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This is What Happens if You Zap a 500-Year-Old Coral with The World's Most Powerful X-Ray


Scientists taking a core sample from a 500-year-old coral in the oceans off American Samoa (Image: Dr. Robert B. Dunbar)

What's the ocean temperature back on July 8, 1650? The corals can tell you!

Humans have been recording weather records for about 150 years, but scientists have found a way to determine ancient ocean temperature and precipitation levels by subjecting corals to the world's most powerful X-ray machine.

Neil Tangri and colleagues at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center took X-rays of an ancient Porites lutea coral off the coast of the American Samoa to get detailed picture of the weather from 500 years ago, with astounding resolution to the week.

KQED's Deep Look explains:

Thanks Christina Reagan!


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