The Amateur Scientist; May 1997; Scientific American Magazine; by Carlson; 2 Page(s)
Haze is a vital indicator of our atmosphere's health. Most haze is natural; it is created by water vapor, wind-borne dust, forest fires and volcanic eruptions. Unfortunately, a lot of what humans do also ends up in the atmosphere--smog is the best-known example of artificial haze. Although many cities monitor the clarity of their local atmosphere, surprisingly little is known about how the amount of haze is changing globally because no one is coordinating haze observations over widely dispersed areas.
That may change with the latest design from Forrest M. Mims III. (Mims may be familiar to readers from his columns in this section in 1990.) He has invented an atmospheric haze sensor that costs less than $20 and is so simple to construct that even the most hardened technophobe can put it together in under an hour. Mims's instrument could revolutionize this important area of study by opening the field to all comers, that is, to amateur scientists.