Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

Post by DavyJo »

In 1878, Swiss chemists Jacques-Louis Soret and Marc Delafontaine were the first to spectroscopically observe the element later named holmium, which they identified simply as an "earth X" derived from "erbia".

Independently, Swedish chemist Per Teodor Cleve separated it chemically from thulium and erbium in 1879. Cleve named the element holmium after the Latin “Holmia” for Stockholm, his home town.

The Sweden 1971 4kr stamp has an old map with Holmia shown on right.
Sweden 1971 stamp. Photo of Per Teodor Cleve
Sweden 1971 stamp. Photo of Per Teodor Cleve
The Sweden 1953 25 öre & 1 kr 70. stamps commemorate the 700 hundred year anniversary of Stockholm.
Sweden 1953 . Stockholm 700 year anniversary
Sweden 1953 . Stockholm 700 year anniversary
Like other lanthanides, holmium is a good neutron absorber and is used in nuclear reactors to control chain reactions.
Finland 1977 nuclear reactor
Finland 1977 nuclear reactor
Holmium has the highest magnetic permeability and magnetic saturation of any element.

Hence it’s used to create the strongest artificially generated magnetic fields, when placed within high-strength magnets as a magnetic pole piece (also called a magnetic flux concentrator). Holmium is also used in the manufacture of some permanent magnets.

Here are a few stamps with a magnetic theme:
Tasmania c.1900 2d “Magnet” cancel
Tasmania c.1900 2d “Magnet” cancel
Germany 1969 stylised image of electromagnetic field
Germany 1969 stylised image of electromagnetic field
Denmark 1970. H.C. Ørsted discovered electromagnetism in 1820
Denmark 1970. H.C. Ørsted discovered electromagnetism in 1820
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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Erbium was discovered, as its pink oxide, by Carl Gustaf Mosander in 1843.
It’s named after the Swedish town Ytterby ( as are terbium, yttrium & ytterbium).

In 1934 German chemists Wilhelm Klemm and Heinrich Bommer were able to isolate pure erbium by heating erbium chloride with potassium.

Erbium is used in fiber-optic cables and lasers.
Specifically, erbium-doped fiber amplifiers are the most commonly deployed optical amplifiers. They are used as optical repeaters in long distance fiber-optic cables which carry much of the world’s telecommunication links.

The China 1995 stamp shows a fiber-optic cable
China 1995 fiber-optic cable
China 1995 fiber-optic cable
Most erbium compounds are pink or rose coloured because of Er³⁺ ions.

Erbium oxide is sometimes used as a pink or rose colorant for glass, cubic zirconia and porcelain. The glass is then often used in sunglasses and cheap jewellery

The Luxembourg 1970 stamp shows pink (& other coloured) stained glass from Luxembourg cathedral.
The Israel 2016 stamp highlights glass making.
Luxembourg 1970 & Israel 2016 stamps showing pink stained glass & glassblowing. Photo shows pink erbium oxide
Luxembourg 1970 & Israel 2016 stamps showing pink stained glass & glassblowing. Photo shows pink erbium oxide
Here’s a photo of Country and Western singer John Conlee wearing rose coloured glasses. His first big hit was “Rose Colored Glasses” released in 1978.
If you want to listen to it :
https://youtu.be/tTQ924VKwxU?feature=shared
John Conlee
John Conlee
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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Per Teodor Cleve discovered two new materials, one pale green and one brown, while investigating erbia (erbium oxide) in 1879 . These turned out to be oxides of two new elements: thulium and holmium.

British-American chemist Charles James prepared the first sample of pure thulium in 1911 by repeated bromate fractional crystallizations, which became known as the ‘James Method.’

It was Cleve that named the green oxide “thulia” after Thule, an ancient name for Scandinavia. The element was named thulium.

The Sweden 1913 Cinderella/poster stamp prominently displays the name “Thule” advertising a life insurance company.
Sweden 1913 Cinderella “Thule” stamp. Pale green thulium(III) oxide
Sweden 1913 Cinderella “Thule” stamp. Pale green thulium(III) oxide
In 1935 Greenland produced 5 local stamps in a remote trading post in the far northwest of the island called Thule. They depicted the famous explorer Knud Rasmussen and local arctic scenes.
Thule 1935 local stamps
Thule 1935 local stamps
The unique properties of thulium lasers make them very useful in laser surgery.

The Japan 1977 stamp shows a surgeon and the Canada 2004 FDC has an image of an operating theatre with a surgical team performing an operation.
Japan 1977 stamp.
Japan 1977 stamp.
Canada 2004 FDC
Canada 2004 FDC
The radioisotope thulium-170 is used in portable X-ray machines.
The 1978 stamp from Germany shows an X-ray machine (not a portable one).
Germany 1978 stamp. X ray  machine
Germany 1978 stamp. X ray machine
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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Ytterbium was discovered by the Swiss chemist Jean Charles Galissard de Marignac in the year 1878.

While examining samples of gadolinite, Marignac found a new component in the earth then known as erbia, and he named it ytterbia, after Ytterby - that famous Swedish mining village.

Marignac suspected that ytterbia was a compound of a new element that he called "ytterbium".

A relatively pure sample of the metal wasn’t obtained until 1953.
Jean Charles Gallisard de Marignac
Jean Charles Gallisard de Marignac
Ytterbium is used as a dopant in stainless steel to improve grain refinement and strength.
The 2015 GB stamp highlights the advantages of stainless steel.
GB 2015 stainless steel
GB 2015 stainless steel
Ytterbium is also used in specialised lasers which have medical and industrial applications.
The 1965 CCCP stamp has an image of a powerful laser!
CCCP 1965 laser
CCCP 1965 laser
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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Lutetium is the last of the lanthanide series of elements and was independently discovered in 1907 by French scientist Georges Urbain, Austrian Carl Auer von Welsbach, and American chemist Charles James.
Georges Urbain (top), Carl Auer von Welsbach (1954 Austria stamp) & Charles James
Georges Urbain (top), Carl Auer von Welsbach (1954 Austria stamp) & Charles James
All of these researchers found lutetium as an impurity in the mineral ytterbia, which was previously thought to consist entirely of ytterbium.

A dispute on the priority of the discovery occurred shortly after, with Urbain and Welsbach accusing each other of publishing results influenced by the published research of the other; the naming honor went to Urbain, as he had published his results earlier.

Urbain named the element after Lutetia , the Latin name for the Roman city which eventually became Paris.

The two French stamps show the Paris coat of arms (1965) and most famous landmark in Paris, the Eiffel Tower (2004).
France 1965 & 2004 stamps
France 1965 & 2004 stamps
Lutetium oxide is used to make catalysts for cracking hydrocarbons in the petrochemical industry.
The 1964 set of stamps from China highlight the petrochemical industry.
China 1964 stamps. Petrochemical industry
China 1964 stamps. Petrochemical industry
Lutetium-176 is used to date the age of meteorites and minerals by means of lutetium-hafnium dating.
This uses the decay of Lu-176 (into Hf-176) which has a half-life of 37.1 billion years to determine the age of the sample.

The unusual 2006 stamp from Austria has real meteorite dust on its surface.
0.03g of meteorite dust is affixed to the stamp with special adhesive. The dust came from a 19kg meteorite found in Morocco in 2004.
Austria 2006 stamp with meteorite dust
Austria 2006 stamp with meteorite dust
The 2012 GB stamp has an image of the asteroid Lutetia.

Lutetia was discovered on 15 November 1852, by Hermann Goldschmidt from the balcony of his apartment in Paris.
GB 2012 stamp. Lutetia asteroid
GB 2012 stamp. Lutetia asteroid
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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Hafnium was one of the last stable elements to be discovered and the history of its discovery is quite a complicated story.

In 1911 Georges Urbain asserted that he’d discovered a new rare-earth element 72 and named it “celtium”. For a while the consensus among most scientists was that Urbain was correct.

However other notable scientists (eg. Niels Bohr & Henry Moseley) came to realise that the properties of “celtium” didn’t match the data from X ray spectroscopy. This was a new technique of identifying an element’s atomic number by its X ray spectrum.

Urbain’s “celtium” also didn’t fit in with Niels Bohr’s groundbreaking ideas of atomic structure.

The official discovery came in 1923. With encouragement from Niels Bohr, Dutch physicist Dirk Coster and Hungarian chemist Georg de Hevesy set out on a quest to properly identify element 72.
Hungary 1988 stamp Georg de Hevesy & photo of  Dirk Coster
Hungary 1988 stamp Georg de Hevesy & photo of Dirk Coster
From other studies it was realised that element 72 had to be in group 4 ( not a rare-earth element as Urbain had believed) in the place below zirconium in the periodic table. They analysed a sample of zirconia ore by means of X ray spectroscopy.

This revealed a new element with the unique spectrum for atomic number 72 which fitted neatly in place in the periodic table.

Hevesy and Coster were working on this project in Copenhagen at the time and named the new element hafnium after “Hafnia”, the Latin name for Copenhagen.

The minisheet from Denmark highlights the World Philatelic Exhibition held in Copenhagen in 1987. It was called “Hafnia 87”.
Denmark minisheet Hafnia 87
Denmark minisheet Hafnia 87


The 1963 Denmark FDC honours Niels Bohr.
Denmark 1963 FDC Niels Bohr
Denmark 1963 FDC Niels Bohr
Because of its high neutron-capture cross section and its excellent mechanical properties, hafnium is used for fabricating nuclear control rods.

The 2009 Hungary minisheet shows an image of a nuclear reactor.
Hungary 2009 minisheet. Nuclear reactor
Hungary 2009 minisheet. Nuclear reactor
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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Tantalum was discovered by Swedish chemist Anders G. Ekeberg in 1802 in the minerals tantalite from Finland and yttrotantalite from Sweden.

The element name comes from the Greek mythological character Tantalus. Ekeberg gave it the name tantalum because it had been a tantalizing element to find.

Tantalite (Fe, Mn)Ta₂O₆ is the main mineral source of tantalum.
The Uganda 1988 stamp shows a sample of tantalite
Uganda 1988 stamp. Lithograph of Anders Ekeberg - discoverer of tantalum
Uganda 1988 stamp. Lithograph of Anders Ekeberg - discoverer of tantalum

The mineral columbite-tantalite is a really a mixture of the niobium-dominant mineral columbite (Fe, Mn)Nb₂O₆ and tantalite.

Niobium and tantalum are very similar chemically and this fact led to some confusion early on in their discovery.

Tantalum is used in electronic components mostly as capacitors.

The Hong Kong 1979 and USA 1973 stamps highlight the electronics industry.
USA 1973 & Hong Kong 1979 Electronics
USA 1973 & Hong Kong 1979 Electronics
Tantalum capacitor
Tantalum capacitor
The great polymath and inventor Benjamin Franklin had an input in the history of capacitors.

In 1748, he constructed a multiple plate capacitor, which he called an "electrical battery" by placing eleven panes of glass sandwiched between lead plates, suspended with silk cords and connected by wires.

This was the first recorded use of the term “electrical battery” used in the English language.

He experimented with “Leyden jars” (an early form of capacitor) and got a nasty electric shock. However that was much safer than flying a kite in a thunderstorm!

The France 1956 FDC shows that famous experiment.
France 1956 FDC
France 1956 FDC
In July 1847 USA issued its first two stamps - one of them being the 5¢ red-brown Benjamin Franklin .
USA 1847 5 cent Franklin & 10 cent Washington
USA 1847 5 cent Franklin & 10 cent Washington
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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In 1781, Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele discovered that a new acid, tungstic acid, could be made from the mineral now known as scheelite ( calcium tungstate CaWO₄).
But in Scheele’s day the mineral was called tungsten - meaning ‘heavy stone’ in Swedish.
Scheele suggested that it might be possible to obtain a new metal by reducing this acid.

In 1783 Spanish chemists José and Fausto Elhuyar found an acid made from wolframite (Fe,Mn)WO₄ which was identical to tungstic acid.

They succeeded in isolating metallic tungsten by reduction of this acid with charcoal, and the Elhuyar brothers are credited with the discovery of the element.

They called it "wolfram" after the mineral from which it was isolated - hence the chemical symbol being “W”.
In Spanish element 74 is called wolframio (or tungsteno); in German, Wolfram.
Spain 1983 & 2019 stamps
Spain 1983 & 2019 stamps
The Spain 1983 stamp contains quite a bit of information. It commemorates the bicentenary of the discovery of tungsten ( wolframio in Spanish).
It has an image of the discoverers José & Fausto Elhuyar who were mining engineers; the chemical symbol W and a sample of wolframite in the corner. It also shows some symbols of mining and chemistry.

The 2019 Spain stamp has the name, symbol and atomic weight of tungsten
- (also info on vanadium & platinum- both discovered by Spanish scientists).

Wolframite and scheelite are still the most important mineral sources of tungsten today.

The China 1982 and Liberia 2022 show samples of wolframite and scheelite respectively.
Liberia 2022 & China 1982 stamps. Photo of scheelite
Liberia 2022 & China 1982 stamps. Photo of scheelite
Tungsten has the highest melting point of any metallic element ie. 3422 °C and thus has many applications where very high temperatures are involved.

For example, it’s used in TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding - also known as GTAW (gas tungsten arc welding)

The 1961 CCCP stamp has an image of a welder and the photo shows modern day TIG welding.
CCCP 1961 welder
CCCP 1961 welder
TIG welding
TIG welding
The very hard, high-m.p compound tungsten carbide (WC) is used extensively in tools, industrial & mining machinery eg. tunnel boring machines.

