Scientific discoveries this week: 10-11-10

Tempe, Arizona – Old wives’ tales may have proved themselves partly true in a recent study at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. The study seeks to determine if rainfall is linked to moon phases, following the past several years of data collection showing that river runoff seems linked to the moon. Using data from 11,000 US Geological Survey stations from around the country, the team of researchers noticed that stream runoff showed a slight increase in volume when the moon is one-quarter full. While certainly not enough to prove that rainfall is affected by the moon, it’s one more step in the direction of understanding our water cycle.

Livermore, California – Sustainable energy from nuclear fusion is growing ever closer as scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, CA fired the first shot of their super-laser Thursday. The laser, which fills an area the size of several football fields, is a composite of 192 individual beams and can over 1 megajoule to the target. The fusion scientists fired the beam at a group of cryogenically frozen deuterium, tritium, and hydrogen atoms trying to start a fusion reaction that will eventually produce energy in the same manner as the Sun.

Berlin, Germany – Mars’ version of the Grand Canyon was discovered by the European Mars Express orbiter recently, giving rise to more discussion over the red planet’s past. The canyon, which one could call the Super-Grand Canyon, reaches over 9 kilometers down in some areas which is nearly 6 times as deep as the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The canyon walls have collapsed in places over the years and scientists say that, based on the texture, the debris was carried by liquid water and ice.

Southern Siberia  – Russian archaeologists have discovered the ruins of what appears to be a collection of ancient Aryan cities. Dated at 4,000 years old, the roughly 20 settlements are located in the southern steppes of Siberia near the border of Kazakhstan. The discovery is just one more piece in the larger puzzle of where many modern languages originated, as many words appear to be the ancestors of current English words.

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