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Potential uses, Buizert and his colleagues say, are dating meteorites recovered in Antarctic ice, and studying the Earth's climate and its cycle of ice ages.

Krypton is a noble gas that is present in the atmosphere at extremely low levels, or about one part per million.

Scientists say they have developed a means of accurately dating Earth's oldest and densest polar ice by analyzing the composition of krypton gas trapped within ancient air bubbles.

In a study published Monday in the journal PNAS, researchers used the new dating method, called Atom Trap Trace Analysis, or ATTA, to study ice recovered from the Mc Murdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica."The oldest ice found in drilled cores is around 800,000 years old, and with this new technique we think we can look in other regions and successfully date polar ice back as far as 1.5 million years," lead study author Christo Buizert, an Oregon State University paleoclimatologist, said in a statement."That is very exciting because a lot of interesting things happened with the Earth's climate prior to 80,000 years ago that we currently cannot study in the ice core record," Buizert said.

Because there's so little krypton in the air, you have to melt down a lot of ice to obtain sufficient samples.

Also, you need a device that can count, or trap, individual atoms.

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It is suggested that students have a good mastery of Algebra II in order to succeed in the course.

The nature of the course necessitates a comfortable understanding of algebra and a willingness to develop an understanding of the scientific method.

Students will study the structure of the earth, minerals and their properties, rock formation, methods for geologic dating, earth processes, plate tectonics, weathering, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, climate, and the solar system.

This course introduces students to the scientific method and allows for exploration while challenging students to master the underlying math and to apply scientific concepts to solve complex problems.

Life Sciences explores living systems through experience and experimentation, as well expository instruction and reading.

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