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15 December 2015

Cold reaction has hot implications for evolution of life

When carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas mingle deep underground, they transform into methane and water—the building blocks of life.

Scientists once thought the reaction, called Sabatier synthesis, could only proceed above 150 degrees Celsius. Life, they thought, was conceived deep in the scalding vents of an ancient ocean. But the Sabatier process also runs cooler, finds a new study presented at the 2015 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting. With the right catalyst, the reaction works at room temperature, the study found.


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12 December 2013

Rooting out carbon’s effect on plant growth

In 1988, scientists at the Tennessee Oak Ridge National Environmental Research Park planted a scattering of Sweetgum seedlings to fill a space equivalent to a running track. Nearly 10 years later, after the trees had matured, construction crews plopped four rings of 40-foot PVC pipes into the floor of the new deciduous forest. In 1998, two sets of pipes switched on and began blowing carbon dioxide into the trees’ air supply, non-stop for 12 years.


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8 December 2011

Extreme-living microbes take carbon from the air

Blazing orange and yellow mats of microbial communities layer the beds of Yellowstone’s springs. They’re clearly using up the environment’s iron and sulfur for their energy needs, he said. But they also need carbon and no one understood how the carbon was swirling into the mix.


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