Redeeming the Alchemists

I only read one book at work today, but it had some interesting facts I hadn’t known. (I’m reading other books in my own time, of course, but those tend to be longer and not get finished daily.)

19. Science Essentials: Chemistry: Materials by Denise Walker

From page 25:

In 1980, Dr Glenn Seaborg managed to change a few thousand atoms of lead into gold using a nuclear reactor. Seaborg used high-energy particles to split the nuclei of lead atoms so that they released three protons. Gold has three protons less than lead (79 compared to 82) enabling Seaborg to successfully create this precious element. However, Seaborg’s experiment needed an enormous amount of energy so this form of gold would be far too expensive to produce commercially.

Interestingly, although the book discusses the alchemists as precursors to modern chemistry, and later discusses their search for the Philosopher’s Stone to bring eternal health/youth and to turn base metals to gold, it doesn’t point out that Seaborg finally proved it could be done, after centuries of it’s being written off as impossible.

On page 32 in discussing the changes of state between solids, liquids and gases (melting and freezing between solids and liquids, and evaporation and condensation between liquids and gases) it also describes sublimation, which is a term I don’t remember coming across before. Basically it means a direct change between solid and gaseous states (in either direction, apparently.

I went to the knitting group tonight, and it was lovely to be there again. It turns out more people there crochet than I thought. They just don’t do it there! Having struggled to crochet in a dark car again this evening (the traffic was a complete nightmare) I would like a light-up crochet hook. I’m onto the sleeves of the FrouFrou, which is good.


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