OPEN THREAD 20200202

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 88 – RADIUM.

58 thoughts on “OPEN THREAD 20200202

  1. Radium is a much nicer radioactive substance than astatine or radon, because you can get some and get a good night’s sleep before working with it. Its most stable isotope, Radium-226, has a half-life of 1600 years.


  2. In 2013, it was discovered that the nucleus of radium-224 is pear-shaped — and this was the first asymmetric nucleus discovered. Of course, with a half-life of 3.64 days, maybe the one they were looking at was in the process of decay….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One ton of pitchblende typically yields about one seventh of a gram of radium. Roughly seven tons of pitchblende will fit in a standard faculty parking space. So, if you’re determined to isolate a gram of radium as a class project, keep that in mind.


    1. It might also be noted that the radiation of a one-gram sample of radium-226 was the original definition of a curie. A curie is also 3.7 x 10^ becquerels — the newer standard measurement as of 1975. So the radium sample you segregated from seven tons of pitchblende could also be a measurement standard.


      1. You lost your exponent there.

        A becquerel is simply the number of radiation events in one second.

        I’ll point out for the benefit of anyone reading this that a single atom of anything radioactive just behaves normally; it’s not “active” in any particular way. It can participate in chemical reactions as if there were nothing unusual about it, until, one day (or year, or century, or hour, or millisecond) it just spits out whatever it’s going to spit out, and now it’s an atom of something else.


        1. Good eye. Yep — was transcribing that from sources and said “um, ten to the tenth — better double check — yep, tenth (flip back to typing), and there’s a ten there.” If it had been 10^23, I wouldn’t have missed it.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. As I pointed out back in radon, you can have interesting side effects when an atom happily in a molecule goes “bloink” into an atom that no longer fits in that molecule. Radon is the best example because, as a Noble Gas, it doesn’t particularly want to be in a molecule with anything.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Indeed. Carbon 14 is especially hazardous because if one is incorporated in a DNA molecule, its radioactive decay is a DIRECT hit on that cell’s genes. Other radioactives have to be “lucky” enough to have their radiation hit a DNA strand to cause a mutation.

            Liked by 1 person

              1. Yes, but the point is…it’s not carbon. So if a carbon atom in a DNA base pair suddenly becomes a nitrogen, that base pair is basically destroyed. Just as surely as a noble gas suddenly showing up in a molecule, as you had used as an example.

                Liked by 1 person

  4. The United States Radium Corporation, founded in 1914, produced luminescent paint comprised of radium and zinc sulfide under the trade name “Undark”. The radium would cause the sulfide to fluoresce. The company would both sell the paint under some circumstances, but also customise displays for other companies — painting clock faces and instrument backgrounds and the like.

    While management, scientists, and technicians who processed the ore into radium paint used conventional safety gear — masks, gloves, etc. — the women who actually painted the items weren’t issued any. In fact, they were told to occasionally lick the brushes to maintain a fine point.

    As one might imagine, this lead to a number of health effects — none of them good. One was “radium jaw”, from having the stuff close to one’s face, with painful swelling and porosity of the upper and lower jaws. Another fave was aplastic anemia — radium is in the same column in the periodic table as calcium…..and, accordingly, can enter the body, be metabolized, and be deposited in the bones.

    In 1925, Marguerite Carlough — one of the “radium girls” who painted things — filed suit against the company, which was settled in 1926. That was the first of many. The company provided safety equipment to dial-painters in the late ’20s, but didn’t stop hand-painting dials until 1947 [*ahem* after the war *cough*].


  5. A fun aside to all this — the first nuclear reactor was in 1942. The first atomic bomb was Trinity — July 16, 1945 — and Hiroshima and Nagasaki were less than a month later. In order for US Radium to get one gram of radium, they had to go through prodigious amounts of ore and remove the uranium (three tonnes if they started with pitchblende)…..which they could barely give away. Some got used to make red or yellow glass (remember “yellowcake”?); some was used in a glaze for ceramics; some was essentially dumped. It was the radium that everyone wanted.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It should be noted that Thor Heyerdahl’s “The Ra Expeditions” is about sailing reed boats across the Atlantic and not about finding sources of radioactive metal.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. SHIT.

    I had a nice long reply here then I bumped some key on the keyboard that did a select-all and didn’t catch it before I hit another key…and it’s gone forever now.

