OPEN THREAD 20200204

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 90 – THORIUM.

24 thoughts on “OPEN THREAD 20200204

  1. We come at last to an element that’s somewhat “normal,” in this case thorium. 90 protons, usually 142 neutrons.

    It’s readily found in the ground, it’s pretty common stuff…but it is radioactive, mildly so.

    Its half-life is 14.5 billion years. That’s longer than the universe is old. And over three times as long as the earth is old.

    Of all the thorium that was present when the solar system formed, almost exactly 80 percent of it is still around. (calculated by: 1/2^(4.5/14.5)).

    Thorium was discovered in 1829 and, although it had a high atomic weight, the highest known, it wasn’t thought of as anything special, it was just another metal, about as dense as lead. Only later when radioactivity was discovered, was it realized that thorium was radioactive, weakly so. (Consider: if it takes 14 billion years for half of an element to decay, it’s not doing so very fast, only a relative few atoms are going at any given time; it’s the stuff with short half lives that is super-radioactive, with lots of breakdowns, and lots of alpha, beta and gamma rays blasting out of it at once.)

    Most of the thorium is 232 (the long lived isotope), the remaining 0.02 percent is Thorium-230, which is a part of the uranium decay series, and has a half life of 75,400 years, so some of it can actually accumulate. Another thorium isotope of note is 234, which is the first decay product of uranium 238. However, its half life is 24 days, so there’s never very much around; it merrily proceeds to become protactinium 234, then uranium 234…which decays to thorium 230 and makes this whole paragraph a bit circular.

    Thorium had some uses before radioactivity was discovered, and even some afterwards. The mantles on some older Colman lamps, in fact, had a lot of thorium in them (it glows quite well under the right stimulus). It’s also used in TIG welding electrods, though that is being phased out.

    It’s not uncommon. But…just try buying a sample! For some reason, no one is selling it. The people making the element coins once told me they could sometimes do a thorium coin…for THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS. More expensive than gold, more expensive than palladium, more expensive, even, than rhodium (which in the standard thickness is now going for 1700 dollars).

    You can get uranium more readily!

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  2. As it turns out, there are various ways of making a nuclear power reactor that runs on thorium — generally in liquid salt configurations. These are nice because they do not melt down, they don’t produce radioactive steam, they produce no material suitable for atomic bombs and there’s a bunch more thorium out there. Oak Ridge, TN, had one that they ran from 1965-1969.

    My favorite, though, was someone who mentally constructed a giant thorium/coal Rube-Goldberg Machine. You burn some coal to produce electricity to separate thorium from coal ash (you may need to “prime the pump” with coal ash). You then start a thorium power plant (you may need to “prime the pump” with thorium). With the energy from the thorium plant, you commence gasification of the remaining coal and feed it into a Fischer-Tropsch process (run by thorium electricity) to produce synthetic oil and synthetic gasoline. The sludge that remains, you reprocess to extract thorium. In this guy’s formulation, he’d bring in in coal cars of coal and ship out tanker cars of oil and gasoline, run thorium on-site, and dump excess power to the grid.

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  3. Let’s see if I’ve learned anything about posting images…..

    This should be Glenn T. Seaborg with the hookah he was using when he settled thorium’s location in the f-block.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thorium is odorless and tasteless. This is somewhat odd, considering that its natural silvery state readily forms a black oxide in air. One has to wonder about the experimental protocol. [“Here, take this silvery chunk rapidly tarnishing to black and lick it….”]

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  5. The difficulty with thorium reactors, is that they aren’t really thorium reactors.

    Thorium 232 is used to make uranium-233 (add a neutron and wait for a couple of beta decays); that’s the actual fuel. Uranium reactors are considerably more efficient. However, it’s likely worth developing this technology because thorium 232 is a lot more common than uranium 235, and as cthulhu has already pointed out, thorium reactors can’t be used to make bombs, so a lot of those sorts of excuses leftists cite to not develop nuclear energy go down the toilet.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Time for a musical interlude.

    And a bleg.

    Last time I checked, I had about 100G of recorded music in my library. Of course, I can’t share it with you directly, so that keys into maybe 500G of Youtube (is it reasonable to suppose every song has five versions there?). I’m a playful person, and enjoy all sorts of things — I could drop John Cage 4’33” in here and sleep well that night. But there are well-worn pathways through my collection — like the Little Feat that I’ve been indulging over the last couple of days.

    What do YOU like? I would be happier to show you a scenic byway from your road than retrace another of my favorite trails. What sort of music should be the basis for future musical interludes?

