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26 April 2010

magma tube connecting Eyjafjallajökull and Katla volcanos / place your bets at Jenny's! / chicken cacciatore for 20 / wishing all a safe Summer

Click image to enlarge.

Can't write much now, must hurry. Tonight's the last of my Quaker team's night to cook and serve at the emergency winter shelter, and it has fallen to moi to make chicken cacciatore for about 20 neighbors. Most nights we cook for the max, about 25 people, but Spring's good weather frees up our guests to travel farther abroad and seek more favorable accomodations.

(But travel where they will, they are not likely to find better chicken cacciatore.)

Vulcanologists familiar with the observed and recorded history of the volcanos southwest of Reykjavik, Iceland, theorize that there is a magma connection deep underground between the notorious Ash Cloud Volcano Eyjafjallajökull, and the nearby Katla, "Iceland's most vicious volcano."

Vulcanologist Páll Einarsson diagrammed the known underground features of the two volcanos down to around 6000 meters, the maximum depth state-of-the-art vulcanology can perceive anything with certainty. But the theorized magma connection between the two volcanos -- which historically "twins" eruptions of both -- is below 6000 meters

The Hoon-Vleeptron-Yobbo Vulcanological Institute @ Hoople ( HVYVI@Hoople ) is still predicting that Katla will pop, even more loudly and more violently than Eyjafjallajökull, so there's still time to place your bets at Kick Em Jenny's Volcano Betting Pokerdrinksalon & Brothel in Winnemucca, Nevada USA.

HVYVI@Hoople has extended Einarsson's diagram to include the Katla-Eyjafjallajökull magma connection tube and eruption trigger. HVYVI@Hoople believes the underground tube is slightly above Hell.

21 April 2010

Lyrids Meteor Shower! Now! Tonight! Go Outside! Look to the Skies! ("The Thing")


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Lyrids are a strong meteor shower lasting from April 16 to April 26[1] each year. The radiant of the meteor shower is located in the constellation Lyra, peaking at April 22—hence they are also called the Alpha Lyrids or April Lyrids. The source of the meteor shower is the periodic Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher.[2] The Lyrids have been observed for the past 2600 years.

The shower on May 22[3], 687 BC (proleptic Julian calendar) was recorded in Zuo Zhuan, which describes the shower as "On day xīn-mǎo of month 4 in the summer (of year 7 of King Zhuang of Lu), at night, fixed stars are invisible, at midnight, stars dropped down like rain."[4] (夏四月辛卯 夜 恆星不見 夜中 星隕如雨)

The shower usually peaks on around April 22 and the morning of April 23. Counts typically range from 5 to 20 meteors per hour, averaging around ten.[1] Observers in the country will see more, observers in the city less.

Lyrid meteors are usually around magnitude +2. However, some meteors can be brighter, known as "Lyrid fireballs", cast shadows for a split second and leave behind smokey debris trails that last minutes.[5]

Occasionally, the shower intensifies when the Earth passes through a thicker part of the dust trail, resulting in a Lyrid meteor storm. In 1982, amateur astronomers counted 90 Lyrids per hour. A stronger storm occurred in 1803, observed by a journalist in Richmond, Virginia:

"Shooting stars. This electrical [sic] phenomenon was observed on Wednesday morning last at Richmond and its vicinity, in a manner that alarmed many, and astonished every person that beheld it. From one until three in the morning, those starry meteors seemed to fall from every point in the heavens, in such numbers as to resemble a shower of sky rockets..."[5]

[edit] Notes and references

  1. ^ a b "Lyrids" (in English). Meteor Showers Online. pp. 1. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
  2. ^ Arter, T. R.; Williams, I. P. (1997). "The mean orbit of the April Lyrids". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 289 (3): 721–728. Retrieved 2007-11-02.
  3. ^ Some sources claims it was March 16, which can't be right. First, March 16 they claimed was actually in proleptic Gregorian calendar; Second, it was not in summer as original text have described clearly.
  4. ^ Sinnott, Roger W. (2008). "Meteors - April's Lyrid Meteor Shower" (in English). Sky and Telescope. pp. 1. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
  5. ^ a b "the Lyrid meteor shower" (in English). 2008. pp. 1. Retrieved 2008-08-05.

References and external links

the Eyjafjallajökull Ukulele Song / Aljazeera pronounces Eyjafjallajökull because you can't unless you're Björk Guðmundsdóttir

sound ON

click HERE

19 April 2010

First Day Issue / Postalö Vleeptron / Eyjafjallajökull / BA8708 CANCELLED DUE TO VOLCANIC ASH / Today's Reading: Job 38: 18-32

Click images for larger view.
TOP: Bob's first faux postage stamps.

Copyright (c) 2010
Robert B. Merkin
All Rights Reserved

First Day Issue / Postalö Vleeptron

speakers: ON
right-click: OPEN IN NEW TAB


Photographs Copyright (c) 2010 by Thomson Reuters


The perforations contain colors sampled from the photo of the ash cloud. They are the palette for spray-painting and defacing the stamp and the Departures board. (The photo of Eyjafjallajökull and its ash cloud is not defaced.)

[My first faux postage stamp,

Youth Colors Our Urban Spaces"
/ PostYankee

is at the top of this post.

On Vleeptron, postage is free for handwritten postcards, and if you send a particularly beautiful or pretty or funny or happy or heartbreaking or interesting postcard, Postalo Vleeptron pays you some money, to encourage everyone to make and send beautiful, pretty, funny, happy, heartbreaking, interesting postcards. So the stamp contains no denomination number.


