Earthy But Not That Rare

Rare Earth Elements: Numbers 57 to 71 on the lower two rows plus elements 21 and 39

They’re called rare earth elements (see yellow highlights above), and while they are not abundant like oxygen or carbon, they are not all that rare compared to the dangerous radon gas which we don’t want in our homes. In fact Cerium (element 58) is as abundant as copper. The problem with “rare earths” is that they don’t tend to concentrate in lodes like gold or silver, but remain diffuse through the earth’s crust and where they are concentrated a bit, it still takes a huge amount of ore to produce a little bit of rare earth elements (yeah, that means strip mining). Then they have to be separated one from another, which is very difficult since they are so similar chemically to each other, but each has its own desirable use.

Some emit the colors that are used on your screen to see this post and some are used in lasers and for the light source in fiberoptic cables. They are extremely important in magnets, greatly reducing the weight of the powerful magnets that run electric vehicles as well as the tiny magnets that operate our cell phones. Also they are an essential part of the batteries that run both.

So then we have these strangely-named elements that in today’s world we simply can’t live without. Yet, until about 50 years ago, mankind hardly even needed them. I guess we truly live in rare times on this earth.

#rareearthelements #magnet #cellphone #electricvehicles

Published by eskildoodle1

Retired physician with interests in writing, photography, music, and astronomy. I have written multiple stories of life experiences, travel, and astronomy, and have been playing the ukulele for 10 years. My wife Fairy and I travel frequently to the Pacific Islands of Hawaii, and French Polynesia, and I have learned several of their native-language songs. This blog will be a forum to share experiences with family and friends.

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