The Malaysia 2011 series of stamps feature tunnel boring machines.
Malaysia 2011 stamps. Tunnel engineering
Malaysia 2011 stamps. Tunnel engineering
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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Rhenium was originally discovered by Masataka Ogawa in 1908, but he mistakenly assigned it as element 43 rather than element 75 and named it nipponium .
He unfortunately didn’t get the credit for discovering either element!

For more info on Ogawa’s rather sad story, checkout this YouTube video by the brilliant Prof. Martyn Poliakoff:
https://youtu.be/kfYCvbdX9Ck?feature=shared

Rhenium was rediscovered (officially!) by German chemists Walter Noddack, Ida Tacke and Otto Berg in 1925.
Interestingly, the same group also claimed to have discovered element 43 and named it “masurium” - but this proved to be incorrect.
Photo of Masataka Ogawa (top) & Walter Noddack, Ida Tacke & Otto Berg.
Photo of Masataka Ogawa (top) & Walter Noddack, Ida Tacke & Otto Berg.
The elusive radioactive element 43 was eventually discovered in 1937 by Segrè & Perrier and named technetium.

Back to rhenium… Naddack, Tacke and Berg named the element rhenium after the river Rhine (from Latin “Rhenus”).

One of the longest rivers in Europe, the Rhine has its source in Switzerland.
The 1956 Switzerland stamp has an image of the Rhine river ( actually the Vorderrheiner) near the Swiss village of Trin.

The 2006 Germany stamp shows another section of the river Rhine in the Middle Rhine valley.
Switzerland 1956 & Germany 2006 stamps. Rhine
Switzerland 1956 & Germany 2006 stamps. Rhine
In the early 1950s Soviet researchers were investigating an interesting rhenium compound by means of X ray crystallography.
Specifically it is called the octachlorodirhenate(III) ion! - [Re₂Cl₈]²⁻

This structure is represented on the 1968 CCCP stamp.
CCCP 1968 stamp.  [Re₂Cl₈]²⁻ ion showing quadruple bond
CCCP 1968 stamp. [Re₂Cl₈]²⁻ ion showing quadruple bond
Subsequent research on this ion revealed a quadruple bond between the two rhenium atoms.
Double and triple bonds were familiar, but this was the first time quadruple bonds were encountered in chemistry.

Nickel-based superalloys of rhenium are used in combustion chambers, turbine blades, and exhaust nozzles of jet engines. These alloys contain up to 6% rhenium, making jet engine construction the largest single use for the element.

The 1967 GB stamp shows a jet engine and the Canada 1996 stamp highlights the aerospace industry.
GB 1967 & Canada 1996 stamps. Jet engines
GB 1967 & Canada 1996 stamps. Jet engines
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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Smithson Tennant. In top photo note osmium’s bluish tinge compared to iridium on right
Smithson Tennant. In top photo note osmium’s bluish tinge compared to iridium on right
In 1803, British chemist Smithson Tennant dissolved some platinum in dilute aqua regia (mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids) and some black residue remained.
He managed to separate this residue into two new elements.

One had a strange smell so he called it osmium from Greek “osme” meaning smell.

The other element had a variety of different coloured salts so he named it iridium after the Greek word “iris” meaning rainbow.

The GB 1991 stamp shows a rainbow and a shooting star (ie. meteor).
Iridium is one of the rarest elements in the earth’s crust but is found in greater concentrations in meteorites.
GB 1991 stamp
GB 1991 stamp
Osmium and iridium are the densest naturally occurring elements, each weighing about twice as much as lead.

The density of iridium is 22.56 g/cm³.

But osmium just has the edge, its density being 22.59 g/cm³ !

Historically, osmium was used in gramophone needles because of its extreme hardness and durability.
The 1987 Germany stamp shows an old gramophone probably with an osmium needle.
Germany 1987 stamp
Germany 1987 stamp
The 1936 Austria stamp highlights another early use of osmium.

The stamp honours Auer von Welsbach, who in 1898 invented a metal filament light bulb using an osmium wire. These “osmium lamps” were a huge improvement on the existing carbon-filament designs, lasting much longer, using about half the electricity for the same amount of light, and being much more robust.
Austria 1936 stamp
Austria 1936 stamp
An important compound of osmium used today is osmium tetroxide.
It’s widely used as a staining agent in electron microscopy to provide contrast to the image.

The Canada 1988 stamp shows an electron microscope.
Canada 1988 stamp. Electron microscope
Canada 1988 stamp. Electron microscope
The main uses of iridium are the metal itself and its alloys, as in high-performance spark plugs, crucibles for recrystallization of semiconductors at high temperatures, and electrodes for the production of chlorine in the chloralkali process.

The 1937 USA advertising cover is promoting the “Champion Spark Plug Co.”
USA 1937 cover
USA 1937 cover
Iridium spark plugs
Iridium spark plugs
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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Platinum is one of the least reactive metals. It has remarkable resistance to corrosion, even at high temperatures, and is therefore considered a noble metal. Consequently, platinum is often found chemically uncombined as native platinum. Because it occurs naturally in the alluvial sands of various rivers, it was first used by pre-Columbian South American natives to produce artifacts.

It was referenced in European writings as early as the 16th century, but it was not until Spanish explorer and scientist, Antonio de Ulloa published a report on a new metal of Colombian origin in 1748 that it began to be investigated by other chemists. He called it “platina” meaning ‘little silver’.

The 2016 stamp from Spain commemorates the 200 year birth anniversary of Antonio de Ulloa.
Spain 2016 & 2019 stamps. Photo of pure crystalline platinum
Spain 2016 & 2019 stamps. Photo of pure crystalline platinum
The Columbia 1937 stamp shows a platinum mine.
Colombia 1937 stamp. Platinum mine
Colombia 1937 stamp. Platinum mine
The 1979 Bophuthatswana set of stamps highlight the platinum industry and some applications of this valuable rare metal.
Bophuthatswana 1979 stamps. Platinum industry
Bophuthatswana 1979 stamps. Platinum industry
Bophuthatswana - now reincorporated into South Africa - has extensive platinum mines and is the major world supplier of platinum group metals.

The six platinum-group metals are ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, and platinum. They have similar physical and chemical properties, and tend to occur together in the same mineral deposits.

In 1889, an International Prototype Metre was established as the distance between two lines on a standard bar composed of an alloy of 90% platinum and 10% iridium, measured at 0° C. This special metal bar was kept in Sèvres, France.

This was the international official definition of the metre up until 1960.

Also in 1889, a cylinder of the same platinum-iridium alloy, the International Prototype of the Kilogram became the standard of the unit of mass for the metric system and remained so for 130 years - until as recently as 2019.

Both the metre and kg are now defined in terms of the speed of light … and other complicated things!

The 1975 stamps and FDC from France, Switzerland and Indonesia show this prototype metre bar.
France 1975 FDC, Switzerland 1975 & Indonesia 1975 stamps.
France 1975 FDC, Switzerland 1975 & Indonesia 1975 stamps.
International Prototype of Kilogram
International Prototype of Kilogram
Platinum is used in catalytic converters, industrial catalysts, laboratory equipment, electrical contacts and electrodes, platinum resistance thermometers and jewelry.
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

Post by Ubobo.R.O. »

Enjoying all these posts. Thankyou DavyJo.
Full time horse non-whisperer, post box searcher and lichen covered granite rock percher. Gee I'm handsome !
You gottem birds, lighthouses, butterflies, shells, maps, flags and heads on stamps ? Me wantem !
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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Thanks Ubobo 👍
I’m gradually getting through the periodic table… only 40 more to go!
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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Gold!!! The allure, beauty and unique yellow brilliance of this precious metal has mesmerised mankind since prehistoric times.

Gold was one of the first metals to be worked, mainly because it could be found in the form of nuggets or as particles in stream beds.

The alchemists were obsessed with turning base metals into gold. The alchemical symbol for gold (and the sun) is shown on the 1994 Marshall Islands stamp.

The 1989 SWA stamp has an image of a gold nugget (probably embedded in quartz) and the modern chemical symbol of gold Au ( from Latin “Aurum”).
SWA 1989 & Marshall Islands 1994 stamps
SWA 1989 & Marshall Islands 1994 stamps
Here’s another gold nugget from Canada shown on this 1992 stamp.
Canada 1992 stamp. Gold nugget
Canada 1992 stamp. Gold nugget
The 2017 Peru souvenir sheet shows quite a bit of information about gold.
Peru 2017 souvenir sheet
Peru 2017 souvenir sheet
The ancient Egyptians began mining gold in about 2000 BC. The death mask of Tutankhamen, who died in 1323 BC, contained 10 kg of the metal.

The 1968 Sharjah, 2022 GB stamps and Hungary 2022 mini-sheet show the gold mask of Tutankhamen.
Sharjah 1968 stamp. Tutankhamen
Sharjah 1968 stamp. Tutankhamen
Hungary 2022 mini-sheet & GB 2022 stamp. Tutankhamen
Hungary 2022 mini-sheet & GB 2022 stamp. Tutankhamen
Here are some “solid” gold stamps on eBay:
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/404940823041
“Solid” gold stamps
“Solid” gold stamps
The minting of gold coins began around 640 BC in the Kingdom of Lydia (situated in what is now modern Turkey) using electrum, a native alloy of gold and silver. The first pure gold coins were minted in the reign of King Croesus, who ruled from 561–547 BC.

The 2018 Moldova set of stamps show images of ancient gold stater coins from time of Philip II and Alexander the Great c.336 BC.
Moldova 2018 stamps. Gold stater coins
Moldova 2018 stamps. Gold stater coins
Australia is famous for the largest gold nugget ever found, the “Welcome Stranger”.
This is depicted on the 2019 Australian stamp.
Australia 2019 stamp. Welcome Stranger gold nugget
Australia 2019 stamp. Welcome Stranger gold nugget
The gigantic nugget was found just an inch below the surface in 1869 by two Cornish miners in Moliagul, Victoria. It was estimated to have weighed about 72 ½ kg.

At today’s gold price it would be worth about £4.4 million (5.5 million USD)!

Several stamps have been printed on real gold foil.
The GB 2017, Gabon 1969 stamps and Jersey 2000 £10 stamp are just a few examples.
GB 2017 gold foil block
GB 2017 gold foil block
Gabon 1969 gold foil stamp
Gabon 1969 gold foil stamp
Jersey 2000 £10 gold stamp
Jersey 2000 £10 gold stamp
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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The heavy, toxic, liquid metal mercury has been known from antiquity. It was formerly known as “hydrargyrum” from the Greek words ‘hydor’ (water) and ‘argyros’ (silver) - hence the element’s chemical symbol Hg.

The medieval alchemists called the element “quicksilver” and it’s long been associated with the planet mercury.
The astrological and alchemical symbol of mercury is shown on the 1994 Marshall Islands stamp.
Marshall Islands 1994 stamp. Mercury
Marshall Islands 1994 stamp. Mercury
The Slovenia 1999 stamp highlights the element mercury. It shows the mineral cinnabar, some droplets of mercury and the chemical symbol Hg.
Slovenia 1999 stamp. Mercury
Slovenia 1999 stamp. Mercury
Cinnabar, mercury(II) sulfide, is the most common mineral source of mercury.
The red/scarlet pigment vermilion was originally made from finely ground cinnabar.

Here is a GB QV 4d vermilion stamp from 1870. It would be interesting to know if the printing ink used was actually made with mercury sulfide.
Does anyone know?
GB QV 1870 4d vermilion
GB QV 1870 4d vermilion
The 1982 China and 1994 Spain stamps show some more samples of cinnabar.
China 1982 & Spain 1994 stamps. Cinnabar, HgS
China 1982 & Spain 1994 stamps. Cinnabar, HgS
Mercury is used in thermometers, barometers, manometers, sphygmomanometers, float valves, mercury switches, mercury relays, fluorescent lamps and other devices, although concerns about the element's toxicity have led to the phasing out of such mercury-containing instruments.

It remains in use in scientific research applications and in amalgam for dental restoration in some locales. It is also used in fluorescent lighting. Electricity passed through mercury vapor in a fluorescent lamp produces short-wave ultraviolet light, which then causes the phosphor in the tube to fluoresce, making visible light.

It’s surprising that despite the toxicity of mercury and its compounds, when mercury is alloyed with certain metals the resulting amalgams are remarkably stable and relatively safe for use in dentistry.

Dental amalgam is a mercury alloy with a high proportion of silver, tin, copper and zinc.

The 1977 Netherlands and 1984 Finland stamps highlight dentistry. The photo shows a dental amalgam filling. I’ve got a few of these!
Netherworld 1977 & Finland 1984 stamps. Dentistry
Netherworld 1977 & Finland 1984 stamps. Dentistry
The photos below show some mercury tilt switches and a mercury thermometer in my collection.
Mercury tilt switches & mercury thermometer
Mercury tilt switches & mercury thermometer
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

Post by DavyJo »

In 1861 British chemist and physicist William Crookes was investigating some impure sulfuric acid by means of flame spectroscopy. He noticed a prominent bright green line in the spectrum and realised he’d found a new element.
He named it thallium after the Greek word “thallos” meaning “green shoot/twig”

The photo below shows the famous green spectral line of thallium and the 2017 Ukraine stamp shows some ‘green twigs’.
Green emission spectrum of thallium & spectra of gold & mercury for comparison
Green emission spectrum of thallium & spectra of gold & mercury for comparison
Ukraine 2017 stamp
Ukraine 2017 stamp
Around the same time of Crookes’ discovery, French chemist Claude-Auguste Lamy independently discovered thallium’s distinct green spectral line.
He managed to isolate metallic thallium and presented a small ingot of the new element to the 1862 London International Exhibition.
Lamy was awarded a medal for this new metal.

