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Scientists have unraveled the great mystery of the Sahara.  A surprising discovery

Scientists have unraveled the great mystery of the Sahara. A surprising discovery

The 700-meter-wide star dune in the Sahara is younger than scientists expected. This was discovered thanks to the fact that sand grains behave like mini batteries.

The premiere of the second part of “Dune” is behind us, which was hard to miss. Eventually, various companies used this fact for promotion, and the film was talked about literally everywhere. English it’s just a dune, and in Dennis Villeneuve’s film based on Frank Herbert’s books, it’s one of the names of the desert planet Arrakis, the main setting of the novel and its film adaptation.

It so happens that scientists shared with the media the results of research on the Sahara and its star dunes, which they themselves were surprised by. The local sand has properties that could easily be included as a fantasy element in “Dune”.

The Sahara reveals its secrets. The dunes are older than you might think

Star dunes, also called pyramid dunes, owe their name to their shape. They are hundreds of meters wide and several dozen or even more meters high. They are found in Africa, Asia, North America and even on Mars.

Experts have not yet been able to determine their age, but this changed after examining the Lala Lallia dune in Morocco. Researchers claim that the dune was formed 13,000 years ago. years ago.

Studying the age of the dune allows us to better understand the action of the winds and determine the climate that prevailed at that time, says Professor Geoff Duller from the University of Aberystwyth, who published the results of the analyzes together with Professor Charles Bristow from Birkbeck University.

Typically, scientists are able to place a desert on the chart of Earth’s geological history. However, there was a problem with the star dunes. According to prof. Dullera, this may have been due to the fact that they are so large that experts may not have realized that they were looking at one specific dune.

The examined dune is 100 meters high and 700 meters wide. Such formations are caused by opposing winds that change direction. The foundation of the dune rose to approximately 9,000 m. year BC. Then the formation stabilized.

We think it was a bit wetter back then. We noticed traces of plant roots in the dune, suggesting that the dune had stabilized through vegetation. Then it stayed like that for 8,000 years. Then the climate began to change again, and with this process the star dune took shape

– The upper parts of the formation were formed within the last thousand years. It turns out that the dune is younger than researchers expected.

Due to the action of the wind, the dune moves about 50 cm westwards every year. Prof. Duller points out that this is important when building infrastructure such as roads or pipelines.

Sand stores energy like a battery. Thanks to this, the age of the dune was examined

A technique called thermoluminescence dating was used to investigate the dune’s age. The method involves examining when sand grains have been exposed to sunlight. To achieve this, samples from the middle of the dune are taken at night so as not to expose them to the sun before being transported to the laboratory. Such research is possible because sand grains store energy. Prof. Duller says they have properties like mini batteries that can be discharged and recharged.

They can store energy that comes from natural radioactive radiation. When we take them to the lab, we can release this energy and it emerges as light. We measure this, and the brightness of the flare tells us when the sand last saw daylight

– explains prof. Duller.

Perhaps science fiction fans – like the author of this article – immediately thought of using the above fact in the plot of some sci-fi story. Because if sand accumulates light energy and scientists compare it to a battery, it is not difficult to imagine it as fuel and a battery for space travel. And this draws another analogy with “Dune”.

In Frank Herbert’s novel, the desert planet Arrakis is central to star travel. The spice collected there allows navigate in space-time, making long-range space travel possible. The only raw material that is abundant in the Sahara could make this most famous desert a hero of the novel as important as Arrakis is in “Dune”.

Source: Gazeta

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