Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. Earth Science News .




EARLY EARTH
Foundations of Carbon-Based Life Leave Little Room for Error
by Staff Writers
Raleigh NC (SPX) Mar 15, 2013


Light quark mass determines carbon and oxygen production and the viability of carbon-based life. Image credit: Dean Lee. Earth and Mercury images from NASA.

Life as we know it is based upon the elements of carbon and oxygen. Now a team of physicists, including one from North Carolina State University, is looking at the conditions necessary to the formation of those two elements in the universe. They've found that when it comes to supporting life, the universe leaves very little margin for error.

Both carbon and oxygen are produced when helium burns inside of giant red stars. Carbon-12, an essential element we're all made of, can only form when three alpha particles, or helium-4 nuclei, combine in a very specific way.

The key to formation is an excited state of carbon-12 known as the Hoyle state, and it has a very specific energy - measured at 379 keV (or 379,000 electron volts) above the energy of three alpha particles. Oxygen is produced by the combination of another alpha particle and carbon.

NC State physicist Dean Lee and German colleagues Evgeny Epelbaum, Hermann Krebs, Timo Laehde and Ulf-G. Meissner had previously confirmed the existence and structure of the Hoyle state with a numerical lattice that allowed the researchers to simulate how protons and neutrons interact.

These protons and neutrons are made up of elementary particles called quarks. The light quark mass is one of the fundamental parameters of nature, and this mass affects particles' energies.

In new lattice calculations done at the Juelich Supercomputer Centre the physicists found that just a slight variation in the light quark mass will change the energy of the Hoyle state, and this in turn would affect the production of carbon and oxygen in such a way that life as we know it wouldn't exist.

"The Hoyle state of carbon is key," Lee says. "If the Hoyle state energy was at 479 keV or more above the three alpha particles, then the amount of carbon produced would be too low for carbon-based life.

"The same holds true for oxygen," he adds. "If the Hoyle state energy were instead within 279 keV of the three alphas, then there would be plenty of carbon. But the stars would burn their helium into carbon much earlier in their life cycle.

"As a consequence, the stars would not be hot enough to produce sufficient oxygen for life. In our lattice simulations, we find that more than a 2 or 3 percent change in the light quark mass would lead to problems with the abundance of either carbon or oxygen in the universe."

The researchers' findings appear in Physical Review Letters.

The work was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy; the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren and Bundesministerium fuer Bildung und Forschung in Germany; European Union HadronPhysics3 Project and the European Research Council.

Published: March 13, 2013 in Physical Review Letters

.


Related Links
North Carolina State University
Explore The Early Earth at TerraDaily.com






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





EARLY EARTH
Early birds had four wings, not two: study
Washington (AFP) March 14, 2013
Some primitive birds boasted four wings, before evolution led them to ditch their hind feathers in favor of webbed or scaly feet, scientists in China said on Thursday. Previous research had uncovered the existence of bird-like dinosaurs with hind limb feathers, but evidence has remained slim in birds, which are widely believed to have evolved from dinosaurs. And even though the latest di ... read more


EARLY EARTH
Walker's World: The best news yet

US welcomes Albania offer to resettle Iran exiles

Technology Changing The Future of Home Security

US military member suing over Japan nuke disaster

EARLY EARTH
Mobile LIDAR technology expanding rapidly

First Laser Communication System Integrated, Ready for Launch

Earth will drown in garbage

Raytheon's dual-band datalink tested with Thales radar

EARLY EARTH
Life found in world's deepest ocean spot

Pacific's Palau looks at commercial fishing ban

Extreme water

New restrictions bite Hong Kong shark fin traders

EARLY EARTH
Rivers flowing under Greenland ice traced

The making of Antarctica's hidden fjords

Global warming will open unexpected new shipping routes in Arctic, UCLA researchers find

Glaciers will melt faster than ever and loss could be irreversible warn scientists

EARLY EARTH
MEPs retain ag 'greening' measures

Dead pigs in China river exceed 13,000

Heat-stressed cows spend more time standing

Nature fans get green fix at Hong Kong flower show

EARLY EARTH
Heavy rains leave 13 dead in Brazil

Japan ups disaster debris estimate to reach N. America

Japan pays for tsunami cleanup on Canadian coast

Japan marks second tsunami anniversary

EARLY EARTH
Army, police shadow looms over Zimbabwe polls

I. Coast attack kills six, including two soldiers: army

Sudan, South Sudan agree new timeline to restart oil

China congratulates Kenyatta over election win

EARLY EARTH
Neanderthal demise down to eye size?

New study validates longevity pathway

Siberian fossil revealed to be one of the oldest known domestic dogs

Kirk, Spock together: Putting emotion, logic into computational words




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement