IT’S ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR WATSON
For the next few weeks, I’ll be running an educational series on the elements: their properties, uses, and availability in the natural world. The Periodic Table of Elements (shown above) is the arrangement of all known chemical elements, which is based on their atomic number, which is the number of protons in the nucleus of the atom. The rows are arranged in periods, the columns are called groups, such as the Nobel gases. Other groups include Alkalides,Actimides, Metalloids, and diatomic nonmetals.The chart was first created in 1869 by Dimitri Mendeleev.
Elements can be liquids, solids or gases. Today we’ll look at two elements that are gases, Hydrogen and Helium. Although they are gases in their normal state, they can exist as liquids at extremely cold or hot temperatures, and are never in solid form.
Hydrogen is formed from the Greek words “Hydro” and “Genes”, meaning “Water forming.” Robert Boyle first produced hydrogen as early as 1671. It is the most abundant element in the universe, and is essential to life. Our atmosphere contains 78% of it, and it is really most of what we breath in everyday, but Oxygen is equally important as well.
90% of the universe is made up of it, and it is the raw fuel which most stars burn to produce energy. It is the lightest of the elements, weighing only 1.00794 atomic mass units. It forms with other elements to make compounds, such as Water (H2O), Methane, (CH4), Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2), and Hydrocholric Acid (HCl). Combined with liquid Oxygen, it makes excellent rocket fuel.
Helium is one of the Nobel gases, and is colorless, odorless, tasteless, non toxic, and inert. It is the 2nd lightest and most abundant element in the universe, although on Earth it is extremely rare, and is created by natural radioactive decay, usually found in shale deposits. It weighs 4.002602 atomic mass units, and is named after Helios, the Greek god of the sun.
It’s boiling and melting points are the lowest among the elements, and exist only as a gas, except in extremely cold conditions. It is a byproduct of fusion, and is created from Hydrogen in exploding stars. It was first discovered in 1868 by French astronomer, Jules Janssen. It is used on Earth in Cryogenics, MRI scanners, arc welding, balloons, and airships, due to its lighter than air quality.
Tomorrow, we will look at two metals, Lithium and Beryllium. Until then, here is today’s link(click on the element for more info):
RARE, BUT ACTUALLY QUITE COMMON
Today we’ll talk about two elements that are uncommon, but used quite a bit in our everyday life, Lithium and Beryllium.
Lithium, from the Greek word Lithos, meaning “stone,” has an atomic number of 3, and weighs 6.94, has a melting point of 356.9° F, and a boiling point of 2,426° F. It is a soft white metal, belongs to the Alkalide Metal Group, and is the lightest metal, and the least dense solid. It is highly reactive, flammable and corrosive and is stored in mineral oil for this reason. Due to its high reactivity, it is never available by itself, and only appears in ionic compounds. It is not very common in the universe, compared to the lower numbered elements.
Some uses of Lithium include heat-resistant glass and ceramics, grease lubricants, steel and aluminum production, batteries, and ion batteries. The transmutation of Lithium atoms to Helium in 1932 was the first fully man-made nuclear reactions. Lithium-6 deuteride serves as a fuel for thermonuclear weapons. It is useful in the treatment of bi-polar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, and cyclic major depression. It was first discovered in 1817 by Johan August Arfwedson, and traces of it are present in all organisms.
Beryllium is an alkilide earth metal, created only through stellar nucleosynthesis and is somewhat rare in the universe. It has a weight of 9.01218311, an atomic number of 4, and like Lithium, only appears in compounds. It is a steel gray hard metal that is brittle at air temperature. It has a melting point of 2349° F, and a boiling point of 5378° F.
It is present in some gemstones, such as Aqumarine and Emerald. When combined with aluminum, copper, iron, or nickel it forms a strong alloy, which is why it is the main choice for aerospace material, such as aircraft, missles, spacecraft, and satellites. It is also used in X-Ray windows, automobile airbags, sprinkler systems, and particle physics equipment.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at two more elements in the chart, Boron and one element essential to our existence-Carbon. Until then, here are the links (Remember to click on the element for more info on the table link):
THE BASIS OF LIFE
Our next two elements are essential to our existence, without them, we probably wouldn’t exists. Again, they are rare in their raw form, and are usually in compounds. They are vital elements for the building blocks of life, and could also cause our demise if too concentrated.
Our first is Boron, a metalloid, which is also an essential nutrient for all foods produced from plants, and plants themselves. It has an atomic number of 5, a melting point of 3769° F, a boiling point of 7101° F. Due to the fact that it’s produced entirely by cosmic ray spallation and not by stellar nucleosynthesis, it is a low-abundance element on both the solar system and the Earth’s crust.
Boron in its natural state is almost as hard as a diamond, and is very light weight. It o makes a great insulator, and is used to shield nuclear reactors. Boron oxide, boric acid, and borates are non toxic to humans and animals in low doses. A trithylborane ignitor was used in the Apollo 15 Saturn V rocket. Some other common uses are in pyrotechnic flares, textile fiberglass, adhesives, cleaning compounds, fertilizers, and paints.
Carbon, from the Greek word carbo, meaning “Coal”, is a chemical element with the atomic number 6, and is a non-metallic element. There are three naturally occurring isotopes, C12, C13, and C14, which is radioactive, with a half life of 5730 years. Some allotropes of Carbon are graphite, diamonds, and amorphous carbon. It is the 15th most abundant element on earth, and the 4th most abundant in the universe by mass.
It is present in all forms of life, and is the 2nd most by mass in the human body, next to Oxygen, at 18.5%. It has the highest melting point of any element, at 6332° F. It is usually fused into a compound at extremely high temperatures, from objects such as meteorites, comets, and supernovas.
One of its main uses is in the form of hydrocarbons, from fossil fuels, such as Methane, crude oil, and in plastics. It can also be formed with other alloys to make steel, battery terminals, and drill bits. As graphite, it’s used for pencils, and art supplies. It can be used in the form of charcoal for cooking, and its radioactive state it’s used for carbon dating of ancient artifacts. The most fused form of carbon, diamonds, are both rare and valuable. It is also used as Carbon dioxide in soda, which gives it its fizz.
