New Delhi: Earth’s solid inner core formed 550 million years ago and restored our planet’s magnetic field — thereby saving it from the fate of Mars, a team of scientists from the University of Rochester suggest.
The Earth’s outer core generates our planet’s protective magnetic field, which is vital for life on the planet. The magnetic field protects Earth from streams of radiation from the sun.
Researchers believe that Mars once had a magnetic field, but the field dissipated, leaving the planet vulnerable to solar wind and stripping the surface of water.
However, about 565 million years ago, the magnetic field’s strength decreased to 10 per cent of what it is today. Then, mysteriously, the field bounced back, regaining its strength just before multicellular life emerged on the planet.
According to researchers from the University of Rochester, this rejuvenation happened within a few tens of millions of years — rapid on geological timescales — and coincided with the formation of Earth’s solid inner core, suggesting that the core is likely a direct cause.
For the study, researchers analysed rock samples that rose to the Earth’s surface from the core. These contain tiny magnetic particles that lock in the direction and intensity of the magnetic field at the time the minerals cool from their molten state.
By studying the magnetism locked in ancient crystals — a field known as paleomagnetism — the researchers determined that 550 million years ago the magnetic field began to renew rapidly after a near collapse 15 million years before that.
DeepMind’s AI predicts structures of nearly all proteins known to science
AlphaFold — an artificial intelligence system — has completed predictions of the three-dimensional structures of nearly all catalogued proteins known to science freely and openly available to the scientific community,
AlphaFold, developed by Google’s DeepMind, is a system designed to predict the structure of proteins.
Working with DeepMind, European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) has made the data freely and openly available to the scientific community, via the AlphaFold Protein Structure Database.
The database is being expanded by approximately 200 times, from nearly 1 million protein structures to over 200 million, covering almost every organism on Earth that has had its genome sequenced.
The expansion of the database includes predicted structures for a wide range of species, including plants, bacteria, animals, and other organisms, opening up new avenues of research across the life sciences that will have an impact on global challenges — including sustainability, food insecurity, and neglected diseases.
Proteins are build of a chain of amino acids. But how these molecules interact with each other determine how the protein folds, which in turn predicts the functions and properties of the protein.
While genetic sequencing reveals the chain of amino acids in the proteins of any organism, determining the structure of the protein has been a tedious task for the scientific community so far.
Study refutes claim that T Rex comprises three different species
A research team led by researchers at the American Museum of Natural History and Carthage College has refuted a claim made earlier this year that fossils classified as the dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex represent three separate species.
The rebuttal finds that the earlier proposal lacks sufficient evidence to split up the iconic species.
According to the research team, while the T Rex fossils collected and examined so far are of different sizes and shapes, these variations are too minor to separate the fossils into different species.
The team added data points from 112 species of living birds and four non-avian dinosaurs. They found that the multiple species argument was based on a limited comparative sample and improper statistical techniques.
Newly-discovered chemical reaction can explain how life began on Earth
Scientists have discovered a new set of chemical reactions that likely sparked life on Earth — using cyanide, ammonia, and carbon dioxide — all thought to be common on the early Earth.
These chemicals then generated amino acids and nucleic acids — the building blocks of proteins and DNA.
Along with giving insight into the chemistry of the early Earth, the newly discovered chemical reactions are also useful in certain manufacturing processes, such as the generation of custom-labeled biomolecules from inexpensive starting materials, according to the team from Scripps Research Institute.
The team had shown earlier this year how cyanide can enable the chemical reactions that turn prebiotic molecules and water into basic organic compounds required for life.
This reaction could be set off at room temperature. They then found that there was a way to generate amino acids — more complex molecules that compose proteins in all known living cells — in the same way.
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)