Scientific discoveries this week: 11/25/13

Scientists at MIT have created the new standard in waterproof. Their new super-hydrophobic coating is 40% more water resistant than previously thought possible. This revolutionary new micro ridge design has been inspired by waterproof objects in nature. The micro ridges added to the surface of objects reduces the surface area of water in contact with the surface and allows it to roll off quickly. Objects coated with this repel water so quickly that even in supercooled conditions water rolls off before freezing. This breakthrough will lead to more waterproof fabrics and airplanes that ice up less easily.

NASA’s Maven mission launched this week with a final destination of Mars. The probe launched from Cape Canaveral Air Base on an Atlas V rocket. The goal of this mission is to orbit Mars to study its atmosphere and learn if water ever could have existed on the Mars surface. The probe has a ten month flight to the red planet with many maneuvers along the way but if all goes according to schedule the probe should be orbiting Mars on September 22, 2014.

Genetically modified insects can be used to combat themselves. A company called Oxitec has developed a gene that they breed into male insects that causes young female insects to die as they develop. It is in use in Brazil to combat mosquito populations, in an effort to prevent the spread of deadly diseases. In Europe they are hoping to use this gene in olive flies to reduce the loss of olive crops.

The recent death of a star about 2,500 light years from earth is now believed to be the brightest in recorded history. During the collapse, the star emitted large amounts of radiation into the universe. Scientists say that had the star been within 1000 light years of Earth that life on Earth could have been adversely affected. Scientists also predict that a star will only implode that close to earth once every 500 million years.

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