Oct 8, 2019

3 scientists win Nobel Prize in physics for work with exoplanets, cosmology

Members of the Nobel Commitee announce the 2019 Nobel Prize in physics. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

Three scientists were awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for their work to understand the universe on a grand scale.

Why it matters: The discoveries made by these laureates have changed the way scientists understand planets outside our solar system and the evolution of the cosmos.

Winners: Two of the scientists — Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz — were honored for discovering the first planet orbiting a sunlike star far from our own.

  • Mayor and Queloz will split the prize with James Peebles, who won for his theoretical framework that explains the history of the universe.

The impact: Mayor and Queloz's discovery of the planet 51 Pegasi b in 1995 effectively ushered in a new age of astrophysics.

  • Since then, more than 4,000 planets outside of our solar system — called exoplanets — have been discovered, revealing the huge diversity of worlds out there in the universe.
  • While no true "Earth 2.0" has yet been confirmed, it's not far-fetched to think that astronomers one day could find a world capable of supporting life outside of our solar system.

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Project to hunt for alien life adds more than 1,000 new targets

A star (left) and the Large Magellanic Cloud (right) seen by TESS. Photo: NASA/MIT/TESS

The Breakthrough Listen project announced it will search for signs of intelligent alien life on planets discovered by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).

Why it matters: This collaboration will allow the project to add more than 1,000 possible worlds to its list of SETI targets.

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Using AI to track solar power

Five cities in California have the nation's highest density of homes with solar panels, while Detroit has the lowest, according to new analysis that uses AI to track solar deployment via high-resolution aerial imagery.

Go deeperArrowOct 30, 2019

3 scientists win Nobel Prize in Chemistry for work on lithium-ion batteries

Photo: Naina Helen Jama/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images

3 scientists received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on lightweight lithium-ion batteries on Wednesday.

Why it matters: "Lithium-ion batteries have revolutionized our lives since they first entered the market in 1991. They have laid the foundation of a wireless, fossil fuel-free society, and are of the greatest benefit to humankind," states the award announcement.

Go deeperArrowOct 9, 2019