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Every parcel of gas along the line of sight to a distant quasar will selectively absorb certain wavelengths of continuum light of the quasar due to the presence of the various chemical elements in the gas. Through the analysis of these quasar absorption lines we can study the spatial distributions, motions, chemical enrichment, and ionization histories of gaseous structures from redshift five until the present. This includes the gas in galaxies of all morphological types as well as the diffuse gas in the intergalactic medium.