DATES 2022

23.06.2022 - 26.06.2022
**** dieses Jahr früher ****
30.09.2022 - 02.10.2022
Day of open doors -
21.10.2022 - 22.10.2022

 Is the water on our earth older than itself?
(February / March 2022)
The formation of our solar system is still not fully understood. Although scientists have been able to get a picture of the formation of the planets through intensive observations of extrasolar solar systems and protoplanetary disks, it has not yet been clarified whether these processes can also be applied in detail to our solar system. These questions reach back to our planetary waters of Earth. In theory it would make sense if the majority of the water molecules came from the protoplanetary disk, a primordial cloud containing the individual components of the planets. In addition, early comets and asteroids came into question for researchers. These could have contributed due to the impact on the primeval earth. However, the problem that arises from this is as follows. The heavy hydrogen isotope deuterium does not occur in the earth's water in the concentrations that the previous theory ought to. Researchers from the Sorbonne University in Paris examined the Efremovka-Meteorite from Kazakhstan. What makes this carbonaceous chondrite special is the fact that its composition has not changed significantly in the last 4.5 billion years. The inclusions in the meteorite, which contain a lot of calcium and aluminum, are among the oldest rocks in our solar system. The mineralogy, chemistry and isotopic composition allows conclusions to be drawn about the beginning of planet formation. For the investigation, the deuterium content in the water molecules of the inclusions was tested and evaluated. This resulted in three isotope values. Two of them in the oldest inclusions and one in the younger outer layer. The external value corresponds to today's isotope ratio, apart from a small deviation. Thus, it was probably formed by the condensation of hydrogen gas from the sun. The proportion of deuterium in the two inner inclusions is significantly higher. The researchers conclude that another reservoir of gas, albeit of non-solar origin, must have existed during the formation of our solar system. According to the scientists, hydrogen from this region has a higher proportion of deuterium. From the minerals of the inclusions it can be seen that the oldest grains were formed before the protoplanetary sheath. A collapse of the protosolar gas envelope could have caused interstellar water vapor to approach the Sun. The solar and interstellar hydrogen eventually mixed during the formation of the planets. doi: 10.1038/s41550-021-01595-7

Arctic coasts are being destroyed by climate change

(February / March 2022)
The coasts of the Arctic are being destroyed by ongoing erosion. This threatens local people. In addition, as a result of the thawing and erosion of the soil, the bound carbon gets into the air, but also into the ocean. (This could change the ocean as a major storehouse of carbon and greenhouse gases in the future). In order to be able to estimate the extent and speed of this erosion, researchers at the University of Hamburg have calculated various scenarios. Due to the progressing climate change, the processes of erosion and greenhouse emissions will continue to be promoted in the future. By the year 2100, greenhouse gas emissions could double andmean erosion could be up to threemeters. Although the loss of landmass can no longer be avoided entirely, the first author of the study, Dr. David Nielsen that the acceleration of greenhouse gas emissions could be slowed down in the second half of the century. Despite all this, the eroded ice surfaces will also lead to new dangers in the future, such as the waves reaching closer inland. doi:

