Since water is one of the vital ingredients for life on Earth, scientists want to know how it got here. One theory is that the water in our solar system was created in the chemical afterbirth of the Sun. If that were the case, it would suggest that water might only be common around certain stars that form in certain ways. But a new study,published today in Science, suggests that at least some of Earth’s water actually existed before the Sun was born -- and that it came from interstellar space.
Among the 2.5 tons of cargo that's set to go up to the International Space Station this weekend, there will be five mice with a particular genetic mutation. The mice lack a gene that normal mice have, called Muscle Ring Finger 1, or MuRF-1 (rhymes with Smurf). Scientists are hoping the missing gene will keep those mice healthier in space than their five ordinary compatriots that will be riding up with them.
Of course, it wasn’t long before reality sank in. I’m not really part of this proverbial “we.” The rides are for NASA astronauts only, not for us mere mortals, fated to only walk on one planet for the rest of our lives. My excitement soon became mixed with a reinvigorated longing to explore the celestial frontier.
Here's a refresher from middle school science class: An asteroid is a huge rock tumbling through the solar system, and that's pretty much all it looks like--a big rock. Meanwhile, a comet is a ball of ice and dust that has a long bright tail, which is caused by the Sun blasting that ice and dust off of the comet's surface as it zooms around.
As if it weren't hard enough already to imagine it in twos, physicists have entangled three photons with each other. Entanglement is a counterintuitive quantum physics phenomenon, in which a particle influences all the others with which it's entangled -- even if the particles are far apart. If one particle is in one state, for example, the others might be in the same state. In this case, however, each photon, which is a particle of light, had the same polarization -- either horizontal or vertical.