Using tiny bone fragments from fossilized fish, scientists have traced the roots of the climate phenomenon known as El Niño, the intermittent warming of ocean waters off the coast of Peru that can affect weather worldwide. According to a report published in the current issue of the journal Science, modern El Niño conditions arose around 5,000 years ago.
Image: Courtesy of C. Fred T. Andrus
Previous research based on fossilized mollusk remains had suggested that El Niño conditions did not exist thousands of years ago, but those findings were preliminary. In the current study, C. Fred T. Andrus of the University of Georgia and colleagues analyzed isotopes of oxygen present in the ear stones, or otoliths (see micrograph at right), of a species of catfish that lives off the coast of Peru and does not migrate. Like tree rings, otoliths grow concentrically and incorporate elements indicative of the environment in which they formed. "By looking at the entire otolith," co-author Douglas E. Crowe of the University of Georgia explains, "we can reconstruct the water temperature history throughout the life of the fish, from season to season and year to year."
In this case, the researchers focused on the amount of oxygen isotope 18 in the otoliths--an indicator of the water temperature in which the fish lived. The team examined fossils recovered from two Peruvian archaeological sites approximately 6,000 years old and found that ocean temperatures then were on average three to four degrees Celsius warmer and less variable than current sea temperatures are.
Sarah Graham | Scientific American
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A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
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The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
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The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
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