Login with your Social Account

schematic model of boron

Combination of experiments and calculations allows examination of boron’s complicated dance

In a study that combines experimental work and theoretical calculations made possible by supercomputers, scientists have determined the nuclear geometry of two isotopes of boron. The result could help open a path to precise calculations of the structure of other nuclei that scientists could experimentally validate.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, in collaboration with scientists in Germany and Poland, determined the difference in a quantity known as the nuclear charge radius between boron-10 and boron-11. The nuclear charge radius indicates the size of an atomic nucleus — which often has relatively indistinct edges.

This is one of the most complicated atomic nuclei for which it is possible to arrive at these precise measurements experimentally and derive them theoretically.” — Argonne nuclear physicist Peter Mueller

Nuclear charge radii are difficult to compute with high precision for atoms much larger than boron because of the sheer number of neutrons and protons whose properties and interactions must be derived from quantum mechanics.

The nuclear theory builds from quantum chromodynamics (QCD), a set of physical rules that apply to quarks and gluons that compose the protons and neutrons within the nucleus. But trying to solve the nuclear dynamics using QCD alone would be an almost impossible task due to its complexity, and researchers have to rely on at least some simplifying assumptions.

Because boron is relatively light — with only five protons and a handful of neutrons — the team was able to successfully model the two boron isotopes on the Mira supercomputer and study them experimentally using laser spectroscopy. Mira is part of the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

This is one of the most complicated atomic nuclei for which it is possible to arrive at these precise measurements experimentally and derive them theoretically,” said Argonne nuclear physicist Peter Mueller, who helped lead the study.

Looking at how the nuclear configurations of boron-11 (11B) and boron-10 (10B) differed involved making determinations at extraordinarily small length scales: less than a femtometer — one-quadrillionth of a meter. In a counterintuitive finding, the researchers determined that the 11nucleons in boron-11 actually occupy a smaller volume than the 10 nucleons in boron-10.

To look experimentally at the boron isotopes, scientists at the University of Darmstadt performed laser spectroscopy on samples of the isotopes, which fluoresce at different frequencies. While most of the difference in the fluorescence patterns is caused by the difference in the mass between the isotopes, there is a component in the measurement that reflects the size of the nucleus, explained Argonne physicist Robert Wiringa.

To separate these components, collaborators from the University of Warsaw and Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan carried out state-of-the-art atomic theory calculations that precisely describe the complicated dance of the five electrons around the nucleus in the boron atom.

Earlier electron scattering experiments couldn’t really say for sure which was bigger,” Wiringa said. ​By using this laser spectroscopy technique, we’re able to see for certain how the extra neutron binds boron-11 more closely.”

The good agreement between experiment and theory for the dimensions of the nucleus allows researchers to determine other properties of an isotope, such as its beta decay rate, with higher confidence. ​The ability to perform calculations and do experiments go hand-in-hand to validate and reinforce our findings,” Mueller said.

The next stage of the research will likely involve the study of boron-8, which is unstable and only has a half-life of about a second before it decays. Because there are fewer neutrons in the nucleus, it is much less tightly bound than its stable neighbors and is believed to have an extended charge radius, Mueller said. ​There is a prediction, but only experiment will tell us how well it actually models this loosely bound system,” he explained.

An article based on the research, ​Nuclear Charge Radii of 10,11B,” appears in the May 10 issue of Physical Review Letters. In addition to Argonne’s Alessandro Lovato, researchers from two German and two Polish universities also collaborated.

Materials provided by Argonne National Laboratory

transistors

Researchers a step closer in creating successor to shrinking transistors

Over the decades, computers and other electronic devices have shrunk in size and also been significantly faster. This has been possible as the makers have understood and implemented the techniques to decrease the size of individual transistors, small electrical switches which work in transmitting information.

Researchers have relentlessly worked on decreasing the size of the transistor so as to pack more in each chip. However, it seems that pursuit is almost over as scientists are rapidly approaching the minimum physical limit for the size of the transistor, with the current models measuring 10 nanometres which is equivalent to the width of 30 atoms.

Dr. Kyeongjae Cho, professor of Materials science at the University of Texas, Dallas remarked that the power of processing of electronic equipment is derived from the millions and billions of transistors which are interconnected on one chip. He also pointed out that we are very rapidly nearing the minimum scale of size.

For further making improvement on the processing speed, the industry of microelectronics is currently looking at alternative possibilities. Professor Cho’s research work has been published in the Nature Communications journal.