Elements such as these and their properties have helped shaped our universe, and the origin of life here on Earth. They have helped shaped our technology and brought us into the world we know today. Tomorrow, we will look at two more elements that are essential for life, and surround us everyday-Nitrogen and Oxygen. Until then, here are today’s links:
INHALE AND EXHALE
When we breathe in air, we seldom think about what it consists of; the complex elements that combine to create our atmosphere. The two main ones that give credit to our existence are Nitrogen and Oxygen; without them, life couldn’t exist as we know it.
Nitrogen is a chemical element that is a diatonic non-metal, and has an atomic number of 7. At room temperature, it’s a transparent, colorless, odorless gas. It is the seventh most common element in the universe, and the most common here on earth. At 78%, it occupies most of our atmosphere. It’s melting point is extremely cold at -346° F, and it’s boiling point is just above that, at -320.431° F.
It has a wide variety of uses, such as fertilizers for plants, in Kevlar fabric, and pharmacological drugs; such as nitroglycerin, nitroprusside blood pressure medicine, Nitric acid. Dentists use Nitrous oxide as a anesthetic. Nitrogen occurs in all living organisms, primarily in amino acids and nucleic acids. The body contains less than 3% Nitrogen, but even this amount can be deadly under pressurization; thus the reason divers must wear special suits to avoid contracting what is known as “the bends.”
Quantum computers are stored in liquid Nitrogen, due to their eccentric properties. Nitrogen gas has many uses, from preserving frozen foods, to light bulbs, the manufacturing process of stainless steel, liquid explosives, tire inflation, cryogenic research, and aircraft and rocket fuel systems.
Oxygen is also a special element because it is what we survive on. Lack of it, causes us to faint, and effects our brain functions. It is a chemical element which belongs to the chalcogen group, and in dioxide form, O2, is also odorless, tasteless, and transparent, although liquid oxygen become a faint blue in color. This is one of the reason the sky is blue, as Nitrogen and Oxygen are affected by our yellow sun in the color spectrum.
It is a highly reactive nonmetallic element and an oxidizing agent that readily forms compounds with most other elements. Photosynthesis releases oxygen through plants, and animals consume oxygen through respiration, a symbiotic relationship that is essential for life here on earth.
It has a cold melting and boiling point, at -361.82° F and -297.322° F respectively. It is the third most abundant element in the universe, and occupies 20.8% of our atmosphere. Any more, any less, it would be difficult to breathe. The ozone layer, consisting of O3, protects us from harmful UVB radiation from the sun.
Some uses of oxygen are the production of steel, in plastics and textiles, rocket propellent and oxidizers, oxygen therapy in hospitals, and life support systems in aircraft, submarines, spacecraft, and diving. When combined with Carbon, liquid oxygen forms dry ice, a common agent used in fog machines in concert venues.
Nitrogen and Oxygen are also key components in my novel, as Balta breathes Nitrous Oxide, instead of straight oxygen. This is why he must wear a mask in oxygen rich environments. Tomorrow, we will look at two more elements that can be gases as well, Flourine and Neon. Until then, here are today’s links:
We all know that one form of Fluorine, fluoride, is used widely by dentists, in toothpaste, and in the water we drink. From the Latin word fluo, which means “flow”, it is the lightest halogen and exists as a highly toxic pale yellow diatomic gas. It has an atomic number of 9, and is also highly reactive; almost all other elements form compounds with fluorine. It has a melting point of -363.60° F, and a boiling point of -306.60° F.
Industrial synthesis of fluorine gas for uranium enrichment is the largest use of the element. Organic fluorides have very high chemical and thermal stability, and are used in cryogenic refrigerants, electrical insulation and cookware. It is also used in pharmaceuticals, such as Prozac. Fluorocarbon gases are greenhouse gases with global warning potentials 100 to 20,000 times that of carbon dioxide.
Neon is derived from the Greek verb neos, meaning “new.” It has an atomic number of 10, and is one of the Noble Gases. It is colorless, odorless, inert atomic gas with 2/3 the density of air. It is chemically inert and forms no uncharged chemical compounds. It has an extremely low melting point at -415° F and a boiling point of -410.88° F. It is fifth in the universe in abundance, as it’s formed through the alpha fusion of stars, although it is very rare on Earth.
Neon gas gives a distinct reddish-orange glow when used in either low voltage neon glow lamps, high voltage tubes, and advertising signs. It is also used in some plasma tubes and refrigerants, but has few other uses.
Well, that’s the elements for this week. Join me next week for Part two of the element series, when we’ll discuss a whole new group of substances and their properties and uses. until then, here are today’s links:
WITHOUT THEM, WE WOULD BE LOST
Sodium, Magnesium, and Aluminum are elements that we use everyday, sometimes without even realizing it. We’ll start the second part of our series exploring these three metals,their properties, and their common uses in everyday life.
Sodium(Na) is a chemical element, taking its abbreviation from the Latin word Natrium, and has an atomic number of 11. It is a soft, silvery white, extremely reactive alkali metal. Its pure form doesn’t exist naturally, but can be prepared from several other compounds.
It is the sixth most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, and exists in minerals, such as sodolite and rock salt. Many salts are water soluble, which means they dissolve in water. Sodium melts at 208° F, and boils at 1622° F. In its natural form, it is flammable when placed in water. Sodium hydroxide (lye) is used for soap making, and sodium chloride is used as a de-icing agent and a food nutrient (table salt.)
Magnesium is also a common element, is a shiny gray solid, and also an alkaline earth metal. It has an atomic number of 12, and is the ninth most abundant element in the universe. It is synthesized in large, aging stars that expand outward to be recycled into new star systems. It is the 4th most common element on Earth, and make up to 13% of the planet’s mass, and a large fraction of the mantle. It also only occurs in compounds.
The chief use is in an alloy agent to make aluminum-magnesium alloys, creating lightness and strength. It is also used medicinally in laxatives, antacids, and to stabilize abnormal nerve excitation or blood vessel spasms.
Aluminum is a member of the boron group with an atomic number of 13, and is considered a post transition metal. It is the third most abundant element in the universe, and the most abundant in the Earth’s crust, making up to 8% of its weight. It is found in over 270 different minerals, and has a low density to resist corrosion. It has a melting point of 1221° F, and a boiling point of 4478° F, and is an excellent reflector of medium and far infrared radiation. It is also a good thermal and electrical conductor.
Aluminum metal alloys are vital to the aerospace and automobile industries. The most useful compounds are oxides and sulphates. It is used in car engine blocks, and used everyday to wrap food in the form of foil.
