OPEN THREAD 20200214

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 100 – FERMIUM.

19 thoughts on “OPEN THREAD 20200214

  1. Fermium was discovered in the debris from the ‘Ivy Mike’ nuclear test described yesterday. Unfortunately, the lab they had built on-site was inadequate for processing enough material to identify Fermium, so they scooped up a bunch of nuked coral and processed it at Berkeley. After two months, they identified something with a half-life of about a day that emitted alpha particles, and had to be a decay product of einsteinium that was one-up the periodic table.

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  2. There was an article some years ago about the Massachusetts highway department getting an increased number of complaints about dead crows by the highways.

    The state consulted behavioural experts, and performed autopsies of some of the dead birds and determined that they were scavenging by the roadside, and being struck by vehicles.

    Normally, crows in groups will take turns eating, with one or two performing as lookouts to give warning if something approaches, and they’re smart enough to know that getting hit by a car is bad news.

    In these cases, the lookouts were in place, but after careful observation by trained behavioral zoologists, it was determined that while the lookout crows could yell “Cah! Cah!”, they couldn’t yell “Truck!”

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  3. Ivy Mike happened on November 1, 1952. Everything about it was classified, including that the Berkeley crew had discovered yet another new element. Accordingly, the Berkeley team prepared elements 99 and 100 by civilian means, through the neutron bombardment of plutonium-239, and published this work in 1954 with the disclaimer that these were not the first studies that had been carried out on the elements. Indeed, the Nobel Institute in Stockholm independently prepared fermium and described their work in a paper published in May, 1954. Sufficient material was declassified in 1955 to make the Berkeley group’s precedence unarguable.

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    We’re at the end of the dirt road, here, with fermium, named after Enrico Fermi, who was one of the great nuclear physicists of the 20th century.

    Fermium-257 has a half life of a hundred days. All other isotopes have half lives under a day.

    No one has ever seen a macroscopic quantity of pure fermium metal. It’s probably possible; it just hasn’t happened.

    I call this the end of the dirt road, because it’s the LAST element that can be produced by simply piling neutrons onto smaller atoms. I can’t really find an explanation as to why, but elements past fermium are called “transfermium” elements, just like ones after uranium are “transuranic.”

    Neutron capture occurs in nature; everything from the Oklo natural reactor a couple of billion years ago…to the cores of giant stars during core-collapse supernovas. Thus there should be some fermium found in nature. Well, none is found today, but we can tell that it did once exist in Oklo.

    Neutron captures happen two different ways. Inside stars, it’s the s-process (s for slow). A neutron will happen on some heavy atom (one that the star probably started out with, since it formed from a gas cloud that had been seeded by a prior supernove), and glom onto it. It may create a new stable isotope, but more likely it will create an isotope that, from a stability standpoint, would rather have another proton than a neutron, so a beta decay will occur, and you now have gone up one element.

    This sort of event is comparatively rare in a star, maybe an atom would blunder into a free neutron every hundred years or so. And that imposes an upper limit on it. If you form an isotope that will alpha decay in less than a hundred years, that atom will lose four nucleons, and those will have to be put back on. There’s even a cycle of elements that includes lead and bismuth, where the s process just goes around and around in a circle.

    So the upper limit of the s process is lead.

    There is an r-process, which occurs in supernovas…and nuclear detonations. It’s estimated that a gram of electrons per square centimeter flux is attained in a nuclear detonation…imagine a gram of pure neutrons! and those pile on fast enough that you can get past lead. (In fact, in a bomb, it’s already at plutonium.) Neutrons pile on rapidly and nuclei reach their “neutron drip line” where, adding a neutron simply results in a neutron dripping off, rather than a nucleus that sticks together for a little while then does a beta or alpha decay. It’s like pouring just a bit too much water into a sponge. Well, eventually (very shortly, in much less than a second) a beta decay happens, you have a heavier element, and one or two more neutrons can be added on because the drip line for that element is slightly higher.

    It is this method by which mother nature or we, make elements from neptunium through fermium.

    I called it the dirt road, after the asphalt road, after the concrete freeway, of elements. We’re at the end of the dirt road. Elements past fermium, we have to go off-road. Put your vehicle in 4H and go on past the end of the roadbase.

    Where we’re going, we don’t need roads

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    1. My limited CPA understanding is that there’s a kink in the line at Fermium. Normally, we think of changing elements through alpha emission (-2 protons, -2 neutrons), the betas (-1 neutron, +1 proton, +1 electron; or +1 neutron, -1 proton, -1 electron; or neutron bombardment (+1 neutron). But there’s also the fissions — when you hit U-235 with an neutron of the right speed, you don’t get U-236 — you get Kr-92, Ba-141, three extra neutrons, and a hole in the ground.

