Friedemann Freund

Friedemann Freund
Senior Research Scientist
Curriculum Vitae: 

Friedemann Freund doesn’t shrink from taking on the really big problems. His research has elucidated such important phenomena as the fact that rocks under stress behave like batteries that can produce currents deep within the crust of the Earth. These are not piddling electron flows, either – the currents could be as large as hundreds of millions of amperes, sufficient to be measured above ground, and perhaps even from orbit. Understanding and exploiting this phenomenon could lead to a dramatic breakthrough in earthquake prediction.

Another one of Friedemann’s interests is the rise of oxygen in our atmosphere, which today powers most animals, including us. The conventional wisdom is that most atmospheric oxygen is the biological waste product of blue-green bacteria, but Friedemann suggests another scenario: that simple weathering of minerals might have enriched our atmosphere. If this is the case, then we need to re-think experiments now being planned to search for life on distant worlds around other stars by hunting for oxygen in their atmospheres. Perhaps we’d only be finding chemistry, not biology, and more specifically, not photosynthesis as we know it from life on Earth.

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Preformed Complex Organic Molecules from the Matrix of Magnetic Minerals

We propose an in-depth study of the formation of Cn-H-O-N-S entities in the matrix of laboratory-grown MgO and gem-quality olivine crystals from the upper mantle, using IR spectroscopy and ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry of solvent extracts from crushed powders. The work is relevant to prebiotic chemistry in the Exobiology Program.