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Letters to the editor, November 1

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Denton Record-Chronicle Readers

Chemicals of life

Chemistry and chemical engineering were early interests of mine and everywhere we look we see examples of this under-reported field. I am not qualified to give a comprehensive report on it, but it clearly underlies every aspect of our lives. Probably none of us know someone who practices it.

For example, VX nerve agent recently was in the news, used to kill the stepbrother of North Korea's leader, and for a long time there have emerged new, creative ways to synthesize methamphetamine.

Common salt and other minerals, plus petroleum and natural gas are the basic materials for processes that stitch atoms together like children assemble LEGOs.

Some of the earliest coordinated efforts involved making bleaches and dyes for the textile industry in England and Europe. Early practitioners often were termed alchemists, and some hoped to change cheap metals into gold.

The semiconductor industry actually changes sand into microchips, some of which are worth more than gold while others are as plentiful as sand!

Gasoline, drugs, plastics, paints, pesticides, steel and batteries are just a few of these items. We are even inserting chemicals into living cells, modifying their DNA. It's not inconceivable that we will someday produce something living from just chemicals, which could be described as playing God.

Ross Melton Jr.,
Denton