opera.com

Reader mode

Check out what people did with uranium before discovering nuclear bombs

Tech_Savvy 06/29/2020

They made coloring pigments.

The color “uranium blue” is called that because it’s made from uranium. It’s made of uranium oxide. It’s often used to make blue glass.

View pictures in App save up to 80% data.

This ash tray is made of uranium glass. The color comes from uranium oxide (and yes, the plate is radioactive).

People still make uranium glass. There are shops on Etsy where you can buy uranium glass pieces.

Uranium is also used in vaseline glass, which is green glass colored with uranium oxide and iron oxide. Vaseline glass is a light greenish yellow, and glows under a black light:

View pictures in App save up to 80% data.

They used it as paint. Uranium has a lot of brightly and differently colored salts and oxides that were widely used as pigments in XIX and early XX centuries. Even the most popular uranium ore, yellow cake, got its name from the bright and sunny yellow color of its purified form — which was directly used to color various paints back then.

View pictures in App save up to 80% data.

A handful of the powdered yellowcake. Orangish hue is probably due to the higher content of urania (UO2) to the triuranium octoxide (U3O8).

View pictures in App save up to 80% data.

A tub of mostly triuranium octoxide (U3O8) yellowcake, which is brighter yellow.

View pictures in App save up to 80% data.

A worker in a Kazakhstan uranium mine measures the radioactivity of a commercial load of yellow cake before sending it to be processed into a nuclear fuel.

Other uranium compounds gave other colors, like the “uranium blue” produced from the different oxide than yellow cake. “Uranium glass” was very popular during the turn of the century and the Depression, both in the blue and the so-called “vaseline” style named for its nice green-to-yellow palette, which is further enhanced by the way it glows straw-green under UV light. View pictures in App save up to 80% data. The same vial of vaseline glass, as is to the left, fluorescing under black light to the right.

View pictures in App save up to 80% data.

A Depression-era uranium glass necklace, both out and under the black light.

In the first half of the XX century, uranium (usually, directly in the form of yellow-cake) was used to make pottery glazes, especially in yellow, red and orange colors, which was very widely used n Fiestaware brand of glazed pottery

View pictures in App save up to 80% data.

Most early yellow-to-red Fiestaware contains appreciable amounts of uranium and can be detected with a sufficiently sensitive Geiger counter.

PS: Yes, uranium paints and uranium glass are very slightly radioactive, but generally safe, as they don’t leach appreciably to the environment. They’re usually about as radioactive as a granite tile or dimension stone.

Source: opera.com
The views expressed in this article are the writer's, they do not reflect the views of Opera News. Read more>>

Less Data,More News — Less than 1MB