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To-date, solar power is a marginal, boutique alternative to mainstream energy but MIT researchers say they have overcome a major barrier to large-scale, cost-effective solar power: efficiently storing energy for use when the sun doesn't shine.

Solar power is currently a daytime-only energy source because storing extra solar energy for later use is prohibitively expensive and grossly inefficient. MIT researchers say have hit upon a simple, inexpensive, highly efficient process for storing solar energy.

Inspired by the photosynthesis performed by plants, Daniel Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT and Matthew Kanan, a postdoctoral fellow in Nocera's lab, have developed an unprecedented process that will allow the sun's energy to be used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. Later, the oxygen and hydrogen may be recombined inside a fuel cell, creating carbon-free electricity to power your house or your electric car, day or night.


It may seem like an odd marketing campaign but "Come visit Spain, the European point of entry for cocaine" remains apt.

A study of randomly selected Spanish euro notes carried out by chemists at the University of Valencia (UV) has shown that they contained traces of cocaine at an average concentration of 155 micrograms, which is the highest rate in Europe, according to an article published in the latest issue of Trends in Analytical Chemistry. The researchers also carried out a comparative study of the methods currently used in detecting the presence of cocaine on bank notes worldwide.

The most recent report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime warns that Spain is still the major point of entry of cocaine into Europe. In 2006, 41% of all hauls of the drug made on the continent were made on Spanish soil, where 50 metric tonnes were seized, followed by Portugal, with 35 metric tonnes. The UN also says the rate of cocaine use doubled in Spain between 1999 and 2005, increasing from 1.6% to 3% of those aged between 15 and 64, which is more than twice the rate for western Europe as a whole (1.2%).


Geoscientists have long presumed that the tropics remained warm throughout Earth's last major glaciation 300 million years ago but new evidence indicates that cold temperatures episodically gripped even equatorial latitudes at that time.

Geologist Gerilyn Soreghan of Oklahoma University found evidence for this conclusion in the preservation of an ancient glacial landscape in the Rocky Mountains of western Colorado. Three hundred million years ago, the region was part of the tropics. The continents then were assembled into the supercontinent Pangaea.

Climate model simulations are unable to replicate such cold tropical conditions for this time period, said Soreghan. "We are left with the prospect that what has been termed our 'best-known' analogue to Earth's modern glaciation is in fact poorly known."


We have long been fascinated by the concept of absolute zero, the temperature at which everything comes to a complete stop, but physics tells us absolute zero cannot be reached but only approached - and the closer you get, the more interesting phenomena you find.

Three scientists from ESF's EUROCORES Programme EuroQUAM gave insight into this 'cool' matter at the event "The Amazing Quantum World of Ultra Cold Matter", held at this year's ESOF (Euroscience Open Forum) in Barcelona. It was co-organized by the European Science Foundation (ESF) and The Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) within the collaborative research programme "Cold Quantum Matter" (EuroQUAM).

Maciej Lewenstein leads the quantum optics theory group at ICFO and is a Humboldt Research Prize Awardee.

A new study published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B investigates the genetic and geographical relationships between different forms of crimson rosellas and the possible ways that these forms may have arisen.

Dr Gaynor Dolman of CSIRO's Australian National Wildlife Collection says there are three main color 'forms' of the crimson rosella – crimson, yellow and orange – which originated from the same ancestral population and are now distributed throughout south eastern Australia.

"Many evolutionary biologists have argued that the different forms of crimson rosellas arose, or speciated, through 'ring speciation'," she says.


Titan, which is one-and-a-half times the size of Earth's moon and bigger than either Mercury or Pluto, is one of the most fascinating bodies in the solar system when it comes to exploring environments that may give rise to life.

Scientists have confirmed that it has just gotten more interesting - it has a surface liquid lake in the south polar region. Titan is truly wet. The lake is about 235 kilometers, or 150 miles, long, according to the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer, or VIMS, on NASA's Cassini orbiter, which identifies the chemical composition of objects by the way matter reflects light.