Sunday, June 5, 2011

Colour Coded Phosphorus

I see the element Phosphorus has had the star treatment by being highlighted in a Science blog of the Guardian newspaper (GrrlScientist). Just like a star however it would appear that the image has been airbrushed a bit.

This is what you see if you go to the website today:

This is what you see if you look in the Google cache for the original post on June 3:

To my eyes the original version seems much more authoritative, interesting and educational.

Manufacturing Peak Silver

For a number of completely sentimental reasons I carry a 1961 Canadian silver dollar attached to my key chain. I have had it for some time and it is smaller than a hubcap but bigger than a walnut and makes for a conspicuous anchor for my keys.


I don't know if anyone other than Th'Gaussling would have noticed recently but the price of silver has jumped dramatically for sometime and is today worth US $35 / oz. Which means that the coin that I carry around has more than $ 20 worth of scrap silver in it. Much more than the $ 5 it was worth as a collection piece.

Interestingly this means that the scrap metal price far exceed the collection value for the coin and it turns out that right now coin collectors all over North America are scrapping their precious coin collections or at least trying to figure out when silver will peak (in my opinion it has already so the dilettantes should cash in their chips now). Silver madness is a complex thing but it has happened before when the Hunt brothers tried to corner the world silver market and silver hit $ 50 / oz. Some coin collectors have observed that the scrapping of silver coins in the 1970s dramatically increased the value of silver coins by increasing their rarity. All I know is that the discovery of the odd piece of silver in pocket change was the foundation of many a small child's coin collection when I grew up and I never see silver in my change now ... ever.

Anyway, I noticed that CoinNews.net has a conversion calculator for silver coins to get people to turn in their coins for the scrap value. The thing that prompted me out of my blogger hole (I am in the middle of organizing a conference and this is a soul saving digression, I could care less if anyone is reading my nearly dead blog, this is a necessary distraction from colleagues that promise big and then disappear) is the graph that accompanies the calculator. This is today's:

Wow, that is a dramatic increase in the value of silver I need to hustle my poke of hoarded silver coins down to the refinery now to get my cash before this silver bubble pops ... but wait a minute there is something odd about the x axis ...
So in a classic example from "How to Lie with Statistics" they have given a non-linear axis to dramatically accentuate the change in the price of silver. What is kind of sad is that this subterfuge is not necessary the change is pretty dramatic but someone decided that it wasn't dramatic enough. Huh. Anyway, I'm a gonna keep my key fob right where it is 'cause at heart I'm just a big old soft romantic. No really I hope everyone melts their coins so that when the dust clear those of us that kept our coins are left with coins that have a higher collection value. Nothing personal, just business.

Anyway, as I freak out over this conference I may be nosing around my old blog just to think about something different. See ya.

About Me

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For a while it was all about research and then it was all about teaching and now it's all about trying to find a balance while teaching at a small liberal arts and science university.