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Old 02-13-2019, 02:08 PM
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Are There Any Useless Elements?


Are there any elements for which we have no use? Even the non-reactive noble gasses can be used in lighting elements.
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Old 02-13-2019, 02:26 PM
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According to Tim James in his book Elemental, dysprosium appears to be useless.

While you can use it for lots of things (eg lasers) apparently you can always find another element that does that thing better.

However Wikipedia does not entirely agree https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dysprosium

About 100 tons are produced each year so some people want it.

Last edited by Bert Nobbins; 02-13-2019 at 02:28 PM.
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Old 02-13-2019, 02:38 PM
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I was always under the impression by itself Neptunium is useless but is used to make Plutonium, so it's both incredibly useless but also incredibly useful.
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Old 02-13-2019, 03:45 PM
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There are plenty of unstable elements. What are you going to do with Fermium or Francium?
Some unstable elements are used because of their radioactivity. Americium is used in smoke detectors and several (including californium and technetium) are used in nuclear medicine.
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Old 02-13-2019, 04:10 PM
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There are plenty of unstable elements. What are you going to do with Fermium or Francium?
Sure, you say that now, but what are you going to do when you need to create the universe again?
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Old 02-13-2019, 06:34 PM
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There's yttrium, ytterbium, praseodymium and promethium,
and niobium, iridium, mendelevium, einsteinium, nobelium,
There's strontium and holmium and hafnium and erbium,
and francium and dysprosium and scandium and terbium,
These are the only ones of which the news has come to Dopers
And there may be many others but they haven't been discovered.

(after Tom Lehrer)

Last edited by Jackmannii; 02-13-2019 at 06:35 PM.
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Old 02-13-2019, 06:44 PM
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These are the only ones of which the news has come to Dopers
And there may be many others but they haven't been discovered.

(after Tom Lehrer)
Since the original rhymed "Hahvahd" with "discahvahd," shouldn't this rhyme "Dopers" with "discopered"?
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Old 02-13-2019, 06:56 PM
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Sure, you can use californium or something in nuclear medicine, but there's no way you're going to pull that off with copenicium or meitnerium. The only use for those is to honor someone you like with the name, or to show those damn <comunists/capitalists> who's boss by beating them to synthesizing it.
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Old 02-14-2019, 06:53 AM
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I'm intrigued how many elements are essential for human life. For example, the human body contains only about 5 micrograms of molybdenum, and about 12 micrograms of manganese — tiny "trace" amounts, yet each is a key part of multiple human enzymes! Molybdenum, at about 1 ppm, is way down in the #54 slot of the crust's most common elements, yet is an essential constituent of both the human enzyme xanthine oxidase and sulfite oxidase, which is found in all mitochondria.
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Old 02-14-2019, 07:36 AM
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Some unstable elements are used because of their radioactivity. Americium is used in smoke detectors and several (including californium and technetium) are used in nuclear medicine.
But Francium's half-life is a mere 22 minutes.

There's conceivably some weird use for it, I suppose, but it's difficult to keep in stock.

And , although there are other lasers that can, I suppose, do what dysprosium does, dysprosium, like neodymium, is pretty efficient. And the new tunable dysprosium laser hits wavelengths that can be covered by color center lasers, but dysprosium is a LOT easier to handle and maintain.


I doubt if there is a "useless" element. Each element has unique properties. The Shakers believed (still believe, actually, although there are fewer of them now) that everything was created by God for a purpose, and went out of their way to find uses for even apparently "useless" plants. Shaker chemists and physicists would definitely look for uses even for Francium.
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Old 02-14-2019, 07:57 AM
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Are There Any Useless Elements?


I'd argue that any named are just elements whose uses have yet to be discovered. Right?
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Old 02-14-2019, 12:54 PM
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I'd argue that any named are just elements whose uses have yet to be discovered. Right?
I would have thought astatine as being basically useless and unusable, as its most stable isotope has a half life of eight hours and it is so radioactive that no one knows what a pure sample looks like, but research is being done on its medical uses

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astati...nd_precautions

So maybe you are right
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Old 02-14-2019, 01:11 PM
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The larger elements require a ridiculous amount of energy to make and have millisecond half lives right? Other than the nobel for making it you can't use a few atoms that won't survive the time it takes to flush a toilet.
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Old 02-14-2019, 01:16 PM
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The larger elements require a ridiculous amount of energy to make and have millisecond half lives right? Other than the nobel for making it you can't use a few atoms that won't survive the time it takes to flush a toilet.
Today.
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Old 02-14-2019, 04:24 PM
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"What has Dysprosium ever done for us?"
"Magnets."
"What?"
"Well, it's made magnets more resistance to higher temperature."
"Oh. Yeah, yeah. It does give us that. Uh, that's true. Yeah."
"Dosimeters for measuring ionizing radiation."
"Oh, yeah, the dosimeters, Reg. Remember what the radiation lab used to be like?"
"Yeah. All right. I'll grant you the magnets and the dosimeters are two things that Dysprosium has done."
"And expansion resistant reactor core rods."
"Well, yeah. Obviously the rods. I mean, the rods go without saying, don't they? But apart from the magnets, the dosimeters, and the rods-- "
"Nanofibers."
"Paramagnetic crystal salts."
...
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Old 02-14-2019, 04:34 PM
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Dysprosii eunt domo!
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Old 02-14-2019, 04:39 PM
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I would have thought astatine as being basically useless and unusable, as its most stable isotope has a half life of eight hours and it is so radioactive that no one knows what a pure sample looks like, but research is being done on its medical uses