    That said, here’s

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I like the eclectic pieces you have been doing as I love all music except for rap. When I listen to music, I usually lean to 60s to 80s rock, music from movies (Little Shop of Horrors, Star Wars, Hair, Old Brother where art thou, Lord of the rings, The Blues Brothers for a few). I also like country, some of the older stuff and the older new staff like George Strait, Garth Brooks, Diamond Rio, Brooks and Dunn, Alison Krause and others. I also like classical (Bach, Beethoven, Pachelbel and others). Just me, chiming in. I appreciate this whole blog — the perfect combo — information, relaxation to music and laughs!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Musical interlude #2

    Please listen and appreciate the lyrics all the way to Pagosa Springs.

    The lyricist and singer is Bill Fries, better known as country artist “C. W. McCall”. C. W McCall’s music is by a guy named Chip Davis, who also composed as “Mannheim Steamroller.” The music for both interludes is by the same guy.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. There is much more to thorium, just like there is more to the world than any tale told in it. Maybe we’re tired or distracted and missed the coolest thing ever to be said about the element……it’s been known to happen. Look as deeply as your curiosity impels you….and if you bring something back here, thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Bricklayer’s Insurance Claim:

    I am writing in response to your request for additional information. In block number three of the accident reporting form, I put “poor planning” as the cause of my accident. You said in your letter that I should explain more and I trust that the following details are sufficient:

    I am a bricklayer by trade. On the day of the accident, I was working along on the roof of a new six-story building. When I completed my work, I discovered that I had about 500 pounds of bricks left over. Rather than carry the bricks down by hand I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley, which fortunately was attached to the side of the building at the sixth floor.

    Securing the rope at the ground level, I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded the bricks into it. Then I went back to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 500 pounds of bricks. You will note in block number 11 of the accident reporting form that I weigh 135 pounds.

    Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rather rapid rate up the side of the building.

    In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming down. This explains the fractured skull and broken collarbone.

    Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley.

    Fortunately, by this time I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope in spite of my pain.

    At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground – and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel now weighed approximately 50 pounds.

    I refer you again to my weight in block number 11. As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building.

    In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles and lacerations of my legs and lower body.

    The encounter with the barrel, slowed me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell onto the pile of bricks and fortunately, only three vertebrae were cracked.
    I am sorry to report, however, that as I lay there on the bricks in pain, unable to move, and watching the barrel six stories above – I again lost my presence of mind.

    I let go of the rope!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A duck goes into a bar, approaches the counter, and orders a sandwich….

    He says to the bartender, “listen, I’m a bricklayer on the construction site nearby, the works will last for some time and I’ll be coming here every day around lunchtime for a sandwich — so think about some discount or something?”

    The bartender — shocked as he has never encountered a talking duck before — agrees to give the duck a small discount for his daily sandwiches.

    The duck takes his sandwich, pays, thanks the bartender and goes out.

    The bartender immediately calls his friend who owns a circus: “listen, there’s a talking duck coming to my bar, come tomorrow around lunchtime and see for yourself.” So, the next day, the circus owner waits in the bar and the duck goes in, jumps on the barstool and orders a sandwich.

    The circus manager overcomes his awe and says: “Hello, sir, I’m a circus owner and I want to offer you a job. I can give you whatever money you want, plus a company car, a cell phone, best hotels, best women, whatever you want.”

    The duck considers his offer for a moment and says: “so, you’re a circus owner, right?”


    “….And your circus is one of those big tents, right?”


    “….With a sandy arena in the middle, right?”


    “….And with rows of seats around, right?”


    “So what the fuck you need a bricklayer for?”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. A Yorkshireman’s dog dies and as it was a favourite pet he decides to have a gold statue made by a jeweller to remember the dog by.

    Yorkshireman: “Can tha mek us a gold statue of yon dog?”

    Jeweller: “Do you want it 18 carat?”

    Yorkshireman: “No I want it chewin’ a bone, yer daft beggar!”

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Here’s a few links for Thorium and some other stuff:

    Click to access book-of-geet-aug-819.pdf

    Click to access 2019-12-05-Kid-Atlas-237pgs-by-Condor-AIM-Dec-05-2019.pdf

    I haven’t been able to find a time to get to these, but I think Coothie, Steve, and Wolfmoon Will find them interesting (if they have an already seen it…).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’m a fan of all nuclear, but I love thorium for many reasons, including it’s potential to reach a kind of social criticality, and break the nuclear gridlock due to multiple marginal advantages which overwhelm the opposition by the cult of crazy climate droogs. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah… me too!
        The stuff looks pretty promising, but I’m just starting to learn about it and some of it’s above my paygrade!
        Wind and solar are nowhere near “there” yet… (and may never be).

        Liked by 1 person

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