Plants use light energy from the sun for photosynthesis to turn carbon dioxide (CO2) into biomass. Animals can’t do that. Therefore, some of them have teamed up with bacteria that carry out a process called chemosynthesis. It works almost like photosynthesis, only that it uses chemical energy instead of light energy. Many animals rely on chemosynthetic bacteria to supply them with food. The symbionts turn CO2 into biomass and are subsequently digested by their host. Kentron, a bacterium nourishing the ciliate Kentrophoros, was thought to be ‘just another’ chemosynthetic symbiont. However, recent results indicate that it is not. Read more.
The core of earth, which is in a semi-solid state, has been mixing with other layers, suggests a new study which discovered that innermost part of the earth has been leaking into mantle plumes that slowly reach the surface of the earth. This discovery has helped to settle a long debate about whether the core of the earth interfaces with the mantle. Read more.
The Negev desert that sprawls across Israel is one of the driest places on Earth, but deep below its surface is a different story. Held in the sandstone deep underground is a reservoir of fossil water that lay undisturbed for hundreds of thousands of years. Researchers know this water is old, because it can’t have been replenished by any recent rainfall. There’s barely enough every year to moisten the ground - just a few inches at most. Read more.
Any industrial activity near water reserves could, in principle, cause contamination. Isotope hydrology offers a unique combination of methods to monitor water quality and trace the source of pollution if any is identified. Increasingly, countries are making use of this technology to protect surface and ground water near sites used for oil extension with a technique known as fracking. Read more.
The excited states of an atom’s nucleus are fingerprints of its structure. The energies and patterns of excited states tell us about the shape of the nucleus and how individual protons and neutrons interact with each other. Models for nuclei “near stability,” or those we find around us in nature, provide a very good description of these excited states. However, a predictive model that works with weakly bound nuclei, at the limits of nuclear stability, remains elusive.
Measurements of the most exotic systems that scientists can create in the laboratory are key to improving models and getting to a predictive description. Now, the first glimpse into the structure of the very neutron-rich magnesium-40 (12 protons, 28 neutrons) provides a new and critical data point for weakly bound nuclei very near this stability limit. Read more.
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