This week in science – Nov. 12

Mark Hendricks, Science & Technology Editor Ω

Wealth of Earth-like planets found

Scientists from the University of Hawaii have discovered ten planets that exist in the habitable zone in our galaxy alone. Brian Clift/Flickr Commons

Scientists from the University of Hawaii have discovered ten planets that exist in the habitable zone in our galaxy alone. Brian Clift/Flickr Commons

A team of scientists at the University of Hawaii has surveyed 42,000 Sun-like stars using the Kepler telescope and discovered 603 new planets, ten of which are in their respective star’s habitable zone.

The habitable zone is the region where temperatures would permit surface liquid water and is a necessity for life as we know it.

“We find that 22 percent of Sun-like stars harbour Earth-size planets orbiting in their habitable zones,” the team wrote. “The nearest such planet may be within 12 light-years.”

The team published their findings in PNAS, a U.S.-based science journal on Nov. 4.

Find out more: www.npr.org

Playing video games can make you smarter

Mario will be happy to know that his games are helping to make people smarter; which makes sense, he's a doctor after all. Rob DeCaterino/Flickr Commons

Mario will be happy to know that his games are helping to make people smarter; which makes sense, he’s a doctor after all. Rob DeCaterino/Flickr Commons

It’s a fairly common thought that video games are at least in part responsible for dumbing down the newer generations. But that may not be the case.

A recent study, published in the scientific journal Nature on Oct. 29, has shown that playing video games for just 30 minutes a day for two months can lead to increased grey matter in the sections of the brain that control awareness, memory and strategic thinking.

The study was conducted by having participants play Mario 64 for 30 minutes a day over an eight week period. A control group played no video games over the same length of time.

The test group experienced a significant increase in the areas of the brain mentioned above, while the control group did not.

Find out more: www.iflscience.com

Potential link between injecting carbon dioxide and earthquakes

A new study has correlated 93 earthquakes near Snyder, Texas with an increase in the injection of carbon dioxide underground.

Carbon dioxide is injected into the earth in oil and drilling operations to boost petroleum production in a procedure known as carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery, a process similar to fracking.

The team found 93 earthquakes between March 2009 and December 2010, and using data on the injection of carbon dioxide gasses they have determined that the two events are correlated.

This study was published in PNAS on Nov. 4 and has potential implications for future carbon capture and storage plans.

Find out more: www.sci-news.com