OPEN THREAD 20191214

Basically, all legal free speech is allowed. We will assist the authorities in dealing with illegal speech. You are each other’s moderators. Have fun. And don’t forget to MAGA at nuclear levels.

Citizen U


16 thoughts on “OPEN THREAD 20191214

  1. Strontium is actually a very interesting element in a lot of ways. It’s named after a village in Scotland (Strontian) where it was first discovered. As is common with metals, it was originally discovered as “an earth” (oxide or sulfide, etc., or some mixture) in 1791. It wasn’t until 1808 that the actual metal was isolated. The guys who did the initial isolation knew they had a winner because of flame tests that showed an unusual flame color — a bright tomato red. Five percent of industrial production today ends up in fireworks.

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  2. Within the last week or two, I got into a discussion with my postal carrier regarding the origin of table sugar. Mind you, I was born in California, and she was born in Hawaii, so there’s a certain bias…..

    The two major agricultural sources for sugar are sugar cane and sugar beets. Sugar cane only grows in frost-free areas of the world that enjoy profuse rainfall during the growing season. The major producers of sugar cane today are Brazil (41% of world total) and India (18%) — and with refinements in transport, most sugar today is cane sugar (1.9B tons). Sugar beets, however, can grow in all sorts of temperate regions under all sorts of conditions. Current production is about 277M tons, of which 19% is in Russia. [Not a lot of sugarcane in Siberia.]

    Going back to that 1974 advertisement, “pure cane sugar” was a thing — which meant that generic sugar could well be a combination of beet sugar and cane sugar.

    The thing is, beet sugar didn’t really take off until someone developed a good way to extract it — and that was…..the strontian process, which used strontium carbonate as a catalyst to break sugars loose from molasses.

    There’s a certain personal family connection — harvesting sugarbeets was one of the jobs my father did in western Colorado before deciding he would move to California and build a life there.

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  3. My maternal grandfather was the head engineer for several television stations throughout his career, so when he’d talk, I learned a lot about how television worked. Mind you, this is all completely useless now because nobody uses analog televisions today.

    The way the actual Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) worked in a television was that there was an electron gun down at the pointy end that shot a stream of electrons toward the front face. Grids pulled this stream left and right, and up and down, to form a grid on the front face, which was covered with a chemical that glowed when electrons hit it. The strength of the beam was increased to form a white dot or decreased to be darker, and that’s the way the image was “painted” on the screen.

    One of the interesting things about this is that the inside of an Xray tube is very similar — and, in fact, early TV prototypes leaked Xrays like crazy. As in, watching an hour of video was like being Xrayed for 10 minutes.

    Television manufacturers could use lead glass on the sides and back of a CRT to limit exposure there — lead is cheap, and glass is cheap, so…..but what could they use on the front, which people needed to see through?

    That’s right, the front glass of CRTs was made of strontium glass to keep TV viewers from continuously being Xrayed. And I’m sure there’s a bunch of former strontium miners who wish this was still the case.

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  4. Strontium is the 15th most common element on earth. It is widely accepted in biochemistry, often with calcium, often in bone, to little effect. There are four natural stable isotopes that the body treats exactly the same…..but, intriguingly, these isotopes are not found uniformly around the planet. This means that the trace amounts of strontium in your bones might have the isotope mix of where you grew up, even if you later move somewhere else.

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      1. Probably various upwellings. There doesn’t seem to be any difference in biological activity — and, BTW, the ratio of calcium to strontium in people is roughly 1000:1, so this isn’t an illuminated billboard. Furthermore, Sr88 is about 83% of all natural strontium. But if you’re looking for a hint, any hint, of where someone came from (e.g. Ötzi), it’s better than nothing.

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  5. And, finally, there’s the bad strontium.

    Strontium 89 is actually in the new graphic on top of the main page. It’s a result of Uranium fission. It has a half-life of about 51 days. It can be taken up into your bones — and then happily radiates your bone marrow, which is trying to produce functional blood cells.

    Strontium 90 has a half-life of about 29 years. It can similarly take up residence in your bones and radiate nearby organs.

    Both of these are simply bad news and are to be avoided whenever possible.

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  6. Incidentally, one might wonder why a CPA is doing all this element schtick (and illustrating it with family anecdotes).

    This CPA grew up reading Heinlein.

    “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

    — Robert A. Heinlein

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