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This nOde last updated November 13th, 2001 and is permanently morphing...
(4 Kan (Corn) - 2 Ceh (Red) -
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Tuesday March 21 4:06 PM ET

Outer Space Gases Brought to Earth on Buckyballs
By Deborah Zabarenko

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Weird gases from outer space arrived on Earth during a internal linkdinosaur-killing asteroid strike 65 million years ago, and survive in molecular cages called buckyballs, researchers reported on Tuesday.

Buckyballs, lacy-looking molecules made up of carbon atoms, are also known as fullerenes and are named in honor of internal linkBuckminster Fuller because they are shaped like the geodesic dome he invented.

They can form on Earth but also are born outside our solar system, in hot areas of the universe such as the gas envelopes around embryonic stars. The buckyballs in question came in on the killer asteroid.

The gas-carrying buckyballs were found in various parts of the globe, from North America to internal linkNew Zealand to Denmark, in a layer of sediment laid down after an ancient asteroid impact.

"The buckyballs containing the gases arrived on Earth about 65 million years ago during an asteroid impact that scientists theorize ended the age of the dinosaurs," said Ted Bunch of internal linkNASA's Ames Research Center in California.

The impact of the big space rock may have killed the dinosaurs and most earthly life with its globe-girdling dust cloud, but the sturdy little buckyballs survived with their gaseous cargo intact, Bunch and his colleagues reported in the March 28 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Inside the buckyballs was a strange type of cosmic internal linkhelium, along with other gases, Bunch said in a internal linktelephone interview.

Helium created on Earth usually has four sub-atomic particles in its nucleus, while cosmic helium generally has only three, the scientists said.

"They're enriched helium 3," Bunch said. "We know by the helium signature that it was formed probably outside the solar system ... they've trapped them inside (the buckyballs) at the site of formation."

This weird helium shows, as no other evidence has, that buckyballs can transport extraterrestrial gases without letting them escape on the way. Future research may internal linkfocus on other gases that might have come to Earth in this fashion.


This research also supports the theory that gases that make up Earth's atmosphere and organic compounds came to Earth's surface during the so-called age of bombardment, some 3.8 billion to 4.5 billion years ago, when ``asteroids were running wild in their orbits,'' as Bunch put it.

This was the period when the internal linkMoon's craters were gouged out by asteroids, comets and meteors, which also slammed into Earth, Mars and other celestial bodies. Buckyballs probably drifted into the solar system early on, bringing carbon and other material from far away.

"Most of the carbon in our bodies came from outside the solar system,'' Bunch said. "We're all internal linkaliens."

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NanoPipes... Buckytubes, the multi-use internal linknano component grow to different diameters and conduct internal linkelectricity like copper, even better when stuffed with metal atoms. Larger tubes are big enough to pipe full sized C60 Buckyball molecules as in the illustration of the soccer ball shape (red) followed by internal linkHelium atoms (internal linkgreen), used as a transport "fluid". In addition to piping atoms and molecules, for perhaps a nanomachine construction sites, these tubes could be used as ultra small chemical reaction vessels.

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Crop Circle - Buckyball unfurled

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