OPEN THREAD 20200210

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 96 – CURIUM.

25 thoughts on “OPEN THREAD 20200210

  1. Now, at last, we enter the run of elements, about which there will be little to say other than trivia about isotopes.

    Discovered in 1944, and named after Pierre and Marie Curie, who had done so much of the early research into radioactivity (and indeed had discovered two elements themselves). The discovery was not made public until after the War.

    The name “curium” not only memorializes a deserving couple, but, like americium before it, it “matches” the lanthanide above it, gadolinium, which was also named after a chemist, Johann Gadolin, who had done much research on rare earths.

    It does have some applications, including as an alpha ray source on many of NASA’s spacecraft (including many of the Mars rovers). Its great expense is a limiting factor for these uses.

    Wikipedia implies most of the isotopes are fissile. Certainly every isotope between 242 and 250, besides 247, can decay through spontaneous fission.

    Isotope 247 is far and away the most stable isotope with a half life of 15 million years; many of the other isotopes are also fairly long-lived on human timescales (but brief by geological ones). Curium-248 is good for over three hundred thousand years. Either one of these is significantly more stable than the in-between elements of polonium (84) through actinium (89); if only they were downstream from uranium or thorium instead of upstream, they’d be fairly common.

    Macroscopic amounts have been made, and its density is 13.52, resembling mercury. It melts at 1344 C, which is quite a bit higher than neptunium, plutonium or americium.

    Curium was detected in the debris of the first US hydrogen bomb tests (along with many of its neighbors).

    Well, that’s it for curium, unless Mr C. reminds me of something by accident, like he did yesterday.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I’ll put in a plug for Albert Ghiorso.

    He has been credited (or partial credited) with discovering no less than TWELVE elements. That’s slightly over ten percent of them.

    The elements are americium through seaborgium, 95-106, and of course, curium is one of them, in fact chronologically the first one.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It would be an interesting exercise to figure out how many of the elements known today were originally synthesized by Seaborg’s crew with their smokin’ 60-inch cyclotron at Berkeley. Some of them were classified upon discovery, many of them decayed before anything could be done with them, and many were such a faint trace that they may have been operator error.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m going to do something a little different for the musical interludes tonight……it won’t be the music, it’ll be Rick Beato’s analysis of the music. Beato is a music teacher with a large youtube channel who has quite a few industry connections, and can really dig down into the music. On the flip side, he’s a potentially dangerous nutcase that sometimes loses the thread.

    The song is Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A student comes to a young professor’s office hours. She glances down the hall, closes his door, kneels pleadingly. Says, “I would do anything to pass this exam.” She leans closer to him, flips back her hair, gazes meaningfully into his eyes. “I mean…” she whispers, “I would do…anything.”

    He returns her gaze. “Anything?”


    His voice softens. “Anything??”

    “Absolutely anything.”

    His voice turns to a whisper. “Would you….study?”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. If you’ve been following my drivel, you may have noticed that the musical interludes have a sort-of theme, and the jokes have a sort-of theme. I’m trying to drop a few in each post, and don’t want to repeat myself, so this helps me keep track of what I’ve done.

      Further, you might note that tonight’s jokes are about students. But this joke segues into a classic.

      A guy in a grey flannel suit is on a train out of NYC back to NJ. His tie is loosened, it’s 7:00 pm, he looks tired. A young woman in outlandish attire boards the train. Her shorts have a certain cheekiness to them, and her top reveals quite a bit of taut skin, while barely covering some softer parts. She sits across from him for a few minutes in silence…..but she can tell where he’s looking.

      She leans in close, for privacy, and whispers, “I’ll do Any. Thing. You. Want. for two hundred dollars, provided you can say it in three words.”

      His breathing quickens, she can sense his heartbeat strengthen. He asks, “anything?”

      She leans in closer, and his heart is nearly beating out of his chest, his breathing in faint gasps — “Anything…..”

      He fumbles for his wallet and shows her two hundred dollar bills, then hides them away and looks around for witnesses. Then he leans forward to her and says, “paint my house.”

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Curium wasn’t reduced to pure metal until 1951, which was quickly after macroscopic amounts were available in 1950. Mind you, as an entirely synthetic element, it ain’t exactly common.

    Although it was created in the natural nuclear reactor at Oklo (as were other transuranium elements up to fermium…).

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Are you intending to cover that at fermium, at mendelevium, or elsewhere? I ask so that I can leave room when we get there. Happily, Oklo has already been covered back a ways.

        Liked by 3 people

  7. Before our second musical interlude, a few questions about the first. What was the weirdest bit of information from the video — was it (a) the blind drummer; (b) how many freakin’ clavinets were stuffed into one track; (c) that the synthesized bass sounded so normal until it didn’t; or (d) something else?

    OK, musical interlude #2. This is the second Boston song to get the Beato treatment, the first being “Hitch a Ride” from the band’s first album. Beato’s treatment of “Hitch a Ride” just stuck me sideways, being that it has always seemed to me to be a song about suicide. That it’s beautifully done and technically innovative cannot be celebrated wholeheartedly without that shadow……particularly after Brad Delp’s untimely end.

    But a gleeful analysis of the techniques and equipment used in “More Than A Feeling” just highlights the innovation and style of Tom Scholz.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. During college orientation, there was an announcement regarding curfews:

    “The female dormitory will be out-of-bounds for all male students, so too the male dormitory to the female students. Anybody caught breaking this rule will be fined $20 the first offense.

    Anybody caught breaking this rule the second time will be fined $60. Being caught a third time will incur a hefty fine of $180. Are there any questions?”

    At this, a male student in the crowd inquires, “Er… How much for a season pass?”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. OK, musical interlude #3……

    We learned in interlude #2 that Tom Scholz is a genius, and that he intentionally selected the members of his band for their ability to do the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again so that he could mix five disparate instrument parts into what sounds like one super-clean utterly-unreal instrument.

    Anyway, off to a Police song that your guitar can’t play.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know much about guitars, but there’s at least one work of Paganini’s that calls for the violin to be tuned more tautly than usual, raising it a full tone. I gather you can’t get a half-semitone sharper out of a guitar by tuning it differently.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You can, but the additional tension can warp the neck.

        There is both an art and a science to properly setting-up a guitar, particularly a steel-string. Each of the strings produces a force between the bridge slot and the nut slot that is off-axis from the neck of the guitar. To counteract this, there is an adjustable truss rod buried within the neck of the guitar that applies pull on the other side of the neck that is a similar off-axis amount. The adjustment for this is frequently hidden under a little plaque on the head of the guitar, or it may be under the pickguard in the body.

        If you’re going to tune the thing up a half-step, play for three hours, then retune to standard tuning for the next month, you’re probably fine. If you intend to leave your axe tuned up a half-step, it should be “set-up” for that tuning by a guitar tech or luthier.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. A Boston brokerage house advertised for a “young Harvard graduate or the equivalent.” Among the inquiries received was one from a Yale grad. He said, “Do you mean two Princeton men, or a Yale man part time?

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s