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astati...nd_precautions

So maybe you are right
I read somewhere that astatine is so radioactive that any amount large enough to see with the naked eye will vaporize itself. It is also insanely rare. I have heard that there is maybe 30 grams of it in the entire planet at any given time and only 0.05 micrograms (0.00000005 grams) has ever been produced in a lab by anyone.

So yeah...I'd say it is pretty useless since no one has used it for anything that I am aware of (except to study it).
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Old 02-14-2019, 04:51 PM
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See The Disappearing Spoon Flash Cards
Here is the listing for promethium:

-last element in periodic to be found
-element 61
-useless
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Old 02-14-2019, 05:01 PM
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Here is the listing for promethium:

-last element in periodic to be found
-element 61
-useless
Glowing promethium paint
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Old 02-14-2019, 05:52 PM
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Oh sure, if you don't mind that it's an isotope, Pm-147, which makes it a bastard element.

But consider this: promehtium is so boring that its discoverers didn't bother to announce their discovery for years! Read the uninspiring story here.

Quote:
Three scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory made the announcement at a scientific meeting that year—but revealed that they'd actually discovered it two years before and had sat on it. They had said nothing partly because of security restrictions at a national lab, but they also knew the delay wouldn't matter: No one else was looking for the element. The media gave the announcement unenthusiastic coverage, calling the new element "not good for much."
Sure, "not good for much" does not equal useless. You could stuff a beanbag with it, if you could find any, which aside from the lab-created variety there's apparently very little of on Earth, we're talking mere grams.
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Old 02-14-2019, 06:09 PM
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Dysprosii eunt domo!
People called Dysprosii, they go the house?
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Old 02-14-2019, 09:49 PM
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Well, this element is pretty much useless today.
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Old 02-14-2019, 10:43 PM
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I would have thought astatine as being basically useless and unusable, as its most stable isotope has a half life of eight hours and it is so radioactive that no one knows what a pure sample looks like, but research is being done on its medical uses

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astati...nd_precautions

So maybe you are right
I wonder how astatine-211 could have medical uses, when there basically isn't any such thing. It's made from bismuth-200 and could potentially be used in thyroid cancer, because it's chemically similar to iodine - but we already use iodine for this purpose, and it works and doesn't stay radioactive very long.
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Old 02-15-2019, 03:11 AM
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Yes, there are useless elements. I have one on my stove.
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Old 02-15-2019, 03:53 PM
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Oh sure, if you don't mind that it's an isotope, Pm-147, which makes it a bastard element.
All variants of an element are isotopes. There's no such thing as a non-isotope form of an element. Example: the three main isotopes of Hydrogen includes H1.
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Old 02-15-2019, 04:35 PM
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What? Are you trying to derail this discussion with facts? Especially now that the inevitable jokey posts that attempt to mine alternate meanings of the word "element" for giant belly laughs are just now pulling into the station?

I say the whole Promethium family and all its cousins are damnable no-accounts.

Last edited by Hatchie; 02-15-2019 at 04:38 PM.
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Old 02-18-2019, 12:22 AM
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There are Elements that post inane threads like this on forums.

Seems pretty useless to me.
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Old 02-18-2019, 02:12 AM
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If anyone has a use for Moscovium (element 115) beyond pure science, let me know; the half-life of its longest-lived isotope, Moscovium-290, is 650 milliseconds.

Last edited by Derleth; 02-18-2019 at 02:13 AM.
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Old 02-18-2019, 06:07 AM
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I don't think there's uses, other than scientific research, for any element above 98 californium. It's not because of too short a half-life; some have half-lives measured in days, but they still don't have any use.
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Old 02-18-2019, 07:20 AM
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Flerovium-298 is predicted to be (relatively!) stable, but so far nobody has managed to make any. Even if it had its uses, one problem with these heavy elements is the ludicrously high cost of synthesizing even just a few atoms, which is going to limit practical applications.
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Old 02-18-2019, 08:06 AM
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There are Elements that post inane threads like this on forums.

Seems pretty useless to me.
This is certainly a threadshit, and it looks to me like it's also a personal attack. If you don't like a thread, then the simple solution is to not post in it. This is an official Warning for violating board rules.
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Old 02-18-2019, 09:53 AM
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Slight tangent:

I hadn't realized that elements in the 110s had actual names these days. I still remember the "ununpentium"-type names on classroom periodic tables circa the mid 1980s.
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