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Monday, February 26, 2024

Science Scene

Ozone kills

A report released byNational Academies National Research Council has found significant evidence that ozone leads to premature death,especially in the elderly.Children also can be negatively affected by the gas.Ozone(O3) is produced at the earth’s surface when light reacts with other air pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbons.

Ozone oxidizes lung tissue,decreasing lung capacity,causing respiratory inflammation and worsening heart disease.It can worsen lung diseases such as asthma.

The council concluded that even short-term exposure of less than24hours can cause prematuredeath.More research is needed to determinewhether healthy people are at risk from ozone with long-term exposure. (reuters.com and sciencemag.org)


Buddhist oil paintingsinvalidate art history texts

Textbooks on European and art history state that oil painting began inEurope in the15thcentury,butcaveoil paintings in the Afghan region ofBamiyan show that the technology arose at least as early as the5thcentury.

Chemical analysis techniques such asinfrared micro-spectroscopy,micro X-ray fluorescence,micro X-ray absorption spectroscopyor micro X-ray diffraction were employed at theEuropean Synchrotron Radiation Facilityto show that12out of50caves were painted with oils,possibly from walnuts and poppy seeds.

The murals,some of which depict the Buddha sitting in a red robe among palm leaves and mythical creatures,are painted with a diversity of binders and pigments.Lead carbonates,used from ancient to modern times in paintings and face whiteners,make up the majority of the oil based pigments.Natural resins,proteins and gums make up other layers in the murals. (sciencedaily.com)


Mental disease linked to bacteria,viral infections

Schizophrenia,autism,bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder have been linked tobacterial,viral or parasitic infectionsin utero or during childhood.The strongest evidence is for schizophrenia.More than200studies have shown that children of mothers who came down with the flu during pregnancy,are5to8percent more likely to be diagnosed with schizophreniaat some point in their lives.

A2004ColombiaUniversity meta-analysis of blood samples taken from189pregnant women between the years1959to1966,showed that flu-infection during the first trimester increased the risk of offspring schizophrenia sevenfold.

At this point more research is needed to demonstrate a causal link between bacterial or viral agents and mental disease,but a2003study conducted at the California Institute of Technology showed that mice born to mothers who were infected with flu during their gestations were more likely to be fearful and less likely to explorenovel environments. (scientificamerican.com)




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