Jul 262016
 
The rock hugging a rock

Stale air is gross. Anyone who has let rip in a closed room, and immediately prayed to the fart gods that no-one enters, is aware that smells linger for a long time. I have actually always wondered whether the ground crew who first open up the door of a long haul flight are witness to more than 10 hours and 200 passengers worth of vomit inducing bum smell. That being said, if Brazilian fart porn is your particular fetish, perhaps working as ground crew for Brazilian Airways would be a dream come true.

Rock boffins (which, by the way, is the appropriate term to encompass geochemists, geologists and ACDC enthusiasts) from the famous rock loving countries of Canada, USA, Scotland, France and China, have found and analysed the most stale air ever found. The air has been locked up in a rock for 815 ± 15 million years or, to put that into perspective, about as long as it feels when you are sat in a geology lecture.

The rock was crushed, presumably between the buttocks of the wrestler and actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and the released gas was analysed for its oxygen content. The boffins found that the oxygen level was far higher than than expected – oxygen made up 10.9 percent of the gas. This is five times more than they were expecting for the age of the sample and about half of what we have today (about 21%). This amount of oxygen is more than enough to support life, calling into question our current understanding of why life didn’t appear earlier and why The Rock is still cast in movies.

Party pooper geochemist, Noah Planavsky, says that the result may be wrong as over millions of years other gasses may have diffused into the rock sample changing the gaseous composition. Although, they probably asked for his opinion at an inconvenient moment.

To read more, click on the link:

RESEARCH FOCUS: Cracking the Neoproterozoic atmosphere?Geology, August 1, 2016, v. 44, p. 687688