Air Inapparent

Seeking antique atmosphere

A mint-condition Queen Anne highboy or Paul Revere candlesticks may be coveted objects to the average antique hound. But two chemists with the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico are tracking down a more unusual relic: old air. Allen Ogard and Jane Poths are seeking samples of air that was sealed off decades or even centuries ago. Reason: to determine whether the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased in the two centuries since the start of the industrial revolution. By some calculations, the extensive burning of oil and other fossil fuels has added to the shield of...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!