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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Unsinkable Molybdenum Brown: Atomic Number 42 (The Answer to Absolutely Everything Revealed)

     Field work on Tuesday--yeah!



      My trusty assistant, Maizie, was on the job as we hiked around and above the Henderson Molybdenum Mine near Empire, Colorado.




      The mine is surrounded by U.S Forest land of the Arapahoe National Forest.






      Yes. It is a tough job. And yes, we were happy to do it.



     Molybdenum, known informally as Moly or Molly, is a chemical element with the symbol Mo and atomic number 42. The atomic number alone is enough to endear this shiny silvery-gray (OK, it's not really brown, like Molly Brown of Titanic fame) metal to the Douglas Adams' fans of the Universe.




        The name molybdenum is derived from Neo-Latin molybdaenum, from Ancient Greek Μόλυβδος or molybdos, meaning lead. Molybdenum, the element, was discovered in 1778 by Carl Scheele. 
   
      Molybdenum does not occur naturally as a free metal on earth, but rather in various oxidation states in minerals. The free element has the 6th-highest melting point of any element and readily forms hard, stable carbides in alloys. Because of this high melting point, most of the production of molybdenum is in making steel alloys, including high strength alloys and superalloys.




         The red arrow below marks the location of the Henderson Mine buildings; the conical orangeish peak to the right is the "glory hole" which is the result of collapsing of the peak during underground mining:




     We also explored the area between the Henderson Mine and the Urad Lake reclaimed area (the surrounding vegetation appears to now be thriving after moly, uranium, and vanadium mining clean-up). We were met with a few raised eyebrows and stern looks along this road but, we persevered, in the name of science:







We saw moly slag ponds, super-secret buildings,


a boreal toad-crossing sign,





and lots of waterbars* (though our thirst was never quenched).



        
       *a ridge made across a hill road to divert rain water to one side.

        And sadly, we also saw the rocks we had to leave behind. . . 



         Here's a one-minute video from our Tuesday in the mountains, mounts, and peaks:

              Field "Work" above Timberline

         Looking for your best moly, waterbar, or glory hole stories. I heard wonderful moly, angelite (anhydrite), nephrite (jade), and other stories from rockhound Jack Sleimers of Moss Rock Shop in Chief Hosa, CO, today (Sunday, 9/13).

          A man and his moly:







All in the name of science,
Steph













61 comments:

  1. Steph,

    Is that white “super-secret building” a geodesic Molybdome?

    mollybdenim

    LegoMolymbdanum(NotToBeConfusedWithLegoMolymdanuM&M,WhichMeltsInYourMouthAt98.6Degrees)

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  2. Such a hard metal would seem unsuitable for an easily deformable drywall fastener. And yet....

    (I wonder why they're called that?)

    I gotta bolt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They call them "easily deformable drywall fasteners?" No wonder they don't sell well. Nuts and bolts of moly items --ah, screw it.

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. jan, just saw you posted this at Blaine's. I so enjoy the alerting e-mails from The New York Times" as I know they are filled with things I really want to know.

      Homo naledi: wow!

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    2. Yeah, I thought it was more appropriate to post over there this week.

      Delete
    3. Duh, it took a walk and a cup of coffee for my brain to understand why. . .

      Delete
    4. Yes, thank you, Universe, for yet another anagram as a coda to your Denali-nailed-denial post here last week.

      Delete
    5. You guys are soooo lucky I'm a friendly lion.

      Delete
    6. What's that supposed to mean?

      Delete
    7. friendlily, no? (meaning yes) = friendly lion anagram

      [ Friendlily is a word. How about that? ]

      But maybe you were headed somewhere completely different. . .

      Delete
    8. Look,
      Daniel spent some time in a lion's den.
      That's all I know.
      Really.

      Delete
  4. Interesting that "glory hole" can also refer to an excavation of the sea floor to protect offshore wellhead equipment from scouring damage from icebergs, like the one that sank Molly Brown's Titanic. Actually, there seem to be many uses of "glory hole", including ones not appropriate for a family blog.

    I've always associated "Molly Brown" with the Gemini 3 spacecraft, which Gus Grissom named hopefully, over NASA's objections.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, there are lots of glory hole definitions that I just learned about this morning. I think I'll go back to reading about fossil human ancestor bones. . .

      Molly Brown has a large presence here in CO from her link to the Brown Palace to her Victorian home to mining names. The Henderson Moly Mine came much later, though. . .

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    2. Grissom's Mercury capsule, which sank in the Atlantic after his suborbital flight, was named Liberty Bell 7. The wags at NASA said it would be the last time they launched a capsule with a crack...

      Delete
    3. Thanks for encapsulating that for us, SuperZee. And, welcome!

      Delete
  5. I thought "water bars" was what Davy Crockett would call Tardigrades....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I meant to make the waterbar/waterbear connection. Thanks, jan.

      All in favor of Tardigrades as the Official Mascot of Partial Ellipsis of the Sun say "Aye."

      Delete
    2. Won't your trust assistant be jealous?.

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    3. Maizie says it's OK. Tardigrades can be the Official Mascot. She can be the Official Canine.

      After all, California's Official State Rock, serpentinite, celebrates its 50th year with that title, despite asbestos controversy.

      Never mind that the form of asbestos in serpentine is generally not the harmful, airborne fibrous type.

      Although, just in case, don't inhale whilst in California ;-).

