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UK Department for International Development

Scientists have developed a way to pull water out of air in arid settings, powered by nothing more than sunlight. This is a big deal for fighting water scarcity, a problem faced by more than half the world, and it matters even more because it can work in impoverished low-humidity environments.

How it works: During the day, sunlight hits porous materials in the device, creating just enough energy to convert water molecules into vapor. The prototype isn't yet ready to be scaled for broad use, but the teams that developed it at MIT and the University of California-Berkeley believe that it shouldn't take long to test it in arid countries around the world.

Sound smart: The device is built on synthetic, porous materials (called metal-organic frameworks) made of molecules held together with metal atoms.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

California surpasses 50,000 COVID-19 deaths

A man prepares a funeral arrangement in in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 12. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

California's death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: It's the first state to record more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

4 hours ago - Technology

Facebook bans Myanmar military

A protester holds a placard with a three-finger salute in front of a military tank parked aside the street in front of the Central Bank building during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.