OPEN THREAD 20200112

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

Day 67 – HOLMIUM.

9 thoughts on “OPEN THREAD 20200112

  1. Holmium is fifth from the end of the lanthanide rare earths. As such, it has all the generic characteristics of the lanthanides — found together with other rare earths, mischmetal, hard to isolate, etc. Its magical properties are magnetic — highest magnetic permeability of any of the elements; nuclear — can be used to soak up stray neutrons; and optical — typically as a glass dopant. It is the 56th most common element, putting it right around arsenic.

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  2. Two days ago, we took a look at tin and discussed the usual sorts of things one discusses about elements, including the fact that it has more stable isotopes than any other. Yesterday, we took a look at the five sources of tin during the early bronze age: the child mines of Kestrel, in Turkey (2870 BC); Erzgebirge in Germany (2500 BC); Cornwall in England (2000 BC); Brittany in France (2000 BC); and northwestern Spain (2000 BC). As it turns out, each of the five sources has a slightly different blend of isotopes. This has lead to an ongoing re-examination of tin trade during the bronze age.

    Bronze is 90% copper and 10% tin, and yet is important enough for there to be a “bronze age” — there is no “copper age”. Although copper daggers were made, copper is neither as durable as bronze nor as hard. With bronze you could make swords that took an edge and kept it. This meant that tin was a strategically important metal — if your neighbor got bronze and you didn’t, you were at a significant disadvantage.

    It is thought that bronze was first created in Sumer and/or the Balkans, and the technology rapidly spread from there. This would likely have been from Kestrel tin. Things kicked-up a notch when Erzgebirge kicked in a couple of hundred years later. When Cornwall started producing in volume, however, it produced so much tin that Kestrel actually shut down about 1800 BC. Bronze artifacts in India have been found that were made with Cornwall tin.

    Rome was famously founded around 800 BC. [There are several conflicting reports as to the year, but the day is generally held to have been April 21.] They invaded Britain in 43 AD — one possible motive among many might have been to control the tin mines of Cornwall. Previous to this, however, they also had been developing Iberian mines and the large amount of roman bronze has Spanish tin.

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  3. No matter how you sliced it, however, all the big empires (Egyptian, Akkadian, Sumerian) that might demand tin in large amounts to move into the bronze age at its beginning were off in the Middle East…..whereas the most prolific tin sources were off in the back-end of nowhere on the north Atlantic. In-between there were bandits, feuding tribes, and a surprising amount of trackless wilderness.

    Much Spanish and English tin was moved by ship to the baltics, from whence it travelled on the “amber road” that went from the Baltics to the Balkans. Much also sailed around Spain, and thus into the Meditteranean. Some travelled overland from northwest to southeast Spain. Tin from Brittany seems to have mainly travelled overland to ports along the south of France.

    During the course of the bronze age, sources and uses of tin shaped major east-west trade and transportation routes that are still in use to this day.

    I was so bummed when I couldn’t do tin on its day…..I think I’m better, now.

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  4. OK, you get another — youtube segue’d into The Minotaur for me….so I’m linking it if it doesn’t for you.

    A little backstory for you. This was done by Dick Hyman, who had somehow gotten his hands on one of Bob Moog’s earlier modular synths. Those early modular synths were only somewhat controlled by a keyboard — they’re the ones with patch cords everywhere and knobs all over the place. The thing is, Hyman also had one of these “universal accompanist” widgets beloved (at the time) of cocktail lounge players. It was sort of a drum-machine, but it had a row of buttons that had things like “bossa-nova”, “waltz”, “march”, and “rumba”. Then it had a row of buttons that had a scale. There was a tempo knob and a loudness knob, and that was it. If you wanted a bossa-nova in F, you pushed those two buttons and twiddled the knobs, then played your lounge act using it as accompaniment. It played a pseudo-percussion and bass line that you could improvise over.

    And he put out an album that was quirky as all get-out, but ended-up as fairly inspirational to a lot of people. He abused the hell out of both devices. You’ll hear the accompanist module glitch as he repeatedly start/stops it during its pattern, and you’ll hear where he’s got the knobs turned to places where the keyboard is merely a suggestion. And, yet, it was musical. Probably the most genius thing he ever did, because he was normally a lounge act.

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  5. Let’s see, what am I missing?

    A truck driver hauling a tractor-trailer load of computers stops for a beer. As he approaches the bar he sees a big sign on the door saying: “NERDS NOT ALLOWED — ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK”. He goes in and sits down. The bartender comes over to him, sniffs, says he smells kind of nerdy, and asks him what he does for a living. The truck driver says he drives a truck, and the smell is just from the computers he is hauling. The bartender says OK, truck drivers are not nerds, and serves him a beer.

    As he is sipping his beer, a skinny guy walks in with tape around his glasses, a pocket protector with twelve kinds of pens and pencils stashed in his pocket protector, and a belt at least a foot too long. The bartender, without saying a word, pulls out a shotgun and blows the guy away. The truck driver asks him why he did that. The bartender said not to worry, “The nerds are overpopulating the Silicon Valley, and are in season now. You don’t even need a license”, he said.

    So the truck driver finishes his beer, gets back in his truck, and heads back onto the freeway. Suddenly, he veers to avoid an accident and the load shifts. The back door breaks open and computers spill out all over the freeway. He jumps out and sees a crowd already forming, grabbing up the computers. They are all engineers, accountants, and programmers wearing the nerdiest clothes he has ever seen. He can’t let them steal his whole load. So remembering what happened in the bar, he pulls out his gun and starts blasting away, felling several of them instantly.

    A highway patrol officer comes zooming up and jumps out of the car screaming at him to stop. The truck driver says, “What’s wrong? I thought nerds were in season.”

    “Well, sure,” said the patrolman, “But you can’t bait ’em.”

    Liked by 1 person

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