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This Atom Can Predict The Future

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Channel: MinuteEarth
Categories: Physics   |   Science  
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Many of the bewildering correlations in our world - like that between Beryllium-7 and the Asian monsoon - are a result of huge and unseen forces that tie them together.

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To learn more, start your googling with these keywords:
Monsoon: A seasonal increase in precipitation driven by atmospheric conditions.
Hadley Cell: A global scale atmospheric cell driven by air rising near the equator and falling as it flows towards the polls.
Ferrel Cell: A secondary atmospheric circulation that collides with the Hadley cell and pushes air back down towards the Earths surface.
Intertropical Convergence Zone: The narrow zone between the northern and southern Hadley cells where warm air comes together and rises.
Tropopause: The boundary area roughly 15 kilometers above the Earths surface between the troposphere and the stratosphere.
Radionuclide: Isotopes of atoms that release radiation as they break down.
Beryllium-7: A relatively stable radionuclide of the element Beryllium that naturally forms in the tropopause during spallation.
Spallation: The process in which a heavier atom loses nuclear particles after being bombarded by cosmic rays.
Cosmic Rays: High energy atomic particles that move at near light speed through space.
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Credits (and Twitter handles):
Video Writer, Director, and Narrator: David Goldenberg (@dgoldenberg)
Video Illustrator: Sarah Berman (@sarahjberman)
With Contributions From: Henry Reich, Alex Reich, Kate Yoshida, Ever Salazar, Peter Reich, Julin Gmez, Arcadi Garcia Rius
Music by: Nathaniel Schroeder:


Terzi, L., Kalinowski, M., Schoeppner, M., and Wotawa, G. (2019). How to predict seasonal weather and monsoons with radionuclide monitoring. Nature. 9: 2729. Retrieved from:

KhnReich, L., Brger, G. (2019). Dynamical prediction of Indian monsoon: Past and present skill. International Journal of Climatology. 38:3574-3581. Retrieved from:

Delaygue, G., Bekki, S., and Bard, E. (2015) Modelling the stratospheric budget of beryllium isotopes. Tellus B: Chemical and Physical Meteorology, 67:1 Retrieved from:

Palukkat, H. (2016) The odds of foretelling rains: Why monsoon prediction is hard, and why it could soon improve. Economic Times. Retrieved from:

Kalinowski, M. (2020). Personal Communication. Provisional Technical Secretariat, Preparatory Commission for the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization.

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