Normal transistors can only transmit two types of information. Being a switch, the transistor is either in the on state or off state which in binary language translates to 1 or 0.

A technique to increase the processing power without putting in additional transistors would be to ramp up the information that can be conveyed by a single transistor with the help of intermediate stages between 1 and 0. The multi-valued transistor based on this principle would make for more operations and a greater amount of information which can be processed in one device.

Cho said that the concept of multi-valued logic transistors is not very new and there have been past attempts to create similar devices.  

Cho and his research group used a unique configuration of two types of zinc oxide to make a composite layer which is incorporated with other materials inside a superlattice. They found out that the physics for multi-valued logic can be achieved by embedding crystals of zinc oxide called quantum dots in amorphous zinc oxide. The order of atoms in amorphous solid is not rigid as in crystals. Cho has applied for patenting his work as he found that it is possible to create an electronic structure for the multi-level logic structure.

The significance of this research is that it can bridge the gap between current computing and quantum computers. Cho added that quantum computing is not yet commercialized and his work is in the direction to merge the gap between binary and large degrees of freedom.

 

A heart muscle cell shows bundles of actin filaments and bands of myosin.

For the first time, scientists recreate cell division—outside a cell

Every living thing moves—prey from predators, ants to crumbs, leaves toward sunlight. But at the most fundamental level, scientists are still struggling to grasp the physics behind how our own cells build, move, transport and divide.

“The mechanisms that allow organisms to move and change shape are inherent to life, and they are all underlaid by physics,” said Margaret Gardel, professor of physics at the University of Chicago. “But despite how central they are for our understanding of biology, a great deal of these remain poorly understood.”

Gardel led an innovative new study, which for the first time recreates the mechanism of cell division—outside a cell. The experiment, led by postdoctoral fellow Kim Weirich and published May 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, helps scientists understand the physics by which cells carry out their everyday activities, and could one day lead to medical breakthroughs, ideas for new kinds of materials or even artificial cells.

“How cells divide is one of the most basic aspects of trying to create life, and it’s something we’ve been trying to understand for hundreds of years,” said study senior author Gardel, who combines physics and biology to study the ways by which cells transform themselves.

Cells move through the body, but some of the most complex motion takes place inside the cell, as it ships ingredients and supplies from place to place, flattens or expands, and divides to recreate itself. One of the key players in this dance is actin, a protein that assembles itself into rods and structures.

IT’S SOMETHING WE’VE BEEN TRYING TO UNDERSTAND FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS.”—Prof. Margaret Gardel on cell division Click To Tweet

Gardel’s team wanted to understand the physics behind the actions of actin. So Weirich turned to one of the main ways that scientists have for this question: take the ingredients and try to build with them outside the cell.

Weirich separated out actin proteins, and watched as they formed droplets that took on an almond shape. When Weirich added myosin (“motor” proteins common in muscles), they spontaneously found the center between the two ends of the droplet and pinched off the droplet into two.

They were totally shocked to see the process, Gardel said. “There’s no precedent for this. It looks exactly like the spindles that drive cell division.”

Working with fellow UChicago physicist Thomas Witten and chemist Suriyanarayanan Vaikuntanathan, postdoctoral fellow Kinjal Disbaswas modeled the physics at play.

When in a droplet, the rod-like actin molecules like to align themselves in parallel to minimize conflict, forming the almond shape. The longer myosin molecules prefer to gather in the center so that they can still stay parallel to the actin. But as more myosins gather, they begin to stick together, forming clusters that favor tilting rather than staying parallel—so it pinches off into two. It’s the first such detailed look at how a cell might accomplish this task.

           

Myosin molecules (white) gather in the center of the rod-like actin molecules (red). (Courtesy of Weinrich et al)

Watching this process—how living things exploit the structure of a droplet to form more life—is not only fascinating but useful, Gardel said. Though the types of proteins are different in cell division, the underlying principles are likely similar. “This is the kind of thing you need to know to imagine building things like artificial tissue for a wound,” she said.

“Ultimately, a great deal of problems in biology are about how ensembles of molecules work together,” she said, “and because these are often materials with chemical reactions going on inside, they’re very hard to model. These kinds of studies allow us the opportunity to explore the basic principles of the forces at play.”

