Wednesday, April 5, 2017


If someone asks: what's the good of being obsessed with watches which are much too expensive for you to afford (for the moment, although of course all that will change when yr rich and famous), the answer is: you learn things.

And if they say: Oh yeah? What kind of things? you can say:

Well, for instance, just now, just this very minute, I learned of the existence of a metal about which I had not known, called tantalum or tantalium. How did I learn about it? This is how:

This watch has a case and bezel made of tantalum. I found this watch by doing a Google Shopping search for Panerai -- which is a brand of Swiss watch, and, as far as I know, unaffiliated with Panera,

the restaurant chain which is proud of its fancy bread. I looked up the watch, and saw that its case is made of tantalium or tantalum, and then I looked up tantalum.

Tantalum was discovered in 1802 by the Swedish chemist Anders Ekeberg. It has an attractive blue-gray metallic luster, and a specific gravity of 16.69, which means that it is a little more than twice as heavy as iron, about 1 1/2 times as heavy as lead, about 85% as heavy as gold and 75% as heavy as platinum, and yes I know that I said "heavy" instead of "dense" and I don't care, because I'd rather be understood than meaninglessly precise. In addition to being very heavy, tantalum is ductile, very hard, easily fabricated, highly conductive of heat and electricity, and extraordinarily resistant to corrosion by acids.

How much does Tantalum cost? That's a very good question. I have consulted many sources about this question, and they are unanimous in giving these 2 answers: "Contact us and we'll quote you a price right away!" and "Here, let us sell you some of this tantalite instead!" Tantalite is an ore which contains tantalum. How difficult is it to extract the tantalum from tantalite? I have no idea whatsoever.

They (scientists, not the merchants offering tantalite for sale online) say that there is about 2000 times more tantalum than gold in the Earth's crust, and about 700 times more tantalum than platinum. How do they know such things? Don't ask me. I still can't wrap my mind around how people tell time by looking at things in the sky, which they've been doing for thousands of years. There are lots and lots of things I don't know and/or can't comprehend, things which are very basic to some other people.

And I know all of this because of my interest in the expensive watches, and for no other reason. Can you get a brand-new tantalum Panerai right now, or is the tantalum just something they did with a few watches in the past? That I don't know.

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