Cyclosilicates: Beautiful Gemstones of Technological Interest

Chemistry, Technology
[caption id="attachment_23902" align="alignright" width="440"] Aquamarine cyclosilicate. Image by Vassil[/caption] Straight-chain silicates are common in nature. The anionic or negative portion of the silicates consists of silicon and oxygen, sometimes in conjunction with metals Thus there are aluminosilicates, magnesium silicates, and ferrosilicates. Sodium silicate, one of the most common examples, is simply, Na2SiO3. In its anhydrous form, sodium silicate adopts a tetrahedrally-linked polymeric form. Most silicates are not cyclic. Yet, the most beautiful silicates in the world – the most beautiful gemstones – are cyclosilicates. Interestingly, it is the technological beauty of these silicates that has been turning heads. It may be that the most beautiful thing about cyclosilicates is their hole. What Are Cyclosilicates? Cyclosilicates have the same tetrahedral linkage as other silicates, but in their case, the chain ends…
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Beryllium Metal: the Seldom-Discussed, Tiny Atom of Curious Properties

Chemistry, Health
[caption id="attachment_22220" align="alignright" width="440"] Emerald cabochon scarab ring[/caption] The periodic table of the elements begins with the tiniest atom, hydrogen. From there we proceed through helium, lithium, beryllium, boron, and carbon. Let's very briefly touch bases on all of these except beryllium metal. The Other Elements Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe. It is the fuel of the stars. Compounded with oxygen, it forms water, essential to life. Helium is abundant in space as the fusion product of hydrogen. It is lighter than air, as is obvious when it fills our children's balloons. It is chemically essentially non-reactive, hence harmless. As a joke, we may even inhale a little helium and speak out in a high-pitched, 'chipmunk-like' voice. The third atom, lithium, is the smallest metal. It…
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