    Basically Cthulhu expressed some concerns about the nucleosynthesis chart and wondered how on earth unstable nuclei could have made it into the early solar system without neutron stars happening to collide right here, and right before it was formed.

    But I don’t think that’s what it’s saying.

    All those short-lived between-bismuth-and-thorium elements were undoubtedly formed by neutron star collisions…but NONE of that is the tweener elements we see today, and probably none formed by collision was in the early solar system–anything in the early solar system came from uranium and thorium, too. Our current stocks of uranium and thorium were formed by collision, but they’ll stick around for a LONG time. And stable stuff like lead and gold will stick around forever.

    The chart simply shows how initial stocks of each element were formed, it doesn’t claim that what we see today is the original stock, or even part of it.

    I had just mentioned short lived things like aluminum 26, but that, and other light radioisotopes, was formed in a supernova, a much more common event, and frankly, you almost have to have a supernova prior to a solar system forming because the blast wave from the supernova is what starts the process anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You could do what I do and continually post half-formed thoughts. Then you wouldn’t lose everything when an accident happens.

      Of course, doing that can make one look like a blithering idiot, so it may not be right for you…..

      Liked by 4 people

    2. I would have liked to see your thoughts. It’s not that I have “concerns” about the subject, it’s that there are gaps in our knowledge and that the transit time between cosmic events and planetary formation might hold clues.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The whole idea that the heavy metals come primarily from neutron star collisions is VERY new. Go back about two years, and everything says “supernovas” (“exploding massive stars”). In fact, someone (Neal de Grasse Tyson?) even waxed poetic on how all the gold in your wedding band once was moving through space at about a tenth the speed of light, flying out of a supernova.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. So what is the basic idea there? That a bunch of neutronium gets blasted out of gravitational stability, like 2 colliding water balloons, and then evaporates into bits and pieces of higher elements floating in space?

          I like it, but what it almost does, is make stellar nucleosynthesis the second fiddle of element creation – or at least the not-so-versatile first violin.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Oh, the stellar aspect of it is very important well up into the midranges no matter what.

            And I am sure something like gold is still generated by the fast process in some quantity.

            Honestly I’m not well versed on the new development, at all.

            Liked by 1 person

  8. US Radium used to source some of their ore from Paradox Valley, CO. Paradox Valley was named in 1875 by a surveyor who noted that the Dolores river emerges from a small crack in the valley wall, transverses the valley, and disappears into another gap on the other side. One can see how this might be perplexing.

    The real world is full of wonders and amusements.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Some further notes on US Radium. Its co-founder, and developer of the luminous paint, was Dr. Sabin Arnold von Sochocky. He was forced out of the Presidency and the company’s name changed in 1921. In November, 1928, he succumbed to aplastic anemia as the “radium girls” lawsuits were proceeding.

    In 1921-1923, Victor Francis Hess worked for US Radium in New Jersey. This was after he had done the work to discover “cosmic rays” in 1911-1913, but before he received a Nobel Prize in Physics for it in 1936. When he fled Austria in 1938 to protect his Jewish wife, it wasn’t much of an adjustment to become a Professor of Physics at Fordham University in NYC.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Pretty sure this would annoy the SJW crowd……

    George Orwell had it nailed when he had the “Junior Anti-Sex League” advocate for all reproduction to be through artificial insemination in “1984”, but he missed the celebration of homosexuality, everyone being trans, and it requiring 30 more years. I’m more of a traditionalist.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Lowell George, the vocalist on the first video, also played guitar on 2/3 of the second video (and wrote the first third).


    1. It works better if they’ve had a bath. What’s not fun is getting all the rounded up later, but it doesn’t fly around as much as it does above.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Unlike other elements, I’ve got a couple of themes for jokes. Here’s one: one-line accountant jokes.

    What’s an actuary? An accountant without the sense of humor.

    What do you call an accountant who is seen talking to someone? Popular.

    Have you heard the joke about the interesting accountant? No. Me neither.

    What do actuaries do to liven up their office party? Invite an accountant.

    Why did the accountant cross the road? Because she looked in the files and did what they did last year.*

    How can you tell when the chief accountant is getting soft? When he actually listens to marketing before saying no.

    Why did the auditor get run over crossing the road? Auditors never actually do the risk assessment well until after the accident happens.

    *The single most important person in the history of accounting is SALY — “Same As Last Year”.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. One afternoon a rich man was riding in his limousine when he saw two men along the roadside eating grass. Disturbed, he ordered his driver to stop and he got out to investigate.