The Vleeptron High Non-Junk Science Council, Agence-Vleeptron Presse (A-VP), and Postalo Vleeptron wish to apologize for skipping the last few loud, noisy, smelly, terrifying Earth volcanos.

Researchers with the Hoon-Vleeptron-Yobbo Vulcanological Institute @ Hoople ( HVYVI@Hoople ) predicted that The Real Large One was coming, and advised us to ignore smaller crap in Pacifica and South America, and put all the $$$$ on

14 April 2010

at Kick Em Jenny's Volcano Betting Pokerdrinksalon & Brothel in W
innemucca, Nevada USA. Jenny paid off at 61,440 to 1, and I'll soon be riding that new retro Triumph Bonneville, dining on Atlantic lobster, and knocking back Hennessy Paradis like it was Fanta. Watch for me as my college cheerleader friends carry me around town on a palanquin.


This gave geophysicists evidence that magma was pouring from underneath the crust into the magma chamber of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano and that pressure stemming from the process caused the huge crustal displacement at Þorvaldseyri farm.[10] The seismic activity continued to increase and from 3–5 March, close to 3,000 earthquakes were measured at the epicentre of the volcano.

The eruption on 27 March 2010

The eruption is thought to have begun on 20 March 2010, about 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) east of the top crater of the volcano in a popular hiking region called Fimmvörðuháls. This first eruption, in the form of a fissure vent, did not occur under the glacier and was smaller in scale than had been thought by some geologists.

On 14 April 2010 Eyjafjallajökull resumed erupting after a brief pause, this time from the top crater in the centre of the glacier, causing meltwater floods (also known as jökulhlaup) to rush down the nearby rivers, and requiring 800 people to be evacuated.[11] This eruption was explosive in nature and is estimated to be ten to twenty times larger than the previous one in Fimmvörðuháls. This second eruption threw volcanic ash several kilometres up in the atmosphere which led to air travel disruptions in northwest Europe starting on 15 April 2010, including the closure of airspace over most of Europe.[12][13]


Eyjafjallajökull has melted a lot of the glacier (
jökull), causing floods and lahars, destroying a bridge and breaking The Ring Road in the southeast volcanic region. You can still get from the Faroe Island ferry terminal on Iceland's east coast, to Reykjavik on the west coast, but the bus has to take the northern up-semicircle Ring Road route, and approach Reykjavik from the north -- necessitating a toll ride (pricey) through the World's Longest Auto Tunnel in a Seismically Active Area Under a Fiord. Always a real thrill during active seismic periods, like Now.

I hate busses but I'd happily pay mucho dinero to take that one; it's about a 6-hour schlep, probably more like 8 or 10 hours this week, jammed into a window seat next to Lars.

But Vleeptron's charter commitment to VOLCANOS!!! is undiminished, especially now since
HVYVI@Hoople has made Bob the 9th wealthiest humanoid in the Milky Way and the nearby Dwingeloo-2 Galaxy, which is where the planets Vleeptron, Yobbo, Hoon, Mollyringwald and Björkguðmundsdóttir are. (I have a holiday time-share in Ciudad Vleeptron a half-block from the Shoe Mirrors Underway station.)

I don't think Eyjafjallajökull has killed anybody yet. If anybody expects nasty volcanos, it's Icelanders, who have 1000 years of surviving and failing to survive the eruptions and lahars and red-hot night-glowing lava advances and pyroclastic events of their many mass-murderous volcanos.

If you ever look up at the top of a volcano and see a Pyroclastic Event starting, you have just enough time to think of Mom. Maybe, if you're quick, nimble and fearless, two last puffs of a Gaulois or Marlboro. As they say in the Army or Navy: The Smoking Lamp is lit, smoke 'em if you got 'em. Gathering speed as they roll down the volcano toward you are 3000-degree (Celsius or Fahrenheit, doesn't matter) boulders the size of cars, surrounded by a superheated poison gas cloud.

The United States Geological Service published a 1000-page book, gorgeously rich with tables and photographs and maps and nomographs and satellite images, containing everything the USGS learned from the eruption of Mount St. Helens volcano in the state of Washington. The huge book is dedicated to the memory of David Alexander Johnston (1949 – May 18, 1980), the USGS vulcanologist who perished manning an observation post 6 miles / 10 kliks from ground zero.

He had just enough time to grab the microphone and yell: "Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!"


Please Leave a Comment if you know the Icelandic phrase for "FLEE FOR YOUR LIVES!!!!!!!!!" I've been to Iceland twice, and I doubt if most Icelanders will pause to translate it into proper English for me as they scream and shriek it running past me down the streets of Reykjavik toward the harbor. It could be a handy phrase to know.

How I wish I were there right now. Even if I were crazy enough to try -- and I am that crazy -- Eyjafjallajökull itself has made that impossible. Can't fly to Iceland, and can't fly to Denmark. If I could get to Denmark, Eyjafjallajökull isn't bothering the Denmark-Faroe-Iceland public ferry. But I can't get to Denmark.

Now that everybody knows about The Big E, Kick Em Jenny's Volcano Betting Pokerdrinksalon & Brothel in Winnemucca is offering odds of 5.2 to 1 that Katla, E's neighbor volcano, will pop, and louder and longer and more violently than E. That's been the historical pattern for the 1000 years Icelanders have been closely observing and fleeing for their lives from their volcanos. They seem to be connected deep underground -- somewhere near Hell -- first E pops, and that triggers K, usually a worse event than E's Freak Show of Fear (Phobos), Panic (Deimos) and Destruction. Phobos and Deimos are the Moons and attendant godlings of Mars.

