Sunday, June 30, 2013
Today Cadmium is present in batteries, among other things. We dump our batteries which end up in land fills and rivers and then, the cadmium slowly leeches off. The question is, are we repeating the same thing what happened at Kamioka, all over again.
Saturday, June 29, 2013
Today as the genes of the flu virus are decoded, scientist realise that a quarter of all birds with flu have two or more strains in them at once. Thankfully flu virus has a species barrier, so a flu that affects birds should not affect other animals. But what about animals those are in continuous, close proximity to birds- like humans and hens?
On rare occasions avian influenza virus can pick up human influenza virus genes through reassortment. That is a recipe for disaster because the new strain can easily spread from species to species and humans to humans. Also since it has never circulated among humans before; no one has any defence to it too.
In April 2009, the world became painfully aware that the flu viruses also infect pigs, when an outbreak of swine flu jumped from pigs to humans. This swine flu strain called H1N1, is a sorry tale of industrialised scale pig farming. Pigs have the right biology for reassortment. Some of their receptors can accept both human and bird flu viruses. In 1918 a human flu strain infected pigs (it still makes pigs sick) and in 1970 a bird flu strain in Europe and Asia evolved into a swine flu strain. In 1990 scientist had discovered a "triple reassortment" in pigs having genes of Human-bird and pig flu. The 2009 H1N1 was a cocktail of this triple assortment and the Eurasian bird-to-pig strain and estimated to have evolved on 2008. The virus was unusually swift and had soon spread across many countries from its original place- Mexico.
Similarly the H5N1 that infected hundreds of people in Asia in 2005 was a similar bird- human reassortment. As of now H5N1 can only spread from bird to human and not human to human. But all this is just a matter of time. Our industrialised animal farming is a ticking time bomb, waiting for the perfect cocktail of Influenza virus to one day clean the human population.
For now the least we can do is wash our hands, keep good hygiene. The best we can do is, stop eating meat and stop animal farming all together. Else its tick tick tick…
Trivia: The H in H1N1 stands for 'hemagglutinin' . A spike-shaped protein found on the surface of influenza virus. This protein 'agglutinates' (clumps together) red blood cells, hence the name.
Friday, June 28, 2013
Animal agriculture contributes to 37% of methane generated by human activity. Methane has 23 times more global warming potential than CO2.
So no matter what you do, if you are an omnivore, you contribute seven times the volume of greenhouse gases than a vegetarian.
So 3 questions you answer to yourself.
Just how destructive does a culinary preference have to be before we decide to eat something else?
If contributing to the suffering of billions of animals that live miserable lives isn't motivating, what would be?
If being the number one contributor to the most serious threat facing the planet (global warming) isn't enough. What is?
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Here is how an egg is made: Like I told yesterday, a 'layer' is a chicken, which is engineered to lay eggs.
Since only the female chicken lay eggs, the male chicks are disposed off. They are tossed into large plastic containers. The weak are trampled to the bottom, where they suffocate slowly. The strong suffocate slowly on the top of the dead bodies down.
As soon as the females mature, in 16 to 20 weeks, they are put in barns. The light is lowered; sometimes its total darkness 24/7.
The food is a very low protein, almost starvation level diet, for about two to three weeks. Then the lights are turned on for twenty hours, so that the chicken thinks its spring. Immediately, they put her on a high protein feed and she starts laying eggs.
This way a chicken lays over 300 eggs a year, that's over 2 or 3 times more than what hens do in nature.
After the first year they are killed since they won't lay as many eggs in the second year.
What about Free range eggs? There is no strict definition for free range. The most commonly accepted is that they should have "Access to the outdoors" .So a shed containing thirty thousand chickens, with a small door at one end that opens to a 5x5 feet open patch- and the door is closed all but occasionally is how today's free range eggs are made.
Most of the times, we do not realise that the meat that we have bought or ordered in a restaurant, involved the killing of an animal. The meat is so nicely packed and presented; we remain disconnected from the reality of what we eat.
I don't have the Indian figures, but in US alone, 3 million pounds of antibiotics are given to humans each year, but a whopping 17.8 million pounds are given to livestock. (Well, now tell be about drug resistant bacteria!!)
So the next time you pop in that fired egg, remember it is filled with hormones of a stressful bird. They are laced with antibiotics which were fed to the bird to make them live for one year. The bird never saw the sky, nor was it capable for reproducing sexually. The bird lived a cruel life and now may have died cruelly.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Today there are two types of Chicken; 'Broilers'- chickens that become meat and 'Layers' chicken that lay eggs.
