So many exoplanets may hold water, atmospheres, just-right temperatures and a rocky surface for life to flourish — we just need to know where to look. Once astronomers have pinpointed a good candidate, we also need to know how to look — which instruments and methods might sniff out the right chemical signatures of life. A new trick that essentially amplifies those signatures could be one way to do it. Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory just discovered life on Earth with this method, treating our home as if it were an exoplanet.
Future shirts and socks could clean themselves using just sunlight, chemists report — all you’ll have to do is drape them over the balcony and voila, clean laundry. A coating of titanium dioxide makes this possible.
In an ideal world, we'd use natural light to brighten every darkened nook that needs illumination. But in reality, skylights and windows can let only so much light into a structure, and the amount of light varies based on the time of day. The Sundolier robotic skylight from Boulder-based Sunflower aims to change all this by actively "pumping" natural light into interior spaces, illuminating areas of up to 2,500 square feet with a single unit.
Real leaves are natural energy factories that can split water molecules and create hydrogen ions. Scientists have long tried to copy the molecules involved in creating hydrogen, but a Chinese team took a different tack by creating an artificial structure based on natural leaves as templates. Early tests have shown that the artificial leaves could soak up twice as much light and produce three times as much energy as the real thing, New Scientist reports.
The sunshine vitamin is looking brighter. This past week, scientists have found vitamin D can do more than form and maintain strong bones. According to new research, it may prevent diabetes, inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells and reduce the risk of children developing multiple sclerosis later in life. In addition, the vitamin has been linked to more muscle power in teen girls. With all these added benefits, looks like it’s time to load up on some D.