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The nature of air

Of all the Earth’s elements, air might be the one we notice least, as well as the one we unconsciously use the most. We call it wind, sky, smoke, pollution, breath — all in
an effort to pin down its inherent, elusive nature. It is invisible without something to give it shape. Yet each day we breathe it deep into our lungs and feel it in the chill between our fingertips. Like all the elements of the Earth, we use it because we need it, every day, to survive.
Sunday, December 5, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:09 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

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MU senior Rachel Mills exhales cigarette smoke into the air at Quinton’s Bar and Grill on Ninth Street.

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This coal-burning power plant in Randolph County emits nearly 250 pounds of mercury into the air each year. Among the power plants in Missouri, the Thomas Hill plant ranks third in overall mercury emissions.

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A windy day by the Missouri River at Cooper’s Landing sends a memorial U.S. flag that reads “September 11, 2001” whipping through the air. As the breeze picks up, the flag takes on the shape of the air around it.

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Maria Schmitz, 8, swings high into the air during recess on the playground of Paxton Keeley Elementary School on Park DeVille Road in Columbia.


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