Frequently Asked Questions about Cesium and alt.cesium
(Shamelessly stolen from one of Randall Nelson's web pages with updates
Q1. What is the purpose of the newsgroup alt.cesium?
A1. This newsgroup is intended expressly for the discussion, praise,
veneration, and adoration, the posting of songs, poetry, stories, and
parables of and about that most sublime of elements, the almighty Cesium,
among many other off-topic items. Crossposting is aggressively
encouraged; persistent miscreants are netnapped and treated to the
traditional Cesium Enema.
UPDATE : Nuking France into the stone age has become priority NUMBER ONE!
Update : The current dezines of alt.cesium enjoy lively discussions on
other Cesium related topics. These include, but are not limited to :
Spam, Toast, Marmite, Tea and of course, Nuking France!!
Q2. What is Cesium?
Cesium Symbol Cs Atomic number 55 Atomic weight 132.9054
Density @ 293 K 1.873 g/cm3 Atomic volume 71.07 cm3/mol Group
Alkali Met. Discovered 1860 State (s, l, g) s Melting point 301.6
K Boiling point 978 K Heat of fusion 2.092 kJ/mol Heat of
vaporization 67.740 kJ/mol 1st ionization energy 375.7 kJ/mole
Electronegativity 0.79 2nd ionization energy 2421.8 kJ/mole
Electron affinity 45.506 kJ/mole 3rd ionization energy kJ/mole
Specific heat 0.24 J/gK Heat atomization 79 kJ/mole atoms Reaction
with air vigorous, =>CsO2 Reaction with 6M HCl vigorous, =>H2, CsCl
Reaction with 6M HCl vigorous, =>H2, CsCl Reaction with 15M HNO3
vigorous, =>CsNO3 Reaction with 6M NaOH vigorous, =>H2, CsOH
Cesium is the most sublime and electropositive of all true elements. It
was discovered spectroscopically, in mineral water from Durkheim Germany
by Robert Bunsen (of burner fame) and Gustaff Kirchhoff in 1860. The
basis of the discovery was two, beautiful sky-blue lines from which it
takes its name (Latin, caesius, sky-blue). Atomic number 55, Cesium is
the heaviest of the natural alkali metals. Physically, it is a soft metal
or light liquid, pale gold in color when pure, silvery-white otherwise.
It melts at 28.4 C, just below body heat, and boils at 669.3 C. It has a
specific gravity of 1.873, and an atomic weight of 132.9045.
Cesium occurs naturally in the minerals lepidolite and pollucite, the
latter a hydrated aluminum cesium silicate. The richest known deposit
occurs at Bernic Lake Manitoba where pollucite deposits averaging over
20% Cesium are estimated to exceed 300,000 metric tons. (Bernic Lake is
also the site of the annual Cesium festival on February 24 where tons of
Cesium are burned in the snow, and other Cesium madness prevails.) Cesium
can be isolated by electrolysis of the fused cyanide, by vacuum
distillation upon reduction of the chloride by calcium metal, and by
other methods. High purity cesium salts are available for about
$100/pound. According to the CRC 1987-88 handbook of Chemistry and
Physics, the metal costs approximately $25/gram; however some devotees
have reported costs as low as $3/gm for technical grade (99%) metal.
Cesium is an alkali metal, in the same group as lithium, sodium,
potassium, and rubidium, and is similarly reactive, but to a much higher
degree due to its extreme electropositivity. It reacts explosively with
water, and with ice down to -116 C. In air, it catches fire spontaneously
and burns with a brilliant sky-blue flame. (To the uninitiated, the flame
appears purplish rather than blue; however, after sufficient meditation,
study of the holy writs, and blissful hours spent in reverence before
Cesium burning in her naked glory, the true blue nature of her flame is
revealed.) Its hydroxide is the most powerful aqueous base known, and
will eat through glass, flesh, bone, and numerous other substances. Its
International Chillout (IC) competition, though lately it has been
embarassed by rubidium. The greatest use of Cesium tonnage-wise is in the
annual Cesium orgies sponsored by AMSWWBUW.
Q3. What about Fr***ium?
A3. We do not mention the name in alt.cesium, that false element being an
upstart and pretender, vile, depraved, unnatural, and having no staying
power. The longest lived isotope, Fr233 has a half life of only 22
minutes. Try to base a global time standard on that!!!
Q4. What is AMSWWBUW?
