As Above, So Below

We occupy a privileged place
at the heart of things.
Halfway between the infinite
and the infinitesimal,
we have eyes to see both
with arresting clarity.
We have minds to know:
    as above, so below.

Scientists, artists, poets,
we are all similar in that
we are struck dumb by the
wild beauty of reality
and at the same time lit up in flame,
charged by the desire to recreate it.

But first, the gap must be closed.
When we first see them, the universe's
motions are mysterious, inscrutable to us
like an old man's parlor trick
but slowly we begin to catch on:
"yes, he does this turn here, that
turn there! how clever, how simple!"
We come to anticipate each next move
and the world, once opaque and clouded,
becomes transparent, we begin
to glimpse the gears
upon which all things turn,
and have turned since before
we were twinkles in the eye of the galaxy.


High resolution image: 
About the Image: 

The data-rich component of the image is adapted from the paper:

"CO2 solubility in aqueous solutions containing Na+, Ca2+, Cl-, SO42- and HCO3-: the influence of electrostricted water and ion hydration thermodynamics."

by: Kimberly Gilbert, Philip C. Bennett, Will Wolfe, Tongwei Zhang and Katherine D. Romanak

Kim Gilbert is a PhD student at The University of Texas at Austin and her collaborative work shown here has been supported by the CFSES EFRC. This paper was recently submitted to the journal "Applied Geochemistry."

Image description:

One of the main challenges of the CFSES EFRC is to find methods to maximize the amount of CO2 that can be stored in deep, underground reservoirs in the earth, thus, reducing the amount of this greenhouse gas that is released into the atmosphere. These reservoirs exist in nature filled with salt water, or brine. Dissolved salts release charged particles, or ions, which tightly hold the water. The tightly held water is then not available to dissolve CO2 and negatively impacts the amount of CO2 that can be stored in deep underground reservoirs. In nature, these brines have a mix of many different ions. Kim Gilbert and her colleagues developed a new equation to calculate the concentration of tightly held water for brines with very different ions and abilities to bind with water (I = ion hydration number for each ion plotted on the graph). Their work measured the ability for CO2 to dissolve (Y axis) in salt waters with different ions at high temperatures and pressures (X axis) like what would be found in a deep, underground reservoir where CO2  could be stored. The measured data allows them to understand this process from the inside out, from a molecular viewpoint, with a strong correlation (R2=0.96) between the ability of CO2 to dissolve and the concentration of the ions bound with water. Results of their research predict the ability of CO2 to dissolve in several natural mixed brines to within 1-9% (for example, Bravo Dome shown as BD on graph). This research provides a simple method that allows maximization of CO2 stored in the deep subsurface by evaluating brines based on the hydration number of the ions, thus, addressing one of the important challenges of our EFRC.

Poet: Jeffrey Clement Olson, UT Austin, Student, CFSES
Artist: Victoria Osborne, UT Austin, CFSES
Graph / data-rich element: Kim Gilbert, UT Austin, Student, CFSES
Data-rich image description: Hilary Olson, UT Austin, CFSES