Thursday, 10 May 2012

...What Tantalum Is.

Tantalum is an element which you can probably tell by looking at its name. Its a transition metal with atomic number 73. One version of its isotopes is the rarest in the entire universe. It makes up about 1-2 parts per million of the Earth's crust and is mined primarily in Australia. There is a mine in Brazil that accounts for 20% of the world's supply. Future resources are being looked at in other countries, mainly northern ones, as ice melts more of it becomes economically viable. It has had a negative impact as well. During the Second Congo War, the deadliest conflict since WWII, it was used to fund government and rebel factions. The mining in Congo also had another effect. People mining the metal often shot and killed endangered animals, such as gorillas, for food.

Maybe we can save the bears by having them mine?
It is becoming a very important metal. It's a tough material and is used in armour busting shells and medical replacements (like a hip replacement), It is very, very good at conducting electricity and avoiding corrosion. It is used heavily in computers, dvd players, and video game consoles (all item's popularity is on the rise). It is also used to make surface acoustic wave filters which helps improve sound quality. Currently it runs about $300/lb and is expected to increase as we all want and use more and smaller electronics.

In my day we used to use iron.
And that is what I learned today. 

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