Scientific Fantasies – Sara Kaur Ahuja

Scientific Fantasies – Sara Kaur Ahuja

Oxygen: is it what keeps us alive, or is it the reason for our death?

Everyone on this planet is marching irrevocably and inevitably closer to death. But what if, the gas that’s supposed to keep us alive, is slowly setting out bodies on fire?

Theoretically speaking, oxidation is burning. As long as glucose is oxidized, we’re fine with it, but when other living cells react to oxygen, it is dangerous. 

So, to “die of old age” means that someone has died naturally from an ailment associated with ageing. And oxygen does cause us to age in a sense. The metabolism, or usage, of oxygen, causes byproducts named Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). These include some molecules you may have heard of including Hydrogen Peroxide and Nitric Oxide. 

Oxygen is necessary for human metabolism since our metabolism is predicated on oxidation. It would be correct to say that it is killing us because, in keeping us alive, it’s marching us toward senescence where the wear and tear not only of oxidative metabolism but exposure to natural stress and environmental factors wear on us to the point of death. 

There’s an old saying: good health is simply the slowest possible way to die. It might very well be the case that oxygen is slowly killing us. But lack of oxygen is also killing us, except in a matter of minutes. So what choice do we have? None really, just live life to the fullest knowing we’re being slowly killed by the very thing we need to live.

~ Sara Kaur Ahuja | 7A

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