Keep clicking on VleeptronZ for the Internet's most accurate predictions of superviolent volcanic eruptions, sure winners at the Pokerdrinksalon & Brothel.

Prayer is Science's state-of-the-art optimal response to an erupting volcano. In lieu of Prayer, Vleeptron reads today from the Book of Job, first from the Authorized King James Version (1611), then from the Statenvertaling ("translation of the States," or Authorized Version) of 1637.

Nobody's sure anymore, but Mazzaroth is believed to be the ancient Hebrew word for the Zodiac. God speaketh to Job:

* * *

Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all.
By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth?
Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder;
To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man;
To satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth?
Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew?
Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it?
The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.
Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?
Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?

* * *

Zijt gij met uw verstand gekomen tot aan de breedte der aarde? Geef het te kennen, indien gij dit alles weet.
Waar is de weg, daar het licht verdeeld wordt, en de oostenwind zich verstrooit op de aarde?
Wie deelt voor den stortregen een waterloop uit, en een weg voor het weerlicht der donderen?
Om te regenen op het land, waar niemand is, op de woestijn, waarin geen mens is;
Om het woeste en het verwoeste te verzadigen, en om het uitspruitsel der grasscheutjes te doen wassen.
Heeft de regen een vader, of wie baart de druppelen des dauws?
Uit wiens buik komt het ijs voort, en wie baart den rijm des hemels?
Als met een steen verbergen zich de wateren, en het vlakke des afgrond wordt omvat.
Kunt gij de liefelijkheden van het Zevengesternte binden, of de strengen des Orions losmaken?
Kunt gij de Mazzaroth voortbrengen op haar tijd, en den Wagen met zijn kinderen leiden?

You ain't seen nothin' yet! / Eyjafjallajökull might tickle KATLA!!!

Click on Reuters images to enlarge.


by Vleeptron Dude


will fuck you up bigtime
whether you're foreign
or a local

if you're a local
(like Björk Guðmundsdóttir)
there's not much to say
about Eyjafjallajökull
except FLEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

from Chicago to Warsaw
from Heathrow to Hamburg
from Memphis to Mobile
from Natchez to St. Joe
wherever the four winds blow
just cancelled your flight

from Tropic of Cancer
from Arctic to North Pole
just closed the Atlantic

will open it again
whenever it fucking feels like it

but you can't do a thing
to stop Eyjafjallajökull
from fucking you up

got our vaccinations!
got the reservations!
for Disneyland
for EuroDisney
for Vegas or Vienna!


whispers Eyjafjallajökull

you can fling a virgin
(not Björk Guðmundsdóttir
she's got sonanddóttir)
into Eyjafjallajökull's crater
that might work

volcanos love virgins
and vulcanologists agree:
after sex with a virgin
will stop smoking
and go back to sleep

* * *

Here is the BBC Pronunciation Unit's guide on how to saw the glacier's name. Eyjafjallajökull (or Eyafallajökull) is pronounced AY-uh-fyat-luh-YOE-kuutl (-uh) , that is -ay as in day, -fy as in few, -oe as in French coeur, -uu as in boot, the -tl as in atlas. The (-uh) is "a" as in ago.


Dear Robert

I am unaware of such radiation measurements having been performed on this eruption plume.

Data released by the Earth Science Institute concerning the eruption can be found here,112

More information - including chemistry - can be found in the icelandic version of the web page above. I can inform that the composition of the ash is silica oversaturated trachyandesite. So, intermediate to evolved. In comparison, the ash and lava flows from the earlier flank eruption at fimmvorduhals was alkali olivine basaltic (transitional to slightly undersaturated). So, much more primitive in composition than what is presently being erupted from the summit crater. The source for the basaltic magma erupted at fimmvorduhals is deep-seated (15-20 km), while the trachyandesite is very shallow (2-3 km).

Provided that the eruption will be over by summer, it will surely be interesting for you to come to Iceland and study the effects of these eruptions. Og major concern is that the eruption will be long-lasted and/or that it will trigger its bigger neighbor, Katla, the most vicious volcano in Iceland. The two systems seem connected at depth, and historically Eyjafjalla eruptions have been followed by more devastating Katla eruptions.

Best wishes,

Morten Riishuus

Morten S. Riishuus, M.Sc., Ph.D.
Nordic Volcanological Centre, Institute of Earth Sciences
Askja, University of Iceland
Sturlugata 7, IS-101 Reykjavik,
Iceland landline: +354 525 4489 cell: +354 618 4175 fax: +354 562 9767

14 April 2010

my Yota my Technical / Lo-Tek Rulez! / difference between hay & straw / long wars & non-state actors / Depleted Uranium

Click image, maybe bigger.
Maybe smaller.
Maybe stays the same size.

Okay, I lied. I don't drive a Technical anymore. Now I drive a Honda International Space Station 4x4 SUV that has a 400-page instruction book. And plays little tricks on me, like the manufacturer designed elves and trolls and gremlins in it. Twice its electric doorlocks have taken it upon themselves to lock the car with my keys laughing at me on the inside and my violently angry ass outside, for malevolent reasons known only to the trolls. I now wear a very expensive copy of the key on a lanyard around my neck. (The key's cheap enough and simple enough to copy, but without the $$$ coded electronic chip, it can only unlock the door, but the engine won't start.)

