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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
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,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: The Core of Neptune, Here on Earth
22 July 2010 4:01 pm
Strange things are probably happening to the water deep inside Neptune and Uranus. The ultrahigh temperatures and pressures may be forcing it into new phases beyond the standard solid, liquid, and gas. Since we can't visit those planets to figure out what's really going on, an international team of researchers plans to create similar conditions here on Earth. First, they'll seal water into a compressor made of tantalum or tungsten. Then, they'll fire beams of heavy ions such as uranium at the container until the water within is sweltering under temperatures thousands of degrees Kelvin and pressures of several million atmospheres. These extremes may reveal two phases of water not commonly found on Earth: plasma, a high-energy state in the sun where the electrons aren't tied to any atom in particular and move about freely; and the superionic phase, an elusive state where the oxygen atoms form a solid crystal lattice and the hydrogen ions zip around and through it. A computer simulation published today in New Journal of Physics shows that the experiment could work. But it's going to cost more than $1 billion and require 16 countries to foot the bill. Maybe visiting those planets isn't such a bad idea after all.
See more ScienceShots.