Materials provided by University of Chicago

Sulfurihydrogenibium

‘Fettuccine’ may be most obvious sign of life on Mars, researchers report

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A rover scanning the surface of Mars for evidence of life might want to check for rocks that look like pasta, researchers report in the journal Astrobiology.

The bacterium that controls the formation of such rocks on Earth is ancient and thrives in harsh environments that are similar to conditions on Mars, said University of Illinois geology professor Bruce Fouke, who led the new, NASA-funded study.

hot spring microbes

New research focuses on filamentous microbes that make their living in hot springs and catalyze the formation of travertine rock. Photo by Bruce W. Fouke

“It has an unusual name, Sulfurihydrogenibium yellowstonense,” he said. “We just call it ‘Sulfuri’.”

pasta like microbe

In fast-flowing hot springs, the microbe scientists call “Sulfuri” assembles itself into pastalike strands and promotes the crystallization of calcium carbonate rock – also known as travertine – along its surfaces. Photo by Tom Murphy

The bacterium belongs to a lineage that evolved prior to the oxygenation of Earth roughly 2.35 billion years ago, Fouke said. It can survive in extremely hot, fast-flowing water bubbling up from underground hot springs. It can withstand exposure to ultraviolet light and survives only in environments with extremely low oxygen levels, using sulfur and carbon dioxide as energy sources.

“Taken together, these traits make it a prime candidate for colonizing Mars and other planets,” Fouke said.

And because it catalyzes the formation of crystalline rock formations that look like layers of pasta, it would be a relatively easy life form to detect on other planets, he said.

The unique shape and structure of rocks associated with Sulfuri result from its unusual lifestyle, Fouke said. In fast-flowing water, Sulfuri bacteria latch on to one another “and hang on for dear life,” he said.

pasta like microbe

If a rover on Mars or other planets finds rock formations that look like pasta, it could be a signature of alien microbes, researchers report. This formation is the result of microbes that colonize hot springs on Earth. Photo by Bruce W. Fouke

If a rover on Mars or other planets finds rock formations that look like pasta, it could be a signature of alien microbes, researchers report. This formation is the result of microbes that colonize hot springs on Earth.

Photo by Bruce W. Fouke

“They form tightly wound cables that wave like a flag that is fixed on one end,” he said. The waving cables keep other microbes from attaching. Sulfuri also defends itself by oozing a slippery mucus.

“These Sulfuri cables look amazingly like fettuccine pasta, while further downstream they look more like capellini pasta,” Fouke said. The researchers used sterilized pasta forks to collect their samples from Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park.

The team analyzed the microbial genomes, evaluated which genes were being actively translated into proteins and deciphered the organism’s metabolic needs, Fouke said.

Researchers involved in the research

Researchers – including, from left, Illinois geology professors Robert Sanford and Bruce Fouke; Bucknell University undergraduate student Kyle Fouke; Glenn Fried, the director of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology core facilities; and Mayandi Sivaguru, the associate director of IGB core facilities – analyzed a bacterium with characteristics that make it a good candidate for life on other planets. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

The team also looked at Sulfuri’s rock-building capabilities, finding that proteins on the bacterial surface speed up the rate at which calcium carbonate – also called travertine – crystallizes in and around the cables “1 billion times faster than in any other natural environment on Earth,” Fouke said. The result is the deposition of broad swaths of hardened rock with an undulating, filamentous texture.

“This should be an easy form of fossilized life for a rover to detect on other planets,” Fouke said.

“If we see the deposition of this kind of extensive filamentous rock on other planets, we would know it’s a fingerprint of life,” Fouke said. “It’s big and it’s unique. No other rocks look like this. It would be definitive evidence of the presences of alien microbes.”

Materials provided by the University of Illinois

Megaraptor namunhuaiquii

Relation with T Rex found in fossils discovered 30 years ago

Humans of all age groups from children to great archaeologists have always been curious about the origin and existence of dinosaurs. Scientists at the University of Bonn and the Sirindhorn Museum have identified two new species of dinosaur which were based upon analyzing fossils discovered 30 years ago in Thailand.

The new species are distant relatives of the T.Rex dinosaur species but have a more primitive structure. Their work has been published in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. These fossils were discovered during excavation and were handed over to the Sirindhorn Museum.  Adun Samathi who is pursuing the research came over these fossils five years ago. He is currently pursuing a doctorate at Steinmann Institute of Geology, Mineralogy and Paleontology at the University of Bonn. He bought these fossils here to use the state of the art facilities at the University.

