Uranium and plutonium have gotten famous, or infamous, because they are used in atom bombs. We could have been saying that about another material—one that few actually know. Learn about the material that didn’t quite make it into The Bomb.
During the 1920s and 1930s, people put radium on their skin and in their cocktails. They put uranium in health tonics. And they drank water from The Revigorator, which was a pot lined with uranium. In 2009, scientists tested a Revigorator, to see what it actually did.
Here's a really neat, classic experiment that's always fun to see. When you place uranium inside a cloud chamber, you can see it decay and emit bits of radiation. It's like seeing little alpha particle torpedoes shooting out in every direction, leaving a trail behind.
Artist Phillip Stearns' A Chandelier For One of Many Possible Endings is a custom light fixture containing 92 elements, each connected to a Geiger counter and each representing an electron in a Uranium atom. They light up in response to radiation, creating a haunting pattern.
We love artwork made with innovative materials — but sometimes, it can go too far. This Victorian-era glassware, made with uranium to make it glow, is definitely in that category.
At io9, we love extremophiles, the litte creatures which can survive and thrive in the most insane conditions our planet has to offer. A new study has shown that even when two extremophiles are very closely related, they can handle toxic conditions in very different ways.
Buried in the deserts of the world are fossils of trees and animals that died millions of years ago. Those fossils are often made of packed sediment. Occasionally, that sediment is uranium.
In 1942, the US government acquired the town of Oak Ridge in eastern Tennessee. From then on, Oak Ridge was just like any other town — except for the fences, the guards, and the top-secret uranium separating facility.
Glossy magazines often contain a substance that has elevated levels of uranium and thorium. This means that reading one for various lengths of time slightly heightens your level of radiation exposure. Find out how much magazines like Playboy are poisoning your body, even if they're not corrupting your mind and…
The bacteria known as Geobacter sulfurreducens, when exposed to uranium, pretty much just die. But under certain conditions, they can grow appendages that can literally make uranium drop out of water like a stone. Scientists have found a way to get them to grow the right way, and may even be able to recreate them…
Earth runs on massive amounts of heat, enough to melt iron in the core and create our magnetic field, enough to power the constant movement of plate tectonics. Where all this heat comes from is a mystery...but we're getting closer.
A must-read entry for all future dictators. Take a look at the meaning of "enriching uranium," why it's necessary, and some of the processes used to do it.
An Argentinian newspaper reports that people have witnessed the return of UFOs that once mined uranium in the Frías area. In fact, this image is a cell phone snap of a recent UFO visit to the region.
Uranium was considered a useless material until very recently in human history, when it quite literally exploded into the public consciousness. Tom Zoellner's engaging new book Uranium reveals how this once-humble element transformed human civilization.