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September 8, 2010

A Summer Review and Return from Break

This summer has turned out to be extremely busy, so we've been on hiatus here at Scientifica. As school gets back into session, we'll get back onto a regular posting schedule. There's no summer break for science news, though, so here's a quick review of stories from this summer.

  • Viruses Harnessed to Split Water: A neat application of solar energy, which uses viruses as the means to split water using sunlight. The hydrogren produced can be stored, and used as a clean energy source later on.
  • Earth Fossil Find May Lead to Martian Discoveries: New microfossils found in gypsum give astrobiologists a new place to look for evidence of life on Mars and other planets.
  • Mica Minerals Key to the Origins of Life: Another new idea on how life could have gotten started. Instead of a lightning spark or a geothermal soup, the thin, organized sheets of mica could have provided an ideal environment for the first living things to appear.
  • The Moon is Shrinking: Scarps and ridges on the Moon's surface are changing, suggesting that the Moon is shrinking as its interior cools off.
  • Oldest Material in the Solar System Found: A new test of a meteorite found in Morocco suggests that our Solar System may be as much as 2 million years older than previously thought.
  • 'Dry Water': This peculiar combination of silica and water could be used to contain harmful industrial byproducts and greenhouse gases, or to kick-start chemical reactions.
  • When Galaxies Collide- How the First Super-Massive Black Holes were Born: Computer models suggest that, within the first billion years after the Big Bang, young galaxies crashed into one another, and their central black holes merged into super-massive black holes.
  • New Solar System Discovered: It has at least 5 planets, all about the size of Neptunes, and possibly another 2, one similarly sized to Saturn, the other closer to Earth in scale. It's the biggest exoplanet system found to date.

These are just a few of the highlights from the past few months. There were a ton other fascinating discoveries, studies, innovations, and ideas that popped up, some of which I'll discuss in more detail in the next few weeks. For now, I hope you find these stories as interesting as I did.