New Research Center will fee chemistry from Earth” bonds

October 9th, 2008 - 2:36 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Oct 9 (ANI): A new research center, combining the tools of chemistry and astronomy, will free the study of basic chemistry from the restrictive bonds of Earth, by allowing scientists to explore new types of chemical reactions that occur under the extreme conditions of space. The Center for Chemistry of the Universe will combine laboratory experiments, theoretical studies, and radio-telescope observations to dramatically expand our understanding of the processes that build molecules that may “seed” young planets with the building blocks of life.
“We hope to answer some very basic questions, such as just how did the molecules that ultimately became us get their start?” said Brooks Pate, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Virginia (UVa) and leader of the team that will form the new center.
The new center will bring together laboratory researchers, theoreticians, and observers using radio telescopes of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and the Arizona Radio Observatory (ARO).
The group of chemists, participating in the center, have discovered more than half of the new interstellar molecules identified worldwide in the past 18 months.
According to Philip Jewell, Deputy Director of the NRAO, and one of the team members, “A central theme of chemistry is to understand how chemical reactions work. Most of our current knowledge of how molecules are formed came from laboratory experiments with solutions. However, in interstellar space, reactions occur in gases and on surfaces, such as on tiny cosmic dust grains.”
“We”re going to focus on studying these poorly-understood processes, and thus break chemistry out of our Earth-bound constraints,” he added.
“The combination of experimentalists, theoreticians and radio-telescope observers will allow quick feedback and testing of new ideas and better understanding of what we see in our own and other galaxies,” said Anthony Remijan of the NRAO.
The new center also will pursue an extensive educational effort, including student programs, new courses at UVa, and displays and outreach activities at the NRAO”” Green Bank Science Center and other museums. (ANI)

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