Heavy nitrogen molecules reveal planetary-scale tug-of-war

Nature whispers its stories in a faint molecular language. Rice University scientist Laurence Yeung and his research team can finally tell one of those stories thanks to a one-of-a-kind instrument that allows them to hear what the atmosphere is saying with rare nitrogen molecules. Yeung, along with scientists at UCLA, Michigan State University and the University of New Mexico, counted rare molecules in the atmosphere that contain only heavy isotopes of nitrogen, and discovered a planetary-scale tug-of-war between life, the deep Earth and the upper atmosphere.

Provided by Rice University

Runtime: 3:28

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