Sunday, September 01, 2013

Countdown to Opening Night by the Elements: Number 30

The first day of September brings us to number 30 in Fearless’ countdown through the periodic table to Opening Night…


Zinc has been around for a long time.  OK, it’s “been around” a lot longer than people have, but our point is that it has been used by people for a long time, at least 3,000 years when it was used as a an alloy with copper (brass) in the eastern Mediterranean region of the world.  It did not take on its current name until the 16th century when the German alchemist Paracelsus referred it as “zinken,” a word meaning “pointed” or “jagged,” and referring to zinc’s appearance.

While its oldest use has been in the manufacture of brass, its most widespread use might be broadly characterized as protection.  The process of galvanization involves applying a zinc coating to iron or steel to prevent rusting.  It is used in rubber manufacture to protect it from ultraviolet radiation.  It is used as an additive (as zinc chloride) to lumber as a fire retardant and preservative.

Even in its biological applications, “defense” seems to be the primary use for zinc.  It is believed to have anti-oxidant properties that help protect skin and muscles from the effects of aging.  It can be used in the treatment of intestinal and eye problems.  As a topical application (as zinc oxide) it can be used to protect the skin from sunburn or windburn, and it can be used in shampoos to prevent dandruff.  It even can be used to prevent diaper rash.

Zinc is an essential biological element, necessary for the functioning of more than 300 enzymes.  It is critical to immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, taste and smell, and growth.  According to the Mayo Clinic

"Based on available scientific evidence, zinc may be effective for the treatment or management of a number of conditions, including diarrhea in malnourished children, skin conditions (such as acne vulgaris, eczema, and psoriasis), gastric ulcers, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), immune disorders, sickle cell anemia, leg ulcers, infertility, Wilson's disease, herpes, taste or smell disorders, diabetes, and diabetic neuropathy. Zinc has also gained popularity for its use in the prevention of the common cold."

Zinc is a ubiquitous and essential element that has an amazing range of applications in promoting health, and in physical and biological protection and defense.  One might like a defenseman with this kind of range of defensive capabilities.

Zinc… the “Karl Alzner” of the periodic table of the elements.

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