5 Most Incredible Discoveries of the Week

Including a dwarf planet that seems to have a ton of fresh water
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2014 5:23 AM CST
This artist rendering released by IMCCE (Institut de Mecanique Celeste et de Calcul des Ephemerides) shows water plumes spewing from the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres.   (AP Photo/ IMCCE, Paris Observatory, CNRS)

(Newser) – A surprise discovery of water vapor in deep space and some clever detective work about a Monet painting make the list:

  • Sign of Life? Vapor Rises on Dwarf Planet: There may be a new contender for the likeliest place to host life elsewhere in our solar system—and it's not a planet or a moon. Astronomers have spotted water vapor from Ceres, classed as both the smallest dwarf planet and largest asteroid. In fact, it may have more fresh water than Earth.
  • Scientists Determine Exact Minute Monet Made Painting: That Claude Monet painted his classic Étretat: Sunset in 1883 is old news. That he painted it at precisely 4:53pm on Feb. 5 of that year is what's new—the result of a nifty bit of sleuthing by researchers at Texas State.
  • Archaeologists Unearth Unknown Pharaoh in Egypt: Scholars of ancient Egypt have a new pharaoh and thus a new dynasty to study, thanks to archeologists from the University of Pennsylvania's Penn Museum. Meet Woseribre Senebkay, who ruled from about 1650BC to 1600BC, lived into his mid- to late-40s, and stood about 5-foot-10. He also seemed to have some money trouble, relatively speaking.
  • DNA Tests Clear Up Titanic's 'Last Mystery': The family of Loraine Allison always said the 2-year-old went down with the Titanic, though her body was never found. Nearly 30 years after the sinking, however, a woman emerged to say that she was Allison. Decades later, DNA suggests her claim was a hoax.
  • The World Has a New Toad: Scientists have discovered a new species of toad, but there's a good reason it took so long to find—from above, this one looks for all the world like a dead leaf. Still, it's the lack of eardrums that really sets it apart. (For that matter, the world has a new river dolphin, too.)
Click for more incredible discoveries, including a milestone look at dark matter.

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