Inner core possibly superionic
(February / March 2022)
The structure of the inner core of the earth and when it crystallized is still being debated by scientists around the world. While the theory has so far been that the core is completely solidified, a new hypothesis could now become established. It is possible that the inner core of the earth is softer than previously assumed, due to the light elements next to iron. Yu He's research team at the Chinese Academy of Sciences recently conducted a study aimed at proving the core's new state of aggregation. For the study, iron wasmixed with lighter elements such as oxygen, carbon or hydrogen. In amolecular dynamic simulation, the alloys were then subjected to a pressure of up to 360 gigapascals and a gradually increasing temperature of up to 6000 Kelvin. It turned out to be amazing. At temperatures of up to 3000 Kelvin, there was hardly any displacement of the light elements from the iron grid. Thus, the alloy was still a solid at the time. As the temperatures continued to rise (> 3000 Kelvin) and the high pressure conditions, however, something astonishing happened. The light elements left their position in the iron grid and then moved freely around the grid. Thus, the scientists concluded from the experiment that the iron alloys of the Earth's inner core are in a superionic state. So the core is probably solid and liquid at the same time. While the iron, which makes up more than 99 percent of the mass, is completely solid, all of the lighter elements are liquid in the extreme conditions of the Earth's inner core. Consequently, these elements maintain their mobility despite the transition region from the liquid outer core to the largely solid core. Some exotic forms of high-pressure water ice can also attain this superionic state. Scientists deduce that the inner parts of the planets Uranus and Neptune could also be superionic. The knowledge of the superionic inner core of the earth could thus also explain the anomalies of seismological underground measurements and the underground earthquake waves with their different wave speeds. Despite all this, this is still a theory at themoment, since it is very difficult and time-consuming to simulate the situation in the inner core of the earth. doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-04361-x

Was the primordial earth hostile to life? 
(January 2022)
Some of the central roles in the Earth system are played by the magnetic field and the atmosphere. These essentially ensure that the radiation from space is largely shielded. For example, the ozone layer in our atmosphere protects against the sun's UV rays. Without the prior presence of molecular oxygen (O2), it would not be possible for there to be so much ozone (O3) on Earth. However, it was only around 2.4 billion years ago that cyanobacteria accumulated so much oxygen that it formed a permanent part of the earth's atmosphere, even though it was far less represented at that time than it is today. This event is now known as the Great Oxidation Event (GOE). A renewed increase followed around 600 million. From that time on, the oxygen content fluctuated between 10 and 150 percent of today's value. So far, the scientists assumed that the low oxygen content of around one percent, which occurred as a result of the GOE, should have been sufficient to be able to form an adequate ozone layer. Model calculations have now shown that the oxygen level in the atmosphere at that time was not sufficient for a separate ozone layer. It is believed that an adequate ozone layer to protect against UV rays was not formed until about 400 million years ago, when oxygen levels reached five to ten times what they are today. While this has not historically affected evolution at large, natural selection may have emerged in organisms with lower resistance to UV radiation. This could be exciting for mankind in the future when searching for exoplanets. The recently launched James-Webb-Telescope could provide a glimpse of the ozone layer and the resulting UV protection by analysing oxygen levels in alien atmospheres. Reference: doi: 10.1098/rsos.211165

Hotspot volcanism cooler than originally thought
(January 2022)
Isolated volcanoes in Hawaii, Iceland, Yellowstone, and many others are fed by large pools of molten rock that appear surprisingly cool. This was the result of Xiyuan Bao's working group at the University of California in Los Angeles, which used seismic measurements to examine the temperature of the subsoil. The finding is that around 40 percent of the hotspots appear to be too cool to be buoyantly rising from the deep mantle. A hotspot is typically a mushroom-shaped magma bubble formed by material rising from deep beneath the Earth's crust. To study this phenomenon, the working group measured the speed of seismic waves beneath such a hotspot material in the mantle. With the calculated results, the temperature of the hotspot material could be deduced. In theory, the material pushing up from below must be at least 100 to 150 degrees Celsius hotter than a comparable melt in the mid-ocean ridge in order to ensure rapid ascent from the depths. The researchers note that only around 45 percent of the hotspots meet this condition. Due to the assumed temperature differences, the real number could be even lower. Another source of hotspot volcanism is now being debated. The helium-3 content serves as an indicator. Hotter hotspots have more helium-3. The material for this seems to come from deeper regions and has hardly changed since the formation of the earth. The helium composition of cooler hotspots, on the other hand, has more in common with that of mid-ocean ridges. The classic theory behind the hotspots assumes an origin at the core-mantle boundary. According to the latest findings, this would then only fit the hotter structures. On the positive side, the location of the hottest hotspots over anomalies at the core-mantle interface, which most likely feed them, speaks for itself. Cooler hotspots could be created closer to the surface by local convection. However, there are other explanations for cooler hotspots. They could also have come from the depths but got stuck and cooled on the way up. Above all, however, the scientists are still puzzling over how it can be that the temperatures are so unevenly distributed over the earth. Most of the hot hotspots are in the Pacific Rim. Cool ones, on the other hand, are mostly found around Africa. Link:

