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.
A new way to take the pulse of carbon emissions could help track how the industrial development of peatlands contributes to climate change, as well as measure their recovery once development ends. A team of researchers led by the University of Glasgow discuss how they have has used carbon-14 dating to determine for the first time the age of carbon dioxide being released from peatland sites. Read more.
Sheep on the Orkney isles have been eating seaweed since animal husbandry was introduced in 3500 BC, new research suggests. The landscape on the islands 5,500 years ago was predominantly treeless, as it remains today, so marine seaweed provided a useful alternative fodder. Read more.
A first-of-its-kind analysis of ‘super-deep’ diamonds from hundreds of kilometres below the Earth’s surface has provided new clues about the material composition of our planet. The study also found new evidence to support the idea of a ‘primordial’ reservoir of molten rock that has been around since, or very soon after, the Earth’s formation. Read more.