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.
Praseodymium by Clare Degerness
If you are an August baby, your birthstone is a peridot. A less expensive version of the stone is cubic zirconia colored yellow-green with the help of praseodymium. (Say that 3 times.) The element also colors the material used in certain types of welders’ and glass blowers’ goggles.
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!”
Named for Alfred Nobel, of Nobel Prize fame, this element has NO known uses, NO known melting point. NO one knows its half-life. And its abbreviation is No.
So we have “no” in many languages, in Swedish blue and yellow.
Symptoms: wilted, yellow lower leaves; red or purple cast on veins, petioles and undersides of leaves; small upper leaves
Diagnosis: nitrogen deficiency
Like many elements, scandium is a soft metal with a silvery appearance. It develops a slightly yellowish or pinkish cast when oxidized by air. Some items of sports equipment which rely on high performance materials are made with scandium alloys, including baseball bats, bicycle frames and lacrosse sticks.
Ruthenium red is a biological stain used for light microscopy and electron microscopy. Since its atomic number is 44, my quilt contains 44 different red fabrics.
Neptunium was named for the planet, which was named for the Roman god of the sea. The three doughnut-shaped “stones” stitched to the piece are fossilized segments of crinoids gathered from the shores of Lake of the Woods, Minnesota’s northern sea.
You might think this element is named for the country of India, but it’s actually for the dye used in denim: indigo. Because indium is as reflective as silver, but tarnishes less easily, it is used to make mirrors.