Amazing Ichthyosaurus find in Great Britain
(January 2022)
In addition to the well-known dinosaurs on land, primordial beings also appeared in the water in the distant past. These so-called ichthyosaurs (fish dinosaurs), while not directly belonging to the same group as the dinosaurs, are no less interesting to science. Palaeontologists recently made a sensational discovery. In the Rutland Water Nature Reserve in the British East Midlands, palaeontologists found a predator that was believed to be around 10 meters long when it was alive around 180 million years ago. The recovered fossil is currently being prepared and examined in Shropshire. It should then return to Rutland for the exhibition. It was found by Joe Davis. He leads the conservation team at Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust. Davis became aware of the fossil following a routine draining of a lagoon island for landscaping in February 2021. The find represents the largest and most complete fossil of its kind, Temnodontosaurus trigonodon, and the first find of this species in the UK. It also represents the largest specimen of all in the last 200 years in which ichthyosaur fossils have been uncovered within the country. In addition to this species, there are others within the ichthyosaurs, some of which could even become considerably larger and heavier. What is particularly interesting for the scientists is the fact that the animals apparently transformed into such giants within a period of just a few million years at the beginning of the Triassic. This was probably due to an oversupply of food. However, it remains unclear why they died out long before the dinosaurs. Link:
The origin of cone sands finally clarified
Cone sands occur partly in sedimentary formations and consist of compressed sandstone. They have a thickened head on one side with a tapering tail on the opposite side and can grow from a few dozen centimetres to a meter in length. The first finds of these strangely shaped rocks were found around 200 years ago, south of the Swabian Alb. Such finds from California are also known from the 30s of the last century. The finds, which were in abundance, were so sought-after that practically everything was searched at Mt. Signal in California in the 1950s. However, what played a role in the formation of these sedimentary structures has not yet been known. The theories ranged from petrified seaweed to sand-filled crab ducts. Now researchers have taken on the matter again and geologically and petrographically examined 311 dispensing sands from the Swabian Alb. It is interesting that the cones seem to follow one direction and move in a streamlined manner around the edge of the Swabian Alb. The cone sands of the Swabian Alb originated around 15 million years ago, at the same time as the Nördlinger-Ries event. In contrast, the cone sands from California come from near the San Andreas Fault. What both now have in common is their connection to strong seismic activity. The researchers conclude that the cones are a special type of sand-based seismite. Vibrations and shock waves are likely to have contributed to the formation of these sedimentary formations. According to the experts, the condition for the formation should be a loose layer of sand on partially moist sediment, which came into contact with a magnitude of over 7. They therefore constitute a new potential indicator of strong earthquakes and seismic events in the past. This knowledge can also be used in the future to better limit and assess risk areas for earthquakes. Reference: doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-27061-6

Standardized nomenclature for minerals
As early as 1814, the chemist Jöns Jakob Berzelius brought order to the world of the elements. Based on his work, each element was given an abbreviation made up of one or two letters. This nomenclature is still valid today and forms the basis for setting up chemical formulas. In mineralogy, however, there is not such a sorted system. Here the names of the minerals only partially or not at all correspond to the chemical compound names. In 1983 the mineralogist Ralph Kretz drew up a list to put an end to this problem. The 192 most common minerals were given an abbreviation consisting of two to three letters. Over time, these so-called "Kretz symbols" were expanded to include 374 minerals. Now, however, the problem follows. At this point in time, 5774 minerals are known worldwide. Since this is more of a recommendation than a specification, the symbols have grown wildly in the past. Some minerals had more than half a dozen different abbreviations. Laurence Warr from the University of Greifswald has now put an end to it all. A list of all minerals and their corresponding abbreviations was submitted and approved by the International Mineralogical Association-Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification (IMA-CNMNC). All newly discovered minerals must also be subjected to this process and accepted in the future. The abbreviations now follow certain rules. Among other things, they should no longer be the same as an element abbreviation. Reference: doi: 10.1180/mgm.2021.43

