Phantastic Phosphorus

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As a child, one of my favorite stories was Isaac Asimov’s Fantastic Voyage, which he adapted from the 1966 movie by 20th Century Fox Films (versus the other way around.) Best known for his science fiction, Asimov also wrote about science, including an essay about phosphorus entitled “Life’s Bottleneck.” Asimov describes how phosphorus is an essential chemical contained in all living organisms. “[L]ife can multiply until all the phosphorus is gone, and then there is an inexorable halt which nothing can prevent,” he wrote. “We may be able to substitute nuclear power for coal, and plastics for wood, and yeast for meat, and friendliness for isolation—but for phosphorus there is neither substitute nor replacement.”

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