Research Report: Study may help in studying atmosphere
By Lynne Friedmann
The discovery of a new chemical reaction on tiny particulates in the atmosphere could yield a new tool for scientists attempting to gain a glimpse from ancient rocks of what Martian and Earth’s atmospheres were like hundreds of millions years ago.
The discovery, by chemists at UCSD, also provides an explanation for unusual carbonate inclusions found in a meteorite from Mars that was once thought to be evidence of ancient Martian life. Observation of similar anomalies on terrestrial carbonates ultimately led to the discovery of a chemical reaction that occurs in a tiny layer on the outside of particulate matter and is driven by the ozone in the atmosphere mixing with water and carbon dioxide.
Current models of atmospheric processes assume that the mixing of large volumes of gases drives the chemistry of the Earth’s atmosphere. UCSD chemists think this new discovery may force a rethinking of this idea, particularly as the Earth’s atmosphere becomes warmer and more dusty, providing more opportunities for this sort of chemistry to take place on aerosol particulate matter.
The finding is detailed in the Journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. News release at http://bit.ly/ck6ku8.
About biological rhythms
Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have identified a novel mechanism that regulates circadian rhythm, the “master clock” that controls the body’s 24-hour physiological cycle.
Previous research in the field has established certain nuclear receptors regulate expression of a gene vital to virtually every aspect of human physiology and the circadian clock. Nuclear receptors are proteins that recognize and regulate hormones as well as other molecules.
The TSRI study advances understanding of the relationship between these receptors and their gene targets; knowledge that could potentially provide a new target for alleviating jet lag, shift work, and sleep disturbances as well as combat disorders that result from circadian rhythm disruption, such as diabetes, obesity, and some types of cancer.
The study appears in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. News release at http://bit.ly/cI6u76.
Monitoring the Gulf of Mexico
Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) owns and operates an extensive array of surface current-mapping, high frequency radars used to map ocean surface currents. Remote sensing technology is normally shore-based, with installations along cliffs and near shorelines in coastal regions. Now, SIO has deployed surface-mapping radar on a BP-operated oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico.
The system provides radial maps of ocean currents to distances of 80 kilometers (50 miles) on resolutions of 2 to 3 kilometers (1.2 to 1.9 miles). An objective of radar data gathering is to identify and map in near real-time the loop current and eddies in the Gulf as well as to develop statistical models of ocean circulation.
In light of recent environmental events in the Gulf of Mexico, the expansion of shore-based technologies to offshore waters, on this and other oil rigs, will play a role in ocean stewardship. News release at http://bit.ly/d6Rl34.
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