Small theropod with a beak spotted in Brazil
Palaeontologists from Brazil made a sensational find. During the excavation period from 2011 to 2014, the fossil was discovered during an excavation in the Brazilian state of Paraná. The fossilized remains are a rather unusual dinosaur. This species is counted among the theropods. Theropods are a group within the dinosaurs that moved on two legs and consisted to a large extent of carnivorous representatives. Among them were some of the largest land-dwelling predators. Probably the most famous representative, Tyrannosaurus Rex, should be familiar to most. The animal, which was only found in the last decade, was named Berthasaurus leopoldinae by scientists. The name is based on the Brazilian scientist Bertha Lutz, who died in 1976, and the Brazilian empress and patron Maria Leopoldina, who lived in the 19th century. Berthasaurus leopoldinae was only about three feet long. But what makes it special is its mouth. In contrast to most of the other theropods, which had a mouth fitted with sharp teeth, the Berthasaurus apparently had a beak. From its unusual head shape, the scientists can deduce that the animal must have been an omnivore. The likelihood that it also ate meat cannot be ruled out by the scientists. After all, there are also birds nowadays which feed on meat despite their beak. Whether the theropod, which lived 70 to 80 million years ago, was a predecessor of modern birds remains questionable. These split off from the flightless theropods around 150 million years ago. The animal represents one of the most complete dinosaur finds from the Cretaceous period in the paleontological history of Brazil. Reference: Link:
Moor fires release fewer climate-damaging gases than expected
In the northern latitudes there have been more and more major fires in bogs in recent years due to advancing climate change. As a rule, this is accompanied by a large release of carbon dioxide into the air. However, parts of this biomass do not dissolve in air, but remain charred in the absence of air. Researchers at the University of Tübingen have made new discoveries in collaboration with colleagues from Cornell University in the USA. They found that these charred peatlands release 13 to 24 percent less of the methane into the atmosphere over the long term. Moors are considered to be good CO2 stores, but they have exactly the opposite effect when they are burned. To study this better, the researchers studied samples of peatland soils and charred biomass. In doing so, two important insights were gained. On the one hand, the burned biomass binds the carbon better, which makes it less dangerous. In addition, the charred biomass absorbs more electrons, which increases the bacterial population, stimulates oxidation processes and thus pushes back the methane producers. However, this news is only partially good. Despite all of this, moor fires continue to release many greenhouse gases such as CO2. However, the knowledge gained here should be considered for future climate models. Link:
Pyrite "fool's gold" contains real gold
The mineral pyrite, which should be known to some collectors, experts but also to non-specialists as fool's gold, was sold as real gold by traders a few centuries ago. At the time, hardly anyone knew that this was not gold, but nowadays the minerals can be differentiated based on simple factors such as the colour of the line or the vastly different weight. The reason for the brisk demand was that gold was still more a prestige object than it is today, which was mainly reserved for the rich and aristocratic in the form of jewellery. The only real gold that could be detected in pyrite was, besides the element copper, only present in the form of nanoparticles. However, researchers at the Australian University of Perth found astonishing. In the examined pyrite there were crystal defects in which real gold occurs. Although the amount of gold available is still low, a limit has been exceeded here, which has drawn the industry's attention. The gold present here is little in relation to the pyrite, but pyrite is so abundant that it is suitable as a future source of gold or possibly copper. With a selective leaching, i.e. a separation by liquid, a very simple differentiation of the two materials is possible. The fool's gold still lives up to its name. Reference: Doi 10.1130/G49028.1
Use of stone tools: Chimpanzees live before the Stone Age