Although too much of these elements can be destructive to our systems, a certain amount is essential. Without salt, we wouldn’t be able to sweat, and we could die. Magnesium regulates our digestive systems. Aluminum, although in our bodies, is the only one found not to be that essential.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at some more common elements that are used everyday Silicon, Phosphorus, and Sulphur. Until then, here are the links:
WITHOUT THEM WE WOULDN’T HAVE THE COMPUTER AGE, GLOW IN THE DARK, OR GUNPOWDER
If it weren’t for the three next elements, Silicon, Phosphorus, and Sulphur, we wouldn’t have half of the devices or products that we have today. They are also vital elements of the universe and Earth itself.
Silicon is a non transitional metal with an atomic number of 14. It’s named from the Latin word “silex”, meaning hard stone or flint. It is the eighth most common element in the universe by mass, but very rarely occurs as a pure free element in nature. Over 90% of the Earth’s crust is composed of silicate minerals, making it the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust.
It is used as Silica for cement, mortar, and stucco, in porcelain, and in semi-conductors and integrated circuits in computers. It is also used as a sealant and adhesive, in plastics and rubber, and used to be a gel in breast implants.
Phosphorus is a reactive chemical and a non-metal with an atomic number of 15. It exists in two forms, white and red, is highly reactive, and never found as a free element on Earth. It emits a glowing property when exposed to Oxygen. It is essential for life, for it is found as a component of DNA and RNA, and phospholipids, which form all cell membranes.
It is used in pesticides, steel production, as a water softener and in laundry detergents, and as Phosphoric acid in soft drinks. It is also one of the elements that causes scorpions to glow under ultraviolent light, and in black light pictures and glow in the dark plastic toys.
Sulphur is another reactive element with an atomic number of 16, and is an abundant, multivalent non-metal. In its pure form it is a bright yellow crystalline solid. It occurs naturally as a pure element, as well as in sulfate minerals.
In ancient times, it was used in India, China, and Eygpyt. Fumes from burning sulphur were used as fumigants and medicinal mixtures. The Chinese were the first to combine it with other compounds to form gunpowder. The largest commercial use is in fertilizers. Hydrogen sulfide is a byproduct produced by living organisms, forming a gas that has the smell of rotten eggs. Organically bonded Sulphur is a component of all proteins as amino acids. Active volcanoes, such as those on Jupiter’s moon, Io, produce sulphur which give it it’s yellow appearance.
In my latest novel, Return To Doomsday, due out in September 2015, Jeff Walker uses kiwis to make simple explosives with gunpowder, in much the same way as the Chinese did.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at three more commonly used elements on the list; Chlorine, Argon and Potassium. Until then, here are today’s links:
EVERYBODY IN THE POOL!
Chlorine is common element that is used to sanitize swimming pools, and in cleaning products, such as bleach and disinfectants. In high concentration, however, it is a poisonous gas, and one of the many that causes depletion of the ozone.
It has atomic number of 17, belongs to the halogen group, and the second lightest in the group, following Fluorine. It is a yellow-green gas, and is a strong oxidizing agent. In its free state, it is rare on Earth, and the most common compound is in the form of Sodium Chloride(table salt). It has been around since ancient times. and is the second most abundant halogen on Earth, and the 21st most abundant element in its crust.
Argon is the third most common gas in the atmosphere, and nearly all of the gas is derived from the decay of potassium-40 in the Earth’s crust. It has an atomic number of 18, and is derived from the Greek word apyov, meaning “lazy” or “inactive.” It is mostly used as an inert shielding gas in welding and other high temperature industrial processes, such as graphite electric furnaces to prevent the graphite from burning.
It is also used in incandescent and fluorescent lighting. Argon used as a laser emits a distinctive blue green glow. It is deadly to humans, due to its weight, which is heavier than air, and can cause the lungs to collapse from lack of oxygen.
Potassium has the symbol of K(derived from the Neo-Latin Kalium), an atomic number of 19, and is an alkali metal. It is a silvery white color that rapidly oxidizes in air, and is very reactive in water, igniting into a lilac colored flame. In nature, it only occurs in ionic salts, such as seawater. Some uses are soaps, fertilizers, and dietary salt(potassium iodide).
Potassium ions are necessary for the function of all living cells, and help with nerve transmission. Lack of it can cause problems such as anemia and kidney disease. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a good source of potassium.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at some more elements; one extremely important, one not so important, and one the hardest substance used for spacecrafts. Until then, here are today’s links:
MOM ALWAYS SAID DRINK YOUR MILK!
Calcium is essential for living organisms, in the use of cell physiology, and as a major material used in mineralization of bone, teeth, and shells. Milk is an excellent source of Calcium, as well as supplements. Without it, our bones would be brittle and weak.
With an atomic number of 20, it is a soft, gray alkaline earth metal, and the 5th most abundant in the Earth’s crust. Free calcium is too reactive to occur in nature, and is usually combined with other minerals or elements. It is produced in the explosions at the end of life of massive stars.
It also provides an important link between tectonics, climate, and the carbon cycle. It helps to create new rocks, in the form of limestone. It can be used also as a reducing agent in the extraction of other metals, as a deoxidizer, in cements and mortars, and in the making of cheese.
Scandium is a silvery white metallic d-block element, and has an atomic number of 21. It is a very rare element, and only three mines produce it in the world in the Ukraine, China, and Russia. Its properties are similar to Aluminum, and develops a yellowish or pinkish color when oxidized by air. It is susceptible to weathering, and dissolves slowly in most dilute acids. It is slightly radioactive, with a half life of 83.8 days. It is the 50th most common element on Earth, and the 23rd most common in the sun.
It is primarily used in the strengthening of aluminum alloys and some sports equipment, such as baseball bats, bicycle frames, lacrosse sticks, and revolver parts.
Titanium is a transition metal with a silver color, low density, and high strength. It is highly resistant to corrosion in sea water and chlorine. With a high melting point of 3000° F, it can be used as an alloy in iron, aluminum, and vanadium to produce strong, lightweight alloys for the aerospace, military, and automotive industries. It can also be used for orthopedic implants, dental and endodontic instruments, sporting goods, jewelry, mobile phones, and drill bits.
