What even is oxygen? I mean, I’m aware that it’s a chemical element, and that our bodies take it in via breathing and somehow transform into the building blocks of life. But still, I ask: what in the blazes is it? How does it come to have these seemingly magical properties that can sustain an organism as complex as a human being? What are the odds that the universe is aligned just so, such that this element is so flawlessly matched to our meat ships?

I know, I know. It’s kind of obvious: our meat ships are simply adapted to the chemical conditions available in this neck of the solar system. In fact, they emerged from these very conditions, and are effectively not separable from them. I get it. Even with this logical explanation, though, you have to admit that it’s all quite flabbergasting, and kind of uplifting as well. I mean, why worry about things like bills and taxes and missed flights and bad hair days when things are so absurd at a fundamental level?

Not to wax too philosophical about it. I understand this these observations are fairly elementary (pun intended). Where it gets really interesting is the creative applications of it that humans have managed to figure out. Just look at some of the recent developments in medical technology, now available to any old average Joe in Melbourne. Hyperbaric oxygen therapies are an example – you don’t even need to use a hospital rig these days, as portable versions have come onto the market that enable people to administer the treatment in their own homes.

It’s not like messing with the possibilities of oxygen is anything new, mind you. People have been investigating this for a long time – just look at pranayama in yoga. I’m sure the ancient Egyptians were up to something in this arena as well. None of that should be surprising, really – it makes sense that we’ve always needed to understand and exploit the kooky relationship our bodies have with our planet’s atmospheric conditions.