Chunk of gallium melts in your hand


#1

[Read the post]


#2

I’ve always wanted some of this stuff… hmm… $14…


#3

and is not extremely toxic, like mercury

At least, not that we know yet.

I mean, it’s probably fine, but nobody has drank their tea yet with melting spoons for 40 years straight I’m guessing…


#4

Metallic mercury is not “extremely” toxic, otherwise all the polarography techs would drop like flies.

Granted, it is not healthy, but with reasonable precautions or once-in-a-while exposure it is not the bogeyman people make it. The society got wimpified so badly that hazmat bunnies are called when somebody drops a thermometer.

It feels very interesting when you let it flow from hand to hand, Don’t ask how I know. (Hint: we had polarography as one lab at school.)

If you wannabe toxicologists want something to make your posterior pucker up at the sound of its name, try dimethyl mercury.


#5

one of the few cases were an Iron Stomach has real disadvantages - Gallium corrodes and dissolves most metals :slight_smile:


#6

I thought the spoons were made of bismuth?

EDIT: Wow I got that wrong, unless your hand is a very hot oven.


#7

Yup. Busts up aluminum:

The Disappearing Spoon is discussed in a book of the same name:

So where do you buy chunks of aerogel, anyway?


#8

Close enough. Bismuth alloy. Usually Wood’s metal, or Field’s metal; the latter is for rich wussies that have money to burn (high indium content) and “environmental considerations” (doesn’t contain cadmium, doesn’t contain lead).


#9

Real men make it at home. (Gods, how I envy this guy!)


#10

i thought it was mathematics?

It’s definitely a shame that mercury isn’t safer (though as noted, it’s not as nasty as as people think). Indeed, just last night I was lying in bed pondering firstly whether lying in a pool of (warm) mercury would feel any different to lying in bed. And secondly, whether there was enough mercury in any solar system to make a planet entirely from it. I should probably stop huffing mercury before bed.


#11

Fill a sturdy waterbed with it and the barrier layer will make it safer. Wouldn’t emulate the slippery runny feel of the surface.

You’d just float on the very surface, though. Calculate the displaced amount/proportion from human body weight and mercury and body density.


#12

The narrator read my mind when he asked about doing the same thing with a full can, BUT HE DID NOT SHAKE IT UP FIRST. I mean, isn’t that the sole purpose of full cans of Coke?

Despite this ginormous oversight on his part (some might even say yuge), it’s fascinating how quickly the gallium infiltrates and weakens the structure of the can. What’s to stop me from taking a paint can full of this stuff and dumping it onto any exposed aluminum structure to make it fail?


#13

hopefully your conscience


#14

Yeah, I’m sorry for jumping straight into what could be construed as “terror mode” or whatevs. That said, I was, frankly, amazed at how quickly the stuff acted and with so little visible change or activity. I could see some small “crinkling” in the surface of the can as the gallium did its thing, but nothing that would construe the actual damage being done to the structure of the thing. I’d heard about the low melting point previously, but that structural decay is very cool.


#15

nah, I wrote it tongue-in-cheek and you should read it with this intention. I should have added “except I’m far away” or something similar.


#16

Gallium is pretty damn safe.


#17

Certainly not the TSA! If they were all that was standing between us and air terror, planes would be falling from the sky every week from gallium induced structural failure.


#18

Yes. Elemental Mercury doesn’t have missing electrons and therefore is fairly nonreactive. It’s the mercuric compounds we need to be exceedingly careful with. A Chem researcher was wearing two layers of nitrile gloves and mere drops of the dimethylmercury went right through them and killed her.


#19

Hmm, TSA reminds me of this. Is Gallium for flight-security purposes a liquid?


#20

A famous case. And not the only one.

There had been previous documented cases of death due to dimethylmercury poisoning. In 1865, two English laboratory assistants died several weeks after helping to synthesize dimethylmercury for the first time. In 1972, a 28-year-old chemist in Czechoslovakia had suffered the same symptoms as Wetterhahn after synthesizing 6 kg of the compound.

Hg(CH3)2 is one of the couple things that give me willies.
Imagine six kilograms of the thing.
In a glass bottle.