The Milky Way is teeming with billions of planets, including many that are similar to our own. But how many of these alien worlds have water, and do any host extraterrestrial life?
No answers to those questions just yet. But astronomers using a new infrared technique say they've discovered water vapor in the atmosphere of a nearby gas giant planet called "tau Boötis b."
The finding suggests that the technique may play an important role in identifying which exoplanets might be hospitable for life.
Think about that for a moment: a flashlight that shines for as long as you hold onto it. No more scrambling for and chucking away AA batteries. It could have an immediate impact on more than 1.2 billion people -- one-fifth of the world's population -- who, according to the World Bank, lack regular access to electricity.
Stunningly, no one on record has thought to use thermoelectric technology to power a flashlight. But for Ann, peltier tiles, which produce an electrical current when opposite sides are heated and cooled at the same time, were a convenient solution to a friend's study problem.