Friday, August 31, 2012

DIY Uranium Chandelier

Here's a second post about an unusual element and the Willy-Wonka-eqsue offerings of Educational Innovations. You can buy uranium marbles from Educational Innvations -- well, not pure uranium, why do you ask? -- the element is suspended in glass, which does a good job of absorbing the emitted radiation. Perfectly safe, according to EI, just WHATEVER YOU DO DON'T EAT IT. Ok, then. The dull green color in natural light especially shines under black light with this eerie Springfield-Nuclear-Power-Plant green glow.

What some artists have done with this (Ken and Julia Yonetani) is to tie a bunch of these marbles together and suspend them from the ceiling as chandeliers. I suspect they have a black light nearby. Then you have this Haunted Mansion meets Cosmic Bowling meets Armageddon situation:

There are several of these chandeliers, each scaled to the size of the country's dependence on nuclear power. The U.S. one is the one on the bottom, it's big. It's supposed to be a warning because it is dramatic to see the glowing radiation. But to me it makes the opposite effect, that I'm thinking, hmm, maybe this means we could catch the source of this green glow if we do it carefully. If we can have all those uranium marbles suspended in glass and, you know, walk around and look at them in an art gallery, then maybe this form of energy can actually be handled safely, and with care. Maybe, although it's understandable to have doubts given recent events. Maybe we're just not grown up enough to handle that power yet. On the other other hand, it may be glowing green, but it's also not releasing a greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. One makes me feel eerie, but the other might cook the planet. Plusses and minuses.

Unfortunately, I don't think I can convince Laurie to install these in our dining room. Maybe I can propose a combo as a sort of trade: we buy a new flat TV, plus a radioactive glowing chandelier? Maybe Costco can set up a by-both-for-a-low-price deal? Hmmm...

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