Technology on a planet with only the 25 essential elements for life

Most modern electronics would likely be quite a challenge. No lead would make it difficult to develop traditional tin/lead solder, and no silver would make RoHS solder difficult. No lithium, nickel, or lead means different (or no) battery tech. bibliophage already mentioned the semiconductor problem. That branch of tech either wouldn’t happen or would go in a very different direction.

Of course, but it can’t make them in large quantities.
Above I said that only nickel and titanium were in the plant list and not the mammal list. I was wrong on that. It seems zinc is also not in the mammal list. Don’t know why not. Zinc is an essential trace element for humans. It really should be in that list. I suspect there may be others left out as well.

(Missed the edit window)

Just counted the elements in that list and there’s only 24. Perhaps zinc was meant to be the 25th.

No Aluminium means no clay minerals, means no clay. Good luck getting out of the stone age/sustaining agriculture without pottery, then. That’s if life even evolves withoutclay catalyst surfaces in the first place, as one theory goes…

Yeah, when I look at that chart, the text in the gray rectangle at bottom right seems to have formatting issues. Zinc was probably supposed to be there.

The biological importance of zinc is mentioned at the bottom of the accompanying article.

I should add - never mind pottery, good luck getting agriculture started with the poor soils you’ll have worldwide with no clays in the mix.

And all the different rock types you won’t have if you can’t have feldspars, micas, most garnets, some pyroxenes and amphiboles and all the metamorphics that derive from them as well, neither. And goodbye all the shales, mudstones, schists, slates etc…

Exactly. Because planet Earth does not have any of a dozen flavors of unobtanium, we’re completely blocked out of all sorts of technlogies–Zzzrk, Bevtrk, Quoplat, and let’s not forget simple Pppppromp, without which were were stuck in the iron age and it took us a thousand years to figure out a work around. Boy will we feel like chumps when we’re contacted by aliens from Noplakkkrzt who easily mastered FTL travel and antigravity which were impossible for us because our solar system completely lacks CccKccCcctroooooplap.

Pottery is very important without a doubt, but there are alternatives that I think we’d get by with. Plant fibers like cotton and hemp and animal products like leather and bladders can all be used to make long-lived, water-proofed containers.

The absence of SiAlic minerals is a blow for the ceramic industry, admittedly, but SiMatic and SiFetic minerals are still there, so you can have quarry rock, aggregates (down to very fine sand and silt,) silica sand, refractories. You’ll have glass, definitely, as well as puzzolan cement.

Looks like forest products are going to figure significantly from the very start, and technology to develop organic substances to substitute for the lack of certain metals will evolve very quickly.

The most common permanent magnet is alnico, which is not possible without the ‘al.’ Then there’s iron “ferrite” magnets. Natural magnets (magnetite) are rarely used because they’re too weak.

Not the same thing at all. Our understanding of the periodic table makes us as certain as science can ever be that there are no additional stable elements to be found. Intelligent beings on the planet with only 25 elements would eventually realise there are gaps, they could deduct that there should be an element with atomic number of 13 and predict its properties and be very puzzled why they couldn’t find any. They’d also eventually become aware of noble gases by studying spectra from their sun and other stars.

Unless their civilisation is on the surface of a neutron star* or something they’re not going to have exotic forms of matter we don’t know about.

What forests - name me the forests that grow in sandy soils with no clay fraction, please.

Sure you’d have to assume life would evolve completely differently, there wouldn’t be any forests as we know them but there might be “large fibrous structures sustained by a photosynthesis like process” which don’t need clays and can grow in sandy iron / silicon soils.

I’ve seen nonclayey soil. And yes, a forest can grow in such a soil.

Sorry, posted too soon

You realize the dominant mineral in most mafic rocks is still some form of feldpar, right? feldspar makes up 60% of our crust. And if you take that out, what you’re proposing instead is a wholly ultramafic world. Serpentine barrens are interesting places to visit, but you’re not going to develop an agriculture worth mentioning on them.

Most pozzolans contain aluminium hydrates. And ultramafic lavas don’t make the kind of ash you need for pozzolana, anyway - all that ash and pumice is felsic or mafic. Ultramafics like komatiite erupted with the viscosity close to water.

Except you can’t really cook properly in them, and they’re all perishable organic materials, so long-term storage of produce is right out, plus they won’t hold the range of acids, alcohols etc that pottery can (since you’re using organic resins, waxes and pitches to waterproof them, i take it). So you’ll be stuck at the tech level of those people that didn’t have pottery. Which are hunter-gatherers and the proto-agriculturalists of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic, basically. And even the latter used clay in bricks and as mortar for their houses and granaries.

Hell, you’re never even going to smelt metals and glass without clay for your kilns and foundries? Primitive kilns aren’t made from blocks of artificial refactories the way modern industrial ones are.

Are you even going to get the idea to smelt metals like copper, or making glass, without the experience of firing pots first?

I don’t think people realize how ubiquitous clays and other Al minerals are in even our modern lives. “Between one-half and two-thirds of the world’s population, in traditional societies as well as developed countries, still live or work in a building made with clay as an essential part of its load-bearing structure.”

I would not make that assumption. We went through entire geological eras without trees, with photosynthesizers being perfectly happy being non-fibrous until 400+ Ma. Good luck making your tools with Prototaxites stems.

So have i

Is that cite supposed to prove it? Cite, please, for a forest growing on a soil with 0% clay fraction. The sand forests I know of (in South Africa) still have a clay component in their soil

Ok thats very interesting, so is it possible to get some other “clay like” material that could be made into pottery using other elements on our list or is Aluminium the only candidate for this?

That’s not my understanding…OK, maybe not found. More like “made”

All clay minerals are aluminosilicates. Most other modern ceramics that don’t use clay, use pure alumina (Al[sub]2[/sub]O[sub]3[/sub]). There are other ceramic materials, like the carbides, but you’re not going to discover those ex nihilo the way you can pottery.

If we ever manage to create them, elements in the island of stability are still expected to be extremely radioactive with a half life between one-day and one-year. We’re not going to be seeing any new elements that are stable even over a human lifetime.