      To be technically accurate, you do get U-236, but not for very long — and your fission products can vary according to the position of the initial fission, the weather, astrological signs, phases of the moon, and whatnot. But you do NOT get stable U-236 sitting there in a pose to get its picture taken.

      So, as you’re building up to higher-and-higher element numbers, as in a game of snakes and ladders, you keep hitting these fission slides that take you completely out of the actinides where you get to start over. With fermium, nothing in the requisite four isotopes leads upward to mendelevium — everything either alphas, betas with -1 proton, or fissions. This causes the “fermium gap”. You can pump neutrons in until you’re blue in the face, but the regular path is blocked and all you have are snakes or slides.

      The solution is to use particle accelerators to whomp unsuspecting atoms with things slightly larger than a neutron……but we’ll get into that in subsequent days.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. A blonde and a lawyer find themselves sitting next to each other on an airplane. As take-off begins, the lawyer already finds himself getting bored, and so he turns to the blonde and says “Hey, wanna play a game?” Slightly interested, the blonde turns back to him and says “What is it?”

    “Well, the way it works is that if I ask you a question and you don’t know the answer to it you pay me 5 dollars. But if you ask me a question and I don’t know the answer I’ll pay YOU 5 dollars.”

    “Nope, not interested.”

    “Okay hang on,” says the lawyer, confident in his intelligence. “Tell you what, if you ask me a question and I can’t answer it I’ll give you a hundred dollars instead. How does that sound?”

    Now much more interested the blonde nods agreeably.

    “First question,” says the lawyer. “What is the chemical symbol of gold?”

    The blonde wracks her brain but just can’t remember and hands him five dollars.

    “My turn!” she says. “What has an orange head, silver and red stripes on its body, with 16 legs, and wings?”

    The lawyer’s quite confused by this, and he desperately tries to think of all the zoology he knows. He even fakes a restroom visit to make surreptitious google searches on his phone. But, try as he might, he still can’t find the answer. Finally he gives up and hands the blonde a hundred dollar bill. “But I have to know,” he asks, “what was the answer to your question?”

    Without a word, the blonde slips him another five dollars.

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  6. A frog telephones the Psychic Hotline.

    His Personal Psychic Advisor tells him, “You are going to meet a beautiful young girl who will want to know everything about you.”

    The frog is thrilled, “This is great! Will I meet her at a party?”

    “No,” says his advisor, “in her biology class.”

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    1. For the benefit of anyone who is wondering, this was originally posted as “c” because of a peculiarity in the WordPress post-a-comment process. When I input a comment, I then go to a required email box, where I hit downarrow to fill in the fake email I use for this site. I hit enter and get pushed down to “Name” [nic], where one downarrow fills in “cthulhu”. Two downarrows fills-in “c” instead of “cthulhu”, and three downarrows fills-in “c” and posts — which (rightly) ends up in spam — and tells me this, while not giving me a goddamned thing I can do about it except wince.

      If I’ve got my hand on the mouse and it has “c”, I can go back and fix it before posting — which happens quite regularly. It’s useful to have “c” in there. But if it gets that second downarrow keystroke, I can only look on in horror as it annoys our gracious host.

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  7. A frog telephones the Psychic Hotline.

    His Personal Psychic Advisor tells him, “You are going to meet a beautiful young girl who will want to know everything about you.”

    The frog is thrilled, “This is great! Will I meet her at a party?”

    “No,” says his advisor, “in her biology class.”

    >>>>Grrr…..I hate that…..apologies to wolfmoon<<<<

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Musical Interlude #3 —

    So, there’s a personal story that goes with this…..I have a somewhat odd relationship with music. I can sing along, and bounce to the beat, and enjoy a pleasant melody, or funk to the groove. But I also like to see how it’s put together.

    When this song flooded the airwaves, lo….these many years ago, I heard it on the radio and was intrigued. The interplay of an almost-rap, almost-confessional vocal over an almost-trance beat with a more active rock/pop vocal and band was very well done and out-of-the-ordinary. So, I bought the album to study the ins-and-outs of that style.

    And got a total bait-and-switch. This single was the only track produced by its producer — every other track on the album was produced by some low-talent bum and sounded totally different and lame. There was no “style” to study and explore the corners of — it was a one-off.

    Liked by 1 person

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