Diamond Catalyst Shows Promise in Breaching Age-Old Barrier

Not all elements and minerals are desirable, especially in an era where global warming has become such an issue. Modern science has tried to work with combinations of chemical reactions to change these more unfavorable components into more useful elements. The article “Diamond Catalyst Shows Promise in Breaching Age-Old Barrier” on Science Daily suggests that new developments in chemistry and scientific testing that could make changing nitrogen to ammonia a much easier and potentially man-made process.

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In the natural world, nitrogen only changes into ammonia in extreme conditions. It takes a ton of energy to break through the barrier between ammonia and nitrogen, which has been unpractical to do in past decades. Thus, the catalyst between the two substances has proven incredibly difficult to work with. Iron in the substance must be heated to an incredibly high temperature, which requires so much energy. This is made even more difficult because nitrogen does not bond easily with iron.

However, on June 30, 2013, Professor Hamers published a discovery which would change the process dramatically, and potentially make it possible and practical to be able to change nitrogen to ammonia. His team used a “hydrogen-coated diamond illuminated by deep ultra violet light” in order to “induce a ready stream of electrons into water, which served as a reactant liquid that reduced nitrogen to ammonia under temperature and pressure conditions far more efficient than those requiring traditional methods” (Science Daily, 2013). Using the water as a reactant allowed the tram to manipulate the process much more effectively. The findings are exciting for environmental chemists working to develop antipollution technologies.


Science Daily. (2013). Diamond catalyst shows promise in breaching age-old barrier. Science News. Web. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130630144449.htm

Article 2: “Boat Noise Stops Fish Finding Home”

The environmental impact human activity has on the natural environment is rapidly becoming more and more noticeable. Human activity in natural ecosystems often negatively impacts local wildlife or plants. The article “Boat Noise Stops Fish Finding Home,” published on June 28th, 2013, discusses how boat noises in aquatic environments impacts fish and forces them away from their homes in the reefs.

Noise itself can be a pollutant, and thus negatively impact natural environments. In aquatic environments, this is also the case, as Sophie Holles explains in the article. Essentially, the more boat traffic there is around natural fish habitats, the more the fish are negatively impacted. They are scared away from their natural homes and environment because of the noises that boats make under water. Many fish leave areas that make good natural habitats for them, putting them in danger. This is having a damaging impact on the underwater ecology of regions that see a lot of boat traffic.

As more and more commercial fishing is seen in our planet’s oceans and river ways, the level of noise pollution in our waters is also increasing. This impacts the natural ecology of the environment, as fish have to find homes elsewhere, where there might be less favorable environmental conditions, but less boat traffic to make disturbing noises underwater. It is clear that greater regulation of human traffic using boats, especially in protected areas where fish naturally flock to, is necessary. In protected underwater environments and major reef systems, there needs to be stricter regulation of water travel, as to not negatively impact the fish that might flee the area in fear of their lives.


Science Daily. (2013). Boat noise stops fish from finding home. Science News. Web. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130628103139.htm

Article 3: “Fatty Acids Found in Fish Linked to Lower Risk of Breast Cancer”

Breast cancer is a serious issue that affects millions of women all over the globe. There is no guaranteed cure for the disease, and treatment for breast cancer symptoms can be incredibly painful and tough to go through. As a result, many modern scientists have explored preventative factors that help lower risks of women contracting it. The article “Fatty Acids Found in Fish Linked to Lower Risk of Breast Cancer” explores a recent finding that shows how consumption of particular kinds of fish

Unfortunately, the battle against breast cancer has not been as successful as many physicians have hopped for. Breast cancer is still one of the most common types of cancer, as the article explains how it accounts for 23% of all cancers cases (Science Daily, 2013). Having such difficult treatment has made it clear to researchers that they need to focus on preventative measures. One of the most commonly explored areas of how to improve prevention is by understanding how dietary factors contribute to risk for the cancer.

A recent study conducted in China focused on diet as a way to try to prevent breast cancer. They study examined one particular food item — fish. According to the article, fish are one of the main dietary sources of the n-3PUFAs, which include ALA, EPA, DPA, and DHA. These are “involved in chemical messaging in the brain, helping regulate blood vessel activity and areas of the immune system” (Science Daily, 2013). Previous studies have shown some evidence of how n-3 PUFAs could be a huge preventative element in reducing an individual’s risk of cancer. Reviews of other studies worldwide show that n-3 PUFAs can help reduce the risk of breast cancer by as much as 14%. Based on the findings, researchers are saying that oily fish, such as salmon and sardines, should be consumed at least one to two times per week. The total per day energy intake should exceed more than 0.1g per day. Based on this level of consumption, the Chinese research team said the risk of breast cancer could drop by 5%.


