Two Dartmouth researchers have weighed in on the debate over whether the presence of methane gas on Mars indicates life on the red planet. Mukul Sharma, Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences, and Chris Oze, a postdoctoral fellow, argue that the Martian methane could have been produced by inorganic processes just as easily as by bacteria.
In their paper published online in May in the American Geophysical Unions journal, Geophysical Research Letters, Sharma and Oze describe how methane on Mars can be made from abiotic, or non-living, sources. When water containing dissolved carbon dioxide comes in contact with olivine, it produces hydrogen, which then combines with carbon dioxide to produce methane. The authors contend that olivine is abundant on Mars at shallow depths, and it could easily react with fluids just beneath the surface.
"Most methane on Earth is produced by bacteria, and methane has been cited as an indicator of life on other planets," explains Sharma. "However, we show in our paper that the mineral olivine can be altered in the presence of water and carbon dioxide, which can produce copious quantities of methane. Its quite easy to do, and there is nothing bacterial about it. If there is life on Mars, I would like to see better evidence than methane."
Sue Knapp | EurekAlert!
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For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
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Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
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Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
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