I donated my beloved fun Technical, one of the very Funnest vehicles of my life, to the Smith Vocational and Agricultural School's farm program. Their pickup (a Chevy, I think) was on the verge of Irreversible Machine Death.

I'm afraid to ask if my beloved Yota is still hauling hay, straw (I don't know the difference, but there's a difference, if you know the difference, Leave A Comment) and manure for the Ag students, or if it finally died.

But with this vehicle, the odds are, even when driven and horribly abused by evil moron unsupervised teenagers, and with the help of the school's Automotive Department (which repairs and maintains Northampton's emergency vehicles), my Yota is still schlepping farm drek for the Ag students, who keep dairy cows. (They used to keep egg-laying chickens, and I loved their brown local eggs, but they had some rough financial times and they had to get rid of the egg flock.)

When I drove it to the Automotive Department garage early one morning, before the teacher showed up, the auto students surrounded my truck, and began to make ooo-ing and awwww-ing noises of adoration. "A Yoda! It's a Yoda!" Teenage boy motorhedz thought Bob'S ride was phat and awesome, teenage boys thought Bob's 4x4 pickup truck was Way Cool. (There were two girl students working in the garage, but they didn't come out to drool all over my pickup.)

When I told them I was donating it to the school, one of the boys tried to buy it quick on the spot for cash, and couldn't understand why I was giving away a perfectly good Yota.

They told me why they love Toyota 4 x 4 pickups.

I told them about Technicals. Just like my Yota, but with a 50-caliber machine gun mounted in the flatbed. They thought that was very cool.

* * *

This thread on my favorite e-list, IonizingRadiationAffacianadi, began with a news article about the recent progress made in hardening tank armor by a skin of depleted uranium (DU) sandwiched inside steel. DU is more dense, hard and massive than iron (steel) and lead. DU bullets and artillery shells do more damage, are more penetrating, are harder to defend against. DU armor is tougher and harder to penetrate.

For bullets and artillery shells,

F = MA
Force = Mass x Acceleration

so if the density of DU is greater than the density of traditional lead

metal ....... density
......... (kg/meter³)
copper ......... 8930
bronze .. 7700 - 8920
iron ........... 7850
steel ... 7480 - 8000
lead .......... 11340
uranium ....... 18900
plutonium ..... 19800
Table 1.

then the impact "punch" of a DU bullet or artillery shell or flechette will be greater than the same size ordinance of traditional lead.

And it's not very radioactive. It's depleted.

(I wouldn't sleep on it or wear DU jewelry or underwear, though.)

The USA and NATO military alliance have been shifting dramatically to DU weapons, and already the world has two or three, maybe more, battlefields with a new signature: the low-level but ubiquitous and lingering radioactivity and chemical toxicity of Depleted Uranium, much of it pulverized in powder form. After the soldiers leave, the local civilians have to keep living in and near these special areas.

Verdun is a battlefield well worth a visit; because the area was so devastated after the battles of 1916 it was declared a Zone Rouge after the War -- so destroyed and with so many munitions still around that unlike the Somme and Flanders, the villages that had been destroyed were not rebuilt. Hence there are a lot of features still to see, and the sites of the destroyed villages themselves are particularly moving. Verdun was the scene of one of the bloodiest and most intense battles of the Great War. One infantry soldier wrote, "If you haven't seen Verdun, you haven't seen anything of war."

Peace isn't just the cessation of military activities. War has irreversible consequences, all bad.

Anyway, after the post about DU in tank armor, a very interesting and knowledgable and accomplished guy opined:

----- Original Message -----
From: cbver_eh
Sent: Sunday, April 04, 2010 3:04 PM
Subject: [IonizingRadiationAffacianadi] Re: Depleted uranium armour

65 tons, over $1 million apiece and totally useless in anti-insurgency operations.

Bob replies:

Yeah, tanks are evolving into much better tanks -- but the nature of warfare and the nature of the threat "tank nations" face have changed radically. I don't see the extinction of tanks, but I see them as being more and more marginalized and no longer of central importance in the warfare we'll actually be encountering.

In the 1980s Libya invaded Chad, its neighbor to the south, with conventional European-manufactured tanks. Since World War II, tanks had been regarded as the perfect mobile weapon of the desert.

Chad met the invading tanks with what clearly seemed a pathetic, laughable response: Toyota 4x4 pickups -- just like mine, but with a 50-caliber machine gun mounted in the flatbed.

The Toyotas dramatically outmaneuvered tanks, literally ran circles around them, and managed to disable and destroy them, eventually driving the conventional tank force out of Chad and back to Libya. They do double-duty as "Jeeps," as personnel carriers, and bring light, cheap anti-tank rocket weapons within striking range of the slow, lumbering tanks. A hit to the tracks puts the tank out of service.

Toyota pickups used in lo-tek Third World combat acquired the term "techicals." They were the most sophisticated weaponry used by Mogadishu's warlords which forced a large US-led military force with Blackhawk helicopters out of Somalia in 1993.

Technicals are cheap (I can afford one, that's cheap), and the Toyota in particular has earned a reputation of being nearly indestructible. (BBC's "Top Gear" has an episode in which the car guys try to destroy one by abusive driving through wild terrain -- and can't.) A military force -- "non-state actor" -- faces no international restrictions or bans on buying pre-owned Toyotas.

