Piling on Pressure Solves Enduring Mystery About Metal’s Makeup

Scientists have solved a decade-long puzzle about lithium, an essential metal in cellphone and computer batteries. Using extreme pressure experiments and powerful supercomputing, the international team has unraveled the mystery of a fundamental property of lithium. Its atoms are arranged in a simple structure, and may be the first direct evidence of a quantum solid behavior in a metal. Read more.

Dune ecosystem modelling

Acacia longifolia, which is native to Australia, is a species which was cultivated in Portugal primarily to stabilize dunes and as an ornamental plant; now it has spread out uncontrollably in Portugal and into many ecosystems around the world. Using the acacia as an example, researchers show that the location has an effect on interaction with other species. Read more.

Neutron-rich nucleus shapeshifts between a rugby ball and a discus

An international team led by scientists from IPN Orsay (CNRS/Université Paris-Sud), CEA, and RIKEN (Japan) has performed the first spectroscopy of the extremely neutron-rich isotopes krypton 98 and 100. This experiment showed that there are two coexisting, competing quantum shapes at low energy in 98Kr, never before seen for neutron-rich Kr isotopes. The team also showed that these isotopes experience a gentle onset of deformation with added neutrons, in sharp contrast with neighboring isotopes of rubidium, strontium, and zirconium, which change shapes suddenly at neutron number 60. Read more.

Nuclear pest control could help Ontario (Canada) farmers

Pepper weevils destroyed $83 million in crops in 2016, but researchers are hoping Colbat-60, a nuclear isotope, can sterilize the ruinous insects and put a dent in their population

A high-tech form of insect birth control connected to nuclear power could solve a devastating pest problem for Ontario farmers. Pepper weevils can burrow into farmed peppers and destroy them from the inside, and according to the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, they ruined $83 million worth of crops in 2016 — a figure that does not include the costs of management, suppression initiatives or cleanup.

Nuclear energy provider Bruce Power, Ottawa-based health science company Nordion and the University of Guelph are teaming up to reduce the population of these pesky creatures. Read more.

Secrets of Earth’s birth carried in lava jets from planet’s core

It was there at the birth of our planet 4.5 billion years ago. Now we know how magma from that formative period has survived to the present day, occasionally making it to the surface. And the tale it tells should help us better understand Earth’s formation.

“This deep reservoir is a time capsule preserving signatures of the earliest history of the Earth that are not recorded in any other part of the planet that we have access to,” says Matt Jackson at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Read more.