Frequently Asked Questions about Cesium and alt.cesium 2.0

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Frequently Asked Questions about Cesium and alt.cesium
(Shamelessly stolen from one of Randall Nelson's web pages with updates by Cipher since 1998)

Q1. What is the purpose of the newsgroup alt.cesium?

A1. This newsgroup is intended expressly for the discussion, praise, veneration, and adoration, the posting of songs, poetry, stories, and parables of and about that most sublime of elements, the almighty Cesium, among many other off-topic items. Crossposting is aggressively encouraged; persistent miscreants are netnapped and treated to the traditional Cesium Enema.


UPDATE : Nuking France into the stone age has become priority NUMBER ONE!


UPDATE : The current dezines of alt.cesium enjoy lively discussions on other Cesium related topics. These include, but are not limited to :

Spam, Toast, Marmite, Tea and of course, Nuking France!!

STAR WARS Note: Cesium vapor was used in turbolaser turrets aboard the ship No Luck Required.

Q2. What is Cesium?

Cesium Symbol: Cs
Atomic number: 55
Atomic weight: 132.9054
Density: @ 293 K 1.873 g/cm3
Atomic volume: 71.07 cm3/mol
Group: Alkali Metal
Discovered: 1860 State (s, l, g) s
Melting point: 301.6
K Boiling point: 978 K
Heat of fusion: 2.092 kJ/mol
Heat ofvaporization: 67.740 kJ/mol
1st ionization energy: 375.7 kJ/mole
Electronegativity: 0.79
2nd ionization energy: 2421.8 kJ/mole
Electron affinity: 45.506 kJ/mole
3rd ionization energy: kJ/mole
Specific heat: 0.24 J/gK
Heat atomization: 79 kJ/mole atoms
Reaction with air: vigorous, =>CsO2
Reaction with 6M HCl: vigorous, =>H2, CsCl
Reaction with 6M HCl: vigorous, =>H2, CsCl
Reaction with 15M HNO3:
vigorous, =>CsNO3
Reaction with 6M NaOH: vigorous, =>H2, CsOH

Cesium is the most sublime and electropositive of all true elements. It was discovered spectroscopically, in mineral water from Durkheim Germany by Robert Bunsen (of burner fame) and Gustaff Kirchhoff in 1860.

The basis of the discovery was two, beautiful sky-blue lines from which it takes its name (Latin, caesius, sky-blue). Atomic number 55, Cesium is the heaviest of the natural alkali metals. Physically, it is a soft metal or light liquid, pale gold in color when pure, silvery-white otherwise.

It melts at 28.4 C, just below body heat, and boils at 669.3 C. It has a specific gravity of 1.873, and an atomic weight of 132.9045.

Cesium occurs naturally in the minerals lepidolite and pollucite, the latter a hydrated aluminum cesium silicate. The richest known deposit occurs at Bernic Lake Manitoba where pollucite deposits averaging over 20% Cesium are estimated to exceed 300,000 metric tons. (Bernic Lake is also the site of the annual Cesium festival on February 24 where tons of Cesium are burned in the snow, and other Cesium madness prevails.) Cesium can be isolated by electrolysis of the fused cyanide, by vacuum distillation upon reduction of the chloride by calcium metal, and by other methods. High purity cesium salts are available for about $100/pound. According to the CRC 1987-88 handbook of Chemistry and Physics, the metal costs approximately $25/gram; however some devotees have reported costs as low as $3/gm for technical grade (99%) metal.

Cesium is an alkali metal, in the same group as lithium, sodium, potassium, and rubidium, and is similarly reactive, but to a much higher degree due to its extreme electropositivity. It reacts explosively with water, and with ice down to -116 C. In air, it catches fire spontaneously and burns with a brilliant sky-blue flame. (To the uninitiated, the flame appears purplish rather than blue; however, after sufficient meditation, study of the holy writs, and blissful hours spent in reverence before Cesium burning in her naked glory, the true blue nature of her flame is revealed.) Its hydroxide is the most powerful aqueous base known, and will eat through glass, flesh, bone, and numerous other substances. Its International Chillout (IC) competition, though lately it has been embarassed by rubidium. The greatest use of Cesium tonnage-wise is in the annual Cesium orgies sponsored by AMSWWBUW.

Q3. What about Fr***ium?

