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Tell me about... Bismuth (chemical element)

Discussion in 'Science & Technology' started by Kyriakos, Feb 9, 2015.

  1. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    Bismuth is one of the common metallic elements in the periodic table. Moreover it has a silverish color, with patterns of brighter bits forming (i think it is tied to that?) due to the crystalic type there being rhomboedric (made of rhomboid parts, with all inner angles being equal).
    Also i read it starts deteriorating/boiling at a very high temperature (a bit over 1500 Celsius).
    It also seems to be particularly (?) good at serving as a medium for wave-expanding sound.

    *
    I am asking for facts-checking on the above (read them in wiki), and also any other interesting quality of that element...
    I am using this element in the periphery of a new short story of mine, and while i don't really have to focus at all on the actual chemical qualities, i want to get them correct due to metaphoric ties there to what is going on in the story. The work is about a chemical teacher at late highschool, who seems very agitated by the mere mention of that chemical element (btw, based on a true story ;) it will be infinitely grimmer in my fictional account, though).

    A pic of Bismuthian crystal, just before people gave up on explaining the color out of space:

     
  2. bhavv

    bhavv Glorious World Dictator

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    Ooooh that's a pretty metal.
     
  3. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    Tell me about it.

    ;)
     
  4. classical_hero

    classical_hero In whom I trust

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    Bismuth is a nuisance metal when you are trying to working with Gold.
     
  5. bhavv

    bhavv Glorious World Dictator

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    Why would anyone here know anything about it?
     
  6. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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    Bismuth subsalicylate, sold under the brand name Pepto-Bismol, is a medication used to treat temporary discomforts of the stomach and gastrointestinal tract, such as diarrhea, indigestion, heartburn and nausea. Commonly known as pink bismuth, it is also sometimes the active ingredient in Kaopectate.
     
  7. Snerk

    Snerk Smeghead

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    Bismuth is used as a more environmentally friendly alternative to lead as shot in shotgun ammunition. It's performance as shot is slightly inferior to lead. It's also more costly.

    I'm torn on weather to use lead or an alternative like bismuth for hunting ammo.
     
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  8. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    I am pretty sure The Predator would use Bismuth. I mean just just the pic of it in the OP ;)

    (btw, necro'ed thread, the story mentioned is not ongoing and not even kept by now :D )
     
  9. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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    Bismuth vanadate is an opaque yellow pigment in artists' oil and acrylic paint. This compound is a non-toxic lightfast substitute for lemon yellow pigments such as the cadmium sulfides and the lead/strontium/barium chromates. Unlike lead chromate+lead sulfate lemon, bismuth vanadate does not readily blacken with UV exposure.
     
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  10. Bootstoots

    Bootstoots Warlord Super Moderator

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    Bismuth, taken either as bismuth subgallate or as the subsalicylate, reacts with hydrogen sulfide and other sulfides in the intestines to produce bismuth sulfide. This is desirable because the sulfides in intestinal gas are what cause farts to smell, so bismuth can substantially reduce fart odor. The bismuth sulfide is black and insoluble, so taking bismuth can turn your poop black, sometimes along with your tongue.

    It is commonly said to be the heaviest stable element in the periodic table. This is not quite correct: its primary isotope (Bi-209) is actually very slightly radioactive. But with a half-life is 1.9x10^19 years, it might as well be stable.
     
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  11. Samez

    Samez ION GUNNER

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    Wismut AG was after the USSR, USA and Canada the 4th largest producer of Uranium during the cold war. (In Germany Wismut(h)=Bismuth)
     
  12. cain3456

    cain3456 Chieftain

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    It was once thought to have the heaviest stable isotope, but that isotope has been shown to be radioactive, tho with a half-life longer than the age of the Earth.
     
  13. sydhe

    sydhe King of Kongs

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    It's one of the few elements that expand when they solidify. By alloying it with other metals, you can create an alloy that doesn't shrink or expand when solidifying, which was really useful for typesetting. (Antimony was also used for the same reason, but it's poisonous.)

    Bismuth is below two dangerously poisonous elements in the periodic table (three if your phosphorus is white instead of red), to the right of three dangerous poisons, and the next six elements are all dangerously radioactive. And bismuth is safer enough to use in Pepto-Bismol.
     
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  14. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Entangled Retired Moderator Supporter

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    What a difference a proton makes!
     
  15. Bootstoots

    Bootstoots Warlord Super Moderator

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    It still has largely the same physical characteristics as arsenic and antimony. I've been on an element-collection spree, and I have all three of them. They all conduct electricity, but poorly, and they're all shiny in their usual allotrope. And they're all really crumbly - play with them just a little bit and they'll flake off little bits until your hands are covered with arsenic/antimony/bismuth flecks. I don't think I have seen that with any other metal(loid)s. Having your hands covered with arsenic flecks is less dangerous than it sounds because elemental arsenic is neither very dangerous nor will you accidentally convert to its dangerous ionic forms. Ditto antimony. But with bismuth you don't even have to wash your hands - it's just totally nontoxic no matter how you slice it.

    There was an interesting case study where a tiny old woman (83, 80-something pounds) died of a Pepto-Bismol overdose. She had consumed something like 70 tablets. It turned out that the bismuth had done nothing toxic - it was the salicylate part of bismuth subsalicylate that did her in, the same as aspirin poisoning. That's how benign bismuth is.
     
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  16. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    Well, originally i was thinking of incorporating Bismuth into a short story for the (rather unusual) reason that a chemistry teacher i loathed (cause he was a POS) in highschool, apparently had the tendency to go berserk if anyone mentioned Bismuth. (He probably is dead now, he was a very short man who even wore shoes with built-in raised levels to make him look a bit less short...). Supposedly some pupils from another class learned of that and wrote Bismuth with huge letters on the blackboard, which made him feel disgusted, etc.
    So i suppose that story either was blown-up, or he had a very weird association with it, for symbolic reasons tied to its properties, but i still did not observe much ground for that from what was written here.

    Besides, i gave up on writing a story with this; no need to immortalise D-bags :mischief:

    edit, on second thought, i wouldn't at all be surprised if that chemistry person had some tie with stuff mentioned in posts #6 and #10.
     
  17. SLAAKMAN

    SLAAKMAN Chieftain

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    AH YES THE BEAUTY OF BISMUTH! I NOTICE IT ALMOST IMMEDIATELY & I EVEN LIKE TO SING ABOUT IT!

    Silver&Gold

    Link to video.
     

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