Living

Oil and water

Why is going green important? What can we learn by maintaining natural processes that are here now? Which natural processes are the important ones?

We actually have a great example going on right now — the Gulf of Mexico oil spill caused by a drilling rig blowing up. While it's certainly not natural, there are principals of science involved.

Have you ever considered that your newspaper is utilizing the principal of oil and water (in a natural state) not mixing to get you the latest news about the Gulf spill and lots more?

Offset printing is the most common type of printing used commercially today. The image you want, whether it’s words or pictures, is transferred from a printing plate to a rubber roller. Compression and ink put that image on another medium, in this case, paper.

Washing with water, or offsetting the image you want to keep from areas where the ink spread and you didn't want it, completes the process. It's all really based on the simple idea that water and oil, or in this case, water and other liquids saturated to assume the properties of oil, just don't mix.

The printing of today is borrowed from the lithographic process. It dates back to 1875 from England (Robert Barclay) and 1903 by American Ira Washington Rubel.

To get today's quality, you're actually "attracting" to the rollers areas you do not want printed medium by using a bath called fountain solution. Today we are designating the non-inking area from the area where we want the image by forming a seal with this solution. Still, enhanced as it is, the idea all stems from the naturally occurring process that was recognized and someone said, “How can we make this work FOR us?”

We don't always know what will be important tomorrow. Keeping the earth natural and as intact as possible preserves the processes that someday may lead to very important discoveries. Some of those could be medical, some commercial.

It's going to be important to the Gulf ecosystem to get that spill cleaned up and preserve the natural state there. Ultimately it's up to all of us to take care of the planet. Keeping it clean might be the simplest way to stay green.

-- Ron Buckland is the Herald’s post press department maintenance coordinator and has worked at the paper since 1976.

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