The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Wilderness chemistry  (Read 7028 times)

Offline kanzure

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
    • kanzure's homepage
Wilderness chemistry
« on: 25/05/2007 05:34:48 »
More appropriately, the subject should read more along the lines of minerals, ores, mining, analysis, and doing chemistry on the spot that would usually otherwise be relegated to the 'safety' of bulky laboratories that do not yet fit in our pockets. What tools and techniques would be important to know and utilize if we had to, say, newbielink:http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2007/03/bootstrapping_t.php [nonactive]? Much like newbielink:http://www.lindsaybks.com/dgjp/djgbk/index.html [nonactive] did with one or two buckets of sand, fire, and nothing else except manliness.

- Bryan
« Last Edit: 13/06/2007 09:00:25 by chris »


 

Offline DrDick

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 162
    • View Profile
Wilderness chemistry
« Reply #1 on: 25/05/2007 17:56:22 »
I would say one of the most important initial areas of knowledge would be that of inorganic chemical transformation.  (Organic chemistry would be nice eventually, to make organic solvents for instance, but you can do a lot without them.)  It's actually pretty easy to convert many metal ores (the ones near the middle of the periodic table) into the elemental metals.  Many of these were discovered by accident near firepits.  All it takes to convert zinc oxide into zinc, for example, is some zinc ore, some heat and some graphite (or charcoal).  So, if you happen to build a firepit near some zinc ore, the burning wood can automatically convert that zinc ore into metallic zinc.  Galena is a common lead ore (lead sulfide) and is also easily converted to the metal in a similar manner.
  As the link showed, once this happens, you can start using these metals to make containers that can hold higher and higher temperatures, so you can enable more and more difficult transformations.

  Of course, if you're stuck on a desert island (such as an atoll), it's likely that you're not going to have any metal ores around, since the dirt is going to be mostly calcium- and silicon-based.  Maybe if there's a volcanic mound around, you might get lucky.

Dick
 

Offline Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8655
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Wilderness chemistry
« Reply #2 on: 26/05/2007 12:26:38 »
If you get stuck on a desert island you will probably die of thirst.
If I were trying to make a useful metal with the least technology I's go for copper. The ores are nice characteristic colours and the smelting is easy- much easier than for example, zinc which reacts to easily in air.
I think if you are planning to do this a pottery course would be a useful investment.
It seems that a lot of the things you would need to know about could be learned by asking archaeologists- not suprising really.
 

Offline kanzure

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
    • kanzure's homepage
Wilderness chemistry
« Reply #3 on: 28/05/2007 19:59:51 »
Some related information:

newbielink:http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/05/28/034201 [nonactive] `"This month's issue of Symmetry, a magazine jointly published by SLAC and Fermilab, is featuring an article that points out the sometimes extemporaneous and unconventional solutions physicists have come up with in (and out of) the laboratory. From the article: 'Leon Lederman ... used a pocket knife, tape, and items on anyone's grocery list to confirm that interactions involving the weak force do now show perfect mirror symmetry, or parity, as scientists had long assumed.'"`

And any information on ores, extraction/purification techniques would be great.

- Bryan
« Last Edit: 13/06/2007 09:00:51 by chris »
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Wilderness chemistry
« Reply #3 on: 28/05/2007 19:59:51 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums