Wednesday, May 29, 2013

More Ancient-Future Artifacts... Bismuth Crystals

Bismuth Crystal, Flickr photo by Ficusdesk

My friend, Bob, sent me strolling the other day, over to a Reality Carnival: Cliff Pickover's amazing, and constantly updated compendium of strange, mathematical-phenomena links; and I hit pay dirt almost immediately... and, discovered more trinkets to add to my Ancient-Future artifact collection.

Bismuth crystals - who knew?

Resembling ancient Meso-American stepped pyramids, or examples of  fossilized organic circuitry (and, I've been known to generate one or two) these tiny beauties are generated from the chemical element, bismuth... one of the first 10 metals to be discovered - known since ancient times - and the most diamagnetic of them all.

It's also an ingredient in Pepto-Bismol!

Bismuth Crystal, Flickr photo by Miriam

Apparently, bismuth crystals are rarely found in nature, but, like the ones pictured, they are grown in labs, or (and, this is the exciting part) can be grown at home on a household stove! (Links are provided at the end of the post.)*

Obviously, the possibilities are not lost on jewelry designers, and the results are items to be coveted.  For some examples, here's a steam-punk pendant by Heather Jordan, and here's Element83's Art-fire selection to drool over.


Above, to your left, is a Flickr shot by Sal Tation, but, speaking of drooling, the second photo above is a close-up shot of this article for sale in a UK Etsy shop. I guess money can by happiness, after all!

Some breathtaking close-ups of bismuth can be found at Paul's Lab.

For more info, photos, and items for sale, try here.

For instructions about how to make your own, try here and here!

*  Warning: Bismuth does have a degree of toxicity, though generally only with high exposure. According to Wiki: 

"Scientific literature concurs that bismuth and most of its compounds are less toxic compared to other heavy metals (lead, antimony, etc.) and that it is not bioaccumulative. They have low solubilities in the blood, are easily removed with urine, and showed no carcinogenic, mutagenic or teratogenic effects in long-term tests on animals (up to 2 years). Its biological half-life for whole-body retention is 5 days but it can remain in the kidney for years in patients treated with bismuth compounds."

Previously in the Ancient-Future series:

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