Broilers make flesh, since they are engineered to grow more than twice as large in less than half the time.
Chickens once had life expectancy of 15 to 20 years, but the modern broiler is typically killed at around six weeks.(Their daily growth rate has increased by 400%)
The muscles and fat of these chickens grow so fast that the bones can't keep up with the growth, leading to deformities and diseases. 4% of the birds die withering in convulsion.
5% of the chicken, suffer from 'ascites' where excess fluids fill the body cavity.
3 of 4 suffer from some walking impairment, and common sense suggests they are in chronic pain.
The chicken is raised in a windowless room, which is artificially ventilated, with artificial light and continuously fed by drug and antibiotics laced water. Each chicken has space, the size of a smartphone.For first week of their life, the light is kept on for 24 hours, this encourages them to eat more. After a week, the lights are off for 4 hours, which gives them just enough sleep.In conditions like this, chickens suffer from one or more of these problems: eye damage, blindness, bacterial infection of bones, slipped vertebrae, paralysis, internal bleeding, anaemia, slipped tendons, twisted lower legs and necks, respiratory diseases and weakened immune system.
Studies show that 39 to 75 % of chicken in stores are infected with e coli and 8% with salmonella.
Since these drugs laced, shit-contaminated chickens don't taste good, they are injected with salt broth to improve flavour.
During transportation, the chicken is not fed anything, irrespective of weather and length of journey. They are handled so badly when they are caged and removed from the cage that their bones snap. Often the birds will defecate in pain and terror.
The faeces on skin and feathers in a chicken are not required to be completely cleaned. These stains are called as 'cosmetic blemishes' and are breeding ground for microbes.
In India, every week, millions of chickens leaking yellow pus, stained in green faeces, contaminated by harmful bacteria or marred by lung and heart infections, cancerous tumours or skin conditions are shipped for sale.
Chicken after slaughter, is cleaned in the same water as previous chicken batches, one after another. This 'Faecal soup' is the right place for cross contamination of healthy birds if any.
So the next time you munch that chicken remember; that bird never breathed fresh air or saw the sky. It lived in suffering and died cruelly. It was incapable of reproducing sexually. In our bellies is an animal with antibiotics in its belly.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Monday, June 24, 2013
Two years later, Ketch was called again for beheading James Scott, the duke of Monmouth (beheading was the punishment of nobles, the common man was hanged).
Scott was aware about Ketch's reputation, and urged Ketch not to repeat it, paying him six guineas upfront and six more for a clean kill. He even inspected Ketch's axe to see if it was sharp enough. All this made Ketch so nervous that even after six blows, Scott was not dead, but writhing and screaming in agony. As the crowd roared with horror, Ketch threw his axe and challenged anyone in the crowd to take over if they could do better. The sheriff ordered Ketch to pick up the axe and finish the job, which he did after two more attempts. But even then he had failed to sever the head, and had to complete the task with a butcher's knife soaking the scaffold and nearby spectators with blood. The crowd were so enraged, that Ketch had to be escorted away for his own safety. After the disaster of the Duke of Monmouth's execution, Jack was sacked and imprisoned. His replacement was a butcher named Paskah Rose, but Rose was caught stealing a coat and hanged at Tyburn. Amazingly, despite everything that had passed, Ketch was now rehired in his place. Call it job security!
Sunday, June 23, 2013
The man had a business partner and he did not share any of this good fortune with him. The angry partner approached Augustus and told him that the bird trainer had a second Raven, which Augustus must also inspect. Augustus summoned the bird, which repeated a phrase of its own; in this case "Greetings to Antony, our victorious commander" Looked like the trainer was after all not that loyal and had cleverly hedged his bets. Augustus was amused, rather than angry (the trainer was truly fortunate I must say) by the duplicitous scheme and punished the man only by ordering him to share the money with his partner.
Saturday, June 22, 2013
Well, we humans have company, besides us, ants are the only other species to domesticate other animals. Many species of ants, domesticate aphids. They also shepherd them by taking them to the tender growing shoots of plants. The aphids suck the juices from these plants to feed themselves. Now ants will "milk" the aphids by stroking them with their antennas on their abdomens to stimulate them to release sweet liquid called 'honeydew'. When it is about to rain, the ants herd their livestock below the leaves so that they are not washed away. In exchange for their honeydew, ants provide protection for the aphids by attacking insects or parasites that threaten the safety of the herd. They also ensure that they are well fed by carrying them to new food source when the host plant is sucked clean. Also ants will often tear away the wings of aphids to stop their "cattle' from flying off.