However, Crookes had also brought a sample of powdered thallium to the exhibition but he didn’t receive a medal. He was furious!

After much protestation, Crookes was also given a medal!

The 1997 Macedonia stamp shows a sample of lorandite (TlAsS₂ ), a mineral source of thallium.
William Crookes (left) & Claude-Auguste Lamy. Macedonia 1997 stamp
William Crookes (left) & Claude-Auguste Lamy. Macedonia 1997 stamp
William Crookes went on to pioneer the development of vacuum tubes, inventing the Crookes tube in 1875. This was a milestone achievement that led to significant scientific advances in chemistry and physics.

For example, in 1895, German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen discovered X-rays and in 1897 British physicist J.J. Thomson discovered the electron.

Both scientists used modified versions of the Crookes tube in their experiments.

The photo below shows an early Crookes vacuum tube.
The 1995 stamp from Czech Republic and the 2009 Guiné-Bissau stamp
honour Wilhelm Röntgen and J.J. Thomson.
Crookes tube
Crookes tube
Czech Republic 1995 Röntgen & Guiné-Bissau 2009 J.J. Thomson
Czech Republic 1995 Röntgen & Guiné-Bissau 2009 J.J. Thomson
Thallium and its compounds are highly toxic.
Thallium sulfate used to be used as a rat poison.

The Cinderella/poster stamps were used to advertise rat poison and
the 2020 Isle of Man stamp has a menacing image of a rat!
Germany advertising stamps for rat poison. Isle of Man 2020 stamp
Germany advertising stamps for rat poison. Isle of Man 2020 stamp
But thallium wasn’t just used to kill rats.

In Australia, in the early 1950s, there was a notable spate of cases of murder or attempted murder by thallium poisoning.

At this time, due to the chronic rat infestation problems in overcrowded inner-city neighbourhoods (notably in Sydney), and thallium's effectiveness as a rat poison, it was still readily available over the counter in New South Wales, where thallium(I) sulphate was marketed as a commercial rat bait, under the brand Thall-rat.
Thallium sulfate rat poison
Thallium sulfate rat poison
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

Post by DavyJo »

Lead has been mined for more than 6,000 years, and the metal and its compounds have been used throughout history.
The 2010 Slovenia shows a splash of molten lead.
Slovenia 2010 stamp. Lead
Slovenia 2010 stamp. Lead
Galena, lead sulfide (PbS) is the main mineral source of lead.
Spain 1994, Belgium 2003 and Uganda 1988 stamps all show images of galena.
Thailand 1990 stamp says its lead but I think it’s a sample of galena.

The 1992 stamp from Canada shows a nice specimen of galena.
Spain 1994, Belgium 2003, Uganda 1988 & Thailand 1990 stamps. Galena, PbS
Spain 1994, Belgium 2003, Uganda 1988 & Thailand 1990 stamps. Galena, PbS
Canada 1992 stamp
Canada 1992 stamp
Lead is one of the 7 metals of antiquity and the 1994 Marshall Islands stamp shows the alchemical symbol for lead - and its associated planet Saturn.
Marshall Islands 1994 stamp
Marshall Islands 1994 stamp
The ancient Greeks mined lead on a large scale and not only knew how to obtain the metal but how to convert this to “white lead”.

Chemically this is the basic lead carbonate (PbCO₃)₂· Pb(OH)₂

Because of its high opacity, this was the basis of paints for more than 2000 years, until the middle of the last century.

The early 1911 postcard from USA advertised “Dutch Boy” white lead paint.
USA 1911 postcard. White lead paint
USA 1911 postcard. White lead paint
In time it was realised that the toxicity of lead paint was a real danger to health and the environment. Nowadays lead paints have largely been phased out.

The Romans used a lot of lead, mining it mainly in Spain and Britain.They used it for water pipes, coffins, pewter tableware, and to debase their silver coinage.

Lead is one of the oldest materials in the roofing industry and is still commonly used throughout the world today.

Lead roofing is ideal for old buildings such as churches or historical renovations.

The 1972 GB stamp shows an old English church with a lead roof.

The actual church is St. Andrew’s in Helpringham, Lincolnshire. The photo below has another view of the same church with more lead roofing.
GB 1972 stamp
GB 1972 stamp
St.Andrews church in Helpringham
St.Andrews church in Helpringham
Lead was used for making water pipes during the Roman Empire; the Latin word for the metal, plumbum, is the origin of the English word "plumbing". Its ease of working, its resistance to corrosion and low melting point made it an easy material to form completely waterproof welded joints.

Lead pipes were still used into the 20th century for plumbing until copper (and more recently plastic) had become the norm.

The Poland 1996, Guyana 1995 & Netherlands 1984 stamps show various plumbers at work!
Poland 1996, Guyana 1995 & Netherlands 1984 stamps. Plumbers
Poland 1996, Guyana 1995 & Netherlands 1984 stamps. Plumbers
In 1859, French scientist Gaston Planté invented the lead-acid battery. It was the first type of rechargeable battery made available for the commercial market and is still widely used in cars today.

The France 1957 FDC honours Gaston Planté.
France 1957 FDC
France 1957 FDC
France 1957 stamp. Gaston Planté
France 1957 stamp. Gaston Planté
In the 1920s, when car production was starting to grow exponentially, a lead compound began to be added to petrol. It was called tetraethyl-lead and improved the vehicle performance and fuel efficiency.

The diagram below shows a ball-and-stick model of the tetraethyl-lead molecule.
It was the main cause of atmospheric lead pollution in the 20th century.
Tetraethyl-lead molecule
Tetraethyl-lead molecule
Lead in petrol (gasoline) has now practically been phased out worldwide in cars.
However it’s still used to some extent in aviation fuel.

The 1988 Netherlands stamp highlights the need to remove lead and other toxic gases from car exhaust emissions.
Netherlands 1998 stamp
Netherlands 1998 stamp
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

Post by BigSaint »


DavyJo

I don't wish to dampen your enthusiasm with your most interesting contributions to this thread but you need to keep your images to 5 or less to each post.

If you have 10 images then spread them over two posts.

We have members from all over the world & some countries have internet speeds far slower than those of the USA & Australia. With posts that have 5 images or more, members living in countries with the slower internet speeds are unable to enjoy Stampboards, like you are able to do, waiting posts to open & images to download.

I ask you to be respectful of the other members on the Board & keep your images to 5 or less per post.

Thank you

Brad for the Stampboards Moderators.
Specialist Collector of World Horse Racing Covers, Melbourne Cup & Kentucky Derby, & JFK fdcs.
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

Post by DavyJo »

Will do Brad👍
I have been getting a bit carried away with these latest elements!
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

Post by DavyJo »

Bismuth is the last of the “stable” elements. Elements with atomic numbers of 84 and above are all radioactive.☢️

However, in 2003 bismuth was discovered to be extremely weakly radioactive. The metal's only primordial isotope, bismuth-209, undergoes alpha decay with a half-life about a billion times the estimated age of the universe.

Bismuthinite (Bi₂S₃) is one of the main mineral sources of bismuth.

The 1973,1992 & 2012 Bolivia stamps show specimens of this mineral and a bismuth foundry.
Bolivia 1992 & 2012 stamps. Bismuthinite
Bolivia 1992 & 2012 stamps. Bismuthinite
Bolivia 1973 Bismuth foundry
Bolivia 1973 Bismuth foundry
Even though metallic bismuth had been known from ancient times, it used to be confused with tin and lead because of its resemblance to those elements.

In the mid 1500s, German mineralogist and metallurgist Georgius Agricola realised from studying the properties of Sn, Pb and Bi, that bismuth was actually a distinct metal.
Czech Republic 1994 Georgius Agricola. Photo of bismuth “hopper crystal”
Czech Republic 1994 Georgius Agricola. Photo of bismuth “hopper crystal”
The 1994 Czech Republic stamp honours Agricola.

He was the first to drop the Arabic definite article al-, exclusively writing chymia and chymista (instead of alchymia, alchymista) in describing activity that we today would characterize as “chemical” - giving chemistry its modern name.

Bismuth is used medicinally in the form of bismuth subsalicylate, known as Pepto-Bismol.

It’s used to treat temporary discomfort of the stomach and gastrointestinal tract, such as nausea, heartburn, indigestion and diarrhea.

The 1979 Italy stamp shows an unfortunate individual with an upset stomach - if only he could have taken some Pepto-Bismol!
Italy 1979 stamp. Pepto-Bismol
Italy 1979 stamp. Pepto-Bismol
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

Post by DavyJo »

Polonium was discovered in July 1898 by Marie Skłodowska-Curie and Pierre Curie.
They extracted it from the uranium ore pitchblende and identified the new element solely by its intense radioactivity.

They also discovered radium in December of the same year.

The 1986 Cameroon, 1994 Gibraltar & 1998 Poland stamps honour Marie & Pierre Curie for these discoveries.
Cameroon 1986, Gibraltar 1994 & Poland 1998 stamps. Marie & Pierre Curie
Cameroon 1986, Gibraltar 1994 & Poland 1998 stamps. Marie & Pierre Curie
The dangers of working with radioactive elements were not known when the Curies made their discoveries. Their laboratory notebooks from that era are so radioactive that they are now stored in a lead-lined case.

Polonium was named after Marie Curie's homeland of Poland.

The 1966 & 1982 Poland stamps show maps of Poland.
Poland 1966 & 1982 stamps. Maps of Poland
Poland 1966 & 1982 stamps. Maps of Poland
In 1911 Marie Curie was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her discovery of polonium & radium.

The 2011 Sweden stamps honour Marie Curie as a Nobel Prize laureate.
Sweden 2011 stamps. Marie Curie
Sweden 2011 stamps. Marie Curie
All of polonium’s isotopes are highly radioactive and the most common one is polonium-210.
This decays by alpha decay - with a half-life of 4 ½ months - to a stable isotope of lead.

One sinister and notorious case of the misuse of polonium was the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in November 2006 in London.

Litvinenko was a Russian KGB defector and an outspoken critic of Putin.

It was proved that Litvinenko had been poisoned with a herbal tea spiked with lethal polonium-210.

Research has shown that polonium-210 tends to concentrate in tobacco leaves albeit in trace amounts. Hence heavy smokers of tobacco may be exposed over time to quite significant doses of radiation - causing cell damage and cancer.

The Moldova 2011 stamp has the caption “smoking damages health”!
Moldova 2011 stamp. Smoking damages health
Moldova 2011 stamp. Smoking damages health
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

Post by DavyJo »

Astatine is the rarest naturally occurring element in the Earth's crust, occurring only as a decay product from the radioactive elements uranium, actinium and neptunium.

All of astatine's isotopes are short-lived - the longest lived isotope existing in naturally occurring decay chains is astatine-219 with a half-life of just 56 seconds!

The longest-lived artificially created isotope is astatine-210, which has a half-life of 8.1 hours.

Consequently, a solid sample of the element has never been seen, because any macroscopic specimen would be immediately vaporized by the heat of its radioactivity

It’s been estimated that at any given time, only about 25 grams of naturally occurring astatine exists on our planet - other sources say it’s less than 1g !

In 1936, Romanian nuclear physicist Horia Hulubei together with Yvette Cauchois claimed to have discovered element 85 via X-ray analysis, conducting further research and publishing on follow-up studies in 1939. With Cauchois and Sonia Cotelle, he established the presence of polonium and neptunium. Hulubei also claimed and published the discovery of a new element, "moldavium", in 1936, the discovery of "sequanium" in 1939, and that of "dor" in 1945. Later, however, it was shown that the reported X-ray lines did not belong to new elements.

Hulubei's samples for "dor" actually did contain the real element 85 (astatine), but his means to detect it were too weak, by current standards, to enable correct identification; moreover, he could not perform chemical tests on the element.

The 2016 Romania stamp honours Horia Hulubei.
Romania 2016 stamp. Horia Hulubei
Romania 2016 stamp. Horia Hulubei
Element 85 was first convincingly produced in 1940 by Emilio Segrè, Dale R. Corson and Kenneth Mackenzie at the University of California, Berkeley.

They synthesised the new element by bombarding bismuth-209 with alpha particles in a cyclotron (an early particle accelerator).

They named the element astatine after the Greek word “astatos” meaning ‘unstable’ - which it certainly is!
First artificial synthesis of astatine
First artificial synthesis of astatine
Here is Emilio Segrè on a Spanish lottery ticket. Shame it’s not a postage stamp!
The 1982 Belgium FDC has an image of a cyclotron.
Emilio Segrè
Emilio Segrè
Belgium 1982 FDC Cyclotron
Belgium 1982 FDC Cyclotron
There is ongoing research involving the radionuclide astatine-211 which could potentially be used in nuclear medicine to treat certain forms of cancer.

The 2020 Canada stamp highlights radiation therapy and oncologist Vera Peters who was a pioneer in this field.
Canada 2020 stamp. Radiation therapy
Canada 2020 stamp. Radiation therapy
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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New Zealand 1971 & Sweden 1981 stamps. Rutherford & Soddy
New Zealand 1971 & Sweden 1981 stamps. Rutherford & Soddy
In 1899 Ernest Rutherford observed a radioactive gas being released from a thorium sample. He called this gas an “emanation”.

Around the same time, Marie & Pierre Curie, and independently German physicist Frederich Dorn detected this “emanation” from radium. None of these scientists could explain the phenomenon.

In the early 1900s Rutherford had been joined by English chemist Frederick Soddy and they pioneered the study of radioactivity.

They realised that the anomalous behaviour of radioactive elements was because they decayed into new elements - called transmutation.
This decay produced alpha, beta and gamma radiation.

