August 20, 2004  


Public Lecture To Explore Metals in Our Lives

By Linda DuShane White

Graham George (University of Saskatchewan) will tell his audience how metals and the molecules that contain them can help or harm us in the next SLAC Public Lecture, ‘Metals, Molecules, Life and Death’ on Tuesday, August 31, at 7:30 p.m. in Panofsky Auditorium.

Image Courtesy of TechPubs

Stories abound about real or imagined health dangers caused by metals in our food, our medicine and our environment, issues that affect all of us on a daily basis. According to George, “[Metals are] essential for life. We need them to do the chemical trickery that keeps us alive.”

This is a complex subject, as George says on his Web site. “It’s not only the dose that makes the poison, it’s the form …the metallic liquid mercury in thermometers is relatively benign.  Dimethyl mercury, on the other hand, causes severe, permanent damage, especially to the nervous system.”

George is using x-ray absorption spectroscopy at SSRL to study how metals function in both their beneficial roles and when acting as poisons. He hopes to discover an effective way to remove mercury poisons from the body. Other potential applications include the removal of metal from drinking water and decontaminating industrial sites.

Educated at the Universities of London and Sussex, George visited SLAC as part of his doctoral work at Sussex in 1983. He regularly returns to the Laboratory to do research and to regale children at activities such as SLAC Kids Day where he is known as Dr. Boom. He is currently Canada Research Chair in X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan. For more information on George’s work, see:

Speakers for the Public Lecture series are chosen for their ability to bring scientific issues to the public in a clear and entertaining way. The lecture is free of charge and reservations are not required. Please bring a picture ID for entry into the Laboratory.

For information on the Public Lecture Series, see:



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Last update Wednesday August 18, 2004 by Emily Ball