These group of dinosaurs are called megaraptors which is a group of carnivores predatory dinosaurs including the Tyrannosaurus-rex(T.Rex). They run on hind legs and their arms are strong and armed with long claws. They have a more delicate head which has a long snout ending. Samathi has said that these fossils can be assigned to the bones of a megaraptor named as Phuwiangvenator. Phuwiangvenator was believed to be the fastest runner with a length of about six meters and shorter than T.Rex who is 12 meters.

The main group of megaraptors are found in South America and Australia however they are believed to be originated in Southeast Asia and spread across the globe from there. Various characters of the Phuwiangvenator group indicate that they originated from Southeast Asia. Further unidentified fossils were discovered by a group of researchers which are of a predatory dinosaur species of length close to 4.5 meters, however, the species could not be identified. Scientists assume that this second species is a smaller variant in the dinosaur species called the Vayuraptor nongbualamphuenisis is also related to Phuwiangvenator and T. rex. Samathi compares this condition with that of the African black cats where the Phuwiangvenator is a lion and the Vayuraptor is a cheetah.

The recent findings and all the hard work of the archaeologists in finding the two new predatory species will be made public and presented on the tenth anniversary of the Sirindhorn Museum. Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will open the event. In the field of archaeology, there is no end as new fossils will lead to discovering of new species and theories.

 

micro submarines

‘Submarines’ small enough to deliver medicine inside human body

Cancers in the human body may one day be treated by tiny, self-propelled ‘micro-submarines’ delivering medicine to affected organs after UNSW Sydney chemical and biomedical engineers proved it was possible.

In a paper published in Materials Today, the engineers explain how they developed micrometre-sized submarines that exploit biological environments to tune their buoyancy, enabling them to carry drugs to specific locations in the body.

Corresponding author Dr Kang Liang, with both the School of Biomedical Engineering and School of Chemical Engineering at UNSW, says the knowledge can be used to design next generation ‘micro-motors’ or nano-drug delivery vehicles, by applying novel driving forces to reach specific targets in the body.

“We already know that micro-motors use different external driving forces – such as light, heat or magnetic field – to actively navigate to a specific location,” Dr Liang says.

“In this research, we designed micro-motors that no longer rely on external manipulation to navigate to a specific location. Instead, they take advantage of variations in biological environments to automatically navigate themselves.”

What makes these micro-sized particles unique is that they respond to changes in biological pH environments to self-adjust their buoyancy. In the same way that submarines use oxygen or water to flood ballast points to make them more or less buoyant, gas bubbles released or retained by the micro-motors due to the pH conditions in human cells contribute to these nanoparticles moving up or down.

This is significant not just for medical applications, but for micro-motors generally.

“Most micro-motors travel in a 2-dimensional fashion,” Dr Liang says.

“But in this work, we designed a vertical direction mechanism. We combined these two concepts to come up with a design of autonomous micro-motors that move in a 3D fashion. This will enable their ultimate use as smart drug delivery vehicles in the future.”

Dr Liang illustrates a possible scenario where drugs are taken orally to treat a cancer in the stomach or intestines. To give an idea of scale, he says each capsule of medicine could contain millions of micro-submarines, and within each micro-submarine would be millions of drug molecules.

“Imagine you swallow a capsule to target a cancer in the gastrointestinal tract,” he says.

“Once in the gastrointestinal fluid, the micro-submarines carrying the medicine could be released. Within the fluid, they could travel to the upper or bottom region depending on the orientation of the patient.

“The drug-loaded particles can then be internalised by the cells at the site of the cancer. Once inside the cells, they will be degraded causing the release of the drugs to fight the cancer in a very targeted and efficient way.”

For the micro-submarines to find their target, a patient would need to be oriented in such a way that the cancer or ailment being treated is either up or down – in other words, a patient would be either upright or lying down.

Dr Liang says the so-called micro-submarines are essentially composite metal-organic frameworks (MOF)-based micro-motor systems containing a bioactive enzyme (catalase, CAT) as the engine for gas bubble generation. He stresses that he and his colleagues’ research is at the proof-of-concept stage, with years of testing needing to be completed before this could become a reality.

Dr Liang says the research team – comprised of engineers from UNSW, University of Queensland, Stanford University and University of Cambridge – will be also looking outside of medical applications for these new multi-directional nano-motors.

“We are planning to apply this new finding to other types of nanoparticles to prove the versatility of this technique,” he says.

