Good Evening, God!
The day began with a rainbow. Then I worked around the house. And tomorrow if I have not “relapsed” with another sore throat, I shall consider myself recoveredI
The photo of the rainbow was taken from the window in our lanai — a closed window. This morning I went all around our home opening windows. And that was because of an article in Discover magazine (July/August 2012). It was about the ecology and microbiology of the Indoors. This new field is booming now that the DNA of microbes can be sequenced relatively cheaply.
The field got its start thanks to a chemist named Dr. Paula Olsiewski. She was in charge of the Sloan Foundation’s initiative on biosecurity after the 2001 anthrax attacks. When she inquired about the science of indoor biology, she found there really wasn’t such a field. So she asked J. Craig Venter to help with funding to establish one.
The timing was perfect. Before, scientists could only study microbes that could be grown in a petri dish, and that is only 1%. Now, given cheap sequencing, the other 99% has become “visible.”
But back to why I opened my windows. It seems, God, that Florence Nightingale was right when, over 150 years ago, she insisted that patients needed outside air. Inside air is filled primarily with microbes from humans. And in hospitals that can mean deadly microbes. In a series of studies in Peru, Dr. Rod Escombe showed that simply opening windows cut the rate of TB infection by two-thirds. The diversity of the outside air is that beneficial.
Soon after opening my windows I thought: Minds need to be opened, too! We need to experience a diversity of ideas and viewpoints. Closed environments can breed nasty ideologies.