FlipFact of the Day: Did you know that copper possesses incredible antimicrobial properties?
Copper and its various alloys (including bronze, cupronickel, and copper-nickel-zinc) are naturally antimicrobial. In fact, ancient civilizations took advantage of the metal’s germ-killing properties in various ways. Egyptian and Babylonian soldiers put filings in their wounds to speed up the healing process. Meanwhile, Aztecs combined it with other chemicals to treat skin infections. Keep in mind that this was even before humanity fully understood microbes!
As Bill Keevil, Professor of Environmental Healthcare at the University of Southampton, explains:
The process involves the release of copper ions (electrically charged particles) when microbes, transferred by touching, sneezing or vomiting, land on the copper surface. The ions prevent cell respiration, punch holes in the bacterial cell membrane or disrupt the viral coat, and destroy the DNA and RNA inside. This latter property is important as it means that no mutation can occur – preventing the microbe from developing resistance[.]
Today’s Science History Milestone: On August 8, 2007, Barbara Morgan became the first educator astronaut to reach orbit, flying via the STS-118 mission of the shuttle Endeavour.
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