Rutherford and Soddy proved that the gaseous “emanation” from thorium and radium was a new element - a heavy radioactive gas which was eventually called radon.

As element no 86, it fitted nicely in place under xenon in group 18 of the periodic table as one of the noble gases.

The 1971 stamp from New Zealand and 1981 Sweden stamp honour Rutherford & Soddy.

Radon is mostly produced by decay of radium-226, which is found in uranium ores and certain rocks like granite.

So radon emanates naturally from the ground. It can accumulate in caves, mines, water and even in buildings.

Prolonged exposure to high concentrations of radon has been linked to an increase in lung cancer.
If you’re worried about it, you can get a radon monitor that measures levels of radon in the home.
Here’s a retro radon alarm monitor.
Radon alarm monitor
Radon alarm monitor
In seismology, it was suggested that spikes in radon emissions could serve as a reliable earthquake predictor. But recent studies have found no significant correlation.

The 2000 China stamp has an image of an earthquake and seismogram.
China 2000 stamp. Earthquake
China 2000 stamp. Earthquake
And finally, there are so-called “health mines” where people with arthritis and other ailments deliberately expose themselves to high radon levels and claim relief.

Here’s a postcard showing a “radon health mine” in Montana, USA!
Radon health mine!
Radon health mine!
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

Post by DavyJo »

As in common with many elements, the history of discovery of element 87 was riddled with claims, denials and counterclaims by a number of different scientists, all eager to be first to find it.

Francium was conclusively discovered in 1939 by Marguerite Perey, a student of Marie Curie. She worked extensively with the element actinium (element 89 - previously discovered about 4 decades earlier).
France 1967 stamp. Photo of Marguerite Perey, a student and personal assistant of Marie Curie
France 1967 stamp. Photo of Marguerite Perey, a student and personal assistant of Marie Curie
Perey had purified a sample of actinium free of all its known radioactive impurities and yet she still detected a small amount of alpha radiation. Alpha decay leads to an element losing 2 protons ( & 2 neutrons). Hence, she realised that actinium - element no 89 - was changing into element 87.

The diagram below shows how radioactive elements change into different elements in a specific order - called a decay chain.

Notice how actinium decays to francium and then francium-223 can split into astatine or radium. Most of the radioactive elements eventually end up (usually) as a stable lead isotope.
Actinium series (decay chain)
Actinium series (decay chain)
Perey named the new element francium after her native country, France.

The 1978 & 1990 French stamps show maps of France.
France 1978 & 1990 stamps. Maps of France
France 1978 & 1990 stamps. Maps of France
Francium is the second rarest element (after astatine) - only about 550g exists in the entire Earth's crust - and it was the last element to be discovered in nature. (Five elements that were discovered synthetically were later found to exist in nature: technetium, promethium, astatine, neptunium, and plutonium.)

Here’s a quirky postcard showing a rather chic Marguerite Perey discovering francium!
Francium is at the bottom of group 1 in the periodic table, known as the alkali metals.
Francium postcard
Francium postcard
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

Post by DavyJo »

Poland 1992, France 1938 & 1998, & Afghanistan 1938 stamps. Radium
Poland 1992, France 1938 & 1998, & Afghanistan 1938 stamps. Radium
Radium was discovered in 1898 by Marie and Pierre Curie.
They managed to extract 1 milligram of radium from ten tonnes of the uranium ore pitchblende (uranium oxide U₃O₈ ) a considerable feat, given the chemical methods of separation available to them.

They identified that it was a new element because its atomic spectrum revealed new lines. Their samples glowed with a faint blue light in the dark, caused by the intense radioactivity ionising the surrounding air.

Comparing the two most abundant isotopes of radium & uranium (Ra-226 & U-238), radium is 2.7 million times more radioactive than uranium!

The metal itself was isolated by Marie Curie and André Debierne in 1911, by means of the electrolysis of radium chloride. At Debierne’s suggestion, they used a mercury cathode in which the liberated radium dissolved. This was then heated to distil off the mercury leaving the radium behind.

The 1938 stamps from France & Afghanistan honour the Curies for their discovery of radium.

The Poland 1992 stamp gives quite a bit of info about radium.
It shows the chemical symbol Ra, atomic no. 88, atomic weight 226.025 (radium-226 being the commonest isotope with half-life of 1600 years.)

s² refers to radium having an outer s orbital containing its full complement of 2 electrons.
Radium is at the bottom of group 2 of the periodic table - the elements in this group are called the alkaline earth metals.

The France 1998 FDCs commemorate the 100 year anniversary of discovery of radium.
The maximum card highlights the alpha, beta and gamma radiation which radium produces.
France 1998 FDC & maximum card. Radium
France 1998 FDC & maximum card. Radium
The photos below show various adverts in 1920s and 30s promoting the “health benefits” of radium used in products such as radium water, toothpaste and lipstick.
Early health & beauty radium products
Early health & beauty radium products
Of course, in time it became increasingly obvious that radium due to its very high radioactivity was very damaging to the body - causing burns, destroying bone and cancer.

One sad tale of exploitation, highlighting the danger of radium was the story of the “Radium Girls”…

Radium chloride was used in luminous paint for watch dials. In the 1920s, women working in certain watch factories, known as the “Radium Girls", were encouraged to lick the paint brush into a fine point to paint the small details on watch dials. They ingested high doses of radium which led many to suffer terribly from poisoning and cancer.

The Norway 1931 stamp shows a radium hospital. This was the forerunner of the modern Oslo University Hospital, Radiumhospitalet which is the most specialised hospital in Norway for cancer therapy and research today.
Norway 1931 stamp. Radium hospital
Norway 1931 stamp. Radium hospital
In 2013, it was discovered at CERN that the nucleus of radium-224 is pear-shaped using a technique called coulomb excitation. This was the first discovery of an asymmetric nucleus.

Here’s a GB 2003 stamp showing a pear-shaped radium-224 nucleus!
GB 2003 pear stamp
GB 2003 pear stamp
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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André Debierne (top) & Friedrich Otto Geisel . Photo of actinium-225 medical radioisotope
André Debierne (top) & Friedrich Otto Geisel . Photo of actinium-225 medical radioisotope
This scarce radioactive element was discovered in 1899 by French chemist André-Louis Debierne, a friend of Marie & Pierre Curie. He extracted it from the uranium ore pitchblende (uranium oxide, U₃O₈) in which it occurs in trace amounts.

He named the new element actinium after the Greek word aktis (or aktinos) meaning beam or ray.

In 1902, German radiochemist Friedrich Otto Giesel independently extracted the element from the same mineral and gave it the name “emanium”.

Since Debierne discovered traces of the element first, his name - actinium - got chosen.

However Geisel was first to extract a pure sample of the element and identify it to be element 89.

Actinium is the first of a series of 15 elements called the actinides, found on the bottom row of the periodic table. You can see this circled in red on the 2019 Portugal miniature sheet which has a complete periodic table.
Portugal 2019 miniature sheet.
Portugal 2019 miniature sheet.
Actinium extracted from uranium ores is the isotope actinium-227 which has a half-life of 21.7 years. It occurs naturally as one of the decay products from uranium-235.
One tonne of natural uranium in ore contains about 0.2 milligrams of actinium-227

The 1983 Zaire & 1998 Benin stamps show specimens of pitchblende
Benin 1998 & Zaire 1983 stamps
Benin 1998 & Zaire 1983 stamps
The photo above shows the medical radioisotope actinium-225 held in a v-vial produced at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA. The blue glow comes from the ionization of surrounding air by alpha particles.

Alpha emitters such as actinium-225 are favored in cancer treatment because of the short range (a few cell diameters) of alpha particles in tissue and their high energy, rendering them highly effective in targeting and killing cancer cells.

The 10-day half-life of ²²⁵ Ac is long enough to facilitate treatment, but short enough that little remains in the body months after treatment.

The 1997 Australia stamp highlights breast cancer awareness.
Australia 1997 stamp
Australia 1997 stamp
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

Post by DavyJo »

In 1829, renowned Swedish chemist Jöns Jakob Berzelius extracted thorium from an unusual rock specimen sent to him by an amateur mineralogist. The new mineral turned out to be a silicate of thorium ( & uranium) - it was named thorite, (Th,U)SiO₄

Berzelius managed to produce metallic thorium by heating thorium fluoride with potassium, and confirmed it as a new element.

He named the element thorium after the Norse god of thunder and lightning - Thor.

The Sweden 1979 & 1939 (10 & 30 öre) stamps honour Berzelius and “Thor” is on the GB 2019 stamp.
Sweden 1979 & 1939 stamps. Berzelius. GB 2019 stamp. Thor
Sweden 1979 & 1939 stamps. Berzelius. GB 2019 stamp. Thor
The photo below shows a specimen of the mineral thorite.
Thorite
Thorite
The radioactivity of thorium was first demonstrated in 1898 by Gerhard Schmidt and confirmed by Marie Curie.

All known thorium isotopes are unstable. The most stable isotope, thorium-232 has a half-life of 14.05 billion years - about the age of the universe!
It decays very slowly via alpha decay, starting a decay chain named the thorium series that ends with stable lead-208.

Here is a diagram of the thorium decay chain…
Thorium decay chain
Thorium decay chain
One historical application of thorium was its use in gas mantles.

The gas mantle was one of the many inventions of Carl Auer von Welsbach, a chemist who studied rare-earth elements in the 1880s.

The 2012 Austria stamp below highlights the Welsbach gas mantle.
Austria 2012 stamp. Welsbach thorium gas mantle
Austria 2012 stamp. Welsbach thorium gas mantle
His first mantles were made with a mixture magnesium, lanthanum and yttrium oxides which he called “Actinophor" and patented in 1887. These original mantles gave off a greenish light and weren’t very successful.

However in 1891 Welsbach had a breakthrough - he perfected a new mixture of 99% thorium dioxide and 1% cerium dioxide that gave off a much whiter light and produced a stronger mantle.

After introducing this revolutionary new mantle commercially in 1892, it quickly spread throughout Europe. The gas mantle remained an important part of street lighting until the widespread introduction of electric lighting in the early 1900s.

Because of the dangerous decay products from thorium - particularly radium-224 these mantles are not recommended to be used nowadays.
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

Post by DavyJo »

In Mendeleev’s early periodic table, he predicted that there should be an element in the space between thorium (90) and uranium (92).

Element 91 was first identified in 1913 by chemists Kasimir Fajans and Otto Göhring at the University of Karlsruhe. They named the new element “brevium” due to the brief half-life (just over a minute) of the specific isotope studied - later known as protactinium-234m.

A more stable isotope was separated from the uranium ore, pitchblende, in 1918 by Lise Meitner and Otto Hahn at the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute in Berlin. They had discovered the longer-lived isotope protactinium-231 with a half-life of 32,500 years.

The 1989 Germany stamp shows Lise Meitner and the 1994 Cuba stamp has an image of Otto Hahn.
Germany 1989 stamp (Lise Meitner) & Cuba 1994 stamp (Otto Hahn)
Germany 1989 stamp (Lise Meitner) & Cuba 1994 stamp (Otto Hahn)
They named the element protactinium after the Greek “protos” meaning ‘first, before’ - hence “before actinium”- because ²³¹ Pa decays to actinium - so comes before it.

The diagram below shows how ²³¹ Pa converts to ²²⁷ Ac by alpha decay.
Portion of actinium decay chain
Portion of actinium decay chain
A niche application of protactinium is in radiometric dating.
By measuring the ratio of protactinium-231 and uranium-235 (or thorium-230) in a sample of mineral, its age can be determined. This works specifically for carbonates, phosphates and marine sediments.

Here’s a nice block of 4 stamps from Palau issued in 2017 showing underwater landscapes and some marine sediment.
Palau 2017 stamps. Underwater landscapes
Palau 2017 stamps. Underwater landscapes
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

Post by DavyJo »

The mineral pitchblende or uraninite (uranium oxide, U₃O₈) has been known since at least the 15th century, occasionally appearing in silver mines.

In 1789, German chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth decided to investigate this mineral.
He dissolved it in nitric acid and precipitated a yellow compound when the solution was neutralised. He realised it was the oxide of a new element and tried to produce the metal itself by heating the precipitate with charcoal, but failed.

Klaproth named the new element uranium - after the recently discovered planet Uranus (in 1781 by William Herschel).
Engraving of Martin Klaproth. Grenada 2001 souvenir sheet (uraninite). Zaire 1983 stamp (uranium & pitchblende). USA 2016 stamp. Uranus
Engraving of Martin Klaproth. Grenada 2001 souvenir sheet (uraninite). Zaire 1983 stamp (uranium & pitchblende). USA 2016 stamp. Uranus
In 1841 Eugène Peligot in Paris isolated the first sample of uranium metal by heating uranium tetrachloride with potassium.

The discovery that uranium was radioactive came only in 1896 when French physicist Henri Becquerel left a sample of uranium on top of an unexposed photographic plate - and caused it to become cloudy. From this he deduced that uranium was emitting invisible rays. Becquerel had discovered radioactivity!

The SI unit for radioactivity, the becquerel (symbol Bq) is named after him.

The 1946 stamp from France honours Becquerel for his pioneering research into radioactivity - and highlights its use in the fight against cancer.
France 1946 stamp. Henri Becquerel
France 1946 stamp. Henri Becquerel
Uranium is a naturally occurring element found in low levels in all rock, soil, and water.
Uranium is the highest-numbered element found naturally in significant quantities on Earth and is almost always found combined with other elements.

The decay of uranium, thorium, and potassium-40 in Earth's mantle is thought to be the main source of heat that keeps the Earth's outer core in the liquid state and drives mantle convection, which in turn drives plate tectonics

Natural uranium is made up of about 99% uranium-238 (which is not fissile) and about 0.7% uranium-235 which is fissile. A fissile isotope is capable of nuclear fission.

