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13th May 2003: "The Effect of Metals in Living Systems - The Past And Our Future"

Life began in an anaerobic atmosphere, which restricted the types of element available for living systems to use, especially heavy metals. Slowly due to biological release of oxygen, the atmosphere became more oxidising. This meant that the inorganic chemistry of the earth's environment changed in a succession. Slowly elements such as zinc and copper becoming available but unfortunately iron was much depleted.

Organisms adapted slowly to these changes, so that the faster changes of the environment effectively drove evolution.

Today a further change in availability is arising due to the activities of mankind. Industry discharges many waste products and we have to understand that organisms, particularly higher organisms, cannot adapt quickly.

This creates two dangers: poisoning of various organisms including ourselves and adaptation of lower organisms, producing variants or even new species. This is not a case for no new chemical activity but for one of wise management.

Bob Williams, now an Emeritus Professor at Oxford, is one of inorganic chemistry's well-known names. At the Cafe he will explain his concerns that we stand on the brink of poisoning our world beyond repair.

No ticket, no booking, no experience required.

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