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Mineral Resource of the Month: Tin

Tin was one of the earliest-known metals. Because of its hardening effect on copper, tin was used in bronze implements as early as 3500 B.C. Bronze, a copper-tin alloy that can be sharpened and is hard enough to retain a cutting edge, was used during the Bronze Age in construction tools as well as weapons for hunting and war. The geographical separation between tin-producing and tin-consuming nations greatly influenced the patterns of early trade routes. Historians think that as early as 1500 B.C., Phoenicians traveled by sea to the Cornwall district of England to obtain tin. The pure metal was not used unalloyed until about 600 B.C.

 
13 Nov 2011

Benchmarks: November 7, 1940, and November 25, 1990: Washington suffers a pair of debilitating bridge failures

Washington’s Puget Sound comprises an intricate network of rivers, lakes, inlets and islands, many of which are traversed by bridges that safely carry more than 100,000 cars each day. With November upon us, however, civil engineers and Department of Transportation officials in Washington must be holding their collective breath. Historically, the 11th month has not been kind to area bridges.
 
07 Nov 2011

Energy Notes: June 2010-2011

Oil and petroleum imports data are preliminary numbers taken from the American Petroleum Institute’s Monthly Statistical Report. For more information visit www.api.org.

 
20 Oct 2011

Mineral Resource of the Month: Potash

Potash is the generic term for a variety of mined and manufactured salts, all of which contain the mineral potassium in a water-soluble form. Together with nitrogen and phosphate, potash is one of three essential plant nutrients. Potash is used in everything from fertilizers to soaps and detergents, glass and ceramics, dyes, explosives and alkaline batteries. Minor amounts are also used in water softening, sidewalk deicing, and as a table salt substitute. About 85 to 90 percent of potash, however, is consumed for agricultural products.

 
13 Oct 2011

Down to Earth With: The Swindling Geologist

When Clarence Dutton spoke, people listened. As one of the most famous geologists of the late 1800s, he regularly attracted large crowds to his talks. He also had a way with women. The president of an Indiana literary society once wrote to Dutton to confirm a lecture and assured the speaker that “the ladies would be delighted to see him again.”

 
10 Oct 2011

Down to Earth With: Nobel Prize winner Adam Riess

Astronomer Adam Riess and his team made a huge splash in 1998 when they announced the finding of dark energy. That work also included the discovery that the universe is expanding at an increasing rate. Riess and his colleagues were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for their discovery.

03 Oct 2011

Benchmarks: October 1904: Mineralogy solves a murder

In a bean field outside the city of Freiburg im Breisgau on the western edge of Germany’s Black Forest, Eva Disch lay dead, strangled. Her blue and red silk scarf may have kept the chill off her neck earlier on that October day in 1904, but now it was wound too tightly, a tourniquet around her neck. The only clue to the death of the local seamstress was a dirty handkerchief discarded near her body. With little evidence to go on, investigators turned to Georg Popp.
 
03 Oct 2011

Energy Notes: May 2010-2011

Oil and petroleum imports data are preliminary numbers taken from the American Petroleum Institute’s Monthly Statistical Report. For more information visit www.api.org.

 
20 Sep 2011

Mineral Resource of the Month: Rare Earth Elements

The rare earths are a group of 17 metallic elements that occur in nature as nonmetallic compounds. Ironically, they’re not at all rare: As a group, they are about as abundant as lead in Earth’s crust. Rare earths earned their name to distinguish them from the alkaline earth elements (like beryllium, calcium and magnesium) that were found in the same deposits where rare earths were first discovered in Scandinavia in the late 1800s.

 
14 Sep 2011

Benchmarks: September 30, 1861: Archaeopteryx is discovered and described

What's commonly thought of as the first bird, Archaeopteryx was first described 150 years ago this month.

02 Sep 2011

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