Lane 2002 Oxford Univ Press

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Lane N (2002) Oxygen: The molecule that made the world. Oxford Univ Press. 374 pp.

» http://www.nick-lane.net/

Lane N (2002) Oxford Univ Press

Abstract: From Chapter 1: Elixir of Life and Death.

OXYGEN DEFIES EASY CLASSIFICATION. Ever since it was discovered in the 1770s, its properties and chemistry have been squabbled over by scholars and charlatans alike. The controversy persists today. Oxygen is hailed as the Elixir of Life, a wonder tonic, a cure for ageing, a beauty treatment and a potent medical therapy. It is also purported to be a fire hazard and a dangerous poison that will kill us in the end. The popular health press is contradictory. Inhaling pure oxygen in cosmopolitan 'oxygen bars' and health clinics is said to work wonders, yet the opposite, 'high-altitude therapy', is claimed to eliminate superfluous oxygen, conferring the health benefits of austerity. So-called 'active' oxygen treatments, meaning ozone and hydrogen peroxide, are touted as miraculous scourges, or as cures for cancer; yet at the same time we are told that the secret of a long life is to eat plenty of antioxidants, to protect us against the very same 'active' forms of oxygen. Oxygen seems to attract nonsense and misinformation like a magnet.

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