Nuclear fission was discovered in December 1938 by chemists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann and physicists Lise Meitner and Otto Robert Frisch.
Austria 1978 stamp Lise Meitner & Dominica 1995 stamp Otto Hahn. Photos of Otto Frisch (left) & Fritz Strassmann.
Austria 1978 stamp Lise Meitner & Dominica 1995 stamp Otto Hahn. Photos of Otto Frisch (left) & Fritz Strassmann.
Fission is a nuclear reaction or radioactive decay process in which the nucleus of an atom splits into two or more smaller, lighter nuclei and often other particles.

The fission process often produces gamma rays, releases huge amounts of energy and can lead to a chain reaction. Scientists began to realise that this could be exploited and led to the development of nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

Hahn was awarded the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of nuclear fission.

Hahn and his colleagues discovered that uranium-235 was a fissile isotope and when exposed to a slow neutron it would absorb it forming a very unstable uranium-236 nucleus. This then split into barium and krypton nuclei releasing 3 more neutrons. These neutrons could in turn cause more uranium-235 atoms to split thus forming a chain reaction.

The stamps below illustrate the fission process…
DDR 1979, Romania 1999, Germany 1979 & GB 1966 stamps. Nuclear fission
DDR 1979, Romania 1999, Germany 1979 & GB 1966 stamps. Nuclear fission
The 1966 GB stamp shows the Windscale Advanced Gas-cooled
Reactor (WAGR) in Cumbria, England.

This was a prototype for the UK’s 2nd generation of reactors, the advanced gas-cooled reactor or AGR which followed on from the early Magnox stations.

The site now known as Sellafield is a large multi-function nuclear facility with many buildings.
It’s currently being used for nuclear waste processing and storage and nuclear decommissioning.
From 1956 to 2003 it was used to generate nuclear power.

The image of the WAGR on the stamp with the spherical structure is known colloquially as the “golfball” and is probably the most iconic building on the Sellafield site.
Its construction was completed in 1962 and the reactor was in use until 1981 after which it was shut down.

It’s now part of a pilot project to demonstrate techniques for safely decommissioning a nuclear reactor.

And finally, here’s a small uranium glass dish fluorescing bright green under uv light in my element collection.

Uranium glass is made with uranium oxide as an additive.
Uranium glass under uv light
Uranium glass under uv light
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

Post by Jennyarya2007 »

Hello.
I would like to present a Science-themed stamp which I have in my collection and its a recent one too, having been issued only last year.
The stamp was issued by India, celebrating the Raman Research Institute, one of the premier scientific institutions of the country. The Raman Research Institute (RRI) is an institute for scientific research located in Bengaluru, India. It became an autonomous institute in 1972, receiving funds from the Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India.
The Raman Research Institue Stamp issued by India in 2023
The Raman Research Institue Stamp issued by India in 2023
The Institute was founded by Sir CV Raman, a famous Indian Physicist who became the First Asian to win the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930 for discovering the Raman Effect.
Sir CV Raman
Sir CV Raman
Born to Tamil Brahmin parents, Raman was a precocious child, completing his secondary and higher secondary education from St Aloysius' Anglo-Indian High School at the age of 11 and 13, respectively. He topped the bachelor's degree examination of the University of Madras with honours in physics from Presidency College at age 16. His first research paper, on diffraction of light, was published in 1906 while he was still a graduate student. The next year he obtained a master's degree. He joined the Indian Finance Service in Calcutta as Assistant Accountant General at age 19. There he became acquainted with the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS), the first research institute in India, which allowed him to carry out independent research and where he made his major contributions in acoustics and optics.

In 1917, he was appointed the first Palit Professor of Physics by Ashutosh Mukherjee at the Rajabazar Science College under the University of Calcutta. On his first trip to Europe, seeing the Mediterranean Sea motivated him to identify the prevailing explanation for the blue colour of the sea at the time, namely the reflected Rayleigh-scattered light from the sky, as being incorrect. He founded the Indian Journal of Physics in 1926. He moved to Bangalore in 1933 to become the first Indian director of the Indian Institute of Science. He founded the Indian Academy of Sciences the same year. He established the Raman Research Institute in 1948 where he worked to his last days.
Sir CV Raman with the Nobel Prize
Sir CV Raman with the Nobel Prize
The Raman effect was discovered on 28 February 1928. The day is celebrated annually by the Government of India as the National Science Day.
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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Neptunium is the first of the transuranium elements, ie. elements with atomic number greater than 92.

It was first synthesised by Edwin McMillan and Philip H. Abelson at the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory, USA in 1940. They had produced element 93 with a half-life of 2.4 days - later known as neptunium-239.

They named it neptunium after the planet Neptune - which is the next outermost planet after Uranus.
Marshall Islands 1994 stamp. Neptune. Photos of Edwin McMillan (left) & Phil Abelson
Marshall Islands 1994 stamp. Neptune. Photos of Edwin McMillan (left) & Phil Abelson
The planet Neptune was first observed and recognised as a planet by German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle in 1846.

Another astronomer Urbain Le Verrier had predicted the existence and position of Neptune, and sent the coordinates to Galle, asking him to verify. Galle found Neptune on the same night he received Le Verrier's letter, within 1°of the predicted position!

Here are a few stamps showing the planet Neptune.
Australia 2015, USA 2016 & Burundi 2012 stamps. USA 1991 FDC Neptune
Australia 2015, USA 2016 & Burundi 2012 stamps. USA 1991 FDC Neptune
Back to the element neptunium…

The longest-lived isotope, neptunium-237 (half-life of 2.14 million years) is found naturally in trace amounts in uranium ores.

The decay chain of Np-237 (called the neptunium series) is shown in the diagram below.
Notice how this decay series ends with the stable isotope thallium-205.
Neptunium series (decay chain)
Neptunium series (decay chain)
While neptunium itself has no commercial uses at present, it is used as a precursor for the formation of plutonium-238, which is in turn used in radioisotope thermal generators to provide electricity for spacecraft - such as the Voyager 2 space probe.

The Voyager 2 probe is highlighted on this sheet of Burundi stamps from 2012.
Burundi 2012 stamps. Voyager 2
Burundi 2012 stamps. Voyager 2
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

Post by DavyJo »

Plutonium was first synthetically produced and isolated in late 1940 and early 1941, by Glenn T. Seaborg, Edwin McMillan, Emilio Segrè, Joseph W. Kennedy and Arthur Wahl.
Maldives 1995 stamp Glen T. Seaborg. Marshall Islands 1994 Pluto. Photos of McMillan ( top row left), Segrè (top row right), Kennedy (bottom left) & Wahl.
Maldives 1995 stamp Glen T. Seaborg. Marshall Islands 1994 Pluto. Photos of McMillan ( top row left), Segrè (top row right), Kennedy (bottom left) & Wahl.
They bombarded uranium with deuterons in the 1.5-metre (60 in) cyclotron at the University of California, Berkeley. First, neptunium-238 (half-life 2.1 days) was synthesized, which subsequently beta-decayed to form the new element with atomic number 94 and atomic weight 238 (half-life 88 years).

Since uranium had been named after the planet Uranus and neptunium after the planet Neptune, element 94 was named plutonium after Pluto, which at the time was considered to be a planet as well.

The USA 2016 stamps show an image of Pluto which is no longer considered a planet! - only a dwarf planet!
The New Horizons probe was powered by a plutonium-238 nuclear battery.
USA 2016 stamps. Pluto
USA 2016 stamps. Pluto
Plutonium is the element with the highest atomic number known to occur in nature
Minuscule traces of Pu-238, Pu-239, Pu-240 & Pu-244 can be found in some uranium ores.

Plutonium’s first use was in atomic bombs.

The infamous “Fat Man” bomb was a plutonium-239 implosion-type nuclear weapon.
It was dropped on Nagasaki in Japan on 9th August 1945.

This controversial USA Cinderella stamp has an image of the mushroom cloud from that terrible event.
USA 1995 Cinderella stamp mushroom cloud
USA 1995 Cinderella stamp mushroom cloud
A better use of plutonium is in nuclear power plants and radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs).

An RTG is a type of nuclear battery that uses an array of thermocouples to convert the heat released by the decay of a suitable radioactive material into electricity

They are commonly used to power space probes - such as this Pioneer-11 spacecraft.
USA 1974 cover
USA 1974 cover
Plutonium-238 was even used in some cardiac pacemakers for a brief time!
Now they’re powered by lithium batteries.

The 1983 Austria stamp highlights the cardiac pacemaker symposium.
Austria 1983 cardiac pacemaker. Diagram of Pu-238 powered pacemaker
Austria 1983 cardiac pacemaker. Diagram of Pu-238 powered pacemaker
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

Post by DavyJo »

Maldives 1995 stamp Glen T. Seaborg & photo of Albert Ghiorso
Maldives 1995 stamp Glen T. Seaborg & photo of Albert Ghiorso
Element 95 was first synthesised, isolated and identified in late autumn 1944 by Glenn T. Seaborg, Albert Ghiorso and colleagues.

Working at the University of California, Berkeley, USA, they used a 60-inch cyclotron to bombard plutonium with neutrons. This produced isotopes of element 95.
It was chemically identified at the Metallurgical Laboratory of the University of Chicago.

Element 95 appears in the actinide series directly below its corresponding lanthanide europium (named after Europe). So Seaborg and his colleagues chose the name americium, after the Americas, for the new element.

Here are a few stamps showing maps of the continent of America.
USA 1968, Mexico 1972 & Canada 2001 stamps. Maps of America
USA 1968, Mexico 1972 & Canada 2001 stamps. Maps of America
Actually, earlier in 1944, Seaborg and his team had discovered element 96 first using the same cyclotron at Berkeley.
It was chemically identified at Chicago University by chemist Ralph A. James - as was americium later that year.

Element 96 was named curium, in honour of Pierre & Marie Curie for their pioneering research into radioactivity.

The 1938 Monaco & 1977 Central Africa stamps honour the Curies.
Monaco 1938 & Central Africa 1977 stamps. Pierre & Marie Curie
Monaco 1938 & Central Africa 1977 stamps. Pierre & Marie Curie
Americium-241 is a powerful alpha emitter. This means by its radioactive decay it produces high energy alpha particles (helium nuclei) which can ionise air molecules.
This property is used in ionization smoke detectors.

The ionised air produces a tiny electric current between metal contacts powered by a battery in the device.
When smoke enters the detector it interrupts the current and triggers an alarm.

Only about 0.3 μg (0.3 millionths of a gram) of Am-241 is used in a typical smoke detector.

Check out this cool YouTube video which explains how it works in more detail:
https://youtu.be/X6wJE-4BLM0?feature=shared

The 2017 Belgium stamp below shows an image of a smoke detector.
Belgium 2017 stamp. Smoke detector
Belgium 2017 stamp. Smoke detector
Curium is extremely radioactive and its isotopes also mostly emit alpha particles.

Curium-244 was used as an alpha-particle source in special X-ray spectrometers.
These instruments were installed on the Mars Exploration Rovers and the Mars Science Laboratory to analyse the structure of rocks on the surface of Mars.

The 1997 USA souvenir sheet has an image of the Sojourner rover, the first one on Mars.
USA 1997 souvenir sheet. Sojourner rover
USA 1997 souvenir sheet. Sojourner rover
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

Post by DavyJo »

Maldives 1995 stamp. Glen T. Seaborg. Photos of Albert Ghiorso (top) & Stanley Thompson. 1966 Berkeley, Calif. franking label/stamp
Maldives 1995 stamp. Glen T. Seaborg. Photos of Albert Ghiorso (top) & Stanley Thompson. 1966 Berkeley, Calif. franking label/stamp
Berkelium was first produced in December 1949, at the University of California at Berkeley, by Stanley Thompson, Albert Ghiorso, and Glenn Seaborg.

They took americium-241, which had first been synthesised in 1944, and bombarded it with helium nuclei (alpha particles) for several hours in the 60-inch cyclotron.

The isotope produced was berkelium-243 which has a half-life of about 5 days.

Element 97 was named berkelium after the city of Berkeley where the element was created.

Here are a few postcards with some nice photos of Berkeley.
Postcards with views of Berkeley and Radiation Laboratory
Postcards with views of Berkeley and Radiation Laboratory
It wasn’t until the late 1950s that enough berkelium had been made to see with the naked eye, and even this was only a few micrograms. The first chemical compound, berkelium dioxide, BkO₂ was made in 1962.

In February 1950 the same Seaborg team (now including chemist Kenneth Street Jr.) synthesised the new element 98 using the Berkeley cyclotron.

They made it by firing helium nuclei at curium-242. The process yielded the isotope californium-245 which has a half-life of 44 minutes.

Here is a photo of the Berkeley cyclotron and below you can see the equations showing how the new elements berkelium and californium were created.
Berkeley 60 inch cyclotron
Berkeley 60 inch cyclotron
Curium is intensely radioactive and it had taken the team three years to collect the few milligrams needed for the experiment, and even so only a few micrograms of this were used.

Their endeavours produced around 5,000 atoms of californium - enough to prove the discovery of a new element.

Seaborg and his team named element 98 californium after the University and state of California.

