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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: Unusual Molecules Form Near White Dwarfs
19 July 2012 2:05 pm
The incredibly strong magnetic fields surrounding white dwarfs—aged stars with the mass of our sun or greater that have collapsed to the size of a planet—could generate unusual types of chemical bonds, a new study suggests. Because the magnetic field around a white dwarf (artist's concept of Z Camelopardalis, small star in image above) can be hundreds of thousands of times the strength of Earth's magnetic field, it can actually distort the shape of the electron clouds around atoms. That, in turn, may render chemical bonds shorter and stronger, making molecules trapped within such fields as much as 25% smaller, scientists estimate. Not only that, the researchers report online today in Science, but simulations suggest that the intense fields may actually stimulate chemical reactions that typically don't take place on Earth, such as forcing two helium atoms to form a molecule. Such groups of atoms may exist in only these extreme environments. As of yet, the scientists haven't analyzed whether the new type of magnetically induced bonding will spawn exotic chemical reactions.
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