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When the dust settles, 170-ton dumper trucks close in to scoop up the rocks. They are taken to refineries where rare-earth metals – known in the mining industry as \’unobtainiums\’ because they are so scarce – will be extracted using boiling acid and other toxic chemicals.

Trust the Mail to get such a thing wrong. The point about rare earths is that they are not rare.

And no, the mining industry does not refer to them as \”unobtanium\”. Rare earths perhaps, lanthanides perhaps, possibly even Cerium, Lanthanum and so on.

9 thoughts on “Bwahahahaha”

  1. Brian, follower of Deornoth

    I was under the impression that lanthanides and actinides were rare earths and the others were not, but perhaps you could clarify the jargon for us. Astronomers call all elements other than hydrogen and helium ‘metals’, for example, but the rest of us don’t.

    Tim adds: The actinides, are, well, the actinides. Look at the Mendelev Table. There are two bars at the bottom. Top line (plus Yttrium and Lutetium and sometimes Scandium) are the lanthanides. Second line is the Actinides.

  2. Brian, follower of Deornoth

    Thanks for the tip, Tim.

    Perusing the periodic table one can find Ununbium, Ununtrium, etc, which aren’t rare earths by the standard definition (not being Lanthanides, and being incredibly rare as they don’t actually exist), from which it is only a short step to Unobtainium really, although I wouldn’t want to be thought to be endorsing Mr Cameron’s soppy film on any grounds whatever.

  3. You have no romance in your soul.
    I rember back in the 40s comics etc. the mad scientists had boiling acids and such – I bet they found unobtainium and it was promptly suppresed by the powers that be.

  4. Do student chemists still learn that London Communist Party Needs Promising Subjects Every Good Thursday, Do Help Every Thursday You Like?

    Just wondering. It’s always helped me.

  5. Sorry I’m late, I only got the invite while googling something completely different.

    Anyway, I gather somebody thinks this needs a professional blast?Well, I’m always eager to please:

    To start with I don’t think this reporter was ever at a unobtainium mine. If he had been he wouldn’t have seen any settling dust.

    If the the dust is settling it means the men aren’t working hard enough. Fortunately our Automated Incentive System (MILAN Missiles fitted with (non-)motion sensors) has solved that problem.

    Next: I really want to see a truck that can scoop up 170 tons of dirt? A truck that can carry that load at any reasonable speed is big enough to start with. One that could scoop rock up as well would weigh about five hundred tons and have a top speed of four miles an hour.

    As for all the guff about boiling acid and toxic chemicals in the plant, well, honestly!

    According to what we tell the Department of Trees and Flowers the unobtainium extraction process uses only fresh morning dew and pure mountain air. That’s how we got the exemption from all those pesky emmissions control regulations.

    The only places one might find boiling acid and toxic chemicals are in the staff canteen and the Security Department interview rooms.

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