OPEN THREAD 20200118

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 73 – TANTALUM.

16 thoughts on “OPEN THREAD 20200118

  1. Tantalum is a fine, robust metal — shrugs off most acids, fourth highest melting point for a metal, very hard…..and mostly known for being inside capacitors.

    Funny thing about capacitors…..the standard measurement of capacitance is the farad, named after Michael Faraday. It is defined as the amount of capacitance that stores a one coulomb charge across a potential difference of one volt. It is also a completely ridiculous, impractical amount. When I reorganized the stockroom/inventory/purchasing at the fiberoptics company I was at in the 90s, we flipped the nomenclature around to match what everybody was actually using — picofarads, AKA “puffs”. If you went out to the floor and asked someone what they were installing on the boards, they might say, “it’s a 1200 puff cap”.

    The prefix “pico” denotes a value of one-trillionth. A one farad capacitor (which, BTW, they actually make) would be one trillion puff.

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    1. Just to put this in context, this would be like measuring copy paper in West Virginias.

      West Virginia’s area is 24,230.04 sq miles (measured horizontally). If you multiply that by 1760 twice, it’ll be square yards. There are about 13.86 sheets of copy paper in a square yard. 24230.04*1760*1760*13.86 = 1 trillion, 40 billion, 261 million, 911 thousand and change. So, if the standard measure of copy paper were sufficient to cover all of West Virginia with one sheet, a single sheet would be one pico-WeV. A ream would be 500 pico-WeVs. A case would be 5000 pico-WeVs, or 5 nano-WeVs.

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      1. Of course, like anything else, this can be a two-edged sword. For instance, the number of pages of Federal Regulations added from 1936 to 2018 was 3,607,153. This is a lot, but it only amounts to 3.6 micro-WeVs. It is recommended that you do not reheat foods in a micro-WeV oven, as you will undoubtedly run afoul of one or more Federal Regulations.

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  2. Just like hafnium is a pain to separate from zirconium, tantalum is a pain to separate from niobium — in this case, they both have the same ionic radius — 0.85 angstroms.

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  3. Tantalum will set you back about $150K per tonne. It is not a very common element — it’s about as common as arsenic and a smidge less common than tin. Unlike arsenic, however, it’s unlikely you’ll find tantalum dissolved in anything because there generally isn’t hydrofluoric acid just lying around anywhere.

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  4. In the old Soviet Union, a judge walks out of his chambers laughing heartily. Another judge meets him in the hallway and asks why. The first judge says, “I just heard the funniest joke in the world!”

    His colleague replies, “well, go on, tell me!”

    “Sorry, I can’t — I just sent a guy to Siberia for ten years for telling it.”

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  5. A Leningrad hotel. A room for four with four strangers. Three of them soon open a bottle of vodka and proceed to get acquainted, then drunk, then noisy, singing, and telling political jokes. The fourth man desperately tries to get some sleep; finally, in frustration he surreptitiously leaves the room, goes downstairs, and asks the lady concierge to bring tea to Room 67 in ten minutes. Then he returns and joins the party. Five minutes later, he bends to a power outlet: “Comrade Major, some tea to Room 67, please.” In a few minutes, there’s a knock at the door, and in comes the lady concierge with a tea tray. The room falls silent; the party dies a sudden death, and the prankster finally gets to sleep. The next morning he wakes up alone in the room. Surprised, he runs downstairs and asks the concierge what happened to his companions. “You don’t need to know!” she answers. “B-but…but what about me?” asks the terrified fellow. “Oh, you…well…Comrade Major liked your tea gag a lot.”

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  6. The CIA wanted to send a spy to the Soviet Union and the spy that was selected had incredible qualifications. He was fluent in Russian, had perfect Cyrillic handwriting, had a vast knowledge of Soviet culture and mannerisms, could cook typical Soviet meals, and could keep up his act with a belly full of vodka. The mission was long-term infiltration of the Kremlin. The spy was dropped in a remote village where he approached a man and said, in perfect Russian, “Hello comrade, can you please tell me which direction is Moscow?” The man looked at him, and walked inside. Within minutes, the KGB was swarming the village and arresting the spy. While being interrogated, the KGB officials said “Quit the act, we know you are an American spy.” The spy was baffled they (especially the man in the village) were able to tell so quickly, but tried to keep up the act for as long as he could. When he finally cracked, he said “Alright, alright, I’m a spy. I will tell you whatever you want, but please just tell me how you knew I was a spy because I devoted my whole life to perfecting my Soviet character.” The official said “You’re black.”

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    1. Incidentally, having visited Saint Petersburg myself, you really get to feel it in your bones that Russia/USSR is an empire. A group of nations under a common rule.

      Saint Petersburg was carved out of the Swedish Empire in 1703 by Tsar Peter I in The Great Northern War. It became the capital of Russia in 1712, nine years before the war ended. As a result, there is a large contingent of Saint Petersburgers who look vaguely Swedish in a certain way…..and Putin is a good example. Every so often, though, it hits you — I remember riding the subway and looking down a row of 20-something young ladies that all looked like elves.

      You can get the same feeling from other empires, as well. I went into a bank branch in Hong Kong and spoke to a young lady where my eyes were saying “Chinese” and my ears were saying “British”.

      The US is subtly different. The indigenous people have had virtually no cultural framing for this nation — parts of it were colonized by the French, Spanish, British, and Russians — and it was organized into a nation by a bunch of pragmatists who didn’t want a king and much less an emperor.

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      1. I’ve seen a lot of cases of ears and eyes conflicting. And they largely involve British accents.

        I had the experience once of being utterly unable to understand a German’s English for about 20 seconds; then the light dawned, and I realized they were saying “lorry” with a mixed German-British accent, and I instantly translated that to “truck,” said so aloud in triumph, and went on my way (she was giving me directions). The bus full of British tourists that she was tour guide for found it quite amusing that the Yank didn’t know what a lorry was. I did, actually–but not with that hybrid accent!

        My dad used to make fun of movies that showed, for example, Russians taking amongst each other. Of course the actors held the conversation in English; but with thick Russian accents. (In real life, they’d have had the conversation with NO accent–in Russian!) He’d point out the absurdity of them having a conversation in thick accents. But I got to tell him the other day that it was actually very useful. They don’t do the “accents” thing in British movies as often, and I find it disconcerting to watch “Germans” (either the Kaiser’s Germans or ones from Hitler’s era) speaking with a pure British accent.

        Another was a very black man from a slum in London speaking the Queen’s English instead of Black American English. Makes perfect sense when you think about it, but it’s startling at first.

        Liked by 1 person

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