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Old 12-19-2013, 02:44 PM
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Default What is this metal crystal?

I'm trying to figure out what this thing is made out of. It is metallic. It's rather heavy for it's size - it feels more like carbide than steel. It is a crystal, not some pattern cast from molten metal. It's about 2 inches square. I found it at my parents house and don't know where it came from.

Oh, and it's not radio active. I wanted first to be sure I wasn't carrying a chunk of plutonium around in my pocket.
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Old 12-19-2013, 03:00 PM
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That is likely bismuth. Any idea where it came from? Is it local to Colorado or even North America? It's a neat specimen.
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Old 12-19-2013, 03:21 PM
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Wow, I thought it would be harder to figure out than that. But yes, the piece I have is just like the photo below, ( found on the net.)

I don't know where it came from but it likely has been in my Dad' posession for the last 50 years.
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Old 12-19-2013, 03:50 PM
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Well, it's not exactly a common element and pretty unique in the crystalline form. BTW, it is slightly radioactive and I mean slightly. It has a half life of 2x10^19 years. That one in your second photo looks to me to be grown rather than a natural occurring crystal. I asked if it was local because you sometimes see it found in gold mining.
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Old 12-19-2013, 04:12 PM
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Well, half life (and therefore activity) are certainly a concern, you also need to be concerned with the type of radiation that an element gives off. In your case, Bismuth is an alpha emitter, and therefore fairly low grade. You would have to be more careful if it was a beta or gamma emitter, even with the long halflife.

As it were, I use U238 at work, which has a half life of a few billion years and is also an alpha emitter, and we still take pretty good precautions with it. In your case, I might just wear gloves when handling it. Probably not necessary but it never hurts to err on the side of safety.

Anyway, just my .02, take it or leave it. VERY cool find, BTW.
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Old 12-19-2013, 04:56 PM
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Now see that's the difference between a wannabe amateur geologist and what you'd call a professional scientist. :-)
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Old 12-19-2013, 06:22 PM
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We have a Geiger meter at work for use in our electron-beam area. I used the meter to examine the crystal. The reading didn't measure above background level. Maybe I needed to wait longer? - like a month
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Old 12-19-2013, 06:37 PM
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Maybe you can make some homemade
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Old 12-19-2013, 09:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 60wag View Post
We have a Geiger meter at work for use in our electron-beam area. I used the meter to examine the crystal. The reading didn't measure above background level. Maybe I needed to wait longer? - like a month
No, you're fine! LOL. The higher energy stuff does a lot more damage, which is why it can be a concern with unknown metals. It does not take much gamma to cause you health problems. The geiger is a great way to check, and i think you are all good!

And, again, what a totally cool find!!!
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Old 12-19-2013, 09:06 PM
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Now see that's the difference between a wannabe amateur geologist and what you'd call a professional scientist. :-)
HAHA!! No, no no...That is the difference between someone who has had to sit through hours of training courses and someone who hasn't had that "pleasure".

They make you treat it like you are handling the hot stuff out of Chernobyl, even when our stuff would barely make you itch if you ate about a pound of it (which, with uranium, is a surprisingly small amount LOL). I shouldn't complain though, as its probably good stuff to keep in mind. Its just really, really, REALLY boring.
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