Titanium is one of the hardest substances known to mankind, and perfect for space travel, due to its weight. Less weight means less drag on liftoff, and the craft can travel much faster to escape the Earth’s gravity.
We’ll be back next week with some more transition metals, Vanadium, Chromium, and Maganese. Have a great weekend, and until then, here are today’s links:
CHECK IT OUT!
Chrome was one the first features offered as an alternative to iron in vehicles. Iron, as well as Aluminum tended to oxidize or rust much quicker than chrome. Justin Beiber reportedly paid a whopping $100,000 for a chrome Fisker(above picture). Chromium is an element with an atomic number of 24, and is a steel gray lustrous color that is hard and brittle. It is derived from the Greek word chroma, meaning color.
Chromium oxide was used over 2000 years ago in China to coat metal weapons. Chromium is also used in the production of stainless steel and chrome plating.
Manganese, with an atomic number of 25, is found in combination with iron and other minerals, and is also silvery gray in color. It is mostly used as a metal alloy. Manganese phosphating is used as a treatment for rust and corrosion preservation. Manganese dioxide is used a cathode material in zinc-carbon and alkaline batteries.
It also functions in the oxygen evolving process in photosynthetic plants, and was once used as a pigment in paint used to draw on caverns in prehistoric times. High doses, however, are harmful to mammals, and works like a neurotoxin, slowly paralyzing the victim.
Iron is also a silver gray metal, with atomic number of 26, is a metal in the first transition series, and by mass, the most common element on Earth. It is created in the fusion of high mass stars, and also occurs in meteoroids, which are the byproduct thereof.
Iron, when exposed to natural air for long periods can oxidize into what is known as Ferrous Oxide(rust). It can be used a steel alloy, and has been used to make weapons since ancient times. Iron oxide mixed with aluminum powder can be ignited to create a thermide reaction, used in welding. It also plays a role in biology, as a regulator of hemoglobin and myglobin.
All of the metals listed above are present to some degree in our bodies, and Manganese and Iron are essential to maintain good health. Most metals in our body are in such minute amounts that they cannot fatally harm us unless we are exposed to them, or overdose on supplements. Tomorrow, we’ll look at some more metals which inhabit our bodies, and have other uses as well. Until then, here are the links:
FEELING BLUE? ADD A LITTLE COBALT TO YOUR DIET
Cobalt, in its natural state is of course, is a hard, lustrous, silver-gray metal, not blue. It is added to other elements and minerals to give it its blue hue on glass, ceramics, and in inks, paints, and varnishes. It has an atomic number of 27, and the main source of the element is a byproduct from copper and nickel mining.
It is primarily used as a metal for preparation of magnetic, wear resistant, and high strength alloys. It is also the active center of coenzymes called cobalamins, the most common example of the vitamin B12. It is an essential trace dietary mineral for all animals. In my novel, Zarcon uses Cobalt for a casing on the wiring for a jamming device, mainly due to its magnetism and wear resistance.
Nickel is a silvery white metal with a slight golden tinge, and an atomic number of 28. It belongs to the transition metals, and is hard and ductile. Rarely found in its natural state on Earth’s surface, it is usually combined with iron, and has a slow state of oxidation at room temperature and is considered to be corrosion resistant.
The Earth’s core is believed to be an Iron-Nickel mixture. The use of Nickel has been traced back as far as 3500 BCE. It is used in plating of metals, such as Iron and Brass, and has also been used to make coins in the past. Plants use Nickel as a vital nutrient in its growth.
Copper is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity, and in its pure form is soft and malleable, having a reddish-orange color. With an atomic number of 29, it derives from the Latin word Cuprum. It creates a greenish tint when corroded.
It is mostly used as a conductor of heat in piping, and electricity in wiring, and sometimes as a building material, and to make magnets. It is an essential trace dietary mineral, and a respiratory enzyme and blood pigment in mollusks and crustaceans. In humans, it is found in the liver, bones, and muscles.
Zinc has an atomic number of 30, and is chemically similar to Magnesium. It is the 24th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. The largest amounts are found in Australia, Asia, and the United States.
Brass is an alloy of Copper and Zinc, and has been used at least since the 10th century BC. Corrosion resistant Zinc plating of Iron is the major application of the element, but is also used as a casing for batteries. It is also an essential mineral, especially regarding prenatal and postnatal development. Lack of it causes growth application, delayed sexual maturation, infection susceptibility, and diarrhea.
Elements such as these are part of our genetic makeup, and the world around us. Our bodies need traces of each so each organ can function properly. Tomorrow, we’ll look at some rather obscure and not so common elements. Until then, here are the links for today:
THE WORLD OF ELECTRONIC MEDALS, AND NONMETALS
First off, I’d like to apologize for missing Wednesday’s blog post. I’m trying to revamp my first novel, edit and complete my next novel, and also work on finishing my children’s book for Amazon. Covers are never easy to format, and I have a deadline to meet. Hopefully, I’ll have all three completed by September 2015.
That being said, today’s post has to do with four elements that are rather rare, and all have similar properties to one another. They are also used in semiconductors and integrated circuits in electronics. Our first is Gallium, which has an atomic number of 31, and is a soft, silvery metal that is brittle solid at low temperature, and melts to a liquid at room temperature.
It is found as an agent to make metal alloys that melt a low temperatures. It is used in microwave circuits and high speed infrared circuits. Indium gallium nitrate produces blue and violet LED’s, and diode lasers. Gallium is used in garnets in jewelry, and is used also as an alternative to Mercury in thermometers.
Germanium has atomic number of 32, and is a lustrous, hard, grayish-white metalloid, similar to tin and silicon. Also a semiconductor, it is used in transistors, and in the polymerization in the production of plastics. It was used extensively during the first decade of electronics, and is now only used for about 2% of the industry.
Arsenic has an atomic number of 33, and occurs in minerals, usually in conjunction with sulfur and other metals, and as a pure crystal. The main use is for strengthening alloys of copper and lead. It is used in car batteries, electronic devices, pesticides, treated wood products, herbicides, and insecticides.
A few species of bacteria use arsenic compounds as respiratory metabolites. Trace quantities of arsenic are essential dietary elements in rodents, goats, chickens, and many other animals, including humans. It can be a toxin if consumed in high quantities, and has become a problems in some areas’ drinking water.
