Laughing gas was crucial for the development of life on earth, and helped keep our young planet at the perfect temperature, researchers discovered.
Early in the planet's existence, the sun was dumber than today, but the earth remained warm thanks to a strong greenhouse effect, geoscience says.
Astronomer Carl Sagan conceived this as the "Faint Young Sun Paradox," but for decades researchers have not found the right balance of atmospheric gases that could have kept the early earth warm enough for life.
Jennifer Glass in her laboratory in Georgia Tech held a stromatolitic iron stone that formed while iron was oxidized and left the ocean waters. Laughing gas was crucial for the creation of life on earth, and helped keep our young planet at the perfect temperature, researchers discovered
WHAT IS THE FAIN YOUNG SUN PARADOX?
In the first billion years of Earth's history, the planet was bombed by primitive asteroids, while a vague sun gave much less heat.
The earth, however, remained warm due to a strong greenhouse gas effect, says geoscience theory.
Astronomer Carl Sagan conceived this the Faint Young Sun Paradox & # 39;
Now a team from the Georgia Institute of Technology suggests that nitric oxide, known for its use as nitrous oxide, could have played an important role.
The team carried out a series of experiments and atmospheric computer models to see what would happen if there were nitrogen oxide (N2O), a powerful greenhouse gas, in the old atmosphere.
In laboratory experiments, researchers discovered that soluble ferrous iron in seawater reacted quickly with nitrogen molecules, especially nitrogen oxide, to produce nitric oxide in a process called chemo-nitrification.
This nitrogen oxide (N2O) can then bubble up into the atmosphere.
It is quite possible that life inhaled breathing gas long before oxygen began to breathe, & # 39; said Jennifer Glass, an assistant professor at Georgia Tech.
Chemistry Nitrification may have provided microbes with a solid source of energy. & # 39;
When the higher flows of nitrous oxide in the atmospheric model stopped, the results showed that nitric oxide had reached ten times the current level if the proterozoic oxygen concentrations were 10 percent of today's.
This BIF structure (banded iron formation) of the tigereye shows layers of iron that nestled as compounds from the ocean solution. Before oxygen became abundant, the oceans were probably full of iron that could have made nitric oxide that entered the early atmosphere of the earth to keep it warm
This higher nitrogen oxide would have given an extra boost to the greenhouse effect under the Faint Young Sun.
The study concentrated more than a billion years ago on the middle of the Proterozoic Eon.
The proliferation of a complex life was still a few hundred million years old and the pace of the evolution of our planet probably seemed deceptively slow.
"People in our field often refer to this middle chapter in the history of the earth, about 1.8 to 0.8 billion years ago as the & # 39; boring billion & # 39; because we regard it classically as a very stable period, & # 39; said Chloe Stanton, formerly an undergraduate research assistant at the Glass Lab of Georgia Tech and the first author of the study.
& # 39; But at that time there were many important processes that affected ocean and atmospheric chemistry. & # 39;
This rolled up seabed is red like rust. As oxygen accumulated in the waters, iron rusted out of the solution. When it was, there was an abundance in the ocean, the powerful chemical reactant that could have facilitated the production of N2O (nitrous oxide). Karijini National Park Banded Iron Formations, Australia
Chemistry in the middle Proterozoic ocean was strongly influenced by abundant soluble ferrous iron (Fe2 +) in oxygen-free deep waters.
"The ocean chemistry was completely different then," Glass said.
The oceans of today are well oxygenated, so that iron quickly rusts out of the solution. Oxygen was low in Proterozoic oceans, so they were filled with ferrous iron, which is very reactive. & # 39;
Even today, some microbes can breathe laughing gas when the oxygen is low.
There are many similarities between the enzymes that microbes use to breathe in nitrogen and nitrogen oxides and enzymes that are used to breathe in oxygen.