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Calvin, MelvinLast Updated on 2014-06-30 16:18:37
Melvin Calvin (1911-1997), American biochemist who first described the photosynthetic process, now known as the Calvin Cycle. Calvin determined the process by tracking radioactive carbon dioxide through its transformation into carbohydrates. He allowed carbon-14 to be absorbed by plants, then mashed up the cells and separated the contents using paper chromatography. He discovered intermediate reaction products of photosynthesis and worked out the reaction scheme. He also discovered that photosynthesis proceeds in the absence of light. Calvin later confirmed which primary elements had formed the atmosphere from which primitive life developed. He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1961.
Melvin Calvin - Biography (The Nobel Foundation)
Calvin Photosynthesis Group Subject of History Project (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)
Kamen, Martin DavidLast Updated on 2014-06-30 16:09:31Martin David Kamen, (1913–2002), a Canadian-born American biochemist who discovered carbon-14, the radioactive isotope of carbon used to trace biochemical pathways and mechanisms and to date archeological and anthropological objects. He also carried out extensive research in photosynthesis. Kamen used the isotope oxygen-18 to trace the chemical's role in the process, confirming that that the oxygen created during photosynthesis comes only from the water molecules. Unfortunately, much of his energy at this time was diverted to non-scientific matters; a successful but protracted libel suit against the Chicago Tribune, which falsely accused him of being a communist, as well as a successful, 7-year battle to recover his passport, which had been rescinded by the U.S. government.
Martin Kamen, Who Discovered Carbon-14, Wins Fermi Award (U. S. Department of Energy,... More »
Successional Soils: How edaphic conditions change within aggrading forests in a case study of the North Carolina PiedmontLast Updated on 2014-06-30 15:03:45
Soil composition—its abiotic physical and chemical properties—changes under an aggrading forest. Through "space for time studies" in the Piedmont of North Carolina, researchers have examined changes in soil composition and processes among three successional stages of old fields. Differences in nitrification rates, nutrient concentration, and acidity indicate that soil nutrient availability decreases during the course of forest succession.
The characteristics of forest change are highly interconnected with changes in soil conditions through time. A positive relationship exists between species richness and soil nutrient availability. Organisms can change the chemical composition of the soil, which in turn influences the forest composition. For example, some species of trees and other plants decrease soil pH while others increase nitrogen availability. Much... More »
SeleniumLast Updated on 2014-06-29 16:59:07
Selenium is a gray, metallic element. Its atomic number is 34 and its symbol is Se. The Swedish scientist Jons Jacob Berzelius discovered selenium in 1817. In studying the sulfuric acid produced in a particular Swedish factory, he discovered an impurity which he eventually identified as selenium. Selenium occurs in three distinct forms: as a non-crystalline, gray metal; it can form as a deep red to black powder; and it can form as red crystals. It is stable in air and in water. Selenium is actually an important trace element to mammals and some plants. Too much selenium in a mammal’s diet is poisonous and has been shown to cause deformities. When there is not enough selenium, a mammal can also have health problems. For example, sheep that graze in areas with too little selenium in the soil eventually have a problem known as “white muscle disease.” Lack of selenium... More »
PollutionLast Updated on 2014-06-28 18:51:13Pollution is environmental contamination that results in harm or death to living organisms. Most pollution is in the form of chemical additions to air, water or soil; however, in modern times starting in the mid-twentieth century noise and light have been considered as pollution sources. Most pollution is man-made, with natural fluctuations in atmospheric composition, surface water bodies and soil considered temporal gyrations in the Earth's natural history. The chief driver of pollution is the massive growth in human population, which induces the proximate causes of intensive agriculture and extraordinary industrial output. The United Nations and the Blacksmith Institute are two prominent organisations that tabulate locales of the greatest pollution intensity; while their listings do not correspond precisely, the overlap countries that both entities agree are the worst polluted... More »
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