9/25/2006

elemental Grrl Talk

poppgrrl of Grrl Talk fame has posted an interesting exchange from Overheard in New York regarding favorite elements. Strangely, I've never really thought about it. Thinking about it now, a multitude of options leap to mind. Plutonium is exciting, but has a nasty tendency of attracting Syrian terrorists... as does uranium. Hydrogen? It's got nice explosive properties, but it's much too common, something like 75% of the universe is hydrogen. Far too proletariat. Oxygen, necessary for fire, for life, but also for rust. I'll pass. Tantalum probably has the best name, brings to mind the words tarantella and tantalize. But what the heck can you do with it? No, the more I think of it, the more I realize that my choice for favorite element was made for me back in high school science class when Mr. Koch told us a story involving Sodium, the Mississippi River and a soon-to-be floatation-impaired barge.

Yes, my favorite element must be sodium. It's soft, shiny and a bit dangerous. It reacts violently , even exploding on contact with water (see video here, or actually, any of the videos at the bottom of this page ), yet it emits no dangerous neutrons or photons. It's low density lets it float on water (if it doesn't explode). It combines nicely with chlorine to make table salt, which makes tasty things even tastier. Heck, we've even got taste receptors specifically geared to it. It's common, but not too common, coming in at less than 3% of the earth's crust, around 1% of sea water, less than 0.15% of a person. It's even got a somewhat confusing symbol on the periodic table (Na for Natrium). In short, it's a helluva element!

2 comments:

Guppy said...

guppy says tantalum. highly radiopaque and biocompatible. the perfect element to make medical devices. It along with its friend Nickel and titanium (nitinol) have paid my bills for many years and hope they continue for a long while. I do hear of some magnesium to replace some of that income in the coming years.

Mike said...

I think you're the only person I know who geeks on medical devices. You may be the only person on the entire planet who does!

word verification definition
hqwniw - ancient hopi version of the SFA stent, constructed of cactus thorns and pine pitch.

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