And though I oft have passed it by ..

There is a little store on 48th street that sells jewelry maker’s tools. I was walking by it on many an occasion, but never ventured inside. Today I went there because I needed a ring gauge for ordering that titanium ring I wrote about. I also ended up purchasing a very fine 20x loupe. They have really amazing metal working tools. Mmmm. I should pay them another visit when I have more time.

Assign yourself 5 deadprogrammerTM points if you recognize the reference in the subject line.

Watch Out, Radioactive Man!

Ok, since we are on the subject of things that fascinate me. How about radium glass?

When I was little, I’ve read in some book about special red glass from which the red star on top of Kremlin was made of. It turns out that a little bit of radium must be added to the glass mix in order to get a deep red color.

From here:
When seen from below, from the ground, the stars do not seem particularly large, yet the points of each one are 3 to 3.75 meters apart. The lighting inside the stars is controlled from a room in the Troitskaya Tower. The framework of the stars is made of stainless steel and they are faced in special three-layer glass which is ruby-red on the outside and milk-white on the inside. Each star is lit by a 3,700 to 5,000 watt bulb and, to protect the bulbs from overhearing, cooled air is forced into the stars through hollow rods 24 hours a day. The stars are so designed that they can revolve smoothly in the wind.

Oooh, oooh, look at this picture of the star being installed. Man….

Anyways, back to my rant.

Turns out that besides being popular as an ingredient in all sort of “medicinal” remedies, from enemas to pills, radium was used in many sorts of glassware. The color of radium impregnated glass has a very distinctive look. These days such items are called “Depression Glass” because it was very popular during the Great Depression or “Radium Glass”. A very distinctive feature of such glass is that it glows when exposed to uv light (aka black light).

Here is what green radium glass looks like with and without uv light.

Freaky, huh?
My cigar ashtray is made out of the same greenish glass.

There is also “Carnival Glass” that was popular in the 1920s. It is sometimes made of radium glass, but with a glaze made of iridium and other unobtaniums.

There is not too much radioactivity in this glass, so it’s pretty much considered safe. I would not reccomend eating off it, but for collecting it’s ok. There are tons and tons of this stuff on eBay.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I want to add a radium/phosphorus paint to the hour and second arms and numbers on my watch. The modern “glow in the dark” paints suck.

One Ring To Bind Them All

After I lost $30 pounds on Atkins diet my wedding ring started to slip off my finger. Of course, I am not Frodo, and wearing it on a piece of string was not an option. I used to leave it on the dressing table a lot, and finally it disappeared. Who stole Precious is not clear, but Tilde the cat is a likely suspect. So my wedding band is hopelessly lost.

It was a titanium ring. It looked like this:

Interestingly enough, the company that makes these rings is located in Canada. I wonder if they were inspired by the Engineer’s Ring.

I have a somewhat unhealthy fascination with titanium. I love that metal. SR71 Blackbird planes, Akula class subs, and if you are a Star Wars geek, TIE fighters are made mostly of titanium. I own a titanium watch and eyeglasses frame. I used to have a titanium pda case, but I lost it too :( Titanium is almost indestructible, but easily lost.

Well, now I need to replace the ring. I am thinking of choosing a different, fancier design. Probably one of these.

I was also thinking about a more exotic material for the ring, like iridium, but nobody makes them.

By the way, titanium rings are machined out of a single block of titanium. You can’t really smelt titanium, so resizing the rings is out of the question. Imagine how much skill is needed to machine interlocking rings out of a single block:

A (pa)JAMA Story

An article from JAMA:
Police Detainment of a Patient Following Treatment With Radioactive Iodine
We recently treated a 34-year-old man for Graves disease with 20 mCi of iodine 131. Twenty-four hours after treatment, his radioactive iodine uptake was 63%. Three weeks after treatment, he returned to our clinic complaining that he had been strip-searched twice at Manhattan subway stations. Police had identified him as emitting radiation and had detained him for further questioning ….

When I used to be a pre-med, I worked as a doorman/porter in a Manhattan building. I asked all the doctors who lived there to give me their old medical mags. Unfortunately most of them either threw them out or had them delivered to their office. But one very nice retired doctor supplied me with her old medical journals. I loved reading them. Too bad that JAMA is very expensive ($165 per year), and even now I can’t really justify getting it. I especially enjoyed the cartoons. :)

Also, one doctor who lived there died, and his relatives threw out all of his old medical books. I dragged all of them home, and now they reside on my bookshelves.