Parisa Ariyas accidental discovery of the power of bioaerosols to generate rapid and dramatic chemical reactions may change – at the very least alter – the course of climate science.
Ariya, a professor at McGill Universitys Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, in Montreal (Canada), first made her observation in August 2001, after one of her postdoctoral fellows forgot to close the valve sealing the reaction chamber where an organic compound (containing carbon, oxygen and/or hydrogen) was reacting with ozone (the form of oxygen in the stratosphere that filters out ultraviolet radiation).
By Monday, the organic compound was gone, and several new peaks in the frequency regions for carbohydrates and proteins were found. A sludge had formed on the glass walls of the chamber. What was it? Ariya deduced that airborne micro-organisms in the laboratory had found their way into the chamber, consumed the organic compound and produced new aerosols in their reaction both with the compound and the ozone.
Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins | EurekAlert!
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