Selenium has an atomic number of 34, and is the only one that is a non-metal. It is similar to sulfur and tellium, and comes from the Greek word Seline, which means “moon.” It is found impurely in metal, sulfides, ores, and copper.
It’s chief use is in color pigmentation in glass making, and was once used as a semiconductor in photo cells, until it was replaced by silicon. It is continued to be used for DC power surge protectors. Trace amounts are necessary for cellular function in many organisms, and is an ingredient in many multivitamins, and in baby formula.
Please join me tomorrow , when we’ll complete part 3 of our series. Until then, here are today’s links:
UP, UP AND AWAY!
When we think of Krypton, we think of Superman, the extraterrestrial superhero from the planet of the same name. His archenemies know of his susceptibility to the substance from the planet known as Kryptonite, a real substance named Krypton difluoride. The real element of course has nothing to do with the red caped hero or Clark Kent, for that matter.
Krypton comes from the Greek word kryptos, meaning “the hidden one,” and has atomic number of 36. Considered one of the Nobel Gases, it is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas, and is harmful to humans. A small trace exists naturally in the atmosphere. Krypton is used in fluorescent lamps and in photography. It has the highest light output in plasma, and has an important role in many high-powered gas lasers.
Bromine is a fuming reddish-brown liquid, and comes from the Greek word bromos, meaning “strong-smelling” or “stench.” With an atomic number of 35, it is considered a Halogen, and is corrosive and toxic. Its properties are similar to Chlorine and Iodine, and it is one of the rarest elements on Earth. found mostly in ocean brine pools.
At high temperatures, organobromine compounds convert to free bromine atoms, which creates a stopping effect or chemical reactions. This makes it useful for fire retardants. It is also used as a canine antiepileptic medicine.
Rubidium is a soft silvery white metallic element of the alkali metal group, and has an atomic number of 37. It is highly reactive, and has a very rapid oxidization in air. Natural Ribidium has two isotopes Rb85, which is stable, and Rb87 is slightly radioactive, with a half life of 49 billion years.
Rubidium compounds have various chemical and electronics applications, such atomic clocks, and as a target for laser manipulation of atoms.
Strontium is a silvery white element that is highly reactive, and turns yellow when exposed to air. With an atomic number of 38, it has similar properties to calcium and barium. It was named after the village of Strontian, in Scotland. It is used today in cathode ray tubes in televisions, and as a pigment in colored fireworks.
As I mentioned yesterday, I was having trouble with designing covers for the revamped version of Dimension Lapse, and its sequel Return To Doomsday. I’ve since solved the issues, and everything so far is ahead of schedule. I hope to have it out by Sept. 1, 2015.
I hoped you enjoyed this weeks series. I’ll be back with Pt. 4 of our elements series. Until then, here are today’s links:
METALS THAT SEND US TO THE STARS
Today we’re going to discuss metals that have been used throughout history, and metals that send probes and spacecraft beyond the boundaries of the solar system itself.
The first of these metals is Indium, and has an atomic number of 49. It is a post transitional metal which is rare on Earth. It is a very soft, silvery-white, malleable metal which is easily fusible, with a melting point even lower than tin. It is used in metal alloys with low melting points, such as solders, and is also used in nuclear medicine as a radio tracer.
Tin has a symbol of Sn, after the Latin word Stantium, and has an atomic number of 50. The first alloy used on a large scale since 3000 BC was bronze, a mixture of tin and copper. After 600 BC, pure tin was produced. Pewter is an alloy with 90% tin and 10% copper. It is commonly used in storage of food, in the form of tin cans. It is also used for eating utensils, armor and weapondry, and any other use related to shaping of metal alloys.
Antimony has the symbol of Sb, from the Latin word Stibium, and has an atomic number of 51. It is a lustrous, gray metalloid, and has been used since ancient times in cosmetics. It is commonly used for plates in lead-acid batteries, and also used in solders.
Tellurium has an atomic number of 52, and is a brittle, mildly toxic, rare, silvery-white metalloid. It is more common in the universe than it is on Earth, and is found in the gas of nebulae. It is used in metal alloys to improve machinability, and in semi-conductors.
Iodine has the atomic number of 53, and comes from the Greek word Ioeideˆs, meaning violet or purple, the color of the element when in gas form. It is a Halogen, and considered rare, and is usually used as a tracer in nuclear medicine as well. Iodide is used as a disinfectant, and used to prep areas for surgery, and to treat wounds, and is also in everyday table salt.
Xenon has an atomic number of 54, and is a colorless, odorless, noble gas. It is in the Earth’s atmosphere in trace amounts, and is also quite rare on Earth. It is most commonly used in flash lamps, arc lamps, and as a general anesthetic, as well as in lasers. Ion propulsion systems on spacecraft use Xenon as a propellant, and have just recently sent a probe to Pluto in half the time that conventional spacecraft fuel would have.
Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at some more metals. Until then, here are today’s links:
BUILT TO WITHSTAND ANYTHING!
This week we’ll be the world of transition metals, metaloids, Noble gases, and Halogens. Today we’ll be introducing some transitional metals that are used in electronics, semiconductors, strong metal alloys used in spacecrafts, and other various uses. They have rather strange names, and you may or may not have heard of them, depending how well you know you’re periodic table.
The first is Yttrium, which is a silvery metallic rare earth element found in minerals, and has atomic number of 39. It’s main use is for the production of red phosphors used in cathode ray tubes and LED’s, but it’s also used for electrodes, electrolytes, electronic filters, lasers and superconductors. It has been known to cause lung disease if exposed to humans in large doses.
Zirconium comes from the Persian word Zargun, meaning gold colored, and has an atomic number of 40. It’s a lustrous gray white metal that resembles Titanium, and in powered form can cause eye irritation. It is used to strengthen alloys and in nuclear applications, as well as biomedical uses.
Niobium has an atomic number of 41, and is a soft, gray, ductile metal. It is named after Niobe, daughter of Tantalas, in Greek mythology. Again, it used as a alloy to strengthen metals to create superalloys used in jet and rocket engines, superconductors, magnets, and MRI’s. Other uses include welding, nuclear, and electronic applications, as well as optics, and jewelry.
Molybdium is also a metal alloy, named from the Neo-Latin word Molyddos, meaning “lead,” and has an atomic number of 42. Molybdium-containing enzymes are the most common catalysts, used by bacteria to break the chemical bond in nitrogen, allowing biologic nitrogen fixation.
