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Iridium: An Extraterrestrial Element

Last night, I was watching my favorite show, Ancient Aliens. One of the theories they were discussing was the fact that this huge mound in Ohio that is shaped like a Serpent and can only be seen from the sky was built by extraterrestrials. The mound was build at a time when modern science says that there were no people. The mound was also built on the edge of a crater--a site where a meteorite crashed about 300 million or so years ago. Iridium, according to the theory, was a source of fuel for the ET's. Could they have come here to mine for Iridium? This inspired today's blog post.

Two square pieces of gray foil

What exactly is Iridium?

Iridium is an actual chemical element. It's atomic number is 77 and it is a very hard, brittle silvery-white metal in the platinum family. It is the second densest element after Osmium and is the most corrosion resistant metal even at temps as high as 2000 degrees Celcius. Iridium pretty much laughs at the feeble attempts made by acid. Yeah, I could see ET's grabbing this stuff to fix their rockets.

Iridium was named by Smithson Tennant, who discovered the element. He got the inspiration for the name from the Latin word for "iris" which means rainbow. It's many salts are vividly multicolored.  Iridium is more commonly found in meteorites than in the Earth's crust. Gold is at least 40 times more abundant that Iridium, which shows how rare the element is. The Alvarez Hypothesies which theorizes that a huge massive extraterrestrial object killed all the dinosaurs aeons ago came about due to the super high amounts of Iridium in the clay layer at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary -which is the geologic signature marked by a thin band that was dated 66ish million years old.


Uses for Iridium.

Iridium is too brittle to be used alone so it is often mixed with an alloy, a mixture of two or more different elements. Iridium is mostly used to add strength to another element since it is super hard--and it's usually added to platinum. These alloys are used in the production of machine parts, electric contacts that are exposed to high temperatures or dealing with corrosive chemicals. Jewelry can be made from this type of alloy and chances are, that super expensive platinum ring you are wearing has Iridium in it. Also, if you've ever used a fountain pen--the ones that require nibs, then chances are you have probably written with the aid of Iridium--which was also used to make the nibs. 

Iridium is also the name of quite a few satellites out there. You can click here to learn more about Iridium Satellites, their launch dates, and track them. 

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About Unknown

The Gems and Mineral Diva is also known as Johnna Sabri. Johnna learned how to wire wrap gemstones into fashionable jewelry by Grammy Award winning guitarist, Daryl Thompson, son of Eli Lucky Thompson. This site is dedicated to Daryl as he did more than teach Johnna his gift of jewelry design, he became a father to her.
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