Light can trigger coordinated, wavelike motions of atoms in atom-thin layers of crystal, scientists have shown. The waves, called phonon polaritons, are far shorter than light waves and can be “tuned” to particular frequencies and amplitudes by varying the number of layers of crystal, they report in the early online edition of Science March 7.
The surface of the sea takes up nitrogen oxides that build up in polluted air at night, new measurements on the coast of southern California have shown. The ocean removes about 15 percent of these chemicals overnight along the coast, a team of atmospheric chemists reports in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of March 3.
Astronomers see huge clouds of gas orbiting supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies. Once thought to be a relatively uniform, fog-like ring, the accreting matter instead forms clumps dense enough to intermittently dim the intense radiation blazing forth as these enormous objects condense and consume matter, they report in a paper to be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, available online now.
Chemists have caught molecules in the act of biosynthesis revealing an animated view of how a fundamental piece of cellular machinery operates. The system they observed, a critical metabolic pathway, generates fatty acids, essential components of fats and structures such as cell membranes. Nature published their findings in the early online edition December 22.
Cosmochemists at the University of California, San Diego, have solved a long standing mystery in the formation of the solar system: Oxygen, the most abundant element in Earth’s crust, follows a strange, anomalous pattern in the oldest, most pristine rocks, one that must result from a different chemical process than the well-understood reactions that form minerals containing oxygen on Earth.
An innovative program of research and education addressing how interactions between air and sea influence the chemistry of the atmosphere will receive $20 million over the next five years from the National Science Foundation.