Technetium has an atomic number of 43, and has the lowest atomic number with no stable isotopes, and is thus radioactive. Nearly all of the element is produced synthetically, and the only pure form is the result of fission reactions, such as those present in red giant stars, and in Uranium mines. It is silvery gray in color, and is used in low dose gamma ray used in nuclear medicine, such as MRI’s and radiation treatment, and are extracted from nuclear rods.
Well, that’s today’s selection of metals, take them or leave them. The lesser common elements tend to be the ones that don’t have many common uses. Many transitional elements react in much the same way, have similar properties, and many of the same uses. Bonds of several metals are formed to make metals strong enough to withstand anything, especially extreme heat.
During the next few weeks, I’ll be dropping my blog to four days only to complete production of my next novel, Dimension Lapse II: Return to Doomsday, which is scheduled to be out Sept. 1, 2015. Please be aware I am also republishing the first novel with a bonus chapter of the second novel, sort of a preview. Until tomorrow, here are today’s links:
BREAK OUT THE FINE SILVERWARE!
Today we’ll be looking at some more transitional metals, including silver. Most of today’s metals are blended with other to form alloys used in plating and coating.
Ruthenium belongs to the Platinum group, has atomic number of 44, and is inert to most other chemicals. It usually occurs as a minor component of Platinum ores, and is used for wear-resistant electrical contacts, and the production of thick-film resistors.
Rhodium is a rare silvery-white hard metal which is also inert, and has atomic number of 45. It has only one naturally occurring isotope, is one of the rarest and most valuable precious metals, and it is resistant to corrosion. It is used as one of the catalysts in three way catalytic converters in automobiles. White Gold is often plated with a thin layer of Rhodium to improve its appearance, and silver is plated with it for tarnish resistance.
Palladium is a lustrous, silvery-white metal named after the asteroid Pallas, with an atomic number of 46. It is also part of the Platinum group, and has similar properties to others in the group. It is also one of the components used in catalytic converters, and is also used for electronics, ground water treatment, jewelry, and medical and dentistry equipment. It also has a key role in fuel cells, which combine Hydrogen and Oxygen to produce electricity, heat, and water.
Silver has an atomic number of 48,and is a soft, white, and lustrous metal. It has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity and reflectivity of all the metals. Most silver is produced as a byproduct of copper, gold, lead, and zinc refining. Considered a precious metal, it is more abundant than gold. It has been used as currency since ancient times, and is also used in solar panels, water filtration, jewelry, tableware, electrical contacts, conductors, and medical equipment.
Cadmium has atomic number of 48, and is a soft, white, and lustrous metal, similar to zinc and mercury. It occurs as a minor component in most zinc ores, and has long been used as a pigment for corrosion resistant plating and paint on steel or plastic. It is also used in batteries, in the form of Nickel-Cadmium, but it’s use has slowly been replaced by Lithium due to safety reasons.
Most transitional metals are good conductors of heat and electricity, and are most often used for the same purposes, despite the metal. Tomorrow we’ll look at some other metals and halogens. Until then, here are today’s links:
THE GRAND FINALE‘
The remainder of our elements on the chart are radioactive, synthetic elements that are created through the process of fission or fusion. I won’t go through naming their names because their properties are similar, and they have names that are difficult to pronounce.
To understand the properties of these elements one must first understand what radiation is and what is does. When radioactivity occurs as the decay of elements found naturally in the environment, it is called background radiation. Radiation can also be produced by fission or fusion of Hydrogen atoms, as in when a star explodes, or a quasar emits a gamma ray burst.
All radioactive elements give out one of the three types of radiation.
Alpha Radiation is the least penetrating and can be absorbed simply by a sheet of paper.
Beta Radiation is able to penetrate air and paper, but can be stopped by aluminum. Test pilots can be exposed to this type, but are protected by aluminum shielding in the aircraft.
Gamma Radiation is what a quasar emits, and can only be shielded by lead and concrete. Astronauts that traveled to the moon needed special shielding to protect them from Gamma rays. Our magnetic field protects a great deal from these rays. This will be a major obstacle in deep space missions, and planets not protected by magnetic fields, such as Mars.
When an atom emits alpha or Beta radiation, its nucleus changes, and becomes a different element. Fusion is when two nuclei combine to form a single heavier nucleus.
Fission is when a heavy nucleus is split to form two smaller nuclei, such as in an atomic bomb.
Radiation is useful as a treatment for some forms of cancer. Too much radiation, however, can kill healthy cells as well, as is not beneficial. After effects of the people who lived on Bikini Atoll has shown up years later in several forms of cancer derived from radiation.
Well, that’s the end of our element series; I hope I didn’t bore you death to much with it. Tomorrow and Friday, I’ll have a couple of special posts; one on the recent discovery of flowing water on Mars, and the other on the science of making the film “The Martian” which came out last Friday. Until then, here is a special tidbit on Bikini Atoll:
IT ALL SOUNDS GREEK TO ME!
Today and all this week, we’ll be dealing with some elements with rather strange names, some Greek, some Roman, and some just plain complicated. Three of the elements belong to a group called Lanthanides. Most of this group are soft, silvery-white metals.
But first, we’ll discuss two elements that are alkali metals, Caesim, and Barium. Caesim has an atomic number of 55, is a silvery gold metal, and only one of five elemental metals that are liquid at room temperature. It is extremely reactive and pyrophoric, and explodes when placed in water. It is used in vacuum tubes in televisions, photoelectric cells, and is used in highly accurate atomic clocks.
Barium has an atomic number of 56, is soft and silvery, and comes from the Greek word Barys, meaning “heavy.” It is used to scavenge air in vacuum tubes, and is a component in high temperature superconductors. It is added to fireworks to give them a green color, used in X-ray radiocontrast agent for imaging of the human gastrointestinal tract, and also used as a rodentcide.
The rest of our elements today are called Lanthanides, and are Lanthanum, Cerium, and Praseodynium, respectively. Lanthanum is the first, and the group is named after this element. It has an atomic number of 57, is a soft, ductile, silvery-white rare earth metal, and oxidizes rapidly when exposed to air. It is used as a catalyst in glass, and also used in carbon and studio lighting, as well as projection. It is also used as an ignition element in lighters and torches, in electron cathodes, gas lantern mantles, and for treatment of renal failure in the medical field.