A4. AMSWWBUW stands for the Association of Mad Scientists Who Want to
Blow Up the World. It is a highly secretive organization. Its activities
involve large numbers of monkeys and vast quantities of Cesium. Given the
indisputable fact that all persons in direct contact with the
organization have mysteriously vanished from the net, the fewer questions
asked, the better. Most of our information about this shadowy group
derives from one Brendan Dunn, who was instrumental in the formation of
alt.cesium. He, alas, is among the vanished.
Q5. Are there any songs about Cesium?
A5. Many. See ftp/pub/u/nelson/cesium_songs_col at cs.rochester.edu for
an ftp archive. See also Songs of Cesium.
Q6. Where can I get some Cesium?
A6. You probably can't, unless you are a "bona fide institution". If you
are, any number of chemical suppliers will happily
sell you as much as you can afford. For example, ICN (biologicals) lists
99.9% pure Cesium metal at $161.10 per gram. A
bit steep even as Cesium goes (if you're willing to buy in bulk, you
ought to be able to get it for closer to $25 or even $3 a
gram). They'll also sell you ultra pure (99.999%) Cesium Chloride for
$371.95/kg. Call 1-800-334-6999 toll free they say.
Q7. Can I eat Cesium?
Q8. What will happen if I do?
A8. Read the section on the reactions of Cesium with water, and of Cesium
Hydroxide with biological materials. You
should also know that Cesium has been shown to have pronounced
physiological action in experiments with animals, when
administered in large quantities. Hyperirritability, including marked
spasms has been shown to follow the administration of
Cesium in amounts equal to the potassium content of the diet. Total
replacement of dietary potassium with cesium in rats
caused death in 10-17 days. Could explain the AMSWWBUW mystery, though no
reference seem to exist for monkeys.
Q9. Are there any jokes about Cesium?
A9. There is exactly one joke about Cesium. It goes like this. So these
two Cesium atoms are walking down the street. Says
the first Cesium atom, "oh my god! I think I'm missing an electron". Says
the second, "are you sure?" Says the first, "I'm
positive". HAHAHAHAHAHA :]
Q10. Are there any neat Cesium compounds?
A10. Lots. Many of them explode with the slightest provocation or when
thrown into water. For example.
Uses: Chemical curiosity, possible rodenticide
Comments: One of the few known compounds involving a noble gas, a
halogen, and an alaklai metal. Explodes if you look at it cross-eyed.
Properties: Explodes under laser irradiation (and anything else)
Uses: Curiosity, revenge against people with laser pointers.
Comments: Illustrates the +3 oxidation state of iodine, stabilized by the
size of the perchlorate ion. A related compound, Iodine(III) perchlorate
I(ClO4)3 also explodes under laser irradiation.
Physical appearance: Color needles; Deliquesces.
Molecular Weight: 174.93
Melting point: 310 (Yes you can melt it)
Boiling point: Decomposes with evolution of nitrogen
Solubility in cold water 224 gm/100cc
Properties: Poisonous to rats. LD50 about 30 mg/kg Decomposes on heating,
eventually producing metallic cesium and nitrogen. More stable than
sodium and potassium azide.
Molecular weight: 946.3
Melting point: 4.3 C (decomposes)
Description: Consists of Bronze, hexagonal crystals. Analysis shows
presence of Cs11O3 subgroup, hence formula should be written
[Cs11O3]Cs10. Decomposes violently in water to hydroxide, On slow heating
to Cs3O and cesium-rich liquid.
Uses: Photocathodes, Image converters, Rat poison
Comments: One of a series of suboxides of Cesium. Produced by slow
cooling of appropriate stochiometric mixture of metallic Cesium and
Oxygen. Possible due to extreme solubility of oxygen in liquid cesium.
Cesium ozonate (Cesium trioxide)
Molecular Weight: 180.9
Description: Unstable, bright red compound. Strong oxidizer. Decomposes
with release of Oxygen. Reacts vigorously with water. Highest known oxide
of Cesium, at the opposite end of the spectrum from Cs7O. Prepared by
reacting Cesium or its lower oxides with ozone.
Uses: Curiosity, Exploding red ink.
Etc. etc. etc.
Q11. What are some popular Cesium products?
Cesium Crispies (snap, crackle, Kaboom!!!)
Cesium Shake (Two scoops of vanilla ice cream, 1/4 cup Cesium, blend)
Cesium Condoms (for a bang-up good time)
Cesium Cooler (eutectic mix of Cesium, potassium and sodium, 14.5% Cs,
57.5% K, 28% Na, melting point -78 degrees Celsius - the lowest melting
metallic composition known. Bottoms up!!!
Q12. What should I do if I meet Cesium in dark alley?