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Shvoong Home>Society & News>News Items>Times of India Summary

Times of India

Article Summary   by:sreeram    
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Microbes hold valuable secrets

Meet the smallest creature in the world’s oceans : the humble microbe. It provides the planet with oxygen and helps combat global warming ,yet not enough is known about the role they p-lay in the planet’s health.

An international team of marine scientists has started confronting the mammoth challenge of cataloguing and exploring the biodiversity of marine microbe as part of a $1 billion ,10 year Census of Marine Life project.

The first global effort to map0 marine species involves hundreds of scientists in more than 70 countries.

The sub-project International Census of Marine Microbes led by Dutch and US scientists ,aims to lay out what is known , what is not known and what may never be found out about the oceans micro-organisms and their viruses.

There are tremendous changes in the environment but nobody really knows where it all is going. And the reason is that we don’t know how major eco-systems such as oceans work .Stal said ,adding We send shuttles to the moon and Mars but we know so little about our own planet .Stal’s institute , the US Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) and the Royal Netherlands Institute of Sea Research are co-ordinating the project and includes scientists from Germany, Spain, France and Japan.

For more than 3 billion years, microbes have mediated critical processes that allowed higher organisms to evolve ,These creatures dominate the Earth’s biodiversity , particularly in Oceans ,where they account for 90% of the biomass.


Marine microbes influence climate and play an essential role in maintaining the planet’s oxygen and carbon balance .Carbon dioxide –the green house gas produced mainly by burning fossils fuel which is blamed for worsening global warming—is absorbed by ocean microbes ,providing a counter balance to global warming

Scientists also discovered that some marine microbes limit global warming by consuming methane.

Microbes also supply the greater part of the planet’s breathable oxygen , with algae and other tiny organisms in the seas releasing about 150 billion kg of oxygen every year.

And scientists believe microbes could also be used one day to develop new medicine or fuel sources,

Scientists set limit on gadget size

There’s a limit to how tiny gadgets ,devices and machines can get ,scientists have claimed. The claim comes from an experiment performed by a University of Arizona team of optical sciences doctoral candidate John Perreault and assistant professor of Physics Alexander D Cronin .
Perreault and Cronin directly measured how close speeding atoms can come to a surface before the atoms ‘ wavelength change a statement said.

This confirms the idea the wave of a fast moving atom shortens and lengthens depending on its distance from a surface .The measurement tells nanotechnologists how small they can make extremely tiny devices before a microscopic force between atoms and surfaces ,called van der Waals interaction , becomes a concern.

The results is important for nanotechnology ,where the goal is to make devices as small as a few tens of billionths of a metre, and for atoms optics, where the goal is to use the wave nature of atoms to make more precise sensors and study quantum mechanics. Our research provides the 1st direct experimental evidence that a surface 25 nanometres away causes a shift in the atom wave crests .perreault said.
Published: September 30, 2005   
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