Science Daily. (2013). Fatty acids found in fish linked to lower risk of breast cancer. Science News. Web. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130627190653.htm

Article 4: “Large Dead Zone Forming in the Gulf”

After the tragedy of the oil spill several years ago in the Gulf, it seems like we are not fully out of the woods yet. In June of 2013, scientists found that their predictions of a large dead zone in the water growing were right. The article “Large Dead Zone Forming in the Gulf” posted on Science Daily on June 27, 2013, explains the possible causes, but also the possible risks of the dead zone as it continues to grow in one of our most precious national bodies of water.

Researchers from Texas a&M University now claim that a large dead zone is forming in the Gulf of Mexico. In several spots along the Louisiana-Texas coast, large regions of water are showing signs of clear oxygen depletion. The article shows how scientists have long known about the dead zone, but that recent evidence shows it is growing faster than ever before. About 3,100 square miles has been identified as of now, with that rate expected to continue to grow in the coming months. Also known as hypoxia, this depletion of oxygen in the water will have a grave environmental impact. Fish and other wildlife will ultimately suffer because they will have less of a habitat to live in.

The dead zone has been around for a while, with it being constantly monitored since 1985. Yet, with all the growing activity in the area and the recent oil spills that continue to plague the area, it is clear that the situation is now worse than ever before. Activity in the region has been the highest in the past fifty years. Commercial fishing is huge in the region, with a plethora of large fishing boats working in the area. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) will continue to fund research efforts in understanding how to combat this growing issue.


Science Daily. (2013). Large dead zone forming in the Gulf. Science News. Web. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130627161358.htm

Article 5: “Climate Change Threatens Forest Survival on Drier, Low-Elevation Land”

Climate change is something that has increasingly become a major concern for modern scientists. As human activity continuously takes its toll on the natural environment, more and more natural lands are in danger. The article “Climate Change Threatens Forest Survival on Drier, Low-Elevation Land” discusses new findings on how climate change is impacting lower elevation forests.

A study conducted by researchers at Oregon State University recently found that climate change is having more of an impact on low-elevation forests that ever before imagined. The findings were recently published in Forest Ecology, and paint a grim picture of how climate change will continue to cause havoc as temperatures are predicted to rise even further. A portion of land which was ravished by a fire in 2002 was studied to understand how low elevation forests are reacting to such extreme temperature changes. Even after ten years, the degree to which the forest has come back is strikingly slow. Essentially, “there was almost no tree regeneration at lower, drier sites” (Science Daily, 2013). As the elevation rose, so did moisture levels and this show more positive signs of tree regeneration since the fire.

Based on these findings, researchers believe that lower elevation with drier environments is being heavily impacted by temperature changes. This not only threatens the ecology of these lower elevation sites, but it also could contribute more to the rapid changes in greenhouse gases. Without forests to be able to repopulate themselves, there will be fewer trees to produce oxygen through consuming carbon dioxide. This may increase the levels of greenhouse gases, making climate change even more dangerous to local environments.


Science Daily. (2013). Climate change threatens forest survival on drier, low-elevation land. Science News. Web. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130628103145.htm

Article 6: “The Quantum Secret to Alcohol Reactions in Space”

The nature of space is so different from out environment here on earth. Chemical processes are often much different than how they would react on the planet. As such, the article “The Quantum Secret to Alcohol Reactions in Space,” published on Science Daily on June 30th, 2013, discusses some of the reasons why strange chemical reactions take place in space like no where else in the universe.

The nature of space is still so strange to scientists. Essentially, “it’s the harsh environment that makes space-based chemistry so difficult to understand; the extremely cold conditions should put a stop to chemical reactions, as there isn’t sufficient energy to rearrange chemical bonds” (Science Daily, 2013). Yet, that is not the case. Chemical reactions still take place all the time in the cold, harsh conditions of space. A true understanding of how and why this happens has eluded scientists for generations.

Recently, chemists have uncovered evidence of why strange alcohol reactions can take place in unlikely environmental conditions. Researchers now theorize that the dust grains in interstellar clouds help propel the onset of various chemical reactions, even despite such low availability of heat and energy deep in space. A highly reactive molecule known as methoxy radical was recently found in space, and scientists were determined to find out why it was there. Essentially, scientists believe that these dust grains act as a medium to help boost the level of energy needed to produce such complex chemical compounds. They helped facilitate quantum tunneling that allowed for ongoing chemical reactions. Scientists recreated similar space-like environments and were surprised with how reactive substances were. This has prompted for more research on the nature of chemical reactions in space.


Science Daily. (2013). The quantum secret to alcohol reactions in space. Science News. Web. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130630145004.htm