OPEN THREAD 20200128

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 83 – BISMUTH.

28 thoughts on “OPEN THREAD 20200128

  1. Bismuth is sort of lead’s little brother. It has been known since ancient times but since it sometimes got confused with lead, and sometimes with tin, it didn’t get any respect.

    It’s not obviously radioactive, and Bi-209 is the only “stable” isotope. Though now they call it a “primordial” isotope…an isotope that is still here even after the 4.56 billion year lifetime of the earth.

    Because it’s not actually stable, It has a half life of 21, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000 years. (21 quintillion.) Which is to say 21 billion, billion, which, with the universe itself being only 13.7 billion years old, means that any bismuth ever formed (even shortly after the big bang), is less than a billionth of the way through its first half life.

    Which means it is effectively stable, even though technically speaking, it’s not. It’s slightly radioactive…but you can’t detect it by ordinary means.

    From here on out, elements will be radioactive, there are no stable isotopes.

    Now, you can broadly divide isotopes into four classes. 1) stable 2) primordial (meaning it’s unstable, but has a long enough half life that some of whatever the earth started with is still around), 3) exists in nature but is NOT primordial…because it’s a decay product of something that IS primordial, and 4) doesn’t exist in nature, man has to make it. So now we’re DONE with the first category, but we have some time left with numbers 2 and 3.

    There are traces of Bi-210, 211, 212, 213, 214, and 215 in nature. But the longest of these has a half life of about 5 days. It’s NOT primordial; if any of it were on the earth when it was formed, it would have been completely gone in about a year (just think, after losing half of a given mass 70 times, basically, you have one atom left in 10^21 atoms, which is to say about a hundred atoms left out of a mole of them. That’s going to drop to effectively zero in another two or three months, after 12-18 more half lives. Give it five full years if you want to be certain. Not even a trace should remain.

    So where do these come from? Well there are heavier primordial isotopes (of thorium and uranium) that decay, and uranium 235 can certainly decay to bismuth 211 briefly, after six alpha particle decays and a bunch of beta decays. (I’ll explain this some future day). Or to put it another way: These isotopes are all short lived, but are constantly being regenerated by decaying thorium and uranium.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I should note, just from a logical perspective, that your category 3 is incomplete.

      Radioisotopes tend to exist in decay chains [ ], such as . Category 3 should not just be “exists in nature but is NOT primordial…because it’s a decay product of something that IS primordial”, but should be “exists in nature but is NOT primordial…because it’s a decay product of something else.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was just about to write “but that’s what I said,” when I realized you were talking about cases where it’s a decay product of a decay product of a primordial…or a decay product of a decay product of a decay product of… Yes, I was unclear in my phrasing, thanks for the fix.


    2. I should also note that you did a way-better job ‘splainin’ the bismuth half-life thing than Wikipedia. I could talk to someone else about your explanation and feel like I knew what I was saying.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Well, the good news is that bismuth is largely non-toxic. Only one person is known to have died from bismuth poisoning. Considering that its relatives up the periodic table are phosphorous, arsenic, and antimony, this speaks well for its character. OTOH, consumption of soluble bismuth salts can turn your gums black.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bismuth subsalicylate has the empirical chemical formula of C7H5BiO4, and is known as “pink bismuth.” It is produced by by hydrolysis of bismuth salicylate (Bi(C6H4(OH)CO2)3) and typically presented as a colloid. When taken internally, a certain amount can encounter available sulfur and produce bismuth sulfide — a highly insoluble black salt that is eventually excreted. This can, however, produce a black tongue or black feces for a bit.

    And, of course, we have all seen it in Pepto-Bismol bottles. That is not artificial coloring. (There are, however, artificial flavorings in most versions).

    Like so many of the best old-time medicines, nobody knows exactly how it works — although theories abound.

    Reportedly, Pepto-Bismol is unique among over-the-counter remedies in that you can dump some in a crucible and heat with a blowtorch and end-up with metallic slag.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Bismuth is the most diamagnetic metal known, meaning that it is repelled by magnetism. Bismuth foil can be floated above a magnet. This repulsion was first noted in 1778, but in normal-sized samples the effect is overcome by gravity.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Bismuth doesn’t transmit heat well, especially for a metal. It only transmits heat about twice as well as granite (7.97 v. 2-4). On the same scale, aluminum gets 237, gold 318, and copper 401.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I recall reading that heat conductivity correlates well to electrical conductivity (for example superconductors also superconduct heat), so I’d imagine silver would be top of this particular pile at room temperature.


  6. Old Muldoon lived alone in the Irish countryside with only a pet dog for company. One day, the dog died, leaving Muldoon distraught. He went to the parish priest, and asked, “Father, me dog is dead. Could ya’ be sayin’ a mass for the poor creature?” Father Patrick replied, “I’m afraid not; we cannot have services for an animal in the church. But there are some Baptists down the lane, and there’s no tellin’ what they believe. Maybe they’ll do something.”

    Muldoon said, ‘I’ll go there straight away, Father. Do ya’ think *€5,000 is an appropriate amount to donate for that sort of service?” Father Patrick exclaimed, “Sweet Mary and Joseph. Why didn’t ya tell me the dog was Catholic?”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Two lawyers arrive at a pub and order a couple of drinks. They then take sandwiches from their briefcases and began to eat.

    Seeing this, the angry publican approaches them and says, ‘Excuse me, but you cannot eat your own sandwiches in here!’

    The two look at each other, shrug and exchange sandwiches.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Priorities:

    Into the local pub comes Paddy Murphy, looking like he’d just been run over by a train. His arm is in a sling, his nose is broken, his face is cut and bruised and he’s walking with a limp. “What happened to you?” asks, the bartender. “Jamie O’Conner and I had a fight,” says Paddy. “That little shit, O’Conner,” says the bartender, “He couldn’t do that to you, he must have had something in his hand.” “That he did,” says Paddy, “a shovel is what he had, and a terrible lickin’ he gave me with it.” “Well,” says the bartender, “you should have defended yourself, didn’t you have something in your hand?” “That I did,” said Paddy. “Mrs. O’Conner’s breast, and a thing of beauty it was, but useless in a fight.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As I’m sneaking in here to watch over things, this is currently the only “like” among two musical performances and three jokes. Mind you, I search through a bunch of performances and jokes each night and only bring ones I find worthy back here……

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol!! I read here each day and enjoy the information about the elements, the music and the jokes. I can’t “like” on any because that function does not work for me. But I love the Utree and it is usually my first site that I go to every morning.


  9. Rose’s metal is an alloy of bismuth and tin, with a low melting point (around 95 °C, or 200 °F). It is used with a kind of spring-loaded fuse mechanism seen on the mains transformers in some older equipment; where the idea is that when an overload causes the temperature of the transformer to rise, the Rose’s metal melts and the spring causes the circuit to open and power to be shut off.

    And people trying to fix older equipment not knowing this, just sees the spring is up, and solders it back down with regular solder (tin+lead, maybe tin+silver now in the days of RoHS), so things will work again, until they become so hot (300 °C more or less) that the whole thing catches fire…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Bernie’s butterballs better hope all the frustrated right-wing extremists oversleep. Otherwise, lots of Humpty Dumpty situations are likely to happen.

    I know of lots of people who do not like being threatened; who just want to be left alone.


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