Some ants like Polyergus, enslave smaller formic ants. They employ the smaller ants to take care of their young ones. The Polyergus, cannot care for their brood, because of their sharp mandibles. So they raid and steal the pupae of nearby ant colonies. When they emerge from their cocoons, the "slave ants" start to nurse the brood and perform other colony duties. To maintain a steady workforce, raids are conducted every month or so.
Friday, June 21, 2013
William Shockley, an electrical engineer and physicist at Bell labs was trying to build a small silicon amplifier to replace vacuum tubes in mainframe computers. Vacuum tubes were fragile, prone to overheating and consumed a lot of space. These tubes performed two major functions in an electric circuit. One, it amplified electronic signals, so faint signals did not die and secondly they acted like a one way valve for electricity, so electrons could not flow backwards into circuit. Shockley knew that he could achieve the same with semiconducting materials. Shockley worked with Silicon and built a silicon amplifier, which did not amplify anything. After two unsuccessful years, he dumped the project to two underlings, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain. Bardeen and Brattain realised that silicon was too difficult to purify and instead substituted Germanium and built the world’s first solid-state amplifier in December 1947. It was named the transistor. Shockley, who was in Paris at this time, did not want to miss on the credits for the invention and he rushed back for all the photo-op’s. Today all the publicity photos at Bell Labs show Shockley standing in the centre and Bardeen and Brattain flanking him on either side. Shockley then pushed Bardeen to another lab, so that Shockley could develop a second generation, commercial friendly transistor and keep all the credit to himself. Bardeen was so disgusted that he resigned from Bell labs, took an academic post and gave up semiconductor research altogether. Soon germanium transistors were all around, from improving computing power to making pocket radios. But many scientists were still working on Silicon. Silicon was not only abundant; germanium transistors generated a lot of heat and stalled at high temperatures.
In 1954, at a semiconductor meet, after a speech about the unfeasibility of silicon transistors, an engineer from Texas got up and announced that he had with him a working silicon transistor. His name was Gordon Teal, he hooked up a Germanium run record player to speakers and lowered the players circuit in a pan of boiling oil. As expected the player stopped. He then replaced the Germanium transistor with a Silicon one and repeated the experiment and this time the music continued playing.
Silicon Transistors were back.
In 1958, Texas Instruments hired a Six foot six inch tall engineer called Jack Kilby. His job was to solve a computer hardware problem facing the industry. Though cheap silicon transistors were now available, newer computers required lots of them in their circuits. In addition to this, there also were carbon resistors and porcelain capacitors to deal with. All these components had to be hand soldered by technicians peering over a microscope. It was very common for the frail wires of the circuit to break and render the whole thing useless. Kilby was hired to solve this problem. Kilby managed to carve all the resistors, transistors and capacitors in once block of a semiconductor and the Integrated Circuit (IC) was born. Not trusting the purity of silicon, Kilby used Germanium for his IC. Soon IC’s allowed engineers to automate the carving process and make microscopic transistors- the first real computer chips. Kilby though never got full credit, one of Shockley’s proteges filed a rival and slightly more detailed patent claim a few months later and wrested the rights away from Kilby’s company. Silicon, it turned out was much cheaper than Germanium and plentiful in supply. Soon Kilby’s Germanium IC ended up in the Smithsonian museum and silicon IC’s were in the market. As Sam Kean neatly summarises in the book ‘The Disappearing spoon:’ “After germanium did all the work silicon became an icon and Germanium was banished to periodic table obscurity”
This post is inspired from the above mentioned book. The complete title “The Disappearing spoon: And other true tales of Madness, love and the history of the world from the periodic table of elements” quite a mouthful but a wonderful read.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Is there no other element like carbon then? Well there is and it is a big hit among people looking for life in outer space and writing science fiction. It's eight elements away, sits right below carbon on the periodic table and is called Silicon. Silicon too has vacancies for four electrons in its outermost orbital and leaves it in the same predicament as carbon. But unfortunately (for sci-fi fans at least) silicon cannot pull some nifty tricks which carbon can. One for example is; carbon combines with oxygen, forming carbon-di-oxide, which is a gas and is easily shuttled around the body. Silicon would form Silicon di oxide, which other than being closely related to sand is a solid. Since solids stick together, its difficult for them to get in and out of cells when needed. Silica, does not even dissolve in water and that makes nutrient transport impossible. If the above reason does not satisfy you, then how about this- Since Silicon has more protons-neutrons and electron than carbon it is more bulky than carbon. The lean, thin carbon can contort, itself into ringed molecules we call sugars. Rings are in state of high tension and so pack in a lot of energy and the bulky silicon is just not supple enough to bend into the right position to form rings. For reasons like this and some more, carbon has made itself irreplaceable in the story of life.