Cerium has an atomic number of 58, and soft, silvery, ductile metal that oxidizes in air. It is named after the Roman goddess of agriculture, and is the most abundant of the rare earth elements. It is also used as catalyst, in fuel additives, to give glass a greenish color. It is also used for flints in lighters. In a biological role, trace amounts act similar to calcium, and are also found in tobacco plants, barley, and beechwood.
Praseodymium is perhaps the one with the strangest name. It was named by its discoverer, has an atomic number of 59, and is a soft, silvery, malleable, and ductile metal. When artificially prepared, it develops a green oxide coating . It is used as a steel alloy with magnesium in aircraft engines, in high powered magnets, and is also used in studio lighting, projectors, and to color glass.
Tomorrow, we’ll be back with more of the Lanthanide series. It’s nothing like “Gotham” or “Under The Dome”, but chemistry is an area of science that is not everybody’s cup of tea. Until tomorrow, here are today’s links:
IS IT LOUD ENOUGH FOR YOU?
Today we’ll talk about more of the lanthanides, specifically those used in nuclear applications, and in yes, speaker magnets. Our first is Neodymium, which has the symbol Nd, and has an atomic number of 60. It is a soft, silvery metal that tarnishes in air. Even though it’s classified as a “rare earth” metal, it is as common as Cobalt, Nickel, and copper. Most Neodymium is mined in China. First used for glass dyes, it is still used for this purpose, as well, in lasers, computer hard disks, and speaker, microphone, and headphone magnets.
Promethium is a radio-active, man-made element, and has atomic number of 61. It is used in luminous paints, and in atomic and nuclear batteries.
Electrical readout of an atomic battery.
Samarium is a moderately hard, silvery metal that oxidizes in air, and has an atomic number of 62. It is most commonly used as a cancer drug for lung, prostate, and breast cancer. It is also used in magnets, and can withstand temperatures above 1292° F, as well as in the control rods of nuclear reactors.
Europium has an atomic number of 63, and was first discovered in 1901, and named after the continent of Europe. A moderately hard, silvery metal that oxidizes in air and water. It is one of the rarest elements in the universe, and is the product of nuclear fission.
Gadolinium has an atomic number of 64, is a silvery-white malleable and ductile rare earth metal, and is used as shielding in neutron radiography and nuclear reactors. Well, that’s today’s list; short and sweet. Tomorrow, we’ll look at some more Lathanides, and their uses.
I would like to thank publicly the Lyman Frank Baum Association for having me at their event last Saturday. It was interesting to see the various Oz items on display, and network with other authors during the event. I would also like to tell everyone about a book you can Preorder for free until September 30th through Inkshares by a good friend of mine who uses the pen name Erin Kelly. It is a werewolf story, called Tainted Moonlight, and is set right here in Syracuse, NY.
It is about a man named Korban Diego, who survived an attack during a supernatural virus outbreak by vampires and werewolves, only to struggle with the fact that his lover becomes infected. I especially love her last line of her blurb-Korban must face his fears and accept his fate in order to help her-if he can keep her from eating his roommates!
Until tomorrow, here are today’s links:
ENTER THE NUCLEAR AGE
Most of the Lathanide series are Earth metals that are highly reactive and radioactive metals that are silvery white in color, and are commonly used for nuclear applications. I won’t bore you with all the properties and atomic numbers of each one, as I have been doing, because this series has overextended itself, and I don’t want to lose an audience due to a boring lesson on chemistry. I like to keep things interesting.
Terbium Holmium Dysprosium
Erbium Thulium Ytterbium
So as a quick overview, listing in chronological order according to their atomic structures, the remainder of the lathanides are: Terbium, Dysprosium, holmium, Erbium, Thulium, Ytterbium, and Lutetium. Terbium is often used as a crystal stabilizer of nuclear fuel cells, which permeate at elevated temperatures, and in actuators, and in naval sonor systems, and submarines. It is also used in fluorescent lamps and TV tubes. Dysprosium is used as a catalyst in control rods of nuclear reactors.
holmium, which is another rare earth element, iin nuclear reactors. Erbium is used in medical and dental laser surgery, and Thulium is used as a radiation source in portable x-ray devices named after the city of Stockholm. It is used for certain laser and glass colorant applications. It has the highest magnetic permeability of any element and are used for the strongest static magnets, and is also used as a burnable poisons, and in solid state lasers. Yyterbium is used as a dopant of stainless steel and as a gamma ray source. Lutetium is used in determining the age of meteorites, and in metal alloys.
Nuclear processes can create new elements, as well as use elements already in existence. The splitting of atoms through fission create new isotopes to already existing substances. Most of the newer elements are either extracted from compounds, or created this way.
Tomorrow, we’ll be looking at some more transition metals, their properties, and applications. Until then, here are the links:
“KING OF THE METALS”
Today we’ll be talking about transitional metals, which are usually silvery-gray, bluish-gray , silvery-white or some derivative thereof, with the exception of Gold, which is considered “The King of all Metals”. Transitional metals are usually highly corrosion-resistant, and used in metal alloys or as conductors.
Hafnium is used as a metal alloy, and in filaments and electrodes in light bulbs, and in control rods.
Tantalum comes from the Greek word “Tantalus,”an anti-hero from Greek mythology. It is a valuable substance used in laboratory equipment, and as a substitute for Platinum. Medical implants, bone repairs, and capacitors for mobile phones, DVD players, video games, and computers all contain some form of Tantalum, due to its high corrosion-reistance.
Tungsten is hard and brittle, and often used for filaments in incandescent lighting, x-ray tubes, electrodes, superalloys, or radiation shielding.
Rhenium is one of the rarest and most expensive metals in the earth’s crust, and used in superalloys in combustion chambers, turbine blades, and exhaust nozzles of jet engines.
Osmium is hard and brittle, and the densest naturally occurring element. It is used in fountain pen tips, and electrical contacts.
Iridium is the most corrosion resistant metal, even at temperatures of 2000° F. It is used in high performance spark plugs, semi-conductors, and radioisotope thermoelectric generators. It is commonly found in meteorites, and large traces of it in the Cretaceous-Palogene boundary of rock. It is believed this is proof that the dinosaurs died 66 million years ago from a massive asteroid or meteorite.
