Debunked: "Rainwater Samples From Alachua County Florida Test Positive for Aluminum"

JFDee

Senior Member.
Probably needs an infographic though.
I like this visualization of a clay variant that the course paper calls "gibbsite, an aluminum oxide clay common in highly weathered soils".

al_oxide_clay.jpg

Possibly a three-paned, two-row graphic like this:


__Dirt/Clay Ball__ | __Flame (or actual chromatograph)__ | __Aluminum value on report sheet__

___Molecules___ | ________Cracked Molecules_________ | _________Spectrum lines_________
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
I like this visualization of a clay variant that the course paper calls "gibbsite, an aluminum oxide clay common in highly weathered soils".

al_oxide_clay.jpg

Possibly a three-paned, two-row graphic like this:


__Dirt/Clay Ball__ | __Flame (or actual chromatograph)__ | __Aluminum value on report sheet__

___Molecules___ | ________Cracked Molecules_________ | _________Spectrum lines_________
as a person with average intelligence, that graphic is even more 'greek' than your previous post which I also don't understand (and I watched a 2 hour really interesting show called something like 'decoding the elements'). try to translate your scientific vocabulary into common folk language o_O
 

JFDee

Senior Member.
try to translate your scientific vocabulary into common folk language
I'll try, but I need more words:

The atoms that are so nicely connected and ordered in the image of the clay structure will be cracked by immense heat for the analysis - all the connections are broken, the sample is literally vaporized. No more clay - what's left are the loose atoms that once made it up.

Then there comes the trick: the vapor (that was clay once) is heated so much that it glows - it sends out light. If this light is split up into a spectrum (by sending it through a prism), the resulting "rainbow" has distinctive thin lines, like fingerprints, for each atomic element that was present in the vapor.

Wikipedia has a nice example for helium:

Helium_spectra.jpg

In the case of the clay sample, there will be the lines of hydrogen, oxygen and aluminum.

BTW, the spectrum part of the process is not really rocket science, but the heating and containment of tiny samples is a bit more intricate, as is the quantification of the elements detected.
 

MikeC

Closed Account
I like this visualization of a clay variant that the course paper calls "gibbsite, an aluminum oxide clay common in highly weathered soils".

al_oxide_clay.jpg

....

Possibly a diagram like this, highlighting the aluminium in the molecule or crystal structure, then showing the elements splitting up when they are reacted before the test, showing how they become elements available for identification.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
I'll try, but I need more words:

The atoms that are so nicely connected and ordered in the image of the clay structure will be cracked by immense heat for the analysis - all the connections are broken, the sample is literally vaporized. No more clay - what's left are the loose atoms that once made it up.

Then there comes the trick: the vapor (that was clay once) is heated so much that it glows - it sends out light. If this light is split up into a spectrum (by sending it through a prism), the resulting "rainbow" has distinctive thin lines, like fingerprints, for each atomic element that was present in the vapor.

Wikipedia has a nice example for helium:

Helium_spectra.jpg

In the case of the clay sample, there will be the lines of hydrogen, oxygen and aluminum.

BTW, the spectrum part of the process is not really rocket science, but the heating and containment of tiny samples is a bit more intricate, as is the quantification of the elements detected.
ok that just blew my mind. didn't see that explanation coming.

very nice thanks. there weren't too many words. so the 'test breaks up the clay into separate O, H and Als. the original Ho no longer exists in the testing. the 'clay' no longer exists.
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
Yes, this false impression that "free aluminum" is being found is at the root of this particular bunk. I can't remember which of the usual suspects have spread that false notion, but it is fairly widespread at this point.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The atoms that are so nicely connected and ordered in the image of the clay structure will be cracked by immense heat for the analysis - all the connections are broken, the sample is literally vaporized. No more clay - what's left are the loose atoms that once made it up.

It's a little more than that, the sample is is not just turned to vapor - water vapor for example is still H2O, the bonds are still there.

It's actually ionized, and turned into plasma.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plasma_(physics)

See the test in the OP:

Under "Method", it says EPA 200.8, "explained" here:
http://www.caslab.com/EPA-Method-200_8/

But deirdre's interpretation is essentially correct, the sample is blasted into raw atoms ("free" elements) regardless of how it starts off.
very nice thanks. there weren't too many words. so the 'test breaks up the clay into separate O, H and Als. the original Ho no longer exists in the testing. the 'clay' no longer exists.
 

JFDee

Senior Member.
It's actually ionized, and turned into plasma.

I am aware of that. For the sake of simplification, I used the term 'vapor'; I also pondered about 'gas' but decided against it. Associations are relevant here; vapor is something that is commonly known from the kitchen (even if misattributed to steam) and associated with heat. The relevant point is that it helps visualizing a change in state of aggregation.

I also like the term "cracking" in the context of molecules - it's got vibrations (and probably electrolytes :)).

In my opinion, the disintegration of the sample during the test is central and can be imagined well. If I had more time on my hand I'd start working on a visualization ...
 
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JFDee

Senior Member.
so the 'test breaks up the clay into separate O, H and Als. the original Ho no longer exists in the testing. the 'clay' no longer exists.

You could measure the H and O parts as well, but since you had a water sample (H2O) to begin with, this is not really useful ...
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
You could measure the H and O parts as well, but since you had a water sample (H2O) to begin with, this is not really useful ...


I saw a great video on the "disintegration of the sample" (kinda) when I was looking up how combustion works. girl was like 10 and used little 'atom' stick puppets :) very easy to grasp, but now I cant find the video. So I had some prior idea of what you were talking about when you said [the chains breaking apart]

I WAS going to ask: but what if you wanted to measure the "ho". <I see now, as I tried to look up what the ho is called, that "ho" is actually ANOTHER element/atom, so I shouldn't be calling the "O+H" (molecule?) ho.

does the O+H part/molecule? in the clay have its own name?

so basically if I wanted to know how much O+H (whatever that is) is in a water sample, I cant?
 

JFDee

Senior Member.
so basically if I wanted to know how much O+H (whatever that is) is in a water sample, I cant?
The H (hydrogen) and the O (oxygen) connections are broken up like all the others, so in the hot vapor (plasma) you have free H, O and Al (aluminum) atoms flying around. Now, the point about water is that each of its countless molecules consists of two Hs and one O - which are also broken up and added to the jumble.

Since your sample is mainly water, you get an awful lot of H and O atoms compared to the Aluminum atoms. Your equipment on the other hand is fine-tuned to measure very small amounts of elements - so you end up discarding any results for H and O ...

In a nutshell: you can measure them in theory, but you don't really want to.

Besides, you know the size of the water sample that you are about to crack, so you can estimate very well how many Hs and Os are to be expected.
 
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