Here are a few stamps highlighting California :
USA 1950, 1969, 1976 (California state flag) & 2000 stamps. California
USA 1950, 1969, 1976 (California state flag) & 2000 stamps. California
And here’s a cover from the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory - which is the new name for the original “Radiation Laboratory”( see postcard above) where berkelium and californium were first made.
USA 1977 cover. Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory
USA 1977 cover. Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

Post by DavyJo »

France 2005 stamp (Albert Einstein) & USA 2001 stamp (Enrico Fermi). Photo of Albert Ghiorso
France 2005 stamp (Albert Einstein) & USA 2001 stamp (Enrico Fermi). Photo of Albert Ghiorso
The first thermonuclear device ( hydrogen or H bomb) was detonated on 1 November 1952 in an experiment conducted by American military scientists. It was called the “Ivy Mike” nuclear test.

It’s called a hydrogen bomb because liquid deuterium - an isotope of hydrogen - was used as fusion fuel.

This process involved a nuclear fission bomb triggering a nuclear fusion reaction, which produces much greater energy and destructive power.

The 1967 Vietnam stamp below highlights the first H bomb test carried out by China in June 1967.
Vietnam 1967 stamp. H bomb
Vietnam 1967 stamp. H bomb
In the 1952 American test, the site chosen was a Pacific atoll in the Marshall Islands. The huge explosion created masses of radioactive fall-out material. Samples of this were sent to laboratories at Berkeley, California where it was analysed by Albert Ghiorso and his team.

In December 1952, they discovered and identified about 200 atoms of a new element, element 99, which they named einsteinium in honour of the famous physicist Albert Einstein.

In the intense pressure, heat and radiation of the explosion some uranium atoms had “captured” several neutrons. Then, through a series of capture and decay steps, this resulted in the formation of the isotope einsteinium-253 with a half-life of 20.5 days.

By 1961, enough einsteinium had been collected enabling it to be weighed, although it amounted to a mere 10 millionths of a gram!

Here are just a few more of the many, many stamps honouring Albert Einstein.
Selection of Albert Einstein stamps
Selection of Albert Einstein stamps
In 1953, Ghiorso and his team analysed more debris from the site of the Ivy Mike test.
They detected minuscule amounts of an isotope of element 100.
It turned out to be fermium-255 with a half-life of 20 hours.

They named the element fermium after the nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi.

In 1942 in Chicago, USA, Fermi designed the world’s first nuclear reactor that could generate a self sustaining chain reaction. It was called Chicago Pile-1.

The 1967 stamp from Italy below commemorates the 25 year anniversary of this event.

Fermi was the first to point out that hidden inside the Einstein equation (E = mc ²) was an enormous amount of nuclear potential energy to be exploited.

Here are a few more stamps honouring Enrico Fermi.
Italy 1967 & 2001, Romania 2000 & Monaco 2001 stamps. Enrico Fermi
Italy 1967 & 2001, Romania 2000 & Monaco 2001 stamps. Enrico Fermi
Because of Cold War tensions and competition between American and Soviet nuclear researchers, the official announcement of discovery and naming of einsteinium and fermium was delayed until 1955.

It’s interesting that in 1955 USA issued the “Atoms for Peace” stamp which memorialised President Eisenhower’s wishes for peaceful uses of atomic energy.
USA 1955 FDC. Atoms for Peace
USA 1955 FDC. Atoms for Peace
And finally, a quote from Eisenhower’s “Chance for Peace” speech delivered in April 1953:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.


This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement.

We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. . . . This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

Post by DavyJo »

In 1955, Albert Ghiorso, Bernard Harvey, Gregory Choppin, Stanley Thompson, and Glenn Seaborg managed to produce 17 atoms of mendelevium! The process involved an all-night experiment using the 60-inch cyclotron at Berkeley, California.

The photo below taken in 1980 shows the research team together celebrating the 25 year anniversary of the element’s discovery. Stanley Thompson died in 1976 so unfortunately couldn’t make it!
Photo (left to right) of G. Choppin, G.T. Seaborg, B.Harvey & A.Ghiorso taken in 1980. Photo of S.Thompson. Portugal 2019 stamp.
Photo (left to right) of G. Choppin, G.T. Seaborg, B.Harvey & A.Ghiorso taken in 1980. Photo of S.Thompson. Portugal 2019 stamp.
A sample of einsteinium-253 was bombarded with alpha-particles (helium nuclei) and mendelevium-256 was detected. This had a half-life of around 78 minutes.

Element 101 was named mendelevium after the Russian chemist and “father of the periodic table”, Dmitri Mendeleev.

Because of the Cold War existing at the time, the American scientists had to seek official permission from the US government to name the new element after a Russian - and it was granted!

Here are a few stamps honouring Mendeleev. The CCCP set at the top were issued in 1934 commemorating the 100 year anniversary of Mendeleev’s birth.
Selection of Mendeleev stamps
Selection of Mendeleev stamps
In 1869 there were 63 known elements. Mendeleev arranged these elements by increasing atomic weight in several columns, noting recurring chemical properties across them. It is sometimes said that he played "chemical solitaire" on long train journeys, using cards with the symbols and the atomic weights of the known elements.

Here’s his first periodic table from 1869 shown on the 1969 CCCP mini-sheet.
CCCP 1969 mini-sheet. Mendeleev’s periodic table
CCCP 1969 mini-sheet. Mendeleev’s periodic table
The remarkable thing about Mendeleev’s system was that it could predict yet-to-be discovered elements - their correct place in the table and even some of the properties of those elements.

A fundamental change to the periodic table was when the elements were arranged in order of atomic number rather than atomic weight. This solved some of the inconsistencies and problems in Mendeleev’s earlier tables.

The modern periodic table with 118 currently known elements is shown on this 2019 mini-sheet from Portugal.
Portugal 2019 mini-sheet. Periodic table
Portugal 2019 mini-sheet. Periodic table
Here’s a fascinating YouTube video about the discovery of the element mendelevium with original 1955 footage from the Berkeley laboratories.
https://youtu.be/kBC2mcd61lA?feature=shared

Watch out for the amusing scene in the film where Ghiorso and Harvey are rushing to get the tiny mendelevium sample to another lab on the other side of the campus before it all decays - in a turbocharged VW Beetle!
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

Post by DavyJo »

The history of nobelium’s discovery was quite controversial and complicated.
During the 1950s and 1960s scientists in Sweden, USA and the Soviet Union all claimed they had produced various isotopes of element 102.

Actually it was research scientists at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna, Russia who synthesised nobelium for the first time in 1966. They used a target of uranium-238 and bombarded it with neon ions resulting in the isotope nobelium-254 with a half-life of 51 seconds.

The Hungary stamp below commemorates the 10 year anniversary of JINR at Dubna - issued in 1966, the same year as the “official” discovery of nobelium.
Hungary 1966 stamp (Dubna) & Sweden 1946 stamps. Alfred Nobel
Hungary 1966 stamp (Dubna) & Sweden 1946 stamps. Alfred Nobel
However, the name itself was proposed by the Swedish chemists earlier in 1957 when they thought they’d made it. They suggested the name nobelium for element 102 in honour of Alfred Nobel.

In 1958 Ghiorso and the Berkeley team also claimed they’d made element 102 and they were happy with the name nobelium.

However the Soviet scientists disputed the American claim and preferred the name “joliotium” and for while they didn’t recognise the name nobelium.

The name nobelium wasn’t internationally accepted as the correct name until 1997 when IUPAC* eventually resolved the issue.

*IUPAC = International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry. In the world of chemistry it’s recognised as the authority on chemical nomenclature and element discovery.

Here’s a IUPAC stamp issued by USSR in 1965.
CCCP 1965 stamp. IUPAC
CCCP 1965 stamp. IUPAC
As already mentioned, nobelium was named in honour of Alfred Nobel (21 October 1833 – 10 December 1896) a Swedish chemist, inventor, engineer and businessman. He invented the explosives dynamite and gelignite which became commercially very successful.
He bequeathed his vast fortune to establish the Nobel Prize.

These prizes were to be awarded annually to persons that made outstanding contributions to the “benefit of mankind” in the fields of chemistry, physics, physiology or medicine, literature & peace.

Here are a selection of stamps honouring Alfred Nobel.
The 2008 stamp below from Monaco highlights Nobel’s invention of dynamite in 1866.
The German & Romanian stamps show a portion of Nobel’s will (“Testament” in German) outlining his conditions for the Nobel Prizes.
Monaco 2008 stamp. Alfred Nobel - inventor of dynamite
Monaco 2008 stamp. Alfred Nobel - inventor of dynamite
Germany 1995 FDC. Alfred Nobel
Germany 1995 FDC. Alfred Nobel
Selection of Alfred Nobel stamps
Selection of Alfred Nobel stamps
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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Like previous elements, lawrencium had a controversial history with American and Soviet scientists claiming to have synthesized element 103 first.

However, Ghiorso and his team at Berkeley made a convincing attempt in 1961. They bombarded a mixture of californium isotopes (atomic no.98) with boron ions (atomic no. 5) which produced element 103 (98 + 5 = 103). Later investigation proved this to be the isotope lawrencium-258.

The team named the new element lawrencium after nuclear physicist Ernest Lawrence. They initially chose the symbol “Lw” but IUPAC changed it to “Lr”.
Photo of Albert Ghiorso & team celebrating discovery of lawrencium. Guinee 2008 stamp. Ernest Lawrence
Photo of Albert Ghiorso & team celebrating discovery of lawrencium. Guinee 2008 stamp. Ernest Lawrence
Even though IUPAC later agreed that both Soviet and American scientists should share the credit for the discovery of element 103, the American choice of name - lawrencium - was ratified.

Ernest Lawrence worked at Berkeley as a professor and invented the cyclotron in the early 1930s.

These machines rapidly accelerated hydrogen ions (protons) by means of an oscillating electric field combined with a strong magnetic field. The high energy proton beam was then used to bombard a target atom. This process could produce new isotopes and even new elements.

The principle is shown in this (very basic) diagram:
Cyclotron
Cyclotron
Lawrence was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in November 1939 "for the invention and development of the cyclotron and for results obtained with it, especially with regard to artificial radioactive elements”.

The 1998 Marshall Islands stamp highlights Lawrence’s award of the Nobel Prize for the invention of the cyclotron.
Marshall Islands 1998 stamp. Ernest Lawrence
Marshall Islands 1998 stamp. Ernest Lawrence
The photo below, taken in 1939, shows Lawrence and his proud team with the newly installed 60 inch cyclotron at Berkeley.
60 inch cyclotron Berkeley
60 inch cyclotron Berkeley
The 1982 Belgium stamp has a simplified diagram of a cyclotron used at the “Institut national des radioéléments” in Fleurus, Belgium which produces radioactive isotopes for medical use.
Belgium 1982 stamp. Cyclotron
Belgium 1982 stamp. Cyclotron
Here’s an interesting YouTube video about the TRIUMF cyclotron in Vancouver, Canada - currently the largest in the world.

https://youtu.be/5oR72AxuWRU?feature=shared
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

Post by DavyJo »

GB 2010 stamp. Ernest Rutherford
GB 2010 stamp. Ernest Rutherford
In the 1960s, small amounts of element 104 were produced at Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in the Soviet Union and at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

One of the convincing experiments involved bombarding a californium-249 target with carbon-12 ions which produced rutherfordium-257.

Since the Soviets claimed to have first detected the new element they suggested the name kurchatovium (Ku) in honor of Igor Kurchatov (1903–1960), former head of Soviet nuclear research. This name had been used in books of the Soviet Bloc as the official name of the element.
Here are a few stamps honouring Kurchatov.
CCCP 1963 & Russia 2003 stamps. Igor Kurchatov
CCCP 1963 & Russia 2003 stamps. Igor Kurchatov
The Americans, however, proposed the name rutherfordium (Rf) for the new element to honor physicist Ernest Rutherford.

Priority of discovery and hence the name of the element was disputed between Soviet and American scientists, and it wasn’t until 1997 that IUPAC established rutherfordium as the official name of the element.

Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson - hence known as Lord Rutherford- (30 August 1871 – 19 October 1937) was a New Zealand physicist and a pioneering researcher in both atomic and nuclear physics.

Rutherford has been described as "the father of nuclear physics", and "the greatest experimentalist since Michael Faraday". In 1908, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for his investigations into the disintegration of the elements, and the chemistry of radioactive substances."

Rutherford's discoveries include the concept of radioactive half-life, the radioactive element radon, and the differentiation and naming of alpha and beta radiation. Together with Thomas Royds, Rutherford is credited with proving that alpha radiation is composed of helium nuclei.

In 1911, he theorized that atoms have their charge concentrated in a very small nucleus. And in 1913, together with H.G. Moseley, Rutherford developed the atomic numbering system.

An interesting fact for me personally is that Rutherford first coined the term “proton” to refer to the hydrogen nucleus at a meeting with the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Cardiff in 1920 - ( I was born in Cardiff and have lived here all my life but I didn’t realise this until I was researching about Rutherford!)

The 1971 New Zealand stamps below highlight some of Rutherford’s discoveries.

The 1 cent stamp illustrates an experiment proving that a nucleus is positively charged.

And the 7 cent stamp highlights the first observation of an artificial transmutation from a stable element into an entirely different element ie. nitrogen into oxygen.

However the credit for this is now recognised to belong to Rutherford’s research assistant, Patrick Blackett.
Selection of Ernest Rutherford stamps
Selection of Ernest Rutherford stamps
Canada 1971 FDC. Ernest Rutherford
Canada 1971 FDC. Ernest Rutherford
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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Hungary 1966 stamp. Dubna. Russia 2013 stamp Georgy Flerov. Photo of Albert Ghiorso
Hungary 1966 stamp. Dubna. Russia 2013 stamp Georgy Flerov. Photo of Albert Ghiorso
Credit for the discovery of dubnium is shared between scientists at the JINR, Dubna, Russia and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, California.

