Guest Video: Vanadium

This element was named after a Norse goddess of beauty because it comes in many colors, which chemists enjoy playing with:

Hard to believe vanadium is also a critical mineral used in metal alloys, as well as a possible cancer drug!

This colorful element is found in multivitamin supplements, though there is no US recommended dietary amount. The quantities are very small–there is a very fine balance between too much and too little of this mineral!

Vanadium apparently isn’t mined out like gold, silver, or even phosphate. According to the USGS 2018 mineral commodity report, it is generally produced as a by-product of various industrial processes. That’s not a very auspicious origin for an element whose compounds “have been shown to be potentially effective against diabetes Type 2, malign tumors including cancer, endemic tropical diseases (such as trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis and amoebiasis), bacterial infections (tuberculosis and pneumonia) and HIV infections.” (Source)

Very little is known yet about vanadium’s effects on our bodies. It sounds promising, though–we can only wait for new discoveries to be made about this chameleon of the periodic table.


Featured image: Steffan Kristensen, public domain.


Guest Video: Selenium, Mercury, and Fish


Did you ever wonder why there is a mineral named after a Moon goddess in your daily vitamin?

It was one of those weird naming things, according to Dr. Wikipedia. The scientist who discovered the element noticed that it was similar to another element that had already been named after the Earth.

Whatever the etymology, we are all lucky to have a good source of selenium in multivitamins, though we only need a trace amount, as this video from the University of North Dakota shows:


Featured image:Jazz Guy, CC BY 2.0


Guest Video: Did Geothermal Plant Cause A Quake?


Fracking isn’t the only human activity that involves pumping water through rocks. Steam produced by geothermally heated water is an alternative energy source meant to help free us from burning fossil fuels.

Last week, two scientific papers were published that raised the possibility of a geothermal plant in South Korea causing or at least contributing to an unusual strong earthquake.

This video is in Korean but pictures are worth a thousand words. The situation is well-explained in English here.


Featured image: Source, CC BY-SA 3.0.


Guest Videos: People LOVE Bismuth!


This element is on the critical mineral list, and not simply because it soothes an upset tummy.

But bismuth is also a lot of fun.


No, wait! Wait!

I want to see more of those colors!


Believe it or not, bismuth has even inspired artwork.



Featured image: <a href="https://pixabay.com/en/bismuth-bismuth-crystal-tint-metal-626546/&quot; target="_blank"Fill, at Pixabay. Public domain.


Guest Video: Manganese v. Magnesium


Both of these are in multivitamin supplements (as well as on the critical minerals list for their non-health-related uses). It’s easy to confuse the two names.

This video, which I just found on YouTube and have not checked for facts, is a good introduction to the different ways manganese and magnesium may affect the human body.

And you probably will be hungry after watching it!


Featured image: andreas-eatbetter at Pixabay. Public domain.


Guest Video: Perovskite


A mineral that is very common and has extremely useful properties? Sounds like great news, and it is (though people have altered the perovskite used in the lab; it’s somewhat different from what you find in the ground).


Featured image: Dr. Santanu Bag, project scientist, Air Force Research Lab, holding a pervoskite solar cell. US Air Force/David Dixon


Guest Video: “I Made Iron From A Rock”


This is one of those videos that makes the Internet so worthwhile.

Hope Mom wasn’t planning on using her flour sifter, though.

According to the USGS, most US iron ore comes from Michigan and Minnesota, but a quick look online shows that Utah has enough of it to make it impossible to say just what formation that light-colored sandstone he used came from.


Featured image: Iron furnace, Jeremy Farley, Wythe County, Virginia.


Guest Video: Forms in Nature


We spend a lot of our time putting names on things, personalizing them, and figuring out how we can best use them to move ahead in life.

But our first perception of anything is just its form. All the thinking and imagining and exploitation come later.

This video is an excellent animation, but it also cuts through the whole “naming” part of perception to show that first moment of contact.

It’s a refreshing look at the wide variety of wonders in this world, natural and human.