On The History Channel they sometimes run these “Crazy Talk” shows. I like to watch them as they keep my ability to be tolerant of “Odd Thoughts” open, while at the same time keeping the “Skeptical Skills” exercised. Often these cycle around various odd theories about Aliens. ( I have no idea why Aliens became a hot topic on a channel that’s supposed to be about history, but I presume it’s because more folks like watching “crazy talk” about space aliens then like to watch a show about Napoleon…)
At any rate, a recent advertisement had one of the Crazy Talk Stars / Darlings ranting on about how dinosaur bones were radioactive. How they were covered in lead paint in museum displays, and how this indicated that Space Aliens had (with a low voiced ‘perhaps’) wanted to clear the Earth of dinosaurs and replace them with humans (that they had quasi created via genetic manipulation of some sort). Never mind the roughly 50+ Million Years gap between the exit of the dinosaurs and the arrival of Hominids…
Yeah, pretty crazy. But fun to watch. And it does give a chance to play:
“Spot The Bogosity!”
What he clearly didn’t get (or didn’t care to admit) is that a “dinosaur bone” isn’t.
It is a rock in the shape of a dinosaur bone that “went away” millions of years ago. Water leaches away the calcium compounds in the bone and replaces them with mineral silicates. If the bone is in a place with Uranium or Thorium in the water, the bone is replaced with those minerals. The result is a U or Th bearing radioactive rock. No real surprise there.
Implications for Liquid Stone
What got me thinking, though, was the simple fact that this is rock formation from a liquid solution. It gives some ideas about how to make “liquid stone”. What it indicates is simply that metal silicates, in aqueous context, will displace Calcium Phosphate minerals. So one might conclude that a mix of minerals with some metal silicates and some calcium phosphates (and perhaps other calcium and magnesium mineral, like sulphates or carbonates) would eventually solidify into a mineral rock rather like that which is a ‘dinosaur bone’. A bit of experimentation with pH might be helpful to accelerating the process. In a way, the formation of dinosaur fossils is a confirmation of the potential to make liquid stone.
Silicates mobilized either by a process like that used to make water glass sodium silicate or via other acids like organic acids, then forming a cast stone when mixed with a basic calcium or magnesium rich material to make a cementicious matrix.
It looks to me like the process is likely to have many variations ‘that work’ and that it would be fairly easy to identify several that do. Furthermore, I’ve run into several patents that seem to show folks are rediscovering some of this technology. (Such as the one in that cementicious link that uses the byproducts of metal refining. The Egyptians did metal refining…)
There is also a hint, here, that one could make an ion substitution system to selectively remove U or Th from water. Rather like a water softener, but concentrating a useful fuel rather than ‘hardness’ minerals. Would such a system be more effective than the one the Japanese invented using a specialized plastic? I don’t know. It almost certainly would not be cheaper than the present extraction of Uranium from deep deposits with a leaching solution. But a point to keep in mind for ‘someday’. We have a natural existence proof of how to capture U and Th from ordinary rain runoff.
Well, here’s a video that finds about 200 counts per minute. Not all that high. (Then again, natural Th isn’t all that radioactive and natural U doesn’t spit out that much more). Enough to be an energy source? Maybe, but I think the selective extraction from the ocean would be cheaper. Less need to crush minerals…
So that’s how I see things. A “Crazy Talk” advertisement for a show about space aliens nuking dinosaurs leads to an idea or two about extracting Uranium and Thorium from dilute solutions using ion replacement with water softener like ion exchange in minerals and the interesting fact that some folks use Geiger Counters to look for fossils.
Somewhere in the garage, buried in the old box of Cold War Preparation Crap, I have a Geiger Counter. I don’t remember what kind, or if it’s appropriate for fossil hunting, just that it takes a 22 V battery that may no longer be made ;-0 Maybe some time this summer I’ll dig it out and make a 22 V batter replacement power supply (ought to be just one or two chips and a transformer, plus a capacitor).
Given how wide spread Uranium and Thorium are, over the surface of the world, it might be fun just to see where it concentrates naturally.