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Science Forum

Science Forum

  1. 15 Nov '13 19:03
    Is science, chemistry in particular still Alchemy. I know the notions of earth wind etc are gone. But to what extent is science the pursuit of wealth, gold?

    Irans nuclear program for example where a whole countries livelihood was dependant on the enrichment of a chemical element. I think an alchemist would get that.
  2. 15 Nov '13 19:13
    I was looking for a periodic table with prices but can't find one, here's the closest

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prices_of_elements_and_their_compounds

    Osmium is $77,000 per kg
  3. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    15 Nov '13 23:19
    Originally posted by e4chris
    I was looking for a periodic table with prices but can't find one, here's the closest

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prices_of_elements_and_their_compounds

    Osmium is $77,000 per kg
    The winner hands down is Francium. There is MAYBE one ounce of the stuff on the entire planet and attempts to synthesize it has resulted in about 300,000 ATOMS. It has the tiny problem that the MOST stable isotope has a half life of 22 minutes. So Osmium is a million times cheaper.
  4. 16 Nov '13 00:24 / 1 edit
    The stable ones of high value seem most interesting. Was thinking it sounds like a stupid question, but also a sign that you live in a bad country or time if its not; like countries that try to enrich fuels at all costs.

    I saw on the news a while back the Chinese govt buying a mountains worth of copper somewhere in anticipation of demand. Chemistry applied to $ seems to be metal mining and a massive family of petro chemicals.
  5. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    16 Nov '13 00:29
    Originally posted by e4chris
    The stable ones of high value seem most interesting. Was thinking it sounds like a stupid question, but also a sign that you live in a bad country or time if its not; like countries that try to enrich fuels at all costs.

    I saw on the news a while back the Chinese govt buying a mountains worth of copper somewhere in anticipation of demand. Chemistry applied to $ seems to be metal mining and a massive family of petro chemicals.
    Yes, Francium is not likely to be used for anything, like cancer treatment or some such. Too short lived.
  6. 16 Nov '13 00:43 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    Yes, Francium is not likely to be used for anything, like cancer treatment or some such. Too short lived.
    Nope. if your talking about physics then certain radioactive isotopes must have very high hard to quantify values. I read about lanthanides a while back and how they were scarce and possibly useful.

    In Medicinal Chemistry drugs companies have been accused of funding research to back any drug that's still in patent. You could argue the science of chemistry is as much to back up industrial claims as a pure science?
  7. 16 Nov '13 01:51
    The rare earth elements are becoming increasingly important for high-tech applications. A few years back I read that China is sitting pretty for having high-concentration deposits.
  8. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    16 Nov '13 05:05
    Originally posted by e4chris
    Nope. if your talking about physics then certain radioactive isotopes must have very high hard to quantify values. I read about lanthanides a while back and how they were scarce and possibly useful.

    In Medicinal Chemistry drugs companies have been accused of funding research to back any drug that's still in patent. You could argue the science of chemistry is as much to back up industrial claims as a pure science?
    One isotope I worked with was highly radioactive iron 55. We used it at Lucent to measure the thickness of a titanium coating they were using for some optical effect, about 500 angstroms. The isotope was kept in a lead box with a lead cover lid that was slid out of the way to let the radiation out and it came out in droves. A scintillator was used to check on how much radiation escaped the lid. That measurement was part of a official log and we had to take readings every day. So I was given that task and used the counter to see the difference between background readings and the readings under the radiation lid, a piece of lead about 1/4 inch thick. It was supposed to stop the radiation but I noticed a reading about 5 times background and duly recorded that. I told my super and was clucked clucked, which I didn't like so I escalated the issue and got my pee pee severely spanked. They did not like to see government inspectors come in and verify my readings They intensely dislike whistleblowers.
    The thing that got me was they put that radiation source on an open wire shelf right above workers making data entries right below on a workbench. I made a suggestion to use a 1/2 inch plate of aluminum used for something else and to just rest it on that, I proved the radiation did not penetrate both the lead lid AND the aluminum. That was too much trouble it seems.

