Measurement science influences other sciences and sometimes from quite an unexpected angle. A recent review on extinction of the dinosaurs (the “Mass Extinction at the Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary”, to put it in a scientifically correct way) published in the prestigious Science journal (Science 2010, 327, 1214-1218) confirmed that the most likely cause of dinosaur mass extinction was an asteroid impact at around 65.5 million years ago. Consequences of this event included a long dark and cold period of several years, as well as possible acidification of the ocean (as a consequence of a huge amount of sulfur compounds that were ejected into the atmosphere). This led to dying of most of the plants on the planet (which later largely recovered from seeds and roots) and most of the creatures that feeded on plants or on other creatures. Among them almost all dinosaurs.

Interestingly, this hypothesis was originally proposed based on chemical measurement (analytical chemical) data! It was discovered more than thirty years ago (Science 1980, 208, 1095-1108) that in sediments of roughly that age there was sharply increased iridium content (by up to ca 100 times). This was interpreted as a consequence of an iron meteorite hitting the earth. Iron meteorites are quite rich in platinum metals and the fierce explosion that took place jumping castle for sale on the impact distributed the platinum metals into the atmosphere all over the world, where they thereafter precipitate and accumulate in the sediments.

(Image: by NASA, via Wikipedia)


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