Just like the carbon has formed the backbone of life, Silicon too has its share in our life. Today it forms the backbone of our digital world. Without silicon, you probably would not be reading this. Silicon to digital world is what carbon is to life. No computers, no smart phones and no blogger without silicon. But silicon a few years ago nearly lost this title to the element sitting right beneath it in the periodic table- Germanium. That story in tomorrows post.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Dose, (in millisieverts) Event
10,000 Given as a single dose, this will be fatal within weeks
6,000 Exposure of Chernobyl workers who died in a month
5,000 A single dose of this could kill half of those exposed
1,000 A single dose causes radiation sickness. Symptoms include nausea, lower WBC but you will live.
1,000 Accumulated over a period of time, this amount causes cancer in 5% of the people, years later.
400 Radiation levels recorded at Fukushima plant, per hour.
250 Average annual background level at Ramsar in Iran
100 Lowest annual dose at which an increase in occurrence of cancer is clearly evident in recipients.
20 Average current limit of employees in nuclear industry
16 CT scan: Heart
10 Full body CT scan
9 Airline crew flying New York to Tokyo polar route, annual exposure
7 Average annual background radiation per person in Finland
2.2 Average per person in UK
0.2 Chest X-ray
0.005 135g of Brazil nuts / dental x-ray
Just to lighten your mood: you need to eat about 270 tons of brazil nuts, to die of radiation poisoning.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Monday, June 17, 2013
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Friday, June 14, 2013
If you somehow manage to draw your tree spanning 800 generations, you will have effectively covered more than 50,000 years.
But of these 800 ancestors of yours, 650 have spent their life in caves.
Only the last 70 had any effective means of communication with each other.
Only the last 6 saw a printed word or could measure heat and cold with any precision.
Only the last 2 used and electric motor.
Most of the items that make up the material world today were developed within the lifespan of the 800th Person. (That's your dad )
Inspired from: NASA report SP-5067, 1966
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
George Papanicolaou, a Greek cytologist, arrived in NY in 1913 and to support himself, sold carpets. Finally after a long hunt he ended up getting a research job at Cornell. He was assigned to study menstrual cycle of guinea pigs. Not a very exciting job, but Papanicolaou gave everything into it. He scraped cervical cells off Guinea pigs using nasal speculum and Q-tips. Under a microscope, he found that the cells of guinea pig changed shape with their ebb and rise of hormones and Papanicolaou was able to foretell the precise stage of the menstrual cycle of a Guinea pig to the day.
Papanicolaou realised that he could try the same technique on women and recruited his wife Maria, to donate her cervical smears. She contributed her share everyday and expectedly he found that cells sloughed off by the human cervix could also foretell the stages of the menstrual cycle in women. A discovery of absolutely no value, since women could calculate their cycle quite accurately and had been doing so for centuries. But Papanicolaou had other ideas, he wondered if these smears could be used to test for any pathological conditions. Papanicolaou now began collecting cervical smears of women with various gynaecological conditions like- fibroids, cysts, tubercles, streptococcal and gonococcus infections, etc. hoping to find some pathological mark in exfoliated cells. Papanicolaou found that cervical cancer was prone to shedding abnormal cells of "aberrant and bizarre forms" with bloated nuclei, ruffled membranes and shrunken cytoplasm. Thrilled by his result, Papanicolaou published his method in an article "New cancer Diagnosis" in 1928 and called the test "pap smear". The technique was neither accurate not particularly sensitive and his colleagues argued that it was better to perform a biopsy of the cervix than rely on an unreliable test. Undaunted, from 1928 to 1950, Papanicolaou worked tirelessly, spending hours viewing cells under a microscope and typing reports on specimens. Later a gynaecological pathologist, Herbert Traut joined him to interpret his smears and a Japanese fish and bird painted, Hashime Murayama was hired to paint watercolours of his smears.