    All in all not a good day. I still get ticked when I think about that incident. They were real pricks about the whole thing.
  9. 16 Nov '13 08:20
    Originally posted by Paul Dirac II
    The rare earth elements are becoming increasingly important for high-tech applications. A few years back I read that China is sitting pretty for having high-concentration deposits.
    Most of the rare Earth element production is currently in China, but the main reason for that is that profit margins for production were not very high, and other places (e.g. the US) simply shut down their production. I think they are now opening new mines all over the globe, partially because of strategic reasons and partially because it has become more economically viable to mine rare Earth elements.
  10. 16 Nov '13 08:24
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    The winner hands down is Francium. There is MAYBE one ounce of the stuff on the entire planet and attempts to synthesize it has resulted in about 300,000 ATOMS. It has the tiny problem that the MOST stable isotope has a half life of 22 minutes. So Osmium is a million times cheaper.
    The most stable isotope of livermorium, Lv-293, has a half-life of about 60ms. I'd suspect that a kg of the stuff would be pretty expensive, although I'm not sure what someone would need it for.
  11. 16 Nov '13 10:33
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    The most stable isotope of livermorium, Lv-293, has a half-life of about 60ms. I'd suspect that a kg of the stuff would be pretty expensive, although I'm not sure what someone would need it for.
    We probably don't have the technology to make a kg of the stuff.
  12. 16 Nov '13 12:32 / 3 edits
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    One isotope I worked with was highly radioactive iron 55. We used it at Lucent to measure the thickness of a titanium coating they were using for some optical effect, about 500 angstroms. The isotope was kept in a lead box with a lead cover lid that was slid out of the way to let the radiation out and it came out in droves. A scintillator was used to check ...[text shortened]... still get ticked when I think about that incident. They were real pricks about the whole thing.
    Yikes, I studied Medicinal / Organic chemistry and now and then we'd get a bottle of something really poisonous. Once the Professor skipped down with a bottle of something toxic where its box clearly had something spilled down the side, had to put on gloves to take it from him! I felt like telling him of for his own good but it wouldn't of gone down well.

    I didn't think the chemists I met were crazy alchemists. Its more news stories like copper theft in the UK, lanthanide mining, the possibility of copper shortages that make me think we live in a time of alchemy. (also drugs, but will try to keep to metals in this thread) I watched the Hindenburg film the other day and part of the plot was the Germans wanting access to American Helium supplies.
  13. Subscriber Suzianne
    Misfit Queen
    24 Nov '13 12:03
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    One isotope I worked with was highly radioactive iron 55. We used it at Lucent to measure the thickness of a titanium coating they were using for some optical effect, about 500 angstroms. The isotope was kept in a lead box with a lead cover lid that was slid out of the way to let the radiation out and it came out in droves. A scintillator was used to check ...[text shortened]... still get ticked when I think about that incident. They were real pricks about the whole thing.
    That seems like fairly stupid behavior for scientists (unless the bosses were only administrators). I thought the science was the thing, everything else is less important.
  14. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    24 Nov '13 12:20 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Suzianne
    That seems like fairly stupid behavior for scientists (unless the bosses were only administrators). I thought the science was the thing, everything else is less important.
    They were at best engineers. Mostly admin types, very low on the intellectual totem pole. It was this big business don't upset the applecart culture. Just like the fracking industry.
  15. Subscriber Suzianne
    Misfit Queen
    24 Nov '13 12:31
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    They were at best engineers. Mostly admin types, very low on the intellectual totem pole. It was this big business don't upset the applecart culture. Just like the fracking industry.
    Ahh, big business, say no more. Where the idea is that "the money is the thing, everything else is less important." But it might be a good idea to at least feign interest in science, if you're going to claim to be a science/tech company.