moonrock.jpgANN ARBOR—Traces of water have been detected within the crystalline structure of mineral samples from the lunar highland upper crust obtained during the Apollo missions, according to a University of Michigan researcher and his colleagues.

The lunar highlands are thought to represent the original crust, crystallized from a magma ocean on a mostly molten early moon. The new findings indicate that the early moon was wet and that water there was not substantially lost during the moon's formation.

The results seem to contradict the predominant lunar formation theory — that the moon was formed from debris generated during a giant impact between Earth and another planetary body, approximately the size of Mars, according to U-M's Youxue Zhang and his colleagues.

"Because these are some of the oldest rocks from the moon, the water is inferred to have been in the moon when it formed," Zhang said. "That is somewhat difficult to explain with the current popular moon-formation model, in which the moon formed by collecting the hot ejecta as the result of a super-giant impact of a martian-size body with the proto-Earth.

For the first time, the widely used molecular synthesis technique known as click chemistry has been safely applied to a living organism. Researchers with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley have crafted a unique copper-free version of click chemistry to create biomolecular probes for in vivo studies of live mice. Conventional click chemistry reactions require a copper catalyst that is toxic to cells and organisms.

by Simon Hadlington

Along with the usual mix of teabags, banana skins and egg shells, compost bins of the future could contain biodegradable electronic circuits, according to researchers in the US. The electronic components could also be made biocompatible, so they could be implanted into the body for a short period of time before being broken down and absorbed without the need for a second operation to remove the implant. Such devices could include electronically activated drug-release systems or temporary biosensors, for example.

by Phillip Broadwith

Super-efficient catalysts for conversion of waste carbon dioxide from power stations into useful cyclic carbonate molecules could help reduce emissions and the petrochemical industry's dependence on fossil fuels, say UK chemists.

A solid-supported catalyst that works at 60°C and atmospheric pressure could be integrated into power stations to remove CO2 from the flue gases and react it with epoxides to make cyclic carbonates, which are used as electrolytes in lithium ion batteries as well as environmentally friendly solvents and degreasers. 

Eric Stroud is in the business of spoiling appetites. His clients include some of the most voracious creatures on the planet—the tiger shark, the reef shark and the southern stingray, to name a few. Stroud, a research chemist who heads the New Jersey-based company SharkDefense, develops chemicals, metals and magnets that drive off sharks. Scientists think these materials work by overloading sharks’ senses. The repellents may someday be used to protect us from sharks, but they’re better suited to protect sharks from us.

In revisiting a chemical reaction that’s been in the literature for several decades and adding a new wrinkle of their own, researchers with Berkeley Lab and the University of California (UC) Berkeley have discovered a mild and relatively inexpensive procedure for removing oxygen from biomass. This procedure, if it can be effectively industrialized, could allow many of today’s petrochemical products, including plastics, to instead be made from biomass.

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This news service is provided by Good Samaritan Institute, located in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.

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