Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) is widely used as an insulator in high-voltage electrical equipment for electricity production and transmission. SF6 is also the most potent greenhouse gas, and its emission is burgeoning.
Plants are green because photosynthesis is optimized – not to maximize energy, but to minimize stress.
Through a natural force of coherence, life adapts to its environment to enhance survival. This evolutionary impetus starts at the molecular level.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, with 84 times the warming power of carbon dioxide. As it ages, methane oxidizes and loses much of its hotness.
Awareness that chlorinating water kills pathogens dates to the mid-19th century. Only recently has the discovery been made that chlorination creates toxic byproducts.
Despite over 75 years of concentrating radioactive matter and then generating waste from it, safely disposing of radioactive refuse has not been mastered.
Roughness – the presence of irregularities on the surface of a material – is commonly thought to be a source of stickiness and slower motion. Molecules feel differently about such a situation.
The Arctic is warming at over twice the average rate of the rest of the planet, and is shedding sea ice at a staggering pace. Ozone-depleting gases not fully tallied in current climate model forecasts have contributed significantly.
A new study found extensive chemical pollution in American water supplies that federal, state, and local governments either don’t monitor or report if they do.
Fluoroform is a potent, long-lasting greenhouse gas which was supposed to be phased out worldwide. Instead, fluoroform emissions are alarmingly high and rising.
Enterprising microbes paved the way for large life on land by breaking bedrock into bits.
Communication within and between proteins is critical to cell health. Proteins set up instant messaging networks to track status and coordinate behavior.
Cells sometimes need to squeeze through tight spaces. Such maneuvers might squash a cell’s precious nucleus, which holds vital DNA. So, nucleus bubble-wrap evolved in such cells.
Common folklore has houseplants able to freshen and oxygenate the air. Alas, not so much.
The slimy, hydrated gel called mucus lines all wet epithelia in our bodies – over 200 square meters, including the eyes, lungs, and gastrointestinal and urogenital tracts. Healthy individuals produce several liters of mucus daily. Mucus was long thought merely a lubricant and physical barrier against pathogens. Mucus also acts as a communication filtering device to potentially nefarious microbes.
While looking out, the human mind creates a visual image corresponding to 1,600 megapixels (million pixels) each millisecond (1/1000th of a second). This is 274 times more detailed than high-definition TV images. The astonishing process of sight cannot be explained physiologically. Further confirmation of this has recently been provided by researchers who identified the receptors responsible for catching the photons which supposedly compose a visual image.
Carbon is one of several chemical cycles which define Earth’s biosphere. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and oxygen are others. Carbon holds the distinction of principally acting, in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2), as the radiative “control knob” that sets global temperature for the air and oceans. While attention has focused on the atmospheric carbon level, that is a small component of a much larger cycle.
DNA has 2 strands of sugared phosphate groups. Between the strands are nitrogen bases, which contain the physical correlate to genetic information. It has been thought that hydrogen bonds held the strands together. Instead, DNA bonding, and its helical structure, owe to intricacies in existing in a watery environment.
Phosphate is an essential mineral for all life on Earth. Farmers waste huge quantities of phosphate in fertilizing crops, and in doing so massively pollute terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Now, predictably, a global phosphate shortage looms.
Researchers recently found the protein responsible for sensing cold in animals, from primitive worms to late-evolved bipeds who read blogs. The protein has a close association with nerve cells. What the researchers did not discover were the obvious implications of what they did discover.
The vast expanse of interstellar space is supposed to be too cold for most chemical reactions to occur. The more frigid it gets, the harder it is to spark a chemical reaction, for lack of energy – the very definition of cold. Yet a vast variety of complex organic molecules are formed in space. Some reactions transpire on the surface of cosmic dust grains, or with a little help from gamma rays or stray high-energy electrons. But most happen beyond the laws of chemistry.