Chemistry

Uranium an Interesting Element



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Uranium is a very interesting element because it has been utilized in vastly different ways. Some of them have been very violent while others have been exceptionally peaceful and productive ways. I'm an inquisitive person so I was rather curious about the information provided by this helpful site (http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~emartz/martzpots/gallery/uranium.htm). It stated that uranium oxides and salts had been used in glasses and ceramic glazes. This practice had occurred for countless centuries. Artists used this form of uranium in order to create sumptuous shades of yellows, reds and oranges. These were achieved under oxidizing conditions though. Ancient people did not know that uranium is very toxic, both chemically and also as a radioisotope.

Uranium has also served as counterweights for aircraft control surfaces: rudders and elevators and uranium has also been utilized in radiation shielding. This is possible due to its high density. It received its name in an interesting manner. The planet Uranus had been discovered only eight years prior to the discovery of this intriguing element. The year was 1789 and the gentleman who discovered Uranium was named Martin Klaproth. He was chemist who lived in Germany. Apparently, Uranium had been waiting approximately 6.6 billion years for someone to discover its existence.

Uranium is widespread. It can be found not only in many different rocks but also in seawater. Uranium was used to make bombs. August 6, 1945. That date is remembered every year. The United States detonated the uranium-based weapon over Hiroshima, Japan. A tragic but necessary use of uranium or so many people thought at that time. Later uranium was used to make electricity and radioisotopes. We all know why electricity is an integral part of our lives but some people may wonder why radioisotopes are important. Radioisotopes are used by law enforcement in order to fight crime. They are also utilized as a means of analyzing the pollutants in our environment. Radioisotopes can even be used to study the movement of surface water and they can also help us measure the water runoffs from rain and snow. Additionally, they can aid scientists in measuring the flow rates of various streams and rivers. I found this colorful and wonderful Australian site ,www.uic.com.au/uran.htm, which has provided some very useful facts regarding uranium.

Another site www.truthout.org mentions tragic claims by people who had been exposed to depleted uranium. A 22-year-old military man had died of a very aggressive form of cancer. His mother feels his death was not due to mold or shabby conditions in Iraq. How was her son exposed to uranium? It was present in the tank armor and in weapon casings. On yet a different site, Gulf War veterans had also been exposed to depleted uranium and birth defects were linked to this possible poisoning.

Finally, uranium mining can be traced to three principal countries: Canada, Australia and Kazakhstan. They produce over half the world's production of uranium. Fifteen other countries also supply the world with this intriguing element.

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