Materials provided by University of New South Wales

Fusarium oxysporum strain fungi

Researchers discover interaction of fungi with gold deep inside Earth

The National Space Agency of Australia has found a gold digging fungus not from gold mines rather from deep inside the surface of the Earth. The fungus attaches gold to its strands undergoing an oxidation process which involves dissolving and precipitating gold particles which are so small that they are impossible to be seen by a naked eye.

Fungi oxidizes the tiny gold particles and precipitates them on its strands by a cycling process which contributes to how gold and other elements are dispensed off within and around the surface of the Earth. The fungi are quite famous for playing a crucial role in the degradation and recycling of organic material , which mainly includes leaves and bark and other metals such as aluminium , manganese and iron.

However, researchers are not yet sure whether the gold coated fungi is an indication of gold deposits under the surface of the Earth . Nonetheless, they believe that mineral does allow for some biological advantage. The fungi with their hankering for gold grow larger and spread faster that the normal ones which do not posses any affinity towards gold.

These fungi are hence, more diverse than others. This is henceforth, the first evidence that fungi play an important role in how gold is cycled around the surface of the Earth and can contribute to less invasive extraction of gold in the near future and can even be used as a bio-remediation tool to recover gold from waste.

There are many other plants and animals thriving on the surface of the Earth , hankering over gold. Eucalyptus trees are known to draw gold particles from as deep as ten metres under the Earth’s surface using their roots and branches. These are 60 million years old and use their leaves to deposit gold on them. There are many species of termites and ants which decorate the mounds with gold, that they carry from under the Earth’s surface. According to a report in Nature Communications , these mechanisms help to create a low impact in mining practices.

The fungi Fusarium oxysporum is harmless and can even form a symbiosis relationship with plants. Some strains of this fungi, however, contribute to the development of the most infectious plant disease worldwide, called Fusarium Wilt. The disease is so destructive that US government had proposed strains to serve as weapons to wipe out coca and other illegal plant growth under the ‘Agent Green” operation.

inhaler copd

Steroids can reduce lung cancer risk in COPD patients

For many people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, a steroid inhaler is a daily necessity to keep their airways open and help them to breathe. Now, a new UBC analysis shows that these medicated devices may also reduce patients’ risk of lung cancer by as much as 30 per cent.

The researchers evaluated 10 years’ worth of medical and pharmacy data for 39,676 adults in British Columbia who were diagnosed with COPD, including 994 people who were later diagnosed with lung cancer. They compared outcomes for people who took inhaled steroids versus those who used beta agonists, another class of drugs used to treat COPD.

Beta agonists, which work by relaxing muscles in the lungs to widen the airways, are the first choice of treatment for COPD. But doctors will often prescribe steroids, which reduce the number of inflammatory cells called eosinophils in the lungs, for more severe cases.

“Results showed that if you had COPD and consistently used a steroid inhaler, your chances of getting lung cancer were between 25 per cent and 30 per cent lower compared to people who took other treatments,” said study author Larry Lynd, a professor who leads the Collaboration for Outcomes Research and Evaluation project at UBC’s faculty of pharmaceutical sciences and an associate member of the faculty of medicine.

COPD is a group of diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, that hamper airflow to the lungs and cause serious long-term disability and early death. Although there is no cure, treatments can help manage the disease.

“In Canada alone, more than 700,000 people have been diagnosed with COPD,” said study co-author Don Sin, a professor of medicine at UBC and the Canada Research Chair in COPD. “These results highlight the importance of identifying which of those patients may be at the highest risk for lung cancer and may benefit from therapy with inhaled steroids.”

The study, recently published in European Respiratory Journal, is limited by its reliance on administrative data, which limits the scope of data available for analysis, and the fact that COPD diagnosis was based solely on prescription records. For the next stage in this research, the researchers plan to do studies to understand how steroids reduce lung cancer risk in COPD patients.

“More work is clearly needed to understand the exact nature of the relationship between lung cancer risks and steroid use,” said Lynd. “Over the next few months, we will find out which COPD patients would benefit the most from inhaled steroids.”

Materials provided by University of British Columbia

Illustration of the rogue planet

The ‘Forbidden’ Planet has been found in the ‘Neptunian Desert’

The Neptunian Desert is a region close to stars where large planets with their own atmospheres, similar to Neptune, are not expected to survive, since the strong irradiation from the star would cause any gaseous atmosphere to evaporate, leaving just a rocky core behind.

This is a very rare planet, and it’s the first time that such a small planet has been detected by a wide-field ground-based telescope

–Ed Gillen

However, NGTS-4b, nicknamed the ‘Forbidden Planet’, still has its atmosphere intact and is the first exoplanet of its kind to be found in the Neptunian Desert. The results are reported in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

NGTS-4b is smaller than Neptune and three times the size of Earth. It is dense and hot, with a mass 20 times that of Earth and an average surface temperature of 1000 degrees Celsius. The planet orbits its star very closely, completing a full orbit in just 1.3 days.

The planet was identified using the Next-Generation Transit Survey (NGTS) observing facility at the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal Observatory in Chile’s Atacama Desert. NGTS is a collaboration between the Universities of Warwick, Leicester, Cambridge, and Queen’s University Belfast, together with Observatoire de Genève, DLR Berlin and Universidad de Chile.

When looking for new planets, astronomers use facilities such as NGTS to look for a dip in the light of a star, which occurs when an orbiting planet passes in front of it, blocking some of the light. Usually, dips of 1% and more can be picked up by ground-based searches, but the NGTS telescopes can pick up a dip of just 0.2%.

This sensitivity means that astronomers can now detect a wider range of exoplanets: those with diameters between two and eight times that of Earth, in between the smaller rocky planets and gas giants.

“This is a very rare planet, and it’s the first time that such a small planet has been detected by a wide-field ground-based telescope,” said co-author Dr Ed Gillen from Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory, who led the data analysis of the system to determine the mass, radius and orbit of NGTS-4b.

The researchers believe the planet may have moved into the Neptunian Desert recently, in the last one million years, or it was very big and the atmosphere is still evaporating.

“This planet must be tough – it is right in the zone where we expected Neptune-sized planets could not survive,” said lead Dr Richard West from the University of Warwick. “It is truly remarkable that we found a transiting planet via a star dimming by less than 0.2% – this has never been done before by telescopes on the ground, and it was great to find after working on this project for a year.

“We are now searching our data for other similar planets to help us understand how dry this Neptunian Desert is, or whether it is greener than was once thought,” said Gillen.

The research was supported in part by the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council

The full paper: https://academic.oup.com/mnras/article/486/4/5094/5475662

Materials provided by the University of Warwick

Runit Dome

Fears of radioactive contamination of Cactus Dome increase in Runit Island

Nuclear tests which were carried out during war times and in the late 1900s have left a huge geographical impact on the area which is used for testing these explosives. The US tested their ‘cactus’ bomb in May 1958 which was relatively small but has left a lasting impact on the area of the Marshall Islands which has a dome-shaped radioactive dump.

This dome is located in Runit Island which is one of 40 islands of the Enewetak Atoll of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. The dome was described as a coffin by the United Nations chief Antonio Guterres. The bomb crater was dumped with radioactive waste and later filled with concrete and it told the residents of the remote islands that they can safely return home. However, this dome has started to develop cracks and there are fears that it will soon start leaking radioactive material through the porous coral rock of the islands. The concern has intensified as the issues of climate change are gaining importance. Rising sea levels will further threaten the dome structure.

Jack Ading who represents the Marshall Island Parliament has called this dome a “Monstrosity” as it is filled with radioactive contaminants which include Plutonium-239 which is the most toxic substance known to man. The coffin is leaking poison in its surrounding areas and people of Marshall Islands are always reassured about its strength which is making matters worse at ground level.

The dome is a fine example of how US has left behind a mess by carrying out 67 nuclear tests at the Marshall Islands between 1947 to 1958. A lot of native population were forcibly evacuated from their native heartlands and resettled and even today those who live on those islands are exposed to radioactive fallout and suffer health problems. The US military later withdrew and signed a full and final settlement to the government of Marshall Islands but there have long been complaints about inadequate compensation by the US Government and United Nations has described this act as a “Legacy of Distrust” towards the states.

The foreign minister of Marshall Islands John Silk has appreciated people for bringing this issue to global attention. Issues like these require support of international community to address health and social issues.  A 2013 inspection commissioned by the US suggests that the radioactive fallout was already so high that a failure of the dome would not necessarily increase the exposure to radiation. This issue has been a constant source of anxiety for the people of Enewetak in the Marshall Islands and that people fear that the dome eventually could become their coffin.