A study by the zoo in the Norwegian city of Kristansand and the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage, a protection station in Zambia, showed a few years ago that chimpanzees are unable to spontaneously create sharp-edged stone tools or even use them once they have been presented to them. Under the direction of Dr. Claudio Teenie, head of the STONECULT project at the University of Tübingen, the experiment was performed by Dr. Elisa Bandini and Dr. Alba Motes-Rodrigo. The use of self-made sharp tools has been known to humans for around 2.6 million years. So far, however, success has only been achieved if the great apes were cultivated, i.e. raised and trained by humans, and if they were introduced to the manufacture and use of such tools. In the new study conducted, untrained chimpanzees were given two different sealed containers. Both had food as a reward, which could be seen through a Plexiglas pane. A stone core and hammer stones were made available to the animals as material. Despite the fact that the animals realized that it was food in the containers, no attempt was made on their part to use tools in any meaningful way. The researchers assume that the desired result would only have occurred if the animals could have copied it. Since the apes and humans split up around 7 million years ago, it can be concluded that the chimpanzees were stuck before the Stone Age and that the skills necessary to use such tools only emerged in the course of the human evolution. Link:
Unknown armored giant of the Cambrian
Palaeontologists have explored a new species in Burgess Shale, a world-famous fossil deposit found in the Rocky Mountains of Canada. The twelve existing fossils are the remains of Titanokorys gainesi. This sea creature measures around half a meter in length. It comes from the middle Cambrian period (approx. 500 million years). The prehistoric predator is an arthropod, which can be assigned to the order of radionts that are already extinct. In addition to its considerable size of around 50 centimetres, its pronounced long head amor is also a focus for scientists. This covered the animal by approx. 75%. Since it is assigned to the radionts, it probably also had a round mouth, which was equipped with teeth all around. Two tentacles probably helped the animals to catch their prey and finally to introduce it into exactly this mouth. Similar to today's arthropods, Titanokorys gainesi already had compound eyes. Based on its occurrence and body features, it can be assumed that its preferred habitat was the seabed. Relatively to the present day its size seems to be rather moderate, but the animal is already a large animal by Cambrian standards. Only a few animals, such as the genus Anomalocaris, which belong to the same order, were able to grow a little larger with a body length of 60 to 100 centimetres. Link:
The super volcanoes of Mars
For some time now, geologists have suspected a new type of volcanism on Mars. While shield volcanoes such as Olympus Mons have been explored for a long time, another type of volcanism is said to have been discovered on Mars. These are super volcanoes hidden in the underground. The first indications of this were in the northern region of Arabia Terra. The large craters to be found there form seven largely round depressions, which can be up to 100 kilometers in diameter. While at the beginning of the research it was still thought that these could be impact craters, more and more details over the course of time pointed to volcanism as the origin. Presumably these formations are the collapsed calderas of super volcanoes. The scientists use the ash layers in the region as a guide for their assumption. These layers decrease in thickness from one kilometer at a distance of 250 kilometers from the volcano to at least 100 m at a distance of around 3,400 kilometers. From this data, an ejection of 7.5 to 15 million cubic kilometers of ash and various other volcanic material can be calculated. The eruptions probably took place in the early stages of Mars. The amount of magma extracted is likely to correspond to that of Olympus Mons. To make a comparison to Earth, one could look at the Siberian Trapps, which were created as a result of the flood basalt eruptions around 250 million years ago. From this event, 1.7 million cubic kilometers of volcanic material is still preserved today. The released gases, which were ejected by the many times these volcanoes erupted, could even have had a decisive effect on the climate of Mars. Reference: doi: 10.1029/2021GL094109