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October 12 2012

The mysterious case of the missing noble gas


The evidence is in every breath of air, but answers are harder to come by. Xenon, the second heaviest of the chemically inert noble gases, has gone missing. Our atmosphere contains far less xenon, relative to the lighter noble gases, than meteorites similiar to the rocky material that formed the Earth.

The missing-xenon paradox is one of science’s great whodunits. Researchers have hypothesized that the element is lurking in glaciers, minerals or Earth’s core, among other places.

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