Scientific Discoveries this Week – 9/29/14

USA- In March, Harvard Physicists announced that they had found evidence of gravitation waves- variations in gravitational strength throughout space, which could act as crucial evidence for the Big Bang. However, new data from the Planck satellite shows that more dust is present in space than was expected. This means it is quite likely that the signals that were believed to be gravitational waves, in fact, could have simply been signals that were distorted from the dust. While this does not disprove the existence of gravitational waves, it does cast some doubt on the supposed confirmation of their existence.

USA- On the 25th of September, scientists at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor concluded that as much as 50% of the water now on Earth could have existed since before the sun was born. This was discovered through a detailed model of the chemical processes of creating water in the cloud of dense gas surrounding a newly forming star. Overall, it is good news for alien hunters because this hints at increased likelihood of more planets with water for life.

United Arab Emirates- The first solar-powered flight around the world has been planned. It will depart in March of 2015 from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Two pilots, Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, will make the trip in the Solar Impulse 2, an aircraft that will run exclusively on power from the sun. This will be the first long distance flight in an aircraft that is entirely dependent on renewable resources.

Switzerland- At the Laboratory of Photonics and Interfaces at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland, a team of scientists has discovered a new way of creating hydrogen fuels: through solar water splitting. They do this by combining electricity-generating cells with an electrolyzer that separates the water molecules. This method uses no rare resources and is not all that different from the components of a common AA battery. Their device converts 12.3% of the energy diffused by the sun into hydrogen, something previously unheard of.

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