Photosynthesis is largely responsible for producing and maintaining the oxygen content of the Earth's atmosphere, and supplies all of the organic compounds and most of the energy necessary for life on Earth.
Although photosynthesis is performed differently by different species, the process always begins when energy from light is absorbed by proteins called reaction centres that contain green chlorophyll pigments.
In most cases, oxygen is also released as a waste product.
Most plants, most algae, and cyanobacteria perform photosynthesis; such organisms are called photoautotrophs.
"This technique stands to revolutionize radiocarbon dating," said Marvin Rowe, Ph. "It expands the possibility for analyzing extensive museum collections that have previously been off limits because of their rarity or intrinsic value and the destructive nature of the current method of radiocarbon dating.
A geologist, accustomed to putting his lab’s high-tech nanoscale scanning electron microscope (nano SEM) to work evaluating the mineral composition of rocks and meteorites, has now been enlisted for ...
Rowe hopes to use it, for instance, to analyze objects such as a small ivory figurine called the "Venus of Brassempouy," thought to be about 25,000 years old and one of the earliest known depictions of a human face.
The figurine is small enough to fit into the chamber used for analysis.
Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to convert light energy into chemical energy that can later be released to fuel the organisms' activities (energy transformation).
This chemical energy is stored in carbohydrate molecules, such as sugars, which are synthesized from carbon dioxide and water – hence the name photosynthesis, from the Greek φῶς, phōs, "light", and σύνθεσις, synthesis, "putting together".
Rowe and his colleagues used the technique to analyze the ages of about 20 different organic substances, including wood, charcoal, leather, rabbit hair, a bone with mummified flesh attached, and a 1,350-year-old Egyptian weaving.