Common folklore has houseplants able to freshen and oxygenate the air. Alas, not so much.
The slimy, hydrated gel called mucus lines all wet epithelia in our bodies – over 200 square meters, including the eyes, lungs, and gastrointestinal and urogenital tracts. Healthy individuals produce several liters of mucus daily. Mucus was long thought merely a lubricant and physical barrier against pathogens. Mucus also acts as a communication filtering device to potentially nefarious microbes.
While looking out, the human mind creates a visual image corresponding to 1,600 megapixels (million pixels) each millisecond (1/1000th of a second). This is 274 times more detailed than high-definition TV images. The astonishing process of sight cannot be explained physiologically. Further confirmation of this has recently been provided by researchers who identified the receptors responsible for catching the photons which supposedly compose a visual image.
Carbon is one of several chemical cycles which define Earth’s biosphere. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and oxygen are others. Carbon holds the distinction of principally acting, in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2), as the radiative “control knob” that sets global temperature for the air and oceans. While attention has focused on the atmospheric carbon level, that is a small component of a much larger cycle.
DNA has 2 strands of sugared phosphate groups. Between the strands are nitrogen bases, which contain the physical correlate to genetic information. It has been thought that hydrogen bonds held the strands together. Instead, DNA bonding, and its helical structure, owe to intricacies in existing in a watery environment.
Phosphate is an essential mineral for all life on Earth. Farmers waste huge quantities of phosphate in fertilizing crops, and in doing so massively pollute terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Now, predictably, a global phosphate shortage looms.
The vast expanse of interstellar space is supposed to be too cold for most chemical reactions to occur. The more frigid it gets, the harder it is to spark a chemical reaction, for lack of energy – the very definition of cold. Yet a vast variety of complex organic molecules are formed in space. Some reactions transpire on the surface of cosmic dust grains, or with a little help from gamma rays or stray high-energy electrons. But most happen beyond the laws of chemistry.