Monday, November 07, 2005

Nova: Volcano under the City

An episode of Nova I watched because it was 1. in HD and 2. Geoscience related. As unfortunately usual, another earth science Nova with excessive overdramatization. Like an earlier episode about the scablands of eastern Washington, the dramatics overwhelm any science presented. The research wasn't really explained until near the end, when they finally mentioned WHY volcanologists were going after fresh lava. Let's balance the danger/people/adventure aspect with more science. That's what Nova was for, wasn't it? Scientific American Frontiers does a much better job explaining science and what scientists do. Nova always had a bit of the National Geographic travelogue in it, but it's gone way too much to that now.

"Constant observation is necessary, for when it erupts, a new name could be added to the most deadly disasters in human history....Nyiragongo!"

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

United colors of plutonium

Plutonium, like a lot of the other transition metals, has a number of oxidation states and all of them are colorful. The valence ranges from +3 to +7, with +4 being the most common state.

This image was provided through Los Alamos or Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories; Wikipedia claims it's from LLNL but LANL uses it on a page at their site. The four colors on the right are the +4 valence forming different complexes with different anions.

I edited the image and concatenated the colors together for a palette. It looks like some sort of bad hotel color scheme.

P.S. There is some discussion of the first separation of plutonium here: