Did Earth get its water from… the Sun?

Where did the Earth’s oceans come from? For the past few years, astronomers have theorised that asteroids and comets deposited water on the Earth’s surface during the early days of our planet, but many questions remain. Now, a paper in Nature Astronomy has shown that the Sun itself could have been an additional source, with … Continue reading Did Earth get its water from… the Sun?

The Mpemba effect: why hot water freezes faster than cold

The Mpemba effect:  under the right circumstances, hot water can freeze more quickly than cold. This mystery has puzzled thinkers since Aristotle, but a team of Spanish physicists worked out how and why this seeming paradox can occur. The answer, as described in a 2017 paper in Physical Review Letters by Antonio Lasanta of Charles … Continue reading The Mpemba effect: why hot water freezes faster than cold

Can quantum tug-of-war explain water’s weirdness?

An international team of researchers has used a high-speed electron camera to observe the atomic motion of liquid water for the first time. These observations – which reveal the quantum nature of how hydrogen atoms interact – bring scientists one step closer to understanding the weird and wacky properties of water, like its unusually high … Continue reading Can quantum tug-of-war explain water’s weirdness?

Water’s metal tally

An international team of scientists has succeeded in making droplets of water behave like a metal. On a chemical level, metals are substances made from a lattice of positively charged atoms sitting in a sea of free electrons. The ease with which the electrons can move is what makes metals so good at conducting electricity. … Continue reading Water’s metal tally

(Almost) home-made microswimmers

Microswimmers – micrometre-sized drops that can move through liquids – are used to study the way tiny organisms move. They can be naturally occurring or artificially made. Now, an international team of researchers have figured out a very simple artificial recipe for their creation using just oil, water, and something to mix the two. “In … Continue reading (Almost) home-made microswimmers

“They want to blow it up” – environmental scientists weigh in on the Nationals’ plans for the Murray-Darling Basin

The National Party has proposed a number of amendments to legislation governing the Murray-Darling Basin plan that has the potential to “blow it up”, according to some of Australia’s leading environmental scientists. The defeated proposals would have banned government water buybacks, and limited the requirement for water to be returned to the system for environmental … Continue reading “They want to blow it up” – environmental scientists weigh in on the Nationals’ plans for the Murray-Darling Basin

Making a “Hydrobot” out of water and magnets

With a tiny magnet, researchers have designed a simple system to make a little drop of water move around. To create a “Hydrobot”, the team – led by Yifan Si of the City University of Hong Kong – used a 1-mm-wide iron bead with an extremely hydrophilic (water-loving) surface. Because the surface strongly attracts water, … Continue reading Making a “Hydrobot” out of water and magnets

A new attempt to get water from the air

US and Korean researchers say they are a step closer to developing a practical way to extract drinkable water directly from the air, even in dry regions. The team unveiled the design for its solar-powered system in 2017 and updated it the following year, describing the work in a paper in the journal Nature Communications. … Continue reading A new attempt to get water from the air

The dynamic world of Titan’s lakes

Lakes on Saturn’s giant moon Titan can stratify and overturn, scientists say, much like lakes on Earth. They may also be able to produce giant gas eruptions akin to popping the cork on an enormous bottle of Champagne. Stratification occurs when lakes form layers of different density.  On Earth, this most commonly occurs when summer … Continue reading The dynamic world of Titan’s lakes

Turning buoyancy on its head

At risk of stating the obvious: boats float on top of water. Yet French researchers have seemingly inverted gravity and made a boat float on the underside of a levitating layer of liquid. Make your own jokes about the antipodes. The research into unusual buoyancy found that tiny plastic boats are able to float upside … Continue reading Turning buoyancy on its head

The curious case of the wet meteorites

Scientists studying a rare type of meteorite have discovered that much of Earth’s water may have formed when our planet was born, rather than being delivered later by impacts from ice-bearing asteroids or comets. Enstatite chondrites (ECs) are meteorites composed of the type of material from which the Earth is believed to have been formed, … Continue reading The curious case of the wet meteorites

Tea from a different kind of silver

Tea aficionados will tell you that you should never heat the water in a microwave, because the resulting brew just doesn’t brew right. The answer may be to add silver plating to your glass or cup – for function rather than style. But it’s complicated. First, to the core of the problem, as explained by … Continue reading Tea from a different kind of silver