    He asked one man, ‘Why are you eating grass?’
    ‘We don’t have any money for food,’ the poor man replied. ‘We have to eat grass.’

    ‘Well, then, you can come with me to my house and I’ll feed you,’ the rich man said.
    ‘But, sir, I have a wife and two children with me. They are over there, under that tree.’

    ‘Bring them along,’ the rich man replied. Turning to the other poor man he announced, ‘You come with us, also.’
    The second man, in a pitiful voice then said, ‘But sir, I also have a wife and six children with me.’

    ‘Bring them all, as well,’ the rich fellow answered.
    They all climb in the car, which was no easy task, even for a car as large as the limousine. Once underway, one of the poor fellows turned to the rich gent and said, ‘Sir, you are too kind. Thank you for taking all of us with you.’

    The rich man replied, ‘Glad to do it. You’ll really love my place. The grass is almost a foot high.’

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Two older ladies were sitting on a park bench outside the local town hall where a flower show was in progress. One leaned over and said, “Life is so boring. We never have any fun anymore. For $5.00 I’d take my clothes off right now and streak through that stupid flower show!” “You’re on!” said the other old lady, holding up a $5.00 bill. As fast as she could, the first little old lady fumbled her way out of her clothes and, completely naked, streaked through the front door of the flower show. Waiting outside, her friend soon heard a huge commotion inside the hall, followed by loud applause. The naked lady burst out through the door surrounded by a cheering crowd. “What happened?” asked her waiting friend. “Why, I won first prize for Best Dried Arrangement.”

    Liked by 4 people

  14. You had better just hope that there is no SJW nitrogen around here — or, worse yet, antifa nitrogen. They’ll be calling you an atomist and having counter-protests in no time.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m just going to start piling actinium stuff up after this line.



    1. It’s a Little Feat song, originally sung by Lowell George — but penned by Paul Barrere, who just passed last October.


  16. A union plumber was called to woman’s apartment in Chicago to repair a leaking pipe. When he arrived he was pleased to discover that the woman had curves in all the right places and was quite attractive.

    During the course of the afternoon, the two became extremely well acquainted. About 5:30 p.m. the phone rang, disturbing the bedroom shenanigans.

    “That was my husband,” she said, putting down the phone. “He’s on his way home, but is going back to the office around 8 p.m.. Come back then, dear, and we can take up where we left off.”

    The plumber looked at the woman in disbelief. “What? On my own time?”


  17. A plumber was called to a phsician’s home to fix a leaking faucet that had been keeping the doctor awake late at night. After a two-minute job the plumber demanded $150.

    The surgeon exclaimed, ‘I don’t charge that much per minute, and I’m a surgeon.”

    The plumber replied, “I really feel for you. I couldn’t, either, when I was a surgeon. That’s why I switched to plumbing!”


  18. Actinium is found in nature — about 0.2 milligrams per tonne in Uranium and about 5 nanograms per tonne in Thorium. So it’s actually cheaper to make it out of Radium than it is to separate it.


  19. A doctor had a backed up toilet and knocked on his neighbor’s door in the middle of the night. The neighbor, a plumber, complained that he was sleeping and it’s his day off, but the doctor replied, “I’m always on call!” The plumber wearily got dressed, went over to the doc’s toilet, lifted the lid, tossed in two aspirins and said, “If it’s still like this in the morning, give me a call.”

    Liked by 1 person

  20. It looks like cthulhu has taken actinium…er, action here.

    There’s liltle to say about it that doesn’t apply to the other “between bismuth and thorium” elements, other than that there is at least enough that people have laid eyes on it; apparently it’s so radioactive it glows with a bright light and that’s where the name comes from–from the Greek for beam or ray.

    I’ve seen the word “actinic” used to describe a painfully intense or bright light.

    Actinium is also the first of the actinides, the “big brother” of the lanthanides that were so tedious to go through, However, there is enough distinctiveness among the actinides (on account of features of their radioactivity) that it shouldn’t be as bad most of the way through the series–well, up through californium)

    And again we have the debate over whether lawrencium and actinium are the first transition metals (belonging rightfully under scandium and yttrium) or whether that should go to lutetium and lawrencium. I really don’t want to go into that a third time! (But if you haven’t seen it: But if the people who think actinium should be the element to go under scandium and yttrium are correct, then, ironically, actinium is not an actinide, and lanthanum is not a lanthanide!

    Liked by 1 person

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