When combat ends, tanks have no other uses; the Toyotas go back to the farm and a limitless range of civil uses and transport.

When they break, they're put back in service by ordinary auto mechanics. Tanks and helicopters require expensive maintenance and repair support systems, usually far from the battlefield. Hi-tek weaponry is hors de combat for weeks. The Toyota is back in battle
in a few hours.

Finally there is the financial drain on an industrial superpower and its allies which wage war with a conventional hi-tek military, a major bleeding of the economy of a combatant engaged in a "long war" against lo-tek non-state actors.

In open societies, the drain shows up in increased taxes, diversion of economic activity from profit production to military weaponry, and destabilizing deficits -- even if popular political opposition to the long war doesn't significantly materialize.

The enemy pays cash for pre-owned Toyotas. Western hi-tek militaries raise taxes for DU-armored tanks, IED-hardened Hummers, A-10s, helicopters, Predator drones, and their necessary support systems and extensive and expensive specialized training requirements. (I can drive a technical.)

We're certainly right to demand the best weaponry for our combat forces. But in our weaponry choices and long-term development, are we still fighting World War II and preparing for a Soviet Cold War tank invasion of Germany, while the actual enemies we'll encounter for the next decades keep victory out of our grasp at the used Toyota lot and the discount Big Box hardware store?


12 April 2010

NostraCHpatus predicts World Cup winner: BRAZIL! Again!

Fred, while I got you on the line ...

In 2006, Vleeptron's Mensch-on-the-ground in Switzerland told me to bet my life savings on Brazil for the World Cup.

That's why I live in a bus station now.

So who's the favorite for this year's World Cup? I need to get out of this bus station.

Monday, 12 April, 2010
Anonymous patfromch said...

You have to put that dagger in my heart for the rest of my life, eh ? Poor Pat is reponsible for Vleeptron's current state, my word indeed. How was I to know that Brazil had the worst team selection for the World Cup ever ?

Too early to make any predictions, but the teams that will certainly make an effort will include Brazil, Argentina, Germany, France and Italy, but you never know, there will be a few surprised along the way...(The swiss will be glad if they pass the first round)

Monday, 12 April, 2010
Blogger Vleeptron Dude said...

I know my USA always fields a team, even though we don't know the proper name of the game ... How are the Yanks doing this year? Any standout players?

So many American kids have been learning and playing this game for the last 15-20 years that our politicians have named a desirable voter bloc: Soccer Moms, suburban mothers who drive their kids to soccer practice in SUVs. They're prosperous, politically active, and can be lured to the voting booth by anyone who promises a happier future and free orthodontia for their precious soccer kids.

Sarah Palin (from Alaska) calls herself a Hockey Mom. At a big Republican national get-together last week, she tied for 3rd place as a possible nominee for president in 2012.

Okay, I will bet my life savings on Brazil again because you told me to. The final games will be in South Africa, right?

Monday, 12 April, 2010

02 April 2010

Lo! There *IS* something new under the Sun! / copernicium = Element 112 named for Copernicus / It's Hot Stuff!

Post to "Basement & Garage Ionizing Radiation Afficionadi":


This is hot off the press and down and dirty.

The IUPAC announcement is perfectly trustworthy, but contains few of the physics and chemistry details.

This isn't the moment of discovery of element 112, but rather the occasion of settling a dispute over who gets credit for discovering it, and naming it -- the credited discoverers get the privilege of naming it.

The Wikipedia wiki has physics and chemistry details ... but its trustworthiness is largely a function of the wiki author. But for now, this is the best and quickest skinny there is.



International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry

Last update: 29 March 2010

Element 112 is Named Copernicium

IUPAC has officially approved the name copernicium, with symbol Cn, for the element of atomic number 112. Priority for the discovery of this element was assigned, in accordance with the agreed criteria, to the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI) (Center for Heavy Ion Research) in Darmstadt, Germany. The team at GSI proposed the name copernicium which has now been approved by IUPAC. Sigurd Hofmann, leader of the GSI team stated that the intent was to "salute an influential scientist who didn't receive any accolades in his own lifetime, and highlight the link between astronomy and the field of nuclear chemistry."

The name proposed by the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI) lies within the long tradition of naming elements to honor famous scientists. Nicolaus Copernicus was born on 19 February 1473, in Torún, Poland and died on 24 May 1543, in Frombork/Frauenburg also in Poland. His work has been of exceptional influence on the philosophical and political thinking of mankind and on the rise of modern science based on experimental results. During his time as a canon of the Cathedral in Frauenburg, Copernicus spent many years developing a conclusive model for complex astronomical observations of the movements of the sun, moon, planets and stars. His work published as “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, liber sixtus” in 1543 had very far reaching consequences. Indeed the Copernican model demanded major changes in the view of the world related to astronomy and physical forces and well as having theological and political consequences. The planetary system introduced by Copernicus has been applied to other analogous systems in which objects move under the influence of a force directed towards a common centre. Notably, on a microscopic scale this is the Bohr model of the atom with its nucleus and orbiting electrons.

The Recommendations will be published in the March issue of the IUPAC journal Pure and Applied Chemistry and is available online at Pure Appl. Chem., 2010, Vol. 82, No. 3, pp. pp 753-755 (doi: 10.1351/PAC-REC-09-08-20). Priority of claims to the discovery of the element of atomic number 112 was determined by a joint working party of independent experts drawn from the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP). The group’s report was published in July 2009, Pure Appl. Chem., 2009, Vol. 81, No. 7, pp. 1331-1343 (doi: 10.1351/PAC-REP-08-03-05). The Joint Working Party will issue a second report, dealing with claims for the discovery of elements with atomic numbers in the range 113 to 118, in the near future.

