Clare Degerness

Platinum is one of the rarest elements in the earth’s crust. This scarcity makes it highly valuable, and thus it has become a symbol of noteworthy accomplishment: sale of over one million musical albums, 70 years of marriage, and extensive credit card spending. Although none of my ancestors reached this marriage milestone, and I do not have a chance of living long enough to do so, they celebrated their weddings in style and lived out their marriage vows for many years. Pictured along with¬†my husband and me are my parents, my paternal grandparents and my maternal great-grandparents.


“Come on, rhenium, get the lead out!”

rhenium, Clare Degerness

This element was discovered in Germany and named after the Rhine River. One of the rarest elements in the earth’s crust, rhenium has an extremely high melting point and is used to construct high temperature turbine engines. It is also used as a catalyst in the production of lead-free, high-octane gasoline.



Rutherfordium, Clare Degerness

New Zealand-born chemist and physicist Ernest Rutherford pioneered the planetary model of the atom in 1911. The Rutherford model has been used as a symbol for atoms and atomic energy, and is featured in the logos of the US Atomic Energy Commission, the American Atheists and minor league baseball’s Albuquerque Isotopes. “Go, ‘Topes!”