Archive for August, 2005
A decade-long USC study has written the ending to a long-standing mystery: Where do marine organisms in the tropical oceans get the nitrogen they need to grow?
In the process, the study also may help to explain how tons of carbon dioxide disappear into the ocean every day, slowing the progress of global warming.
A team led by biological oceanographer Douglas Capone released the study, published recently in Global Biogeochemical Cycles, focused on the marine organism Trichodesmium, the best-known “fixer” of atmospheric nitrogen.
Though it is only one of many nitrogen fixers in the ocean, Trichodesmium’s contribution alone is nearly 10 times greater than previous estimates of oceanic N2 fixation worldwide.
This is a story of what may be the first documented Earth impact with strangelets or strange quarks. The article explains:
Earth is facing another threat from outer space. Scientists have come to the conclusion that two mysterious explosions in the 1990s were caused by bizarre cosmic missiles.
The two objects were picked up by earthquake detectors as they tore through Earth at up to 900,000 mph. According to scientists, the most plausible explanation is that they were “strangelets”, clumps of matter that have so far defied detection but whose existence was posited 20 years ago.
Formed in the Big Bang and inside extremely dense stars, strangelets are thought to be made from quarks – the subatomic particles found inside protons and neutrons. Unlike ordinary matter, however, they also contain “strange quarks”, particles normally only seen in high-energy accelerators.
Strangelets – sometimes also called strange-quark nuggets – are predicted to have many unusual properties, including a density about ten million million times greater than lead. Just a single pollen-size fragment is believed to weigh several tons.
They are thought to be extremely stable, travelling through the galaxy at speeds of about a million miles per hour. Until now, all attempts to detect them have failed.
I had to upgrade this blog to WordPress 1.5.2 after reports of vulnerabilities and exploits. Right now I am busy with various things (office / volunteer / classes) so ramp up to this new blog will be slow. But I have some neat things planned up…. so keep watching this space