IUPAC was formed in 1919 by chemists from industry and academia. For more than 90 years, the Union has succeeded in fostering worldwide communications in the chemical sciences and in uniting academic, industrial and public sector chemistry in a common language. IUPAC is recognized as the world authority on chemical nomenclature, terminology, standardized methods for measurement, atomic weights and many other critically evaluated data. More information about IUPAC and its activities is available at

For questions, contact Dr. Terrence Renner, Executive Director, at .


Copernicium is a synthetic radioactive chemical element with the symbol Cn and atomic number 112. The element was previously known by the IUPAC systematic element name ununbium (pronounced /uːnˈuːnbiəm/ ( listen)[1] oon-OON-bee-əm), with the symbol Uub. It was first created in 1996 by the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI).

Copernicium is currently the highest-numbered element to be officially recognised by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). The most stable isotope discovered to date is 285Cn with a half-life of ≈30 s, although evidence exists that 285Cn may have a nuclear isomer with a much longer half-life of 8.9 min. In total, about 75 atoms of copernicium have been detected using various nuclear reactions.[2] Recent experiments suggest that copernicium behaves as a typical member of group 12, demonstrating properties consistent with a volatile metal.[3]

Official discovery

Copernicium was first created on February 9, 1996, at the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI) in Darmstadt, Germany by Sigurd Hofmann, Victor Ninov et al.[4] This element was created by firing accelerated zinc-70 nuclei at a target made of lead-208 nuclei in a heavy ion accelerator. A single atom (the second has subsequently been dismissed) of copernicium was produced with a mass number of 277.[4]

20882Pb + 7030Zn → 278112Cn → 277112Cn + 10n

In May 2000, the GSI successfully repeated the experiment to synthesise a further atom of Cn-277.[5][6] This reaction was repeated at RIKEN using the GARIS set-up in 2004 to synthesise two further atoms and confirm the decay data reported by the GSI team.[7]

The IUPAC/IUPAP Joint Working Party (JWP) assessed the claim of discovery by the GSI team in 2001[8] and 2003.[9] In both cases, they found that there was insufficient evidence to support their claim. This was primarily related to the contradicting decay data for the known isotope 261Rf. However, between 2001 and 2005, the GSI team studied the reaction 248Cm(26Mg,5n)269Hs, and were able to confirm the decay data for 269Hs and 261Rf. It was found that the existing data on 261Rf was for an isomer,[10] now designated 261a Rf.

In May 2009, the JWP reported on the claims of discovery of element 112 again and officially recognised the GSI team as the discoverers of element 112.[11] This decision was based on recent confirmation of the decay properties of daughter nuclei as well as the confirmatory experiments at RIKEN.[12]


After acknowledging their discovery, the IUPAC asked the discovery team at GSI to suggest a permanent name for ununbium.[13][14] On 14 July 2009, they proposed copernicium with the element symbol Cp, after Nicolaus Copernicus "to honor an outstanding scientist, who changed our view of the world."[15] IUPAC delayed the official recognition of the name, pending the results of a six-month discussion period among the scientific community.[16][17]

Alternative spellings had been suggested to Hofmann, namely "copernicum", "copernium", and "kopernikium" (Kp), and Hofmann has said that the team had discussed the possibility of "copernicum" or "kopernikum", but that they had agreed on "copernicium" in order to comply with current IUPAC rules, which allow only the suffix -ium for new elements.[18][citation needed]

However, it was pointed out that the symbol Cp was previously associated with the name cassiopeium (cassiopium), now known as lutetium (Lu).[19][20] Furthermore, the symbol Cp is also used in organometallic chemistry to denote the ligand cyclopentadiene. For this reason, the IUPAC disallowed the use of Cp as a future symbol, prompting the GSI team to put forward the symbol Cn as an alternative. On February 19, 2010, the 537th anniversary of Copernicus' birth, IUPAC officially accepted the proposed name and symbol.[21][22]

Isotopes and nuclear properties

Target-projectile combinations leading to Z=112 compound nuclei
The table below contains various combinations of targets and projectiles which could be used to form compound nuclei with Z=112.

Target Projectile CN Attempt result
208Pb 70Zn 278Cn Successful reaction
232Th 50Ti 282Cn Reaction yet to be attempted
238U 48Ca 286Cn Successful reaction
244Pu 40Ar 284Cn Reaction yet to be attempted
248Cm 36S 284Cn Reaction yet to be attempted
249Cf 30Si 279Cn Reaction yet to be attempted

Cold fusion

This section deals with the synthesis of nuclei of copernicium by so-called "cold" fusion reactions. These are processes which create compound nuclei at low excitation energy (~10–20 MeV, hence "cold"), leading to a higher probability of survival from fission. The excited nucleus then decays to the ground state via the emission of one or two neutrons only.

208Pb(70Zn,xn)278-xCn (x=1)

The team at GSI first studied this reaction in 1996 and reported the detection of two decay chains of 277Cn.[4] In a review of the data in 2000, the first decay chain was retracted. In a repeat of the reaction in 2000 they were able to synthesise a further atom. They attempted to measure the 1n excitation function in 2002 but suffered from a failure of the Zn-70 beam. The unofficial discovery of 277Cn was confirmed in 2004 at RIKEN, where researchers detected a further two atoms of the isotope and were able to confirm the decay data for the entire chain.


