Scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) used giant lasers to flash-freeze water into its exotic superionic phase and record X-ray diffraction patterns to identify its atomic structure for the very first time—all in just a few billionths of a second. The findings are reported in Nature. In 1988, scientists first predicted that water would transition to an exotic state of matter characterized by the coexistence of a solid lattice of oxygen and liquid-like hydrogen—superionic ice—when subjected to the extreme pressures and temperatures that exist in the interior of water-rich giant planets like Uranus and Neptune. These predictions remained in place until 2018, when a team led by scientists from LLNL presented the first experimental evidence for this strange state of water. Now, the LLNL scientists describe new results. Using laser-driven shockwaves and in-situ X-ray diffraction, they observe the nucleation of a crystalline lattice of oxygen in a … [Read more...] about Giant Lasers Crystallize Water Using Shockwaves
Giant planets like Uranus and Neptune may contain much less free hydrogen than previously assumed. Researchers from the German Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) drove shock waves through two different types of plastic to reach the same temperatures and pressures present inside such planets, and observed the behavior using ultra-strong X-ray laser pulses. Unexpectedly, one of these plastics kept its crystalline structure even at the most extreme pressures reached. Since the icy giant interiors are made up of the same components as the plastic, planetary models may need to be partially reconsidered, as reported in the journal Scientific Reports (doi: 10.1038/s41598-019040782-5). Carbon and hydrogen are among the most abundant elements in the universe, and are a major constituent of icy giant planets such as Uranus and Neptune. In the outer atmosphere, these atoms are found in the form of methane gas, but deeper inside the high pressure can lead to more complex hydrocarbon … [Read more...] about Icy Giant Planets in the Laboratory
Ice is found all over the world in a wide variety of forms. More than simply frozen water, the various forms of ice tell the story of their environment as they change with the seasons and show trends of the changing climate on Earth. Scientists study core samples pulled from the depths of large ice formations, such as ice caps and glaciers, to uncover how the local climate has changed over hundreds of years and to help predict how climate will change in the future, said Melissa Hage, an environmental scientist and assistant professor at Oxford College of Emory University in Georgia. Here we define the common terms that describe the various types of ice formations found around the world. Glaciers Glaciers are large, freshwater ice masses on land that are formed from falling snow that eventually becomes so heavy that it's compressed into ice, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Glaciers range in size from about the length of a football field (120 yards, or 110 … [Read more...] about What Are the Different Types of Ice Formations Found on Earth?
One Neanderthal child had a very bad day about 115,000 years ago. The child died — that much is certain — and the bones were gulped down and digested by a giant, prehistoric bird, according to archaeologists in Poland. However, it's unclear whether the giant bird killed the child before the gruesome feast or whether the child died from another cause before the bird scavenged the remains, the archaeologists said. Either way, it appears that the child's phalanges (finger bones) passed "through the digestive system of a large bird," Paweł Valde-Nowak, a professor of archaeology at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland, said in a statement. "This is the first such known example from the ice age." [In Photos: Bones from a Denisovan-Neanderthal Hybrid] The discovery of the Neanderthal child's finger bones is a big finding, especially because the bones, discovered in Ciemna Cave, are the oldest known human remains ever to be found in Poland. Until now, the oldest … [Read more...] about Giant, Prehistoric Bird Chowed Down on This Neanderthal Child’s Bones
Tech & Science Scientists have discovered the bones of a Neanderthal child who had been eaten by a giant bird. The finger bones appear to have come from a child aged between five and seven. Whether the bird attacked the child, or if it scavenged the bones, is not yet clear. The remains, discovered in Poland, date back over 115,000 years. They are the oldest ever found in the country found in the country, and have provided researchers with new insight into how and where our ancient relatives lived. Before now, the oldest human remains found in Poland dated to around 50,000 years. Researchers from Jagiellonian University in Krakow came across the bones during excavations at the Cave Ciemna, located in the town of Ojcow. Previous research has shown the cave was occupied by Paleolithic people. It includes passages reaching about 200 meters and a vast chamber where over 1,000 stone artifacts have previously been collected by archaeologists. In a study that … [Read more...] about Bones of a Neanderthal Child Eaten by Giant Bird Discovered in Poland