Tuesday, March 24, 2009

FLUORITE!!

Tuesday eh? You are probably feeling a little down. The weekend is over and now it’s back to work. Also, your boss hates you and you are probably going to lose your job on Thursday. But not all lost. You know what’s fun to do to on Tuesday? Learning about more geology. Heck, that’s fun to do ANY day, but let’s do it today because come Thursday you probably won’t be able afford the internet. The next crappy high-school marching band in our parade of mineral wonders belongs to a colorful little fella named Fluorite.




I’ve got to be honest, I have very little “factual” information concerning Fluorite. You can’t tell, but spellchecker has to keep spelling it right for me. With that in mind, let’s get ready to learn. As usual, let’s make a list of what we DO know.

1) Fluorite is hard to spell. You want to spell it Florite, but there’s a “u” in it that keeps messing me up.
2) The piece I have is purplish.
3) It’s light. Much lighter than that jerk Magnetite.
4) Ummmm….I can see through it. Kinda.
5) I’m guessing that it contains the element Fluorine cus of the name. Either that or it contains the Flu virus, which I’m hoping is not the case.
6) See #2.

There. That’s all I know off the top of my head. It’s a pretty good list. Let’s look at it in action….




That’s all well and good, but let’s see how it reacts under pressure:















Ah, here we see the truth. Fluorite is a cowardly rock, just sitting there as the smaller toys got squished by the bigger and dustier toy. So sad. Makes you think.

Let’s move on. Fluorite stems from the Latin word “fluere”, which apparently means “to flow”. It turns out that Fluorite melts pretty easy, and the early Latinians could only distinguish it from other shiny, light purple rocks by heating them all up and seeing which one melted first. I imagine this destroyed the Fluorite, but science is like that sometimes. I also don’t know what melted Fluorite looks like. Gooey, probably.

That crazy mineral book says that Fluorite should look like this....




But the piece I have looks like this….



So I’m assuming that this book is stupid-wrong.

Let’s talk money. What can we use this wonderful rock for? Say you wake up tomorrow morning and find that your great aunt has died and left you 123 pounds of Fluorite in her will. How excited should you be? The answer is you shouldn’t be very excited at all. Looks like all they really use Fluorite for is to make hydrofluoric acid, which is useful if you are making some sort of acid monster but significantly less useful (and dangerous) to the majority of regular people. English folks used to collect the stuff cus it was pretty, but it breaks too easily to make jewelry out of. Plus, again, there seems to be a hydrofluoric acid danger.

INTERESTING FLUORITE FACT #1 (of 1)

You know the word “Fluorescent?” It comes from this very mineral! Apparently, in addition to making death-acid, Fluorite can glow under particular conditions (sometimes). Also sometimes it doesn’t. Geology is the biker-gang of the sciences. It doesn’t need your rules.

END INTERSTING FLUORITE FACT #1

I’m going to step aside here for a second and explain an odd little scale the Geology uses. It’s called the Moh’s Hardness Scale, and it’s used to measure how hard a mineral is. You have to try to scratch the mineral with a bunch of odd things, and a hardness is assigned to the mineral based on the softest thing that successfully scratches the mineral in question. For future reference, here it is in all of its glory….

MOHS FASCINATING HARDNESS SCALE THAT IS CONFUSING

1 means you can scratch the mineral with your fingernail.

2 means you can scratch the mineral with your fingernail, but it’s a little harder. (fingernails have a hardness of 2.2! Save that little factoid for a party where you need to sound smart and get the ladies).

3 means you can scratch the mineral with a penny. Good to know.

4 means you can scratch the mineral with a knife. Unless that knife is made out of pennies.

5 means you can scratch the mineral with a knife again, but its harder to do.

6 means you can’t scratch the mineral with a knife.

7 means that you can scratch glass with the mineral. So here we seem to have moved on from finding out what we can use to scratch the mineral to finding out what the mineral can scratch. Awesome!

8 means you can scratch glass with the mineral again, but it’s easier than with a 7. Somehow.

9 means you can use this mineral to cut through glass. Useful if you are planning to rob a museum.

10 means you can use this mineral to cut glass again. But apparently it’s easier than a 7, 8, or 9.

END OF MOHS FASCINATING HARDNESS SCALE THAT IS CONFUSING

As you can see, this scale is pretty relative. Also, again, it’s important to remember that there are variations in every mineral that make it harder or softer than it aught to be. So sometimes this list is true, and sometimes it isn’t. What are you gonna do about it? Nothing, that’s what. You can actually fit most things on this scale, not just minerals. I imagine that blimps are probably somewhere around a 3.5, as I’ve never heard of a blimp crashing due to being struck with a penny. Shoplifting is probably somewhere around 6. A child’s laughter is likely around 1. And so on.

So where does Fluorite (usually) fall on that list? Proceed below…..

4!

That’s right, Fluorite is a 4, meaning that it isn’t scared of pennies, but like most of us it fears knives. Let’s test it out…



It’s true! The Fluorite has defeated Honest Abe.



Looks like Old Moh’s magical scale is safe for now. I would try out a knife, but I would probably cut myself. So we are going to have to just believe that part.

Chemically-speaking, Fluorite is made up of 51.3% Calcium and 48.7% Fluorine. These two elements meet up, go on a few dates, things move too fast, and wham, Fluorite is born.



By now you are all probably eager to get out there and find your own Fluorite. But how do you obtain your own sample of this sometimes green, purple, white, clear, yellow, rose, blue or brown rock? Here’s my secret…









I read a book once that said that Fluorite is all over the place, but I’ve never seen any. I had to buy my piece. Do I regret it? Nah, it was pretty cheap.

Well, that’s 3 pages of somewhat true and boring information concerning Fluorite.

7 comments:

B. said...

sink and over combo, hahah.

Cheetah said...

This post took too long.

Cindy said...

When you wrote, "nails have a hardness of 2.2," I got chills.

Dan said...

I think Cindy likes you.

Cindy said...

Probably.

Cheetah said...

Is it me or the Fluorite she likes?

The Hill said...

Geology has never been so fun! (will I write this on all the posts about rocks? Probably)