Discovered: Titan shows marks of a river network; a potential black hole in the heart of the Milky Way; poverty can cause mothers to develop anxiety; windows that generate electricity.
River networks found on Saturn’s largest moon. Titan, the largest moon orbiting Saturn, has always presented challenges to astronomers trying to study it. Its cloudy atmosphere made it appear hazy in telescopes. But eight years ago, the Cassini-Huygens probe orbiting Saturn provided scientists with the first clear images of Titan's surface. Researchers at MIT and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville have found evidence of a network of rivers, with very little erosion. "It’s a surface that should have eroded much more than what we’re seeing," says Taylor Perron, an MIT professor. “It raises some very interesting questions about what has been happening on Titan in the last billion years.” [Massachusetts Institue of Technology]
A possible black hole at the heart of the Milky Way. A team of researchers at Japan's Keio University has spotted a possible intermediate black hole candidate at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, which lies 30,000 light-years from our solar system. Such candidates are considered the seeds of future massive black holes. "The results are astonishing," said professor Tomoharu Oka. "It is thought that 'Sagittarius A' [the nucleus of the Milky Way Galaxy] is the location of a supermassive black hole that is approximately 4 million times the mass of the sun." [National Astronomical Observatory of Japan]
Poverty can lead to anxiety for mothers. A study by Rutgers research has found that poor mothers are likely to develop generalized anxiety disorder brought on by poverty, not due to pre-existing psychiatric disorders. The high levels of stress that arise from raising children in poverty can lead to the condition regardless of any "internal malfunction." Prof. Judith C. Baer says, "The distinction is important because there are different ways to treat the problem. While supportive therapy and parent skills-training are often helpful, sometimes the most appropriate intervention is financial aid and concrete services." [Rutgers University]
Redecorating? Consider installing power-generating windows. Researchers at UCLA have created solar cells that could be used in windows to generate power through sunlight. These polymer solar cells absorb infrared light instead of visible light, making them 70 percent transparent to the human eye and suitable for windows. "Our new PSCs are made from plastic-like materials and are lightweight and flexible," says Yang Yang, who led the research team. "More importantly, they can be produced in high volume at low cost." [UCLA]
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