08 November 2009

Scientific tangent

I am making progress on PeGeStuDoMo -- yesterday I spent several hours adding content to the book and I have been puttering toward the other goals too -- but this post is not about that. It's about science.

Specifically, this tangential post is about chemistry and the periodic table. Kiddo has expressed a keen interest in chemistry (currently "chemist" is her answer to what she wants to be when she grows up) or possibly biochemistry (she has also showed a lot of interest in how medicines are created). However, that's not how we got to today's "awesome time-sucking and deceptively educational site of the day." We got to that site by way of a smoke detector.

The battery had started to bleat, so I pulled it down to change the battery (it's a model that clips into a base that is attached to the wall -- I like this design because I don't have to change the battery while standing on a chair or ladder). While it was down, Kiddo noticed the radioactive symbol on the side. I said it contained a tiny amount of radioactive material called, according to the label, Americium 241.

In the quest to find out more about how the smoke detector uses 241Am, we came across the Los Alamos National Laboratory's Periodic Table of the Elements pages and spent an hour clicking and learning wonderful chemical trivia.

I read the page about Platinum (Pt) which got me curious about the precious metals market wherein I realized that I clearly have not been paying attention to the news**. Gold (Au) closed at about $1100.00 per oz this week! It reminded me that for years I thought I should be buying gold but never had enough cash. Look at this chart of the past 10 years. Crazy. And in case you are curious, compare this to Platinum, which closed the week at about $1350.00 per oz and Silver (Ag) (clearly the "poor cousin") which closed at about $17.50 per oz.

Oh, and all of this also reminded me that I totally want a periodic table shower curtain.

**However, this does explain the proliferation of scam artists entrepreneurs buying "your old gold" by mail.


Ada Saab said...

There is also a thief in Edmonton that will run up to women and steal their ear rings. Gold studs!

He will not rip it out, but is the quickest detach and run ever - the women are too surprised to do anything until he's already running away.

When we were there in October, police were advising women in certain neighbourhoods not to wear their ear rings in public.

Z├ęzette said...

Chemistry truly is a wonderful subject. I had to take it as part of a university course, and only did so under duress. I loved it so much I made it my main focus of study. Go Kiddo!