Google doodle celebrates 80th birthday of Dr. Mario Molina. Who was he?
Dr. Mario Molina was a Mexican chemist who played a crucial role in discovering the threat of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to the Earth’s ozone layer. He was born on March 19, 1943, in Mexico City and passed away on October 7, 2020.
Dr. Molina studied chemical engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico before earning a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1972. He then worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Irvine, before becoming a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1989.
Dr. Molina’s breakthrough came in the mid-1970s, when he and his colleague, Sherwood Rowland, began researching the impact of CFCs on the Earth’s atmosphere. CFCs were widely used in refrigerators, air conditioners, and aerosol sprays, and their widespread use was causing the Earth’s ozone layer to deplete rapidly.
Dr. Molina and Rowland’s research showed that CFCs break down when they are exposed to ultraviolet radiation in the upper atmosphere. This breakdown releases chlorine atoms, which then react with ozone molecules to form chlorine monoxide and oxygen gas. The chlorine monoxide then reacts with other oxygen atoms to form more oxygen gas and release the chlorine atom, which can then react with more ozone molecules. This process, known as the ozone-depletion cycle, led to a significant loss of the Earth’s ozone layer, which protects us from harmful ultraviolet radiation.
Dr. Molina and Rowland’s research was initially met with skepticism from industry leaders and government officials. However, their findings were eventually confirmed by other scientists, and in 1985, a team of British scientists discovered a massive hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica.
Dr. Molina’s research helped lead to the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement signed in 1987 that phased out the production of CFCs and other ozone-depleting chemicals. The protocol is considered one of the most successful environmental agreements in history, and it has been credited with preventing millions of cases of skin cancer and other illnesses caused by exposure to UV radiation.
In addition to his work on ozone depletion, Dr. Molina was also a vocal advocate for environmental protection and climate action. He received numerous awards and honors for his contributions to science and the environment, including the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.
Dr. Molina’s legacy continues to inspire new generations of scientists and environmentalists around the world, and the Google doodle celebrating his 80th birthday serves as a reminder of his important contributions to our understanding of the Earth’s atmosphere and the need to protect our planet for future generations.