Feeds

Air is heavier than we thought, admit scientists

World just gained weight

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Scientists have discovered that air is heavier that we previously thought, but not by much. The rough composition of air is well known. It is mostly nitrogen (around 78 per cent) and oxygen (21 per cent). The rest is a mixture of carbon dioxide, water vapour and argon. It is the amount of argon that is key here, because the more argon present, the denser the air.

Around a century ago, scientists calculated that the amount of argon in the air was around 0.934 per cent. In 1969, this was revised to around 0.917 per cent. However, a team from the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS) and the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in France, have determined that the actual amount of argon is 0.9332 per cent, plus or minus 0.0006. The results were published in Metrologia.

According to the Institute of Physics, this is particularly important to scientists taking very precise mass measurements, because of how air density affects buoyancy. The institute invites us to consider the old joke: which weighs more, a kilo of feathers or a kilo of lead? Start by measuring out a kilo of each, in a vacuum, and when you re-measure the mass in air, the feathers will be lighter. This is because the air supports each of them, very slightly.

In separate news, scientists in California have developed the world's strongest acid. Paradoxically, it is also one of the least corrosive. This is down to its incredible chemical stability: at its core it contains a molecule called carborane, possibly the most stable group of atoms in chemistry.

The acidity of a substance is determined by how readily it donates hydrogen ions or protons. This new acid is over 100 trillion times more acidic that swimming pool water, and more acidic than hydrofluoric acid but it won't eat through glass. ®

Related stories

Boffins unleash robotic cockroach
Wobbly Aussies fail squat-to-pee test
Scientists slice graphite into atom-thick sheets

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.