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Rosetta Shows That Earth’s Water Didn’t Come From Comets

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RosettaOne of the reasons the ESA launched the Rosetta spacecraft, which sent the Philae lander down to the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko last month, was to study the composition of the comet. They are the oldest celestial bodies, so they contain chemical clues to how the Solar System formed, and perhaps how life arrived on our planet. Like asteroids, comets are also known to contain water, and scientists have theorized that just as life may have hitched a ride to Earth aboard one, perhaps water did too. But some of Rosetta’s early findings challenge that idea.

As you know, water contains two hydrogen atoms and oxygen atom, H20. But according to data recently published in Science, water from Comet 67P has three times more deuterium than normal, or more accurately, than terrestrial water molecules. Deuterium is a heavy isotope of hydrogen, and is a common element on Mars (and not so much on Earth). On our planet, roughly .0003% of water molecules contain deuterium.

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Water On Earth Is Even Older Than The Solar System

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water formationA lot can be said about our life-giving water here on Earth. Still, I never imagined that one of those things would be: dang, you are OLD!

Scientists from Harvard, the University of Exeter, Carnegie Institution of Washington, and the University of Michigan (alma mater, woot!) recently published a study in Science confirming that the water we have here on Earth is older than the sun and the solar system. Science is amazing, isn’t it? The researchers examined the gases, ice, and dust that existed at the time the sun formed and identified how much of those elements existed in the earth. In so doing, they realized that Earth’s water had to come from someplace else — someplace that existed before the sun.

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Check Out This Tractor Beam Made Of Water

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tractor beamIf Star Trek has taught us anything, it’s that beaming things up is totally awesome. I wouldn’t mind beaming over another cup of coffee as I sit here right now, and that’s just for starters. Small strides have been made in the creation of real tractor beams (we’re talking microscopic). But here’s a new and interesting twist on this futuristic bit of technology: create it with water.

This is another one of those discoveries that shouldn’t work and has baffled, albeit happily, the scientists working on it. Professors Michael Shats and Horst Punzmann of the Australian National University figured out that wave generators, which you may have seen in swimming pools and smaller wave pools, can move objects floating in the water. But here’s where it gets weird: wave pools can move those objects against the waves.

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No More Microbeads: Ban Looks To Prohibit Tiny Plastics In Skin Products

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microbeadsIf you’ve spent any time in the skin care aisle at your local grocery store, you almost certainly have heard of microbeads—teeny tiny particles of plastic that provide exfoliating properties to a slew of facial scrubs. It turns out that those tiny particles are causing a big problem, and may soon be banned.

ScienceDirect published a Marine Pollution Bulletin late last year that details the effects of microbeads on the Great Lakes. Based on collected and analyzed samples, researchers found that Lake Michigan contained roughly 17,000 microbeads per square kilometer, and that Lake Ontario had more than 1 million per square kilometer. These particles are so tiny that conventional wastewater filters can’t catch them, so they make the long journey all the way to lakes, which wreaks havoc on plant and animal life.

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Scientists Think They’ve Spotted Waves In Titan’s Oceans

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TitanIf you watched Sunday’s episode of Cosmos, you know that Tyson and the Spaceship of the Imagination headed to Titan, Saturn’s gigantic moon that is thought to be one of the most likely spots for life beyond planet Earth in our solar system. As the ship cruised around, Tyson explained that the hydrocarbon lakes of Titan are the only bodies of surface liquid found outside of Earth. Just one day after that episode aired, scientists announced that they may have caught a glimpse of moving waves on the seas of Titan.

Of course, the hero in all this is the Cassini spacecraft, which continues to provide breathtaking and historical images of the solar system’s most picturesque planet. In 2012 and 2013, the spacecraft caught some reflective sunlight off the surface of a sea called Punga Mare, and scientists think it may have come from ripples — the kind only made on liquid. These aren’t big waves, we’re talking a few centimeters. But given that Punga Mare has always appeared to be completely flat, it’s still a major discovery.

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Dehydrated? Drink Coffee.

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coffeeThanks for legitimizing my vices, science! In addition to showing that alcohol consumption can be good for us by boosting the immune system’s response to vaccines, among other things, a new study from England’s University of Birmingham suggests drinking coffee will keep us as hydrated as drinking water. Hang on a second while I get myself a second cup of Joe, and then I’ll tell you the details.

We’ve all heard for so long that there’s no substitute to water when it comes to what our bodies need, and by and large, that seems to be true. Other drinks have been vilified (some probably rightly so), downsized, and generally discouraged. But coffee isn’t a high-fructose-corn-syrup-infused bomb (unless you do really weird things to your java), and we’ve all made it by pouring a bunch of water into a coffee maker — so why wouldn’t it be hydrating?