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It's not easy being green, The Alchemist learns this week, with Olympic pool woes. But there is an upside as it turns out moss created the oxygen-rich atmosphere we enjoy today and on which modern life depends. While we're up in the air, we take a look at the con that is chemtrails and see an X-ray glow from neon held in a porous material. We also learn more about oxygen and specifically how to monitor how well shock patients are using the vital gas. Finally, a spectroscopic award for pioneering brain tumor researcher.




At the time of writing, the Rio 2016 Olympic Games are still in full swing. The diving pool which had turned a nasty cloudy shade of green is apparently fresh and blue once more. But, the tale of how it turned is tortuous. Any observer with outdoor pool experience saw the telltale signs of an algal bloom, the hue, the cloudiness. Indeed, the organizers declared algae were to blame after deferring an announcement for several worrying days. However, they stroked backwards on that claim and blamed alkalinity. Then there was an announcement that it was the inadvertent addition of hydrogen peroxide. Pundits suggested an excess of algaecidal copper sulfate was to blame, but copper sulfate solution is bright deep blue and copper chloride solutions are pale blue. Other pundits put it down to various difference chemicals, such as fake tan, skin moisturizer and even an additive to reveal when someone urinates in the water! But whatever was claimed and whatever the cause chemical or environmental, the pool had bloomed with algae. Life will out and chemicals were the remedy.





The evolution of land plants, include photosynthesizing green mosses could help explain how atmospheric oxygen levels rose to the levels we enjoy today. Atmospheric oxygen first appeared some 2.4 billion years ago, during the Great Oxidation Event but was just 400 million years ago that this vital gas first started to approach modern levels in the atmosphere. Tim Lenton and colleagues at the University of Exeter, UK, explain how, using computer simulations, they have estimated that bryophytes, such as moss, which are non-vascular plants, could have generated almost one third of today�s global terrestrial net primary productivity as early as 445 million years ago.





Conspiracy theorists have many weird ideas about how the world works. One of them is that "the powers that be" have been spraying us citizens of the world for decades with chemical additives put into jet airliner exhausts, the condensation trails (contrails) thus becoming so-called "chemtrails". Now, atmospheric scientists from Carnegie Science, University of California Irvine, and the non-profit organization Near Zero have demonstrated that chemtrails are a fiction, as if any serious chemist ever had any doubts. Ken Caldeira and colleagues surveyed the world�s leading atmospheric scientists and geochemists all of whom categorically rejected the existence of chemtrails being part of some mind-control secret spraying program. The team's findings are published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Of course, if there really is a conspiracy, then what better way to hide it than to co-opt experts to deny its existence...?





We have known for at least half a century that the noble gases never did deserve the indolent tag of "inert", they just needed the right kind of activation to react. Now, researchers from the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre (CCDC) in the UK and Argonne National Laboratory in the USA have collaborated to capture one of the more well-known noble gases, neon, of neon light fame, within the porous crystalline framework of an organometallic compound, the material is known as NiMOF-74. "The structures reported [in Chemical Communications] show the first observation of a genuine interaction between neon and a transition metal, suggesting the potential for future design of selective neon capture frameworks," explains team leader Peter Wood. The material might shed light on a more environment friendly way to isolate neon for its various applications.





A device that uses laser spectroscopy to monitor a patient's breath and more specifically their oxygen usage could be a boon for intensive care where patients with shock at serious risk of organ failure of their falling blood pressure leads to an inadequate supply of the vital substances reaching all body tissues. Peter Robbins of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics and chemists Grant Ritchie and Gus Hancock of the University of Oxford, UK, developed the new technology. "This is the culmination of many years of development and it has finally come to fruition," says Robbins, who led the research. "It is exciting for us to be able to offer something to doctors that has the potential to improve significantly the care of very sick patients.





This year's recipient of the international "Emerging Leader in Molecular Spectroscopy Award" from Spectroscopy magazine is Matthew Baker, a senior lecturer in Chemistry at the University of Strathclyde, UK, for his outstanding research into real-life analytical chemistry applications and pioneering use of vibrational spectroscopy in clinical diagnostics. Baker's work has led to a new approach to the diagnosis of brain tumors. Baker will be presented with the Award at the SciX 2016 conference in Minneapolis in September and will also give a plenary lecture. "It is a great honour to be chosen for this award by a committee of such prominent experts," he says.