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  • Welcome! You're just in time to learn about lanthanides!

  • [SciShow theme]

  • It's a- it's the periodic table of elements, it's- it's wonderful.

  • You got your noble gases over here, and hydrogen, the building block of everything in the universe over here,

  • you got your alkali metals and gold and other lovely regular metals in the middle here.

  • What is this?

  • What are these elements that aren't.. in.. They're not in the table proper, they're like, in their own table.

  • What makes you guys so special? Those are the lanthanides on top and the actinides on the bottom.

  • And they're down there because they can't be trusted around the other elements!

  • That's not true. They actually could be a part of the table,

  • but if they became part of the table, the table would be too big to put on a piece of paper,

  • so they sort of shove them down to the bottom. Basically, like Alaska.

  • You always sort of like disembody Alaska

  • and bring it down because, it's just too big. You gotta- it just big... gotta break it off.

  • They are actually kind of crazy actinides are, uh,

  • they contain all the elements that we make nuclear weapons out of. But the lanthanides on top there.

  • Uh, they're actually responsible for a lot of the coolest things that we have as 21st century citizens:

  • laptops, cell phones, plasma screen TVs, solar panels, wind turbines,

  • the catalytic converter on your car, that makes your car not so horrible for the environment.

  • And also the pollution control equipment that we stick on top of big, gigantic coal-fired power plants

  • All that stuff is made possible by our friends, the lanthanides.

  • Yeah! Rare-earth elements for president!

  • Oh, hold on a sec.

  • Uh, yeah, mhm. N- no!

  • [bleep]

  • Because our rare-earth Lanthanide friends are so frickin' awesome of course,

  • they have to have a dark side.

  • Despite their name, a lot of rare-earths are really common.

  • They're called rare because they're hard to find in large concentrations.

  • Th-they like to mix together with a bunch of other minerals and elements underground,

  • there- there's never, like, a vein full of Indium.

  • So extracting rare-earths, and especially refining them, is a huge pain in the ass.

  • In addition to giving you a huge pain in the ass,

  • refining rare-earths also gives you, uh, mountains of low-level radioctive waste

  • And I mean, who wants to deal with that.

  • I'm actually going to give you a second to think about who would want to deal with all that.

  • Yeah, it's China.

  • In the past 20 years we've become extremely dependent on rare-earth metals for our, you know, everything.

  • And since none of us want gigantic piles of toxic waste dumped in our backyards,

  • we've left about 95% of the processing of rare-earth metals to Chinese refineries,

  • which are hardly regulated at all, and in some cases just totally illegal.

  • And believe me when I say that they're making an unholy godforsaken mess over there.

  • I'm talking giant sizzling lakes of acidic waste.

  • Oh God, I can't breathe. [heayy breathing]

  • But the Chinese are also totally making bank off of all of this and they're also wielding a lot of political power.

  • Like, if China got angry at the Unites States tomorrow,

  • they could be like, "No more neodymium for you!"

  • And then we wouldn't have any neodymium, which would mean, like, no new wind turbines or uh, like

  • high-powered electric motors for- for hybrid cars.

  • So other countries, including the United States, have cautiously begun building their

  • much more expensive, much cleaner rare-earth refineries.

  • Probably just in time for the bubble to pop on all of this stuff.

  • But we still have to figure out something to do with all that toxic by-product.

  • Nobody has come up with a really good solution to that problem

  • Just recently a rare-earth mine in California opened back up after being shut down in 1998 for toxic leakage

  • Now the company- promising that they've got it all figured out.

  • No big deal.

  • One of their solutions involves covering toxic waste water pools

  • with interlocked 18 sided plastic balls to prevent evaporation.

  • Yeah, plastic balls.

  • Covering a radioactive sludge pond.. I'm not filled with an overwhelming sense of confidence in that idea,

  • but the state of California seems to be satisfied.

  • 21st century problems, y'all.

  • Do you want to know where we got all the information for this episode?

  • We've set you up with some links below

  • so that you can learn more about rare-earth elements and all of the controversy

  • and awesome things surrounding them.

  • And you can also check us out on Facebook and Twitter if you have any questions for us.

  • You can also leave those in the comments, we're always there.

  • And we're always looking for new ideas for episodes of Scishow

  • so please let us know what you're curious about.

Welcome! You're just in time to learn about lanthanides!


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B1 中級 美國腔

稀土元素(Rare Earth Elements)

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    joey joey 發佈於 2021 年 06 月 08 日