After the successful synthesis of 277Cn, the GSI team performed a reaction using a 68Zn projectile in 1997 in an effort to study the effect of isospin (neutron richness) on the chemical yield. The experiment was initiated after the discovery of a yield enhancement during the synthesis of darmstadtium isotopes using 62Ni and 64Ni ions. No decay chains of 275Cn were detected leading to a cross section limit of 1.2 pb. However, the revision of the yield for the 70Zn reaction to 0.5 pb does not rule out a similar yield for this reaction.


In 1990, after some early indications for the formation of isotopes of element 112 in the irradiation of a tungsten target with multi-GeV protons, a collaboration between GSI and the University of Jerusalem studied the foregoing reaction. They were able to detect some spontaneous fission activity and a 12.5 MeV alpha decay, both of which they tentatively assigned to the radiative capture product 272Cn or the 1n evaporation residue 271Cn. Both the TWG and JWP have concluded that a lot more research is required to confirm these conclusions.

Hot fusion

This section deals with the synthesis of nuclei of copernicium by so-called "hot" fusion reactions. These are processes which create compound nuclei at high excitation energy (~40–50 MeV, hence "hot"), leading to a reduced probability of survival from fission and quasi-fission. The excited nucleus then decays to the ground state via the emission of 3–5 neutrons. Fusion reactions utilizing 48Ca nuclei usually produce compound nuclei with intermediate excitation energies (~30–35 MeV) and are sometimes referred to as "warm" fusion reactions. This leads, in part, to relatively high yields from these reactions.
238U(48Ca,xn)286-xCn (x=3,4)

In 1998, the team at the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Research began a research program using Ca-48 nuclei in "warm" fusion reactions leading to superheavy elements (SHE's). In March 1998, they claimed to have synthesised the element (two atoms) in this reaction. The product, 283Cn, had a claimed half-life of 5 min, decaying by spontaneous fission (SF).[23]

The long lifetime of the product initiated first chemical experiments on the gas phase atomic chemistry of element 112. In 2000, Yuri Yukashev at Dubna repeated the experiment but was unable to observe any spontaneous fission from 5 min activities. The experiment was repeated in 2001 and an accumulation of eight fragments resulting from spontaneous fission were found in the low-temperature section, indicating that copernicium had radon-like properties. However, there is now some serious doubt about the origin of these results.

In order to confirm the synthesis, the reaction was successfully repeated by the same team in Jan 2003, confirming the decay mode and half life. They were also able to calculate an estimate of the mass of the spontaneous fission activity to ~285 lending support to the assignment.[24]

The team at LBNL entered the debate and performed the reaction in 2002. They were unable to detect any spontaneous fission and calculated a cross section limit of 1.6 pb for the detection of a single event.[25]

The reaction was repeated in 2003–2004 by the team at Dubna using a slightly different set-up, the Dubna Gas Filled Recoil Separator (DGFRS). This time, 283Cn was found to decay by emission of a 9.53 MeV alpha-particle with a half-life of 4 seconds. 282Cn was also observed in the 4n channel.[26]

In 2003, the team at GSI entered the debate and performed a search for the five-minute SF activity in chemical experiments. Like the Dubna team, they were able to detect seven SF fragments in the low temperature section. However, these SF events were uncorrelated, suggesting they were not from actual direct SF of copernicium nuclei and raised doubts about the original indications for radon-like properties.[27] After the announcement from Dubna of different decay properties for 283Cn, the GSI team repeated the experiment in September 2004. They were unable to detect any SF events and calculated a cross section limit of ~ 1.6 pb for the detection of one event, not in contradiction with the reported 2.5 pb yield by Dubna.

In May 2005, the GSI performed a physical experiment and identified a single atom of 283Cn decaying by SF with a short lifetime suggesting a previously unknown SF branch.[28] However, initial work by Dubna had detected several direct SF events but had assumed that the parent alpha decay had been missed. These results indicated that this was not the case.

In 2006, the new decay data on 283Cn was confirmed by a joint PSI-FLNR experiment aimed at probing the chemical properties of copernicium. Two atoms of 283Cn were observed in the decay of the parent 287Uuq nuclei. The experiment indicated that contrary to previous experiments, copernicium behaves as a typical member of group 12, demonstrating properties of a volatile metal.[3]

Finally, the team at GSI successfully repeated their physical experiment in Jan 2007 and detected three atoms of 283Cn, confirming both the alpha and SF decay modes.[29]

As such, the 5 min SF activity is still unconfirmed and unidentified. It is possible that it refers to an isomer, namely 283bCn, whose yield is dependent upon the exact production methods.


The team at FLNR studied this reaction in 2004. They were unable to detect any atoms of element 112 and calculated a cross section limit of 600 fb. The team concluded that this indicated that the neutron mass number for the compound nucleus had an effect on the yield of evaporation residues.[26]

As a decay product

Copernicium has also been observed as decay products of elements 114, 116, and 118 (see ununoctium).

Evaporation Residue Observed Cn isotope
293Uuh, 289Uuq 285Cn
292Uuh, 288Uuq 284Cn
291Uuh, 287Uuq 283Cn
294Uuo, 290Uuh, 286Uuq 282Cn

As an example, in May 2006, the Dubna team (JINR) identified 282Cn as a final product in the decay of ununoctium via the alpha decay sequence.

