Matija Strlic and colleagues write in the ACS's Analytical Chemistry about "material degradomics," a techniques by which the odors emanating from old books are noninvasively analyzed to figure out which books are rotting and need preservation:
Matija Strlic and colleagues note in the new study that the familiar musty smell of an old book, as readers leaf through the pages, is the result of hundreds of so-called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released into the air from the paper. Those substances hold clues to the paper's condition, they say. Conventional methods for analyzing library and archival materials involve removing samples of the document and then testing them with traditional laboratory equipment. But this approach destroys part of the document.
The new technique, called "material degradomics," analyzes the gases emitted by old books and documents without altering the documents themselves.
Astronaut David Scott re-created, in 1971 during the Apollo 15 mission, Galileo’s “falling bodies” experiment by dropping a hammer and feather on the moon at the same time. Simply, both fell at the same rate because there was no air resistance. screengrab via Wonders of Physics/YouTube (Digg)
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