OPEN THREAD 20200125

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 80 – MERCURY.

18 thoughts on “OPEN THREAD 20200125

  1. One of the fun things about living in Silicon Valley is watching the tree-huggers go absolutely nuts over stupid, stupid things while completely ignoring the obvious all around them. The area has a “Cinnabar Hills” golf course, a “historic Almaden quicksilver mine”, and “Communications Hill” is essentially covered in asbestos.

    But heaven forfend you use real wood in a backyard barbecue…..

    Liked by 3 people

  2. LOL

    Mercury was known to the ancients, and had many arcane uses; it still has many today, including mercury switches that shut off if something is in the wrong orientation (the mecury is rigged to flow away from the contacts).

    It’s very notably heavy. It can be surprising because people just don’t expect a liquid to be so doggone heavy. “Hand me that bottle of mercury” and the victim has to pull on it twice because it’s a lot heavier than that amount of water.

    In fact, lead will float on mercury.

    To the ancients it was somewhat rare. Lead was more common and made a better ballast and was generally more useful where weight was at a premium. That was due to mercury’s fluidity and greater scarcity, and gold (which would have been the most efficient papyrus-weight known to ancient man) was FAR too expensive for that purpose. Well, maybe Pharaoh could have used it for such.

    Obviously unsuitable for coins…it was literally too liquid an asset.

    One scientific use was to create the first high quality vacuum. Fill a tall test tube with mercury, then upend it, putting the open end into a reservoir of mercury. The closed end, now at the top, could well have a gap in it, where air pressure wasn’t sufficient to keep the mercury all the way up the tube. That open area was completely devoid of anything (other than a tiny amount of mercury vapor). The level of mercury in the tube could rise and fall depending on the air pressure–the first barometer–and it was noted that at higher altitudes the air pressure was lower.

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      1. As is the adjustment knob for altimeters in airplanes. Towers will tell you what to adjust it to (if “you” are a pilot). Those altimeters really measure the absolute air pressure, but they’re calibrated to read altitude (the lower the pressure the higher the altitude) but because the air pressure is variable, you have to be able to adjust the readout. So there’s a knob on the altimeter, and towers broadcast number to set it to.

        Since that number is the “pretend it’s sea level” pressure, it should result in the altimeter giving the correct altitude. 29.92 is the “standard” barometric pressure.

        I know someone who has an old altimeter in his living room; he keeps it set to 29.92 and knows his own elevation. So if it reads too high, he knows the barometric pressure is low that day.

        Above 18,000 ft, you are expected to set your altimeter to 29.92 regardless and maintain what’s basically a virtual altitude based on that–they call them “flight levels” to distinguish from true altitudes. So when you’re riding on an airliner at “39,000 feet” you’re actually at Flight Level 390, and your true altitude my be more (if barometric pressure is high that day) or less (if barometric pressure is low) than 39,000 feet.

        And yes, it’s feet and inches of mercury, not meters and pascals, worldwide…a historical consequence of the fact that the US, Britain and Canada were at the forefront of aviation and were using the “English” system at the time (we largely still do, Canada and the UK hve switched to metric).

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  3. Mercury is also known as quicksilver, “quick” in the old sense of “alive”

    Its symbol, Hg, comes from an old name hydrargyrum, which looks as if it could be liquid (hydr) and silver (argent).

    Oh, and feeling flush with success at managing to comment on the last several element without fail:

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  4. OK, before I actually try to talk science and chemistry and all that, I want to share with you some things I learned from a precolumbian art/history exhibit in San Francisco. The subject was the city of Teotihuacan, in Mexico. It is dominated by giant stepped pyramids and ceremonial spaces.

    Teotihuacan was named by the Aztecs, who weren’t around when the city was built, when it was in its prime, or — indeed — when it fell and was burned. They called it “The City of The Gods”, or possibly, “The City where people become Gods.”

    A few years ago, just by happenstance, a new window opened for us to see into that world. Here’s the dry link — — but here’s what seeing the artefacts and much more extensive information had me imagining…..

    It begins with a noble general being informed by priests and nobles that it was time for him to be the 47th incarnation of a mighty god. He remembered seeing ceremonies with the 46th incarnation of that particular god, but it had been a while and other gods had dominated recent ceremonial life. On the appointed day, in full military garb with all honors and accompanied by two trusted commanders, he parades down the main Avenue of the sacred city to a building aligned with the Temple of the Feathered Serpent — which is about a football field away. There, he is greeted by priests with public ceremony.

    Entering the building, he is momentarily confused — it seems bigger on the inside than the outside. He soon realizes that every step leads him lower into the ground. He is, in fact, descending a five meter by five meter shaft that is fourteen meters deep, filled with a maze of stairs and idols, lamps and spaces, inhabited by helpful chanting priests…..who, after he passes, move through a series of hidden ladders to other levels.