294118Uuo → 290116Uuh → 286114Uuq → 282112Cn

It was found that the final nucleus undergoes spontaneous fission.[30]

Retracted isotopes

In the claimed synthesis of 293Uuo in 1999 (see ununoctium) the isotope 281Cn was identified as decaying by emission of a 10.68 MeV alpha particle with half-life 0.90 ms. The claim was retracted in 2001 and hence this copernicium isotope is currently unknown or unconfirmed.

Chronology of isotope discovery

Isotope Year discovered discovery reaction
277Cn 1996 208Pb(70Zn,n)
278Cn unknown
279Cn unknown
280Cn unknown
281Cn unknown
282Cn 2004 238U(48Ca,4n)
283Cn 2002 244Pu(48Ca,5n)
283bCn ?? 1998 238U(48Ca,3n)
284Cn 2002 244Pu(48Ca,4n)
285Cn 1999 244Pu(48Ca,3n)
285bCn ? 1999 244Pu(48Ca,3n)

Nuclear isomerism

In the synthesis of 289Uuq and 293Uuh, a 8.63 MeV alpha-decaying activity has been detected with a half-life of 8.9 minutes. Although unconfirmed in recent experiments, it is highly possible that this is associated with an isomer, namely 285bCn.


First experiments on the synthesis of 283Cn produced a SF activity with half-life ~5 min. This activity was also observed from the alpha decay of 287Uuq. The decay mode and half-life were also confirmed in a repetition of the first experiment. However, more recently,283Cn has been observed to undergo 9.52 MeV alpha decay and SF with a half-life of 3.9 s. These results suggest the assignment of the two activities to two different isomeric levels in 283Cn, creating 283aCn and 283bCn. Further research is required to address these discrepancies.

Chemical yields of isotopes
Cold fusion

The table below provides cross-sections and excitation energies for cold fusion reactions producing copernicium isotopes directly. Data in bold represent maxima derived from excitation function measurements. + represents an observed exit channel.

Projectile Target CN 1n 2n 3n
70Zn 208Pb 278Cn 0.5 pb, 10.0, 12.0 MeV
68Zn 208Pb 276Cn <1.2>

Hot fusion

The table below provides cross-sections and excitation energies for hot fusion reactions producing copernicium isotopes directly. Data in bold represents maxima derived from excitation function measurements. + represents an observed exit channel.

Projectile Target CN 3n 4n 5n
48Ca 238U 286Cn 2.5 pb, 35.0 MeV 0.6 pb
48Ca 233U 281Cn <0.6 pb, 34.9 MeV ===========================================

Fission of compound nuclei with Z=112

Several experiments have been performed between 2001 and 2004 at the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions in Dubna studying the fission characteristics of the compound nucleus 286Cn. The nuclear reaction used is 238U+48Ca. The results have revealed how nuclei such as this fission predominantly by expelling closed shell nuclei such as 132Sn (Z=50, N=82). It was also found that the yield for the fusion-fission pathway was similar between 48Ca and 58Fe projectiles, indicating a possible future use of 58Fe projectiles in superheavy element formation.[31]

Theoretical calculations
Evaporation residue cross sections

The below table contains various targets-projectile combinations for which calculations have provided estimates for cross section yields from various neutron evaporation channels. The channel with the highest expected yield is given.

DNS = Di-nuclear system; σ = cross section

Target Projectile CN Channel (product) σmax Model Ref
208Pb 70Zn 278Cn 1n (277Cn) 1.5 pb DNS [32]
208Pb 67Zn 275Cn 1n (274Cn) 2 pb DNS [32]
238U 48Ca 286Cn 4n (282Cn) 0.2 pb DNS [33]
244Pu 40Ar 284Cn 4n (280Cn) 0.1 pb DNS [33]
250Cm 36S 286Cn 4n (282cn) 5 pb DNS [33]
252Cf 30Si 282Cn 3n (279Cn) 10 pb DNS [33]

Chemical properties
Extrapolated chemical properties
Oxidation states

Copernicium is the last member of the 6d series of transition metals and the heaviest member of group 12 (IIB) in the Periodic Table, below zinc, cadmium and mercury. Each of the members of this group show a stable +2 oxidation state. In addition, mercury(I), Hg2+2, is also well known. Copernicium is therefore expected to form a stable +2 state.


The known members of group 12 all react with oxygen and sulfur directly to form the oxides and sulfides, MO and MS, respectively. Mercury(II) oxide, HgO, can be decomposed by heat to the liquid metal. Mercury also has a well known affinity for sulfur. Therefore, copernicium should form an analogous oxide CnO and sulfide CnS.

In their halogen chemistry, all the metals form the ionic difluoride MF2 upon reaction with fluorine. The other halides are known but for mercury, the soft nature of the Hg(II) ion leads to a high degree of covalency and HgCl2, HgBr2 and HgI2 are low-melting, volatile solids. Therefore, copernicium is expected to form an ionic fluoride, CnF2, but volatile halides, CnCl2, CnBr2 and CnI2.

In addition, mercury is well known for its alloying properties, with the concomitant formation of amalgams, especially with gold and silver. It is also a volatile metal and is monatomic in the vapour phase. Copernicium is therefore also predicted to be a volatile metal which readily combines with gold to form a Au-Cn metal-metal bond.

[more at Copernicium wiki]