Then at a Christmas party in 1950, he was challenged by a tipsy gynaecologist to pinpoint the precise use of his smear and in the heat of the moment Papanicolaou had a thought- to use Pap smear not to find cancer, but to detect its antecedent or precursor. Papanicolaou speculated that his test thought imperfect might capture the disease at its first stages and give a woman a chance to receive preventive care and greatly decrease the likelihood of ever developing cancer.
In 1952, Papanicolaou convinced the national cancer Institute to launch a clinical trial to test his technique. 1,50,000 women of Shelby county participated. Temporary "Pap clinics" were setup at nearly every corner in the county. The samples were analysed at university of Tennessee and 555 women were found to have cervical cancer. Astonishingly 557 women were found to have pre-invasive cancers curable by relatively simple surgical procedure. What Papanicolaou had noted was that cancer did not arise directly out of a normal cell. Instead, cancer often slouched toward its birth, undergoing discrete, transitional stages between fully normal and frankly malignant cell. Identifying and eradicating this premalignant stage before the cancer spreads is the basis for the pap smear.
The Pap smear test is today widely recommended and has proved quite effective, thanks to the persistence and tenacity of Papanicolaou.
Inspired by: The Emperor of all Maladies: A biography of cancer – Siddhartha Mukherjee.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Camels Often Sit Down Carefully. Perhaps Their Joints Creak. Possible Early Oiling Might Prevent Premature Harm.
Now the title of this post may strike you as odd and not related to what you are reading. Let me explain. If you are having difficulties remembering the sequence of geological time scale- use the title as a mnemonic for aid.
Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, Palaeocene, Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene, Pliocene, Pleistocene, Holocene.
Among these periods five saw some major extinctions and rest some minor extinctions. The major extinctions were Ordovician (440 million years ago), Devonian (365 million years ago) both these carnages resulted in about 85 percent of species disappearing. The Triassic (210 million years ago) and Cretaceous (65 million years ago) swept clean about 75 % of the species. The best is for the last, Permian extinction (245 million years ago) wiped clean about 95% of the life on earth. Some of the prime contributors to this carnage were- Global warming, Global cooling, Changing sea level, Oxygen depletion of the seas, epidemics, meteor and comet impacts, runaway hurricanes ( hypercanes), massive volcanic eruptions and massive solar flares. Well coming back to Al Gores documentary that I mentioned above- It says our relentless Carbon-di-oxide pumping can cause five of the above mentioned contributors to recur. Each one of them nearly annihilated the earth; just imagine what all five can do. History does repeat itself.
Monday, June 10, 2013
1. Take something that easily melts (I would prefer a chocolate slab or a butter slab or even a cheese slice will do) in a plate.
2. Remove the turntable of the microwave. The plate should remain steady.
3. Put the plate in the microwave oven.
4. Cook in low heat, until you can see the food just start to melt in spots. (for chocolate slab, 30- 40 sec should suffice)
5. These spots are the peaks of the microwaves. So the two adjacent spots are the adjacent peaks of one crest and the next trough. The distance between them is half the wavelength of microwave.
6. Now remove the dish and measure the distance between the centres of two adjacent spots. Measure as many spots as you can- and a particular distance will appear frequently. You should get a reasonable average, this way.
7. Now look at the microwave manual- or somewhere in the body of the machine. They will mention the frequency of the radiation used in the machine (it will be somewhere around 2.45 GHz for a home microwave oven).
8. Now use the formula; speed of light = wavelength X frequency
9. So for example if your measured distance between spots is 6 cm; then multiply by 2 to get the wavelength (12 cms). Convert this into meters (0.12 meter). If the microwave frequency is 2.45 GHz use 2,450,000,000 Hz. The product of the example works out to be 294,000,000 m/s (0.15 X 2,450,000,000)