    Reaching the bottom, he enters a passage of fine stonework, straight and true — though with odd inclusions of rougher work every few feet. Though he has somewhat lost track of direction (some of those incenses didn’t help), he correctly believes that he is headed toward the Temple. The passage ends with a short drop to a pool of water. Across the water, there is what appears to be a natural cave, about four feet in diameter, with a trickle of water feeding the pool. To the left and the right of the pool are chambers. There are torches and priests everywhere, and he notes the most senior priests are in attendance.

    It is explained to him and his men that there are certain preparatory rites to be done, then he must crawl his way through the cave at which point things will happen….and when he returns, he will be a god. His men are separated from him into one of the chambers. The preparatory rites include being stripped of all clothing, shaven, having potions administered, and anointed with psychedelic unguents. He is told to leap into the pool and shout “I do not disrespect the gods” when he is at the surface — and that it might not work on the first try.

    The priests decide to dunk him three times (few of that inland race know how to swim) and then provide him a ladder to enter the cave. Once he is inside, they dim the torches in the area by the pool and he proceeds into the darkness by feel…..but when his eyes begin to adjust, the ceiling of the cave sparkles with tiny points of light, and he passes a stone idol that he can see in silhouette. Ahead, he sees another such idol, and the lower part of the cave is dark and the upper sparkles more. One constant is that the bottom of the cave has a trickle of water that leads to the pool outside.

    He continues inside — sometimes as a slither, sometimes as a crawl — until he feels the space open up around him. A voice asks, “wouldst thou rule as a god over the lands?” — and a dim and wavering light illuminates a landscape that lies before him, as if he were thousands of feet in the air.

    There follow a number of rituals that pull him aside to various chambers — with the psychedelics and eeriness of the experience, he has trouble sorting them out. At one point, he is face-to-face with a jaguar — and can smell the human blood on its breath. He is invited to lie with the gods and stare upward in contemplation of the universe. He must smash a venomous snake with a rock. He greets an eagle as a messenger. He is given a ceremonial scar. After each point, he returns to contemplate the landscape that awaits his blessing. Voices whisper in his ear throughout the experience, but seldom show a shape.

    Eventually, he is shown back to the cave and slowly crawls his way out, but when he reaches the pool his own men gasp. He entered the cave a hero, though naked and shorn — he exits the cave shining with gold, with sacred patterns upon his flesh, wearing a headdress, wristbands, and a pectoral that show him to be a god.

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    1. This, by the way, should be a serious datapoint for whether MKUltra was a 20th Century development.

      There is a similar structure under the Pyramid of the Sun, and the pyramid is older and larger……but part of the art of constructing such a space depends on the water table. It is thought that the Temple of the Feathered Serpent was constructed when the other pyramids’ sacred caves either ran dry or flooded.

      Anyway, the connection here……the miniature landscape that occupied the chamber under the center of the pyramid? Lakes, rivers, and streams were mercury, the better to glitter in the dim light.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I can’t discuss mercury without mentioning a martyr to science, Karen Wetterhahn.

    Mercury in organic compounds — “methylmercury” and the like, was her specific field of investigation. She was fully aware of the risks, and complied with the relevant protocols. Unfortunately, the protocols suggested that the gloves she wore during a particular procedure were adequate…..but they weren’t. She documented her death profusely until there wasn’t enough of her left to do so.

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  6. Mercury was also supposed to have been used in the burial of one of the early Chinese emperors, his tomb contained a large pool of mercury on which his casket floated.

    There were indeed high mercury levels found in excavating that tomb.

    Mercury does evaporate, given a lot of time, and it’s a nasty poison.

    I’ve never touched it (though I’ve handled small samples in glass jars), I imagine it doesn’t feel at all like water because it won’t actually wet you–it beads up and rolls off like water on a wind shield that has been Rain-Xed.

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    1. Actually, you could swallow a teaspoon of absolutely pure mercury and — most of the time — excrete it a day or so later without being poisoned. Your body will not absorb any of it.

      The problem is (a) if there are any impurities, there’s a very good chance that they may be absorbed and it doesn’t take much to experience a horrific death; and (b) if it encounters anything on its way through your body that it can react with, it may react and create the same sort of toxins noted in (a).

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  7. Trying to swim in mercury, you’d barely make a dent in its surface, it’s so dense, unlike water where you’d be mostly immersed. You can sit ON (not in) a pool of mercury. I recall seeing a picture of a mercury miner in his work outfit, sitting on such a pool; it looked like he was sitting in a pan only about 3″ deep of the stuff, but he was floating, not resting on a solid surface.

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