OPEN THREAD 20191220

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


24 thoughts on “OPEN THREAD 20191220

  1. Ruthenium is one of those where there is just way too much fun stuff out there, and the trick is going to be finding intriguing things to emphasize rather than charging down every available rabbit hole.

    As an example, I encountered delightful information such as the following: “In biochemistry, intercalation is the insertion of molecules between the planar bases of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). This process is used as a method for analyzing DNA and it is also the basis of certain kinds of poisoning.” Doesn’t that make you want to jump right in? Further down, in the same article, it talks about how spaces for such insertion need to be opened — DNA in its usual form is wound up like a spring with no space between its coils — and how ethidium cation unwinds the DNA by about 26 degrees, while proflavine unwinds it by about 17 (which, of course, implies that proflavine would provide a better backchannel for current political information). I’m suspecting these are PhD theses…..

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  2. So, we’ll start on the ground floor. About 31 tonnes of Ruthenium are produced each year these days. About 45% of that is used in electrical applications; 25% is used in catalysts; 15% is used in electrochemistry. Of the remaining 15%, some is used in the production of research papers — including some on unwinding DNA. We’ll get to others.

    Incidentally, one of the annoying things about worldwide production/use figures is that you’re perpetually tripping over tonnes, tons, short tons, and long tons. Tonnes are 2,000 kilos — also known as a metric ton, or about 2204.6 pounds. Regular tons, of the “sixteen tons of number-9 coal” variety, are 2,000 pounds (Bless My Soul). Short tons are what furners call regular tons. Long tons are defined as twenty hundredweight of eight stone each, and each stone is 14 regular pounds, for a total weight of 2,240 regular pounds. Due to previous Pom domination of the High Seas, ship’s cargo capacity is given in tons that are long tons, which are also known as imperial tons or displacement tons.

    And, just to be ready for when we get to gold and silver — precious metals are traditionally weighed in troy ounces (31.1034768 grams), where almost everything else is weighed in avoirdupois ounces (about 35.28 grams).

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  3. So, let’s talk about electrical uses of ruthenium — as quickly as possible because it’s getting late. Half of its electrical uses are in thick film chip resistors and electrical contacts. It has many other applications, including its use as semiconductor “wiring” that can be patterned onto a chip and also “insulation” between ferromagnetic layers in spinning rust.

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  4. Catalyst chemistry is just way beyond my pay grade. Although I should note that it is a developing field. A guy that won part of the 2001 Nobel in Chemistry, Ryoji Noyori, has been cranking along developing rhodium/ruthenium catalysts for a few decades now, including ones that take hydrogen, put hydrogen, borrow hydrogen, and keep a number of hydrogen atoms balanced spinning on sticks. And let us not forget the Nazis…..the Fischer-Tropsch process for making hydrocarbons from CO and H2 used ruthenium.

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  5. So far as electrochemistry is concerned — you can electroplate things with ruthenium and they become waterproof…..and highly acid resistant (even aqua regia!), and good against most things short of murderous halides.

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  6. And here we are in the miscellaneous bin!

    I’m going to leave you with this little beauty, which seems to be likely to catalyse three different reactions with the same molecule, depending on the light shining on it.

    For those keeping score at home, this is C30H24N6Cl2Ru·6H2O

    There is a lot of fun left in ruthenium. You could have a Troy ounce yourself for about $255…..

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  7. OK, and for those who find chemistry unexciting…..

    A guy walks into a bar, sits down, orders five shots of whiskey. Bartender sets ’em up and asks, “any special occasion?” The guy says, “I just experienced my first blowjob.”

    Bartender says, “congratulations! I’ll line up a sixth shot, on the house…..” And the guy replies, “no, thanks — if five shots don’t get the taste out of my mouth, I’m switching to Drano…..”

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  8. I may have previously mentioned, but I graduated from the University of Casual Sun Bathing. My first two years there, I lived in a dorm. Across the street from this dorm was the Psychology building, an interesting three-story structure with no windows on three sides…..

    The largest Psychology course was Psychology 1 — a survey course that a lot of freshmen took as part of their science General Education requirement, since no math was required. To pass the class, however, students were required to be subjects for psychological studies run by upper division students, grad students, and the faculty — presumably in one of the windowless rooms on the upper floors.

    This was run something like jury duty. You had to sign up, you had to be called-in, but you might not actually participate. So, one young lady signed-up, was called-in, and was given a preliminary interview to assess her suitability for the study she’d signed-up for. The professor ran through a quick list of ten questions [Have you ever been under psychiatric care?…..] and was just about to give her a time to come back, but asked her if she had any questions herself. She asked, “does it mean anything that I’m rather fond of pancakes?”

    The professor chuckled, and replied, “Of course not! I’m quite fond of them, myself.”

    Visibly relieved, the student continued, “Oh, good…..I have a whole drawer in my dresser full of them and I like to take them out and pet them at night.”

    Oddly enough, she graduated the class without actually participating in any studies….

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