In 1968, the team in Russia led by Georgy Flerov bombarded an americium-243 target with neon-22 ions and synthesized isotopes of element 105, identified as dubnium-260 or dubnium-261. Later investigations confirmed it was Db-260.

The Dubna team proposed calling the new element neilsbohrium (Ns) after the Nobel Prize winning physicist Niels Bohr.

In 1970, Albert Ghiorso and his team in California also attempted to synthesize element 105. They had no success with repeating the Russian experiment but they successfully synthesized element 105 by bombarding a californium-249 target with nitrogen-15 ions.

They suggested the name hahnium (Ha) for the new element, after the Nobel Prize winning chemist Otto Hahn.

After much debate, in 1997 IUPAC decided that element 105 should be given the name dubnium after Dubna in Russia where the research facility (JINR) is situated.

Here are a few stamps highlighting the JINR at Dubna.
Poland & Russia 1976 stamps. Bulgaria 1981 stamp. JINR Dubna
Poland & Russia 1976 stamps. Bulgaria 1981 stamp. JINR Dubna
The postcard below shows the central control room for the “synchrophasotron” - a large circular particle accelerator located in the Electrophysics Laboratory in Dubna.
Notice the nice chandeliers hanging from the ceiling!
Control room for Synchrophasatron at Dubna
Control room for Synchrophasatron at Dubna
The 2016 Czech Republic block of 6 stamps commemorates the 60 year anniversary of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) at Dubna.
Czech Republic 2016 block of 6 stamps. JINR Dubna
Czech Republic 2016 block of 6 stamps. JINR Dubna
The stamp illustrates a nucleus undergoing a decay process called “neutrinoless double beta decay”.

In a typical double beta decay - which only happens rarely- two neutrons in the nucleus are converted to protons, and two electrons and two electron antineutrinos are emitted.

But in neutrinoless double beta decay, which has not yet been observed - but if it does exist - can be viewed as two ordinary beta decay events whose resultant antineutrinos immediately annihilate each other. This would only be possible if neutrinos are equal to their own antiparticles.

This is a concept that was theorised by Italian physicist Ettore Majorana in 1937 and is currently a hot research topic in nuclear/particle physics ie. the exact nature of the neutrino.

The Italy 2006 stamp below honours Majorana.
Italy 2006 stamp. Ettore Majorana
Italy 2006 stamp. Ettore Majorana
Check out this interesting YouTube video for more info about this topic.
It’s given by a neutrino physicist who explains the subject very clearly.

https://youtu.be/BTSJ3KiKnes?feature=shared
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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Maldives 1995 stamp. Glenn T. Seaborg & photo of Albert Ghiorso
Maldives 1995 stamp. Glenn T. Seaborg & photo of Albert Ghiorso
In 1970, a team led by Albert Ghiorso at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) bombarded californium-249 with oxygen-18 and this was thought to produce element 106, isotope 263m- but this wasn’t definitely confirmed at the time.

In 1974, a team led by Georgy Flerov and Yuri Oganessian at the Russian JINR bombarded lead with chromium and obtained isotopes 259 and 260 of element 106.

In September 1974, Ghiorso’s team at LBNL repeated their earlier experiments using the same isotopes of californium and oxygen. This time, with superior methods of detection, they had conclusively produced isotope 263m with a half-life of 0.9 seconds. This confirmed the earlier 1970 experiment.

Because of the usual disputes about priority of discovery between American and Russian scientists, it took several years before a name was accepted by both groups.

Again IUPAC intervened and awarded priority of discovery to the American team.
They proposed the name seaborgium for element 106 after Glenn T. Seaborg.

At the time IUPAC had a policy of not naming an element after a living person - and Glenn Seaborg was very much alive at that time.
The American team protested vigorously - and IUPAC later changed this policy.

Eventually, in 1997 at the ‘famous IUPAC rejuggling of names meeting’ the name seaborgium was established incontrovertibly as the approved name for element 106.

This was the first element to be named after a living person.

Here’s a photo of Seaborg pointing to seaborgium on the periodic table.
Glenn T. Seaborg
Glenn T. Seaborg
Glenn T. Seaborg (1912-1999) was the principal/co-discoverer of 10 transuranium elements:
plutonium, americium, curium, berkelium, californium, einsteinium, fermium, mendelevium, nobelium and ……. seaborgium !

He shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1951 with Edwin McMillan for "their discoveries in the chemistry of the first transuranium elements."

With the discovery of the first few transuranium elements, Seaborg proposed they should form a homologous series with the lanthanides. He called this the “actinide series”.
The actinides (ie. the elements actinium through to lawrencium) form the bottom row of the periodic table underneath the lanthanides.

He was President of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 1976, which was the Society’s centennial year.

This (fuzzy scan) of the USA 1976 FDC commemorates this event and has Seaborg’s signature as the Society’s president.
USA 1976 FDC
USA 1976 FDC
USA 1976 stamp. Chemistry
USA 1976 stamp. Chemistry
Here’s a USA 1951 FDC commemorating the 75 year anniversary of the ACS.
USA 1951 FDC. 75 year anniversary of ACS
USA 1951 FDC. 75 year anniversary of ACS
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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Photos of Peter Arbruster (left) & Gottfried Münzenberg. Greenland 1963 stamp. Niels Bohr
Photos of Peter Arbruster (left) & Gottfried Münzenberg. Greenland 1963 stamp. Niels Bohr
Bohrium was first claimed to have been produced in the USSR in 1976 by Yuri Oganessian and colleagues at JINR, Dubna - but it wasn’t conclusive.

In 1981, a German research team led by Peter Armbruster and Gottfried Münzenberg at the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research (GSI) in Darmstadt bombarded a target of bismuth-209 with accelerated nuclei of chromium-54. This produced 5 atoms of the isotope bohrium-262 !

This discovery was further substantiated by their detailed measurements of the alpha decay chain of the produced bohrium atoms to previously known isotopes of fermium and californium.

IUPAC - more accurately the IUPAC/IUPAP Transfermium Working Group (TWG) - recognised the GSI collaboration as official discoverers in their 1992 report.

Incidentally, the GSI is part of the Helmholtz Association which is the largest association of research institutions in Germany. It’s named after the German physicist and physician Hermann von Helmholtz (1821 -1894) who made significant contributions in several scientific fields.

Here are a few stamps honouring Helmholtz.
DDR 1950, Germany 1971 & 1994 stamps. Hermann von Helmholtz
DDR 1950, Germany 1971 & 1994 stamps. Hermann von Helmholtz
Back to element 107 … As the GSI team were the official discoverers they had the right to name the element. They initially chose the name “nielsbohrium”, honouring Danish nuclear physicist Niels Bohr.

However IUPAC preferred the name bohrium because of the policy of only using surnames.
Again, after much debate, in 1997 the official accepted name bohrium was established for element 107.

Niels Bohr (1865-1962) was a brilliant Danish physicist who made groundbreaking contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum theory.

He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922 for these achievements.

Here are a few colourful stamps from Guinea-Bissau, Benin and Ivory Coast honouring Niels Bohr.
Guinea-Bissau 2008, Benin & Ivory Coast stamps. Niels Bohr
Guinea-Bissau 2008, Benin & Ivory Coast stamps. Niels Bohr
One of Bohr’s famous “postulates” states:

Electrons gain and lose energy by jumping from one allowed orbit to another, absorbing or emitting a photon with a frequency ν determined by the difference between the two energy levels involved in the transition.

The joint issue 1963 stamps from Denmark and Greenland show an equation which sums this up. h is the Planck constant.
Denmark & Greenland 1963 stamps. Niels Bohr
Denmark & Greenland 1963 stamps. Niels Bohr
Here’s a link to an interesting YouTube video which gives a fascinating insight into the life and work of Niels Bohr. The video describes his interactions with other great physicists of the time such as Einstein and Rutherford - and also how he valued the support of his loyal wife Margrethe.

https://youtu.be/8IIg4Qt_qv4?feature=shared
Denmark 1985. Niels & Margrethe Bohr
Denmark 1985. Niels & Margrethe Bohr
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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In 1978 and 1983, Yuri Oganessian and his team attempted to create element 108 at JINR in Dubna. But the results weren’t conclusive.
Germany 1993 stamp Hessen Coat of Arms. Germany 1988 stamp Lise Meitner. Photos of Peter Armbruster & Gottfried Münzenberg
Germany 1993 stamp Hessen Coat of Arms. Germany 1988 stamp Lise Meitner. Photos of Peter Armbruster & Gottfried Münzenberg
Meanwhile in Germany, scientists were focusing on element 109.
In 1982, a research team led by Peter Armbruster and Gottfried Münzenberg at GSI in Darmstadt managed to synthesise element 109 for the first time.

Using the UNILAC* they bombarded a target of bismuth-209 with accelerated nuclei of iron-58. After one week, a single atom of element 109 was detected! It turned out be the isotope meitnerium-266.
The German team decided to name the new element meitnerium after the physicist Lise Meitner.

Later, in 1984, the same German team at GSI, benefitting from data from making meitnerium, managed to create element 108.
They used an accelerated beam of iron-58 to bombard a target of lead-208.
This eventually resulted in the synthesis of 3 atoms of element 108. (Actually hassium-265).

They named element 108 hassium after the Latin word for the German state of Hesse. ( In German, “Hessen”) - GSI is located in Darmstadt, in the state of Hesse.

The names hassium and meitnerium were given full IUPAC approval in 1997.

*UNILAC ( Universal Linear Accelerator) is a powerful linear particle accelerator at the GSI. This machine can accelerate heavy ions such as iron-58 and smash them into larger stationary target isotopes (eg. bismuth, lead).

This process generates isotopes of new superheavy elements. In fact, experiments using beams from UNILAC at GSI were responsible for producing the elements bohrium, hassium and meitnerium - and also the still heavier elements 110-112.

Here’s a photo of part of the UNILAC particle accelerator at GSI.
The nuclear equations for the synthesis of meitnerium (in 1982) and hassium (in 1984) are also shown.
UNILAC linear accelerator at  GSI
UNILAC linear accelerator at GSI
Here are a few stamps related to the German state of Hesse.
1926 “German emergency relief” stamp, Germany 1993 Hessen Coat of Arms, 1973 Munich stamp exhibition with Hessen coat of arms, early 1 Mark Revenue stamp & Germany 1999 Hesse Parliament building
1926 “German emergency relief” stamp, Germany 1993 Hessen Coat of Arms, 1973 Munich stamp exhibition with Hessen coat of arms, early 1 Mark Revenue stamp & Germany 1999 Hesse Parliament building
As already mentioned, meitnerium was chosen in honour of the Austrian physicist Lise Meitner (1878 - 1968).

Along with German chemist Otto Hahn, she discovered the radioactive element protactinium in 1917.
She also collaborated in the discovery of nuclear fission with Otto Hahn.

Meitner was a remarkable woman who showed incredible courage being a physicist in a very male dominated world in the first half of the 20th century. Because of being Jewish, she luckily managed to flee to Sweden during the 2nd World War.
Meeting of physicists in 1937. Lise Meitner is sitting in front row and Niels Bohr is at the front far left.
Meeting of physicists in 1937. Lise Meitner is sitting in front row and Niels Bohr is at the front far left.
Austria 1978 stamp. Lise Meitner
Austria 1978 stamp. Lise Meitner
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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There were several attempts to create element 110 at JINR, Dubna and also in the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California but the results were not conclusive.
Photos of (left to right) Sigurd Hofmann, Peter Armbruster and G. Munzenberg. Darmstad c.1895 local stamp & Danzig 1939 stamp. Wilhelm Röntgen
Photos of (left to right) Sigurd Hofmann, Peter Armbruster and G. Munzenberg. Darmstad c.1895 local stamp & Danzig 1939 stamp. Wilhelm Röntgen
The first verified synthesis of element 110 occurred at GSI, Darmstadt in November 1994 by Sigurd Hofmann (team leader), Peter Armbruster and Gottfried Munzenberg.
The team bombarded a lead-208 target with an accelerated beam of nickel-62 nuclei and 3 atoms of element 110 were detected - ( darmstadtium-269).

Further experiments were carried out using heavier nickel-64 ions and the same lead-208 target. This time 9 atoms of Ds-271 were detected.

The German team named element 110 darmstadtium after the city of Darmstadt - where the element was created. The name was made official by IUPAC in 2003.

Here’s an interesting cinderella poster stamp advertising an art exhibition in Darmstadt in 1914.
Darmstadt 1914 poster stamp
Darmstadt 1914 poster stamp
Just one month later (!) on December 8, 1994 the same team at GSI successfully created element 111. The team bombarded a target of bismuth-209 with accelerated nuclei of nickel-64 and detected three atoms of element 111 - (roentgenium-272).

They named element 111 roentgenium after Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen - the discoverer of X-rays. IUPAC officially approved this name in 2004.

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (1845 – 1923) was a German mechanical engineer and physicist. On 8 November 1895, he produced and detected electromagnetic radiation in a wavelength range known as X-rays or Röntgen rays.

The use of X-rays revolutionised medical imaging and diagnostics and for this achievement Röntgen was awarded the first ever Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901.

The early unit of measurement for X-ray & gamma ray exposure, the roentgen is also named after him.

Here are a few stamps honouring Wilhelm Röntgen and his discovery of X-rays.
West Germany 1951 stamp. Wilhelm Röntgen
West Germany 1951 stamp. Wilhelm Röntgen
Selection of Röntgen stamps
Selection of Röntgen stamps
Malaysia 1995 FDC. 100 year anniversary of discovery of X-rays
Malaysia 1995 FDC. 100 year anniversary of discovery of X-rays
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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Photo of Sigurd Hofmann. USA 1973 stamp. Nicolaus Copernicus
Photo of Sigurd Hofmann. USA 1973 stamp. Nicolaus Copernicus
Element 112 was first detected in 1996 by German physicist Sigurd Hofmann and his team at GSI in Darmstadt.
They used the heavy ion UNILAC (particle accelerator) to bombard a lead-208 target with a beam of zinc-70 ions. A single atom of copernicium was produced with a mass number of 277.