      Delete
  6. That's some road. I picture a mollycoddled driver from back East dodging boreal toads and water bars, running off the unbermed road, right into a glory hole.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I thought of my dad often on Tuesday. He winced at taking his car on even the mildest dirt road. Me? I bought a Subaru so I could climb lots of ruts on unbermed road. What if something happened to the car so late in the day!? A chance to spend the night above tree line with Maizie and call someone in the morning :-).

      Delete
  7. OK, so this is two and a half years old already, but I hadn't seen it before and I found it moving.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, jan. The video had me tearing up at the end.

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  8. I added a short video of our field work to the end of this week's post. It features the amazing Maizie. Enjoy!

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  9. I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that made me think of you, Steph: Big paw print, "Who Rescued Who?" I wondered which was stronger: dog woman's approval, or Word Woman's disdain? (And don't say, "I could care less!")

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    Replies
    1. Great link, jan! Made me laugh.

      As to the bumper sticker, I have a new idea for Lego's new kitty's name: "Whom." Then we could ask "Who rescued Whom?" without sounding pedantic.

      Right? ;-)

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    2. Chris Christie said "They (blue-collar workers) could care less" in last evening's debate.

      LegoHuPoolCuedThe8BallInTheCornerPocket

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    3. Thanks, Lego. We couldn't care less. . .

      But, we do care about your kitty's name. Have you settled on one?

      Delete
  10. Spent the afternoon with Jack, a great 4-score plus rockhound, in the hills today. So many great stories, wonderful rocks, minerals, and fossils. He showed me a sample of moly so slippery you could rub your finger over it and make a darn fine fingerprint with the moly dust. Will post a couple of photos above but will leave some for another time. Really fun day!

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  11. Replies
    1. With all those vowels, I'm surprised I haven't seen that word in a crossword. Or on Mount Denali.

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    2. Yes, I was surprised, too. (Mount) Denali was possibly meant to "EUNOIA" us ;-).

      Delete
    3. I like "yeunoia" better. Or "eunyoia."

      LegoAndAllTheTimeWhyNot?!

      Delete
  12. Be aware, be very aware in Utah, jan and David, and anyone else headed out to the Beehive State.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, I read that about an hour ago. The other day, our daughter-in-law was trying to convince us to do one of the slot canyon walks, but I was leery of having to carry an extra pair of boots, or walking all day in wet ones, anyway. Now it looks like we might not have the option, even if we were interested.

      Delete
    2. My friend, David, suggested Keyhole Canyon at Zion but I said I'd rather climb Walter's Wiggles to Angel's Landing. The idea of wet boots or wet anything in November was not appealing. We'd camped the night before in the park and were the only ones there. It was pretty amazing watching the leaves fall off a tree from the top down as the sun hit them deep in the canyon.

      The next night we spent in a motel west of Zion. It was a cool little place designed by a follower of Frank Lloyd Wright. None of the walls were square to each other. The front desk clerk told us she'd had a person check in and come back in ten minutes to check out saying "I can't sleep in a room with angled walls." After a long day of hiking, we had no trouble. . .

      This article from the Salt Lake Tribune calls the burst of rains this week Utah's deadliest weather event. That surprised me.

      Delete
  13. A Catholic friend who married a Jewish woman this year wrote "My wife told me that it is my religious duty, as the husband of a Jewish woman, to make her coffee every morning. Because, you know, He Brew."

    To which another friend replied "There's nothing like a good pun. And that was nothing like a good pun."

    Is it good pun? Bad pun? Please discuss.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bad. "He brews" would be better, maybe, or at least more grammatical. But, still, it's been done to death.

      Of course, if you want a detailed analysis of what's funny, see this week's New Yorker.

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    2. Hillaryous. My morning needed that. Thanks, jan.

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    3. Wow, look how the popularity of Hillary or Hilary dropped in the U.S. after HRC became first lady.

      http://www.behindthename.com/name/hilary/top/united-states

      Hmmm, and the name Hillary's meaning of cheerful or merry was also interesting. . .

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    4. So, what's your new thumbnail, Steph?

      Delete
    5. So, the popularity of "Hillary" took off after Sir Edmund climbed that other tall mountain, and tanked right after Swank's first movie. Causation?

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    6. It's an image of a bumper sticker my rock hound friend, Jack, gave to "Stinky," a guy who is fascinated by coprolite, or dinosaur poo. It reads "COPROLITE HAPPENS." Coprolite happened would be more appropriate but, I still like it.

      The kindies, Miss Mary, and I went to Dinosaur Ridge near Morrison, CO, yesterday. . .and they, of course, loved uncovering the coprolite.

      Delete
    7. One of the hospitals around here has a mobile neonatal intensive care unit with a bumper sticker that says, "Meconium Happens".

      Delete
    8. Sadly, I know two babies of friends who died due to ingesting meconium so that one seems less amusing to me.

      I did look up meconium. . .and it means poppy juice.

      Delete
  14. Replies
    1. Speaking of puns, did you notice the xkcd cartoon someone posted as a comment?

      I've made a paper pendulum clock. And paper airplanes. And "time flies" puns.

      Delete
  15. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/us20003k7a#general_summary

    8.3!

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  16. Between the Chilean earthquake, a late day long swim, watching the last half hour of NOVA, and checking in on the Republican debate via the NYT live blog, PEOTS did not get finished today. I will publish tomorrow. But I will post a photo of the pool at sunset above. And maybe one from Dinosaur Ridge. . .

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  17. New post "Coprolite Happened: Poo, Poop, Do, Dung, Scat; Do-Diddly-Be-Bop-Scat" is up!

    Have fun!

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