v17n4 From the Editors

For centuries, philosophers and scientists had proposed the existence of planets outside of our own Solar System. Yet, it wasn’t until late 20th century that scientists first confirmed the existence of exoplanets. How does one study planets that are thousands of light years away from Earth? Exoplanet studies are not purely within the domain of astrophysicists. As you will discover in the articles of this issue, exoplanet research requires an interdisciplinary approach.

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v17n3 From the Editors

In just about every physical science course the concept of the atom is taught. Students are introduced to the three subatomic particles of electrons, protons, and neutrons. Usually, there is a lot of emphasis on electrons, because their configuration determines the chemical properties of an atom. And the protons get a lot of attention as well: who doesn’t like H+? Sadly, too often, neutrons are left in the “Oh, there is another part of an atom” category … that neutral subatomic particle that adds weight to the atom.

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v17n2 From the Editors

Science is a breeding ground for jargon. Jargon is useful and elegant for the specialist but often a conundrum for the nonspecialist. As you read the articles of this issue of Elements, you will likely encounter some of this rich terminology, including the evocative terms “snottite” and “moonmilk”. But, thankfully, the editors and authors have made considerable effort to translate much of this cave science jargon so that we, too, can enjoy the wonderful world of speleothems.

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v16n6 From the Editors

As part of every years’ final “From the Editors”, we like to thank the many people who have contributed to Elements over the course of the previous year. But before we do so, we want to acknowledge that 2020 was a year unlike any other in the history of Elements. The global pandemic impacted all of us in profound and, for many, sometimes tragic ways. The challenges that our readers, editors, authors, participating societies, and advertisers faced in 2020 makes it even more meaningful to thank our contributors. We greatly appreciate all your efforts!

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v16n5 From the Editors

Marissa Tremblay, Emily Cooperdock, and Peter Zeitler, guest editors of this issue of Elements, introduce us to another application of noble gases: thermochronology. In addition to editing the six thematic articles on the utility of noble gas thermochronology to fundamental geological questions (e.g., What are the rates of exhumation? How does a fault zone evolve?), these guest editors also wrote this issue’s Toolkit, which introduces the different methods used to extract, isolate, and measure the concentration of noble gases (and their isotopes) derived from natural materials. We hope you enjoy reading about this fascinating topic!

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v16n4 From the Editors

Elements magazine has published many topical issues for which the focus has been on an individual element (see graphic). Some elements were featured as a group, such as the platinum group elements (v4n4) or the rare earth elements (v8n5). Others were featured as allotropes, as happened for carbon as diamond (v1n2) or carbon as graphite (v10n6). Yet others were featured in the context of an overview of the many roles that an element plays in natural systems. The current issue, “Lithium: Less is More” (v16n4), falls under this latter category.

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v16n3 From the Editors

When we started finalizing this issue for publication the prospect of a pandemic seemed very distant. In the intervening three months, COVID-19 has come to dominate everything: our conversations, news broadcasts, our working patterns, and our social lives. For many, this has been a tragic time, and we extend our condolences to all those readers of Elements who have lost loved ones and colleagues to COVID-19. For scholars, this is an uncertain time, as universities and research organizations take stock of the impact of the pandemic on their activities, and their financial well-being. The dramatic drop in student mobility across the world is already starting to take a toll on university income and may yet pose an existential threat. On a brighter note, it is hard to overlook the benefits of having cleaner air, happier wildlife, and lower global emissions due to our traveling less.

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v16n2 From the Editors

Light interacts with matter in different ways. It can be absorbed, transmitted, reflected, or scattered. Scientists can measure those light–matter interactions to reveal incredible details about the structure and reactivity of matter. When it comes to scattered light, it is likely you are most familiar with Rayleigh scattering, in which light is elastically scattered by small molecules and the wavelength (or color) doesn’t change. It is the reason behind the blue color of the sky. Maybe less familiar is the small amount of light (typically 0.0000001%) that is scattered at different wavelengths. This inelastic scattering of light, or Raman effect, is due to the incident light interacting with the chemical structure (bonding) within the matter. The Raman effect may be small (only about 1 part in 10 million), but it is mighty. Discover why by reading the articles in this issue of Elements.

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