Monday, October 07, 2013

CERN, CLOUD: ammonia-like odor helps aerosol production

Vaginal odors cause global cooling

CERN's CLOUD experiment that uses a particle-physics-based device to study the effects underlying the cloud formation just published a new paper in Nature and a corresponding press release:
Molecular understanding of sulfuric acid–amine particle nucleation in the atmosphere (Nature, by Almeida and dozens of co-authors)

...supporting information...

CERN’s CLOUD experiment shines new light on climate change (CERN press office)
I don't want to copy all the information you may find above so let me be brief.

For a while, it's been more or less known that the sulfuric acid \(H_2 SO_4\) itself (I mean using the U.S. spelling with an "f") isn't enough to produce the cloud condensation nuclei. Is there another compound that helps?

They studied what happens in their chamber if they add realistic concentrations of an amine, namely dimethylamine. And they found out that the formation rate is extremely sensitive to the concentration of this stinky odor.

Their even claim that their observations may be reproduced by a quantum mechanical calculation. This would suggest a rather advanced degree of understanding of what's going on.

For this particular combination of compounds, the folks seem to experimentally deduce that the presence of cosmic rays has a negligible (but probably measurable by them) impact on the formation rate. However, they point out that it doesn't exclude the possibility that different combinations of compounds may also contribute to the formation of clouds and they could be sensitive to the cosmic ray flux.

Note that amines are compounds with a single nitrogen atom \(N\) at the center that may be considered derivatives of ammonia \(NH_3\). All of those things smell sort of similarly to the ammonia.

Dimethylamine that was used and demonstrated to matter is \((CH_3)_2 NH\) which means that two of the three ammonia's hydrogen atom branches are replaced by two copies of the methyl group, \(CH_3\), which still has one free 'hand" to be connected to the nitrogen atom. Incidentally, trimethylamine is similarly \((CH_3)_3 N\) – all the branches are replaced by the methyl group – and this amine is the primary component in the odor of rotten fish (and the typical bad breath or bacteria-based vaginal odors) in the real world.

Apologies for this repulsive appendix. TRF readers who are members of the IPCC might conclude that while men cause global warming, women cause global cooling. ;-)

If they're right, then I would think that it's about equally likely as not that the amine-sulfuric-acid combination is representative and cosmic rays are unimportant for cloud formation in general. However, there may be vast enhancements for other molecules and/or other indirect processes that make the cosmic rays matter. The Shaviv-Veizer geological correlation remains the most important reason why your humble correspondent tends to believe that the cosmic ray flux cannot be negligible.

At any rate, they surely show that the cloud formation does depend on many chemical properties of the atmosphere. One could say that they have pretty much shown that bad breath and rotten fish cause global cooling.


  1. Marine algae produce significant amount of dimethyl sulfide, which also has a role in cloud formation.

  2. For what else can you use methylamine, yo ?!

  3. A healthy vagina (lactobacilli) has low molecular weight fatty acids, pH 3.5 - 4. Bacterial vaginosis (Chlamydia trachomatis) raises vaginal pH and adds amine metabolites. End Climate Change! End all local and international food charities. Allow two billion corpses to rot in place (amines). This also removes 2 Mcal/body-day of basal metabolism, 100 W average/person, summed 200 GW continuous waste heat, 0.6 exajoules of waste heat/year. If they exert themselves at all, basal metabolism is too small.

    Enviro-whiners excrete disingenuous authority to deflect dissonant facts damaging to their tender underbellies of Carbon Tax emoluments. The engineering solution to Earth's worst problems is to do nothing. The US will turn it off and shut it down, mid-October 2013. Who gets paid off to resume making things worse?

  4. Bacterial vaginosis is caused by Gardnerella primarily and afew others (mycoplasmas, bacteroides), not chlamydia. Its treatment is different as well.

  5. Let's talk about the cloud chamber.

    Brian Cox has a good bit on what it is, how it works.

    B.C. builds a cloud chamber.

    In the chamber you can see the track of cosmic rays impacting on the alcohol vapor. The impact actually slows them down and changes their direction slightly.

    The main point of Brian's thesis, that cosmic rays continually rearrange our DNA causing genetic mutations and the diversity of life, is this under serious question?

    Seems to me if cosmic rays can do all that, then they can damn sure affect the weather.

  6. Allow two billion corpses to rot in place (amines).

    Yet another reason I prefer endless summer. Given the choice.

    I don't think you'll be able to move me off this position.