Cold Isotope Chemistry

Isotopes react in the same way, don't they? Chemical reactions are unaffected by the isotopic composition so the percentage of different isotopes of the same element in a substance would be the same as the percentage of each naturally occurring isotope. Well, this is true on earth but it is not the case in space, deep space where the temperature is really low and the concentration of atoms very very small. In effect, one isotope will become more reactive than the other. Scientists have ...

Working out climate change using oxygen isotopes

  We are told that in the past the planet's atmosphere has been colder and warmer than it is today but how do scientists actually know this?   A variety of methods are used but one uses some straight forward (to understand - not necessarily carry out) chemistry. Oxygen has two stable isotopes, 16O and 18O. 16O evaporates faster than 18O so seawater will contain more 18O than 16O due to evaporation. The water will eventually make its way into rivers and back into the ...