In 2000, the GSI successfully repeated the experiment and produced another atom of element 112.

Later, at RIKEN (an important scientific research institute in Japan) the results from the German team were replicated, which confirmed their earlier discovery.

In 2009, IUPAC acknowledged GSI as official discoverers of element 112 and Hofmann and his team decided to name the element copernicium, in honour of the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.

Copernicus was born in 1473 in Poland.
He deduced that the Earth and other planets revolved around the Sun, and finally refuted the belief that the Earth was the centre of the Universe.

This was pivotal for the discovery of gravity, and led to the conclusion that the stars are incredibly distant and that the Universe is inconceivably immense.

Here are just a few stamps that honour Copernicus.
Hungary 1973 Copernicus
Hungary 1973 Copernicus
Bulgaria 2023 Copernicus
Bulgaria 2023 Copernicus
Poland 1923 Copernicus
Poland 1923 Copernicus
Poland 2023 Copernicus
Poland 2023 Copernicus
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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In 2003, a collaboration of Russian and American scientists working at JINR, Dubna and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, attempted to create element 113.

In July 2004, a team of scientists led by Kōsuke Morita at Riken (in Japan) were also focusing on element 113.
The Japanese team bombarded a target of bismuth-209 with an accelerated beam of zinc-70 nuclei. After 10 months, one atom of element 113 was produced! - (specifically the nuclide nihonium-278)

The Riken team was able to repeat this experiment in 2005 and 2012, successfully creating a few more atoms of element 113.

After much debate, in 2015 IUPAC acknowledged the Riken team as having priority of discovery and hence the right to name the element.
Japan 2017 stamp. Nihonium. Photo of Kōsuke Morita
Japan 2017 stamp. Nihonium. Photo of Kōsuke Morita
In 2016, Morita and his team proposed the name nihonium in honour of Japan.“Nihon” is the common name for Japan in Japanese . The name nihonium was officially approved by IUPAC in the same year.

The other Japanese name for Japan is “Nippon” which is favoured for official uses such as banknotes - and NIPPON has been printed on Japanese postage stamps since 1966.

Here are a few Japanese stamps with maps of the country.
Japan 1949, 1984 & 1985 stamps. Maps of Japan
Japan 1949, 1984 & 1985 stamps. Maps of Japan
In 2017 Japan issued this colourful souvenir sheet commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the Riken research institute.
The stamps highlight some of the important achievements and discoveries made at Riken.
Japan 2017 Souvenir sheet. 100 year anniversary of Riken
Japan 2017 Souvenir sheet. 100 year anniversary of Riken
The stamp celebrating the creation of element 113 nihonium (Nh) shows how a bismuth and zinc nucleus fuse to form a heavier nihonium atom. It also shows part of the decay chain of nihonium-278 ending with mendelevium-254 - with 6 alpha decays (helium nuclei).
Japan 2017 stamp. Nihonium
Japan 2017 stamp. Nihonium
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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Element 114 was first synthesised in Dubna, Russia in 1998.

The work was a collaboration between scientists at JINR and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California led by Yuri Oganessian and Ken Moody.
Russia 2013 stamp. Georgy Flyorov.
Russia 2013 stamp. Georgy Flyorov.
Element 114 was made by a fusion reaction of calcium-48 (Z = 20) with plutonium-244 (Z= 94). So fusion of these 2 elements forms element 114 (Z = 114).

Z is the atomic number ie. number of protons in the nucleus - this determines which element it is.

Calcium ions were accelerated into a beam in the U400 cyclotron at Dubna, to reach 10% of the speed of light before hitting the plutonium target.

The experiment was run for 6 months. In the first 40 days, billions of calcium ions were fired at the plutonium, resulting in the formation of a single atom of flerovium-289.
A year later, two further atoms of flerovium-288 were produced.

The photo below shows the U400 cyclotron at the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions (FLNR) which is the “element making” laboratory at JINR in Dubna.
This is where element 114 (and 116) were first synthesised.
U400 cyclotron
U400 cyclotron
In 2011, after the lengthy customary gathering of evidence for discovery, IUPAC credited the joint JINR- LLNL teams with discovery of element 114.

The discovery team led by Oganessian proposed the name flerovium after the Flerov Laboratory where it was made. This lab was itself named after Georgy Flyorov (1913-1990). The name flerovium was approved by IUPAC in 2012.
Russia 2013 FDC Georgy Flyorov. Flerovium
Russia 2013 FDC Georgy Flyorov. Flerovium
Flyorov was a Soviet physicist who founded the FLNR in 1957 and was the director there till 1989. He is known for his discovery of “spontaneous fission” in 1940.

This is a form of radioactive decay - happening frequently in superheavy elements. The unstable nucleus splits randomly into various fragments of differing elements, releasing neutrons and gamma radiation.
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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The first successful synthesis of moscovium was by a joint team of Russian and American scientists in 2003 and 2004 at the JINR in Dubna.
Headed by Russian nuclear physicist Yuri Oganessian, the team included scientists of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Photo of Yuri Oganessian. CCCP 1965 stamp. Moscow IUPAC Conference
Photo of Yuri Oganessian. CCCP 1965 stamp. Moscow IUPAC Conference
They bombarded americium-243 with calcium-48 ions to produce four atoms of elements 115. These atoms decayed by emission of alpha-particles to nihonium in about 100 milliseconds.

In August 2013, a team of researchers at Lund University and at the GSI in Darmstadt, Germany announced they had repeated the 2004 experiment, confirming Dubna's findings.

At the same time, JINR were able to replicate their earlier synthesis of element 115 and additionally created the isotope moscovium-289.

On 30 December 2015, discovery of the element was recognized by IUPAC.

The JINR team proposed the name moscovium after the Moscow Oblast, where Dubna is located.
The name was officially adopted by IUPAC in November 2016.
Map of Moscow Oblast. Dubna circled in red
Map of Moscow Oblast. Dubna circled in red
Here’s a nice block of stamps issued by USSR in 1965 to commemorate the 20th IUPAC international conference held in Moscow during July 12-28, 1965.
CCCP 1965 block. IUPAC Moscow conference
CCCP 1965 block. IUPAC Moscow conference
The stamp has a clever design of spelling IUPAC and Moscow using symbols of chemical elements.

The pink ink used for the globe diagram and the face value of the stamp (4 kopecs) is fluorescent.

And finally, this stamp related to Moscow highlights the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games.
This event was boycotted by 66 countries, led by USA, because of the Soviet-Afghan War.
CCCP 1980 stamp. Moscow Olympics
CCCP 1980 stamp. Moscow Olympics
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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Element 116 was first made in Dubna, Russia in July 2000. The work was a collaboration between science teams at the JINR and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California led by Yuri Oganessian and Ken Moody.
Photos of Yuri Oganessian (left) & Ken Moody
Photos of Yuri Oganessian (left) & Ken Moody
Calcium-48 ions were accelerated into a beam and fired at a target of curium-248.
A single atom of livermorium-292 was detected. This decayed to an isotope of flerovium by alpha emission.

Two further atoms of livermorium were reported in an experiment conducted in 2001 at Dubna. Between 2004 and 2006 the joint team were able to produce more isotopes of livermorium.

After reviewing the evidence, in June 2011, IUPAC awarded the discovery of element 116 to the collaboration of JINR and LLNL.

The joint team proposed the name livermorium, after the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, based in the city of Livermore, California.

In May 2012 the name livermorium was officially adopted by IUPAC.

Here are a few covers with nice Livermore cancellations.
USA 1918 & 1966 covers with Livermore cancel
USA 1918 & 1966 covers with Livermore cancel
This cover was sent to me by a scientist (and also a philatelist!) who actually works at LLNL.
USA cover Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
USA cover Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
The LLNL was formerly known as the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory which was set up originally by Ernest Lawrence in 1952. Its original focus was the design of nuclear weapons.
Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, Livermore postcard
Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, Livermore postcard
The YouTube link below shows some of the wide-ranging achievements and current projects of the LLNL.

https://youtu.be/ITnv867DReU?si=WqNddIuyKIer9e28

And finally, there’s actually a beer named “Livermorium”, brewed in Livermore by a company called the Shadow Puppet Beer Company.
I know Glen likes to test the local beers on his many travels …. Have you ever tried this one Glen? 😃🍺
“Livermorium” beer
“Livermorium” beer
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Re: Share your Science/Physics/Mathematics etc themed covers and stamps

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As of 2024, tennessine is the most recent element to have been artificially produced and discovered. This occurred at JINR in Dubna in 2010.

Element 118 (oganesson), the element with the highest known atomic number, was discovered in 2002.
Photos of Yuri Oganessian (top right) & Joseph Hamilton. USA 1976 stamp. Tennessee
Photos of Yuri Oganessian (top right) & Joseph Hamilton. USA 1976 stamp. Tennessee
In December 2004, Yuri Oganessian of the JINR started a collaboration with scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee, USA.
Their proposal involved fusing a berkelium target (Z= 97) and a calcium beam (Z=20)
thereby producing element 117.

This would complete a set of experiments done at the JINR on the fusion of actinide targets with a calcium-48 beam, which had thus far produced the new elements 113-116 and 118.

At the time ORNL was the world's only producer of berkelium - and it had temporarily ceased production of the element.

A nuclear physicist friend of Oganessian, Joseph Hamilton from Vanderbilt University, (Nashville, Tennessee) arranged to help.

Eventually, in spring 2008, after a lot of patience and persistence, Hamilton managed to negotiate a deal with ORNL which provided the necessary berkelium.

After about a year of processing, and a cost of millions of dollars, 22 milligrams of purified berkelium-249 were produced. This has a half-life of 330 days.

This means after 330 days only 11 milligrams of berkelium would remain, so they needed to fly it to Dubna pretty quickly. And they knew that to produce element 117 it would take many months of bombardment in the cyclotron.

Because of problems with documentation custom officials in Russia refused entry of the highly radioactive berkelium. So it flew back to USA. This happened a second time! Eventually after 5 flights across the Atlantic, the berkelium - all the while steadily decaying - entered Russia!

It was then a race against time! The berkelium was rushed to Dubna and installed in the cyclotron.

The experiment began in late July 2009. After 5 months of bombardment in the cyclotron with calcium-48 ions, in January 2010, scientists at the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions detected a few atoms of element 117. The obtained data from the experiment was sent to the LLNL in California for further analysis.

The data showed that the experiment had produced two isotopes of element 117 :
²⁹³Ts and ²⁹⁴Ts.

The Dubna team repeated the experiment in 2012, this time creating seven atoms of element 117.

Finally, in December 2015 the IUPAC/IUPAP Joint Working Party (JWP) officially recognised the discovery of element 117 — and credited the discovery to JINR, ORNL, LLNL and Vanderbilt University.

In 2016 the combined team (with encouragement from Hamilton) proposed the name tennessine after the state of Tennessee. This was in recognition of the important role of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Vanderbilt University (in Nashville) in the discovery of the element. Both institutions are in the state of Tennessee.

In November 2016 the name tennessine was formally adopted by IUPAC.

This 2016 Czech Republic FDC celebrates the creation of element 117 at Dubna.
It shows the electron configuration diagram for a tennessine atom.
The cover was obviously designed before the name tennessine was made official.
Czech Republic 2016 FDC. Discovery of tennessine
Czech Republic 2016 FDC. Discovery of tennessine
If you count up the total number of electrons in each shell it makes 117, which balances the number of protons (117) found in the nucleus. This forms a neutral atom.

The symbol Uus is the symbol for ununseptium, the temporary IUPAC “systematic element name” for element 117.

These temporary names and symbols were given to the superheavy elements before IUPAC approved the official permanent name.
Some other examples: element 116 ( livermorium) was called “ununhexium”, symbol Uuh; and element 118 (oganesson) was called “ununoctium”, Uuo.

Here are a few Tennessee related stamps and covers:
USA Tennessee covers
USA Tennessee covers
Here’s a bit of history about Oak Ridge.

In 1942, the United States federal government forcibly purchased nearly 60,000 acres (240 km² ) of farmland in the east of Tennessee (about 15 miles from Knoxville) for the development of a planned city supporting 75,000 residents. Construction started in 1942 and continued the following year.

The new city was known as Oak Ridge and became a production site for the “Manhattan Project”—the massive American, British, and Canadian top-secret operation that developed the atomic bomb.

This early postal souvenir folder is quite interesting!
Oak Ridge souvenir folder
Oak Ridge souvenir folder
Being the site of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Y-12 National Security Complex, scientific and technological development still plays a crucial role in the city's economy and culture in general.

At ORNL there is a research nuclear reactor called the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR). Berkelium-249 used to synthesize tennessine for the first time, was produced in the HFIR.
Top photo is of High Flux Isotope Reactor at ORNL.
Top photo is of High Flux Isotope Reactor at ORNL.
Although HFIR's main mission is now neutron scattering research, one of its original primary purposes was the production of californium-252 and other transuranium isotopes for research, industrial, and medical applications. HFIR is the western world's sole supplier of californium-252, an isotope with uses such as cancer therapy and detection of pollutants in the environment and explosives in luggage.

Here’s an amusing informative YouTube video produced by ORNL about tennessine.

https://youtu.be/AZVl6tQysl4?feature=shared
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