10. So see how close you can come to the true value of 299,792,458 m/sec.
All the best
Sunday, June 09, 2013
In the mid 1940's Harrison Brown, of the University of Chicago, assigned a tedious dissertation project to a young Clair Patterson. Geologists then were interested in calculating the age of the earth and Harrison had developed a new method for counting lead isotopes in igneous rocks. Uranium in rocks, over a period of time decays into lead. Scientist knew the exact time taken for this process. By counting the Uranium- lead ratio in a rock, scientists were able to estimate the age of a rock. The process indeed was tedious and Clair Patterson took seven years to complete it. He worked in a very sterile lab, making careful measurements of the lead- Uranium ratios in carefully selected samples of rocks. Patterson worked on meteorites, since it was not possible for him to acquire samples of ancient earth rocks, because earth continuously changes its surface. New rocks are replaced by older ones as the tectonic plates on the earth slowly shift. Since many meteorites are leftover building materials from the early days of the solar system and have not been tainted, determining the age of the rocks would also give us an idea of the age of the earth. During his experiments, Patterson's samples were continuously and unaccountably contaminated with large doses of atmospheric lead, whenever they were exposed to air. He was bothered by this phenomenon, but kept it aside for some other day. Finally in 1953 Patterson announced the age of the earth as 4,550 million years (plus or minus 70 million years) a figure that still stands today.
Patterson now turned his attention to the question of lead in atmosphere. The first thing Patterson realised was that until then, the study of the effects of lead on humans was mostly done by lead additive makers. In one case study, a doctor with no chemical pathology training; recruited volunteers to breathe in or swallow lead in elevated quantities. Their urine and faeces were tested. Unfortunately lead is not excreted as a waste product. Rather it accumulated in bones and blood, and in the tests, neither the blood nor the bones were tested. Lead was given a clean bill of health. As I mentioned in the previous post, tetraethyl lead was used as an additive since 1923. Patterson wanted to compare the atmosphere prior 1923 and that of the present day. It was known that snowfall in places like Greenland accumulates into discrete annual layers. By counting back through these layers and measuring the amount of lead in each, he could work out the global lead concentration at any time in earth's history. What Patterson found was that before 1923 there was almost no lead in the atmosphere and since then the level has slowly climbed. He now made it his life's quest to get lead taken out of gasoline. It would be a challenge; Ethyl (mentioned in the previous post) was a powerful global corporation, with many friends in high places. Patterson suddenly found research funding withdrawn or difficult to acquire. American Petroleum Institute and United states Public health service cancelled a research contract with him. Patterson became a liability to his institution, the school trustees were repeatedly pressed by lead industry officials to shut him up or let him go. Despite all the pressure Patterson never wavered and largely due to his efforts the 'Clean Air Act' 1970 was passed and by 1986 all leaded gasoline was removed in US. I remember using leaded gasoline in India even during 1995, not really sure when it was finally banned. It is said, that there was an 80% reduction in blood lead after the ban. Since Lead always will remain in the body, people alive today have 625 times more lead than people prior 1923. Lead though continues to be added to the air, not by automobile fuel but by other manufacturing processes. I wonder how much lead we have in the paints that we use at home. Clair Patterson died in 1995 and if you have not heard of him before this don't beat yourself. Most geology textbooks don't mention him; some books on the subject of dating of Earth have even misspelt his name. A reviewer of one of this book even thought that Patterson was a woman. I myself had not heard of Patterson until I read Bill Bryson's "A Short History of nearly everything" which inspired me to write this post. Large corporations fight tooth and nail to keep their profitable ventures going. Human life is least of their concerns. Asbestos, Endosulfan, DDT (is still present in bovine milk in India today!) low grade plastics, etc just to name a few. How long before we can all say a no?
After the success of leaded gasoline, Midgley turned his attention to another problem. Refrigerators in 1920's were dangerous, because its dangerous cooling gas used to leak. One leak from a refrigerator in 1929 killed more than a 100 people in the US state of Ohio. Midgley began working on a safer alternative and invented chlorofluorocarbons or CFC's.
CFC were swiftly embraced by the industry and were used everywhere from car AC's to perfumes. As you are aware by now, CFC is not a good thing. One kilo of CFC can destroy seventy thousand kilos of Ozone in the atmosphere and can stay there for centuries, wrecking havoc. Ozone protects us from sun's harmful UV rays. Midgley never knew this because he died before the harmful effect of CFC's were realised by anyone. Midgley, later became crippled with polio, and to ease his life, he invented a series of motorized pulleys that automatically turned him in bed. In 1944 he became entangled in the chords of this machine and was strangled. Midgley was a man of science, but the manner in which science was exploited by the big companies- despite being aware of the dangers is a story that follows. (To be continued in the next post...)