SciTech Briefs

Ancient rocks found at North Pole

Jonathan Snow, an assistant professor of geosciences at the University of Houston, revealed unmixed rocks composed of osmium (a metal rarer than platinum) at the floor of the Arctic Ocean. Findings show that the rocks are probably 2 billion years old. The expedition, led by Snow, was carried out at the North Pole.

This contradicts the age-old theory that the rocks beneath the earth’s surface were homogenous.

Scientists are now interested in studying why these rocks remain unmixed. This will give more insight into the history of the mantle layer.

Source: Science Daily

War could lead to ozone depletion

Researchers fear that nuclear wars between South Asian countries like India and Pakistan would result in a large hole in the ozone layer. The studies are based on computer models that suggest the amount of fire produced by a nuclear war in the region.

Scientists believe that smoke will be the prime cause of this destruction of the ozone layer. Fires in the cities could send an estimated 5 million tons of soot into the troposphere, the lowest parts of the atmosphere. Heat from the sun will carry the particles to the stratosphere, where chemical reactions will lead to ozone depletion.

Holes in the ozone layer allow ultraviolet radiation from the sun to reach Earth, causing cancer in humans, in addition to further permanent damage to animals and plants.

Source: Reuters

Fake diamonds protect engines

Scientists discovered that zirconia, a substance found in fake diamonds, can make jet engines run faster, with more fuel efficiency, and for longer amounts of time. Zirconia can be used to coat the engines’ turbine blades, preventing the damage caused by sand.

The coated blades suck the air and increase the pressure inside, leading to better fuel ignition. The high-pressure air expelled from the hind of the plane allows it to move farther.

The special zirconium coating inside the engine also protects it from extreme temperatures, which could otherwise cause the engine to expand or contract.

Source: Discovery Channel

IBM works on ‘racetrack memory’

IBM is working on a technology called “racetrack memory,” which will result in devices capable of storing 100 times more data than present MP3 players.

The technology uses magnetic boundaries made of nanowires to store data. Nanowires are essentially shrunken-down versions of modern day wires and are less than 100 nanometers in size. The data travels (or races) through wires simultaneously as it is being read.

This storage medium is expected to be fast, durable, and cheap. It has the potential to replace the presently used storage devices such as flash memory and hard drives. However, scientists still suspect that it may take seven to eight years to commercialize the product.

Source: BBC News