© University of Yale

Billionaire Jeff Bezos’ donation of $100 million to address hunger drew wide criticism, in part because the amount—a massive sum to the average American—only represented a tiny fraction of his riches. A new study finds that such judgments are not only restricted to billionaires. We tend to apply this same moral argument—that those who are richer should donate a higher proportion of their income—to our next-door neighbors, bosses, and anyone else who earns more than ourselves.

“Most of us cannot perceive how a person can have so much money without having tremendous abundance,” says Yale SOM professor of marketing Gal Zauberman. “We always think that if we only made a bit more, we’d have so much free money [to give].”

The notion that higher earners have more “financial slack,” or spare money, leads us to think that they are ethically obliged to donate more. But as people get wealthier, they also accumulate greater expenses, so their perception of their own “spare” income doesn’t increase as much. The result, according to a study co-authored by Zauberman, is that each of us has a similar expectation of giving for ourselves, whatever our income level. At the same time, we consistently believe that people wealthier than us have greater capacity to give—as the authors put it, “passing the buck” for greater generosity to the wealthier, and to our future, richer selves.

Previous studies have examined what motivates people to donate to charities and how people judge others’ generosity. But “nobody had quite connected how we judge others to our subjective perceptions of how much free money the other person has,” Zauberman says. “It was implicit in many ways, but we systematically connected the dots.”

To investigate, Zauberman, Jonathan Berman of the London Business School, Amit Bhattacharjee of INSEAD, and Deborah Small of the University of Pennsylvania designed a series of experiments to gauge how much people thought they themselves could give to charitable causes, as well as how much they thought lower or higher earners should donate.

First, participants in an online experiment were asked to imagine their lives if they earned $50,000 a year, and then asked how much they would give to charity if that was their household income. The team found that the less a person currently earned relative to $50,000, the more they anticipated donating if they were at that income level. To rule out the possibility that the participants were simply multiplying their current rate of giving by a larger income, the team surveyed them about their current donations. They found that on average, the participants had donated 0.93% of their income in the past year, and that fraction was not correlated with their actual income.

In a second test, the researchers recruited participants in various income brackets, from under $10,000 to over $110,000. They were presented five hypothetical people at income levels from $20,000 to $100,000 per year, and asked how much each person was morally obliged to donate to charity. The participants said that those who earned more ought to give more—and the more the difference between the target’s income and their own, the more they thought the target should donate.

“When you compare, you’re essentially looking at your lifestyle and their income. You don’t realize that as a person earns more, their expenses increase too, so they’re just as constrained as they were with a lower income.”

The results show how people overestimate how much “unconstrained” money a higher earner has in hand. “When you compare, you’re essentially looking at your lifestyle and their income,” Zauberman says. “You don’t realize that as a person earns more, their expenses increase too, so they’re just as constrained as they were with a lower income.”

This perception of spare money was highly consistent and present regardless of a participant’s own income level, he adds. “The less you earn compared to someone, the more you think they have spare money,” Zauberman says. “What’s interesting is not only do we think the wealthier should donate more, we think it because of this idea that they have abundance. But they themselves don’t feel that abundance.”

Zauberman remembers experiencing this mismatch between income and perception himself. “I’ve never felt as wealthy as I did in the first month that I moved from being a PhD student to being a faculty member,” he recalls. “I make more now than I did then, but I don’t feel nearly as wealthy.”

In a subsequent experiment, participants were presented similar scenarios of higher-earning targets, but they were told that the “extra” income had been earmarked for specific expenses such as a retirement fund or college savings. Adding this detail reduced people’s expectations of donations from richer people, perhaps because it made their constraints more apparent.

For Zauberman, the study underscores our individual responsibility for charitable giving. “The point here is that everybody feels this constraint,” Zauberman says.

Provided by Yale

Keyhole Wasps May Threaten Aviation Safety (Biology)

Over a period of 39 months, invasive keyhole wasps (Pachodynerus nasidens) at the Brisbane Airport were responsible for 93 instances of fully blocked replica pitot probes – vital instruments that measure airspeed — according to a study published November 30 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Alan House of Eco Logical Australia and colleagues. As noted by the authors, the results underscore the importance of risk-mitigating strategies, such as covering pitot probes when aircraft arrive and setting up additional traps to intercept the wasps.

Pachodynerus nasidens on 3D-printed De Haviland Dash-8 pitot probe. ©House et al (2020) PLOS ONE, CC BY

Interactions between aircraft and wildlife are frequent and can have serious financial and safety consequences. But the risk posed by wildlife when aircraft are on the ground is much less understood, and specific threats posed by insects have not been quantified before. In the new study, House and his colleagues investigated the possible role of keyhole wasps in obstructing pitot probes at Brisbane Airport. A total of 26 wasp-related issues were reported at the airport between November 2013 and April 2019, in conjunction with a series of serious safety incidents involving pitot probes. In its native range in South and Central America and the Caribbean, the wasp is known to construct nests using man-made cavities, such as window crevices, electrical sockets, and of course, keyholes.

The researchers used 3D-printing technology to construct a series of replica pitot probes, which they mounted at four locations at the airport. All nests in these probes were made by keyhole wasps, and peak nesting occurred in the summer months. Nesting success (i.e., the proportion of nests producing live adults) was optimal between 24 and 31°C, and probes with apertures of more than 3 mm in diameter were preferred. The majority of nests were constructed in one area of the airport. The proportion of grassed areas within 1000 m of probes was a significant predictor of nesting, and the nest volume in pitot probes may determine the sex of emerging wasps. According to the authors, P. nasidens poses a significant risk to aviation safety, and further work is warranted to develop strategies for controlling or eradicating persistent populations of this adaptable, inventive, and highly mobile species.

The authors add: “We hope this research will bring attention to a little known but serious issue for air travel in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Having found its way across the Pacific Ocean, there is no reason to doubt that it could spread to other parts of Australia. The consequences of not managing this clever but dangerous pest could be substantial.”

References: House APN, Ring JG, Shaw PP (2020) Inventive nesting behaviour in the keyhole wasp Pachodynerus nasidens Latreille (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in Australia, and the risk to aviation safety. PLoS ONE 15(11): e0242063.

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