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Journal of No. 118


April 14th, 2010

That's heavy, man @ 04:58 pm


I'm listening to the 3rd episode of toren_atkinson's (and friends') podcast, Caustic Soda, which focuses on the dangers that the universe has to offer and providing the relevant science and pop culture. This episode is on radiation, and I waved my hand in the air when their tame expert (an MD knowledgeable about radiation medicine) wanted to defer a question to a physicist. Sadly, there was no way for anyone to call on me.

But that's neither here nor there. As the conversation drifted to radiation protection, my mind drifted considerably further. To stop your gammas, everyone uses lead. Lead, lead, lead. Sure, it's dense, and cheap. But what if money was no object? Everyone knows osmium is the densest element. Lead is about a buck a pound. While osmium is more like $400 an ounce ($6400/pound). So you can see the practical advantage of lead, even though the density of lead is a mere 11.3 grams/cc compared to osmium's beefy 22.6... twice as dense as lead.

But a couple things struck me about the list of elements sorted by density. WTF, dude, osmium's not at the bottom! Several manmade elements have 'estimated' densities that put osmium to shame. Hassium (Z=108) tops the list at 41 g/cc. Nearly twice the density of osmium!

But it seems awfully fishy. No references, and a rather ridiculous jump from osmium to these 'estimates' for these hypertransuranian elements that hardly exist in measurable quantities for measurable times.

Gosh, dubious information on Wikipedia? Alert the media.

Anyway, the other thing I learned from glancing through the table was that a couple months ago, ununbium officially became copernicium.

(And, while I'm being chemical, I note in passing the discovery of ununseptium was announced last week. [ununoctium was discovered earlier, and remains the current champion of Z])
 
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From:mercere
Date:April 16th, 2010 04:43 pm (UTC)

Osmium, that light-weight!?

(Link)
Well don't feel too bad for Osmium -- it's got a lot going for it: interesting optical and electron transfer properties keep in the running for photo- or charge-transfer catalysts. And it's always going to be chic as long as Colossus of the X-men is around. (I'm just waiting to write a proposal to DARPA called, "Colossus Unbound: metallo-carbon conjugates for lightweight flexible bodyarmor - and fastball specials" Oh it will happen.)

Journal of No. 118