Platinum is considered a precious metal, and has a variety of uses, including jewelry, catalytic converters, , thermometers, dentistry equipment, and the famous Music Industry’s Platinum record.
Gold, in its pure form, is a bright, slightly reddish-yellow, dense, soft, malleable, and ductile metal. It is thought to have been produced on Earth as the result of supernovas. It has been used for coins, jewelry, and architectural design since the beginning of civilization. It is also one of the best superconductors, and used in telescopes and in the CERN collider.
Mercury is a bit different from other metals, in the respect that it is the only one that is liquid at room temperature. It is very bad for living organisms and poisoning is usually the result of water exposure, or eating contaminated seafood. It is used in thermometers, barometers, manometers, float valves, switches, and relays.
Well, that’s our list for this week. Next week, I’ll return with the Actinide series. Until then, have a good weekend, and enjoy the first weekend of fall. Here are today’s links:
THE WORLD OF ELECTRONICS AND NUCLEAR MEDICINE
Today we’ll be discussing some metals that are used in electronics and nuclear medicine. Most are grayish-blue in color, and radioactive. They are used in imaging products, and for pharmaceutical products.
Our first is called Thallium, has an atomic number of 81, and is a soft, gray post transitional metal that discolors when exposed to air. It is so soft it can be cut with a knife at room temperature. 60-70% of it is used in the electronics industry pharmaceuticals, and in glass manufacturing, as well as infrared detectors.
Lead is a well known soft, malleable and heavy post transition metal. With an atomic number of 82, it tuns a dull grayish color when exposed to air. Once used in pencil tips and lead paint, it is now used in lead-acid batteries, bullets, weights, pewter, and in radiation shielding in reactor cores, and for x-ray vests. It is poisonous to animals and humans.
Bismuth chemically resembles arsenic and antimony, and is a brittle metal with a silvery-white color, which turns a pink tinge when oxidized. It has one of the lowest values of thermal conductivity among the metals. It is used in cosmetics, pigments, and pharmaceuticals, such as Pepto Bismol, and considered a safer alternative to lead.
Polonium was first discovered in 1898 by Marie and Pierre Curie, and is a rare and highly radioactive. It is used as a fuel for interplanetary space probes, and as sources of neutrons and alpha particles in the process of particle acceleration.
Astatine is a very rare radioactive element that occurs as the decay product of heavier elements, and is considered a metalloid. It is mainly used in nuclear medicine.
Radon is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless radioactive gas, and considered one of the Noble Gases. It occurs naturally as a decay product of radium, usually found in shale deposits deep under the Earth. It is the only gas under normal conditions to be considered radioactive. It sometimes leaks in basements, causing lung cancer in humans.
Francium is the second most electro-negative element, and is a highly radioactive alkali metal. It has a very short half life of 22 minutes, and easily evaporates in air. Outside the laboratory, it is extremely rare.
Radium is a radioactive metal which is only used in nuclear medicine, such as imaging machines.
That’s it for today’s list. Not very exciting I know, but we are nearing the end of our list. Tomorrow, we’ll be looking at the rest of our Actinoids, their properties, and uses.
Over the past week, I’ve been working on the third and final installment of the Dimension Lapse series. I will be continuing the series after as a spin-off, as well as sort of a prequel to the first novel. There are also several other projects that I’ll be publishing in the future, such as a couple of fantasy series, and a couple of stand-alone novels as well.
As I continue to write with considerably less results than I expected, I don’t get discouraged by this; I know over time that my writing will get gradually better. I also realize that there are those who are chain readers, and like to read the whole series at once. I can relate to that, having read books like The Narnia Series, and The Lord of The Rings.
I will continue to offer topics on my blog, and periodically do reviews of movies and books. Lately I haven’t been to the movies much, but I am looking forward to the new Bond film, Spectre, as well as The Martian. I’ll be seeing both, and giving my review of each.
We’ll see you again tomorrow; no links today other than Wikapedia, if you want more information on each element.
THEY’RE A NUCLEAR BLAST!
Today we’ll discuss the Actinide series; a group of synthetic elements that are the product of nuclear fission, and some that occur naturally as well. Most of the metals are a silvery-white color, with the exception of Thorium, which turns a black color when exposed to air. The first is called Actinium, the element that the group is named after. It has no significant industrial use, and is only used as a neutron source and agent for radiation therapy targeting cancer cells in the body.
Thorium was once used as a light source in gas mantles, an alloy material, and on TIG welding electrodes. It is also predicted to replace Uranium as a nuclear fuel, but only a few reactors have been completed.
Protactinium is a dense, silvery-gray material which readily reacts with Oxygen, and there are no uses for it outside of scientific research. Uranium is used mostly in nuclear applications, including material for nuclear missiles and bombs, and fuel for reactors.
Neptunium is named after the Roman God Neptune, God of the Sea. It is used as a precursor for the formation of Plutonium-238, which is used in radioisotope thermal generators, used in nuclear spacecraft. Americium is widely used in commercial ionization chamber smoke detectors, as well as a nuclear fuel for space ships with nuclear propulsion have been proposed.
Curium is named after Marie and Pierre Curie, and is used in pacemakers, and as an A-source for Alpha particle X-ray spectrometer installed on space probes.
The other elements within the group are synthetic, and were discovered as by-products of nuclear explosions. Californium is used as a start-up reaction to nuclear reactors. Einsteinium and Fermium were named after famous scientists, and are the components for debris of the first Hydrogen bomb in 1952. mendelevium is named after Dimitri Mendeleev, the father of the table of elements.
Most of the later elements are man-made elements, and derived from nuclear particle acceleration, thus giving them radioactive properties. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the remainder of the transition metals, a Halogen and one more Noble gas to close our series.
I haven’t spent much time of some dramatic developments in the world of Astronomy recently, such as the night of the Super moon eclipse, and the recent discovery of free flowing water on Mars, because I’ve been working on a new project. It involves as much research as my first novel, and involves a section about the International Space Station.
Water on Mars is nothing new; we’ve known for a while that there is water in the polar ice caps. But to actually find evidence of it in the soil is a significant find, and the basis for survival on the red planet. From water, we can sustain the systems needed for colonization, and ultimately a permanent base there.
Tomorrow, I’ll continue conclude our element series, and I’ll conclude the rest of this week with a couple of individual blog posts of an interesting nature. No links today, other than Wikepedia.