A3. We do not mention the name in alt.cesium, that false element being an upstart and pretender, vile, depraved, unnatural, and having no staying power. The longest lived isotope, Fr233 has a half life of only 22 minutes. Try to base a global time standard on that!!!

Q4. What is AMSWWBUW?

A4. AMSWWBUW stands for the Association of Mad Scientists Who Want to Blow Up the World. It is a highly secretive organization. Its activities involve large numbers of monkeys and vast quantities of Cesium. Given the indisputable fact that all persons in direct contact with the organization have mysteriously vanished from the net, the fewer questions asked, the better. Most of our information about this shadowy group derives from one Brendan Dunn, who was instrumental in the formation of alt.cesium. He, alas, is among the vanished.

Q5. Are there any songs about Cesium?

A5. Many. See for an ftp archive. See also Songs of Cesium.

Q6. Where can I get some Cesium?

A6. You probably can't, unless you are a "bona fide institution". If you are, any number of chemical suppliers will happily sell you as much as you can afford. For example, ICN (biologicals) lists 99.9% pure Cesium metal at $161.10 per gram. A bit steep even as Cesium goes (if you're willing to buy in bulk, you ought to be able to get it for closer to $25 or even $3 a gram). They'll also sell you ultra pure (99.999%) Cesium Chloride for $371.95/kg. Call 1-800-334-6999 toll free they say.

Q7. Can I eat Cesium?

A7. Yes

Q8. What will happen if I do?

A8. Read the section on the reactions of Cesium with water, and of Cesium Hydroxide with biological materials. You should also know that Cesium has been shown to have pronounced physiological action in experiments with animals, when administered in large quantities. Hyperirritability, including marked spasms has been shown to follow the administration of Cesium in amounts equal to the potassium content of the diet. Total replacement of dietary potassium with cesium in rats caused death in 10-17 days. Could explain the AMSWWBUW mystery, though no reference seem to exist for monkeys.

Q9. Are there any jokes about Cesium?

A9. There is exactly one joke about Cesium. It goes like this:

So these two Cesium atoms are walking down the street.
Says the first Cesium atom, "Oh my god! I think I'm missing an electron".
Says the second, "Are you sure?"
Says the first, "I'm positive".

Q10. Are there any neat Cesium compounds?

A10. Lots. Many of them explode with the slightest provocation or when thrown into water. For example.

Cesium Chloroxenate

  • Formula: CsClO3Xe
  • MW: 347.66
  • Properties: Explodes
  • Uses: Chemical curiosity, possible rodenticide
  • Toxicity: Unknown

  • Comments: One of the few known compounds involving a noble gas, a halogen, and an alaklai metal. Explodes if you look at it cross-eyed.

    Cesium Tetraperchloratoiodate

  • Formula: CsI(ClO4)4
  • MW: 657.62
  • Properties: Explodes under laser irradiation (and anything else)
  • Uses: Curiosity, revenge against people with laser pointers.

  • Comments: Illustrates the +3 oxidation state of iodine, stabilized by the size of the perchlorate ion. A related compound, Iodine(III) perchlorate I(ClO4)3 also explodes under laser irradiation.

    Cesium Azide

  • Formula: CsN3
  • Physical appearance: Color needles; Deliquesces.
  • Molecular Weight: 174.93
  • Melting point: 310 (Yes you can melt it)
  • Boiling point: Decomposes with evolution of nitrogen
  • Solubility in cold water 224 gm/100cc
  • Properties: Poisonous to rats. LD50 about 30 mg/kg Decomposes on heating, eventually producing metallic cesium and nitrogen. More stable than sodium and potassium azide.
  • Heptacesium oxide

  • Formula: Cs7O.
  • Molecular weight: 946.3
  • Melting point: 4.3 C (decomposes)
  • Description: Consists of Bronze, hexagonal crystals. Analysis shows presence of Cs11O3 subgroup, hence formula should be written [Cs11O3]Cs10. Decomposes violently in water to hydroxide, On slow heating to Cs3O and cesium-rich liquid.
  • Uses: Photocathodes, Image converters, Rat poison

  • Comments: One of a series of suboxides of Cesium. Produced by slow cooling of appropriate stochiometric mixture of metallic Cesium and Oxygen. Possible due to extreme solubility of oxygen in liquid cesium.

    Cesium ozonate (Cesium trioxide)

  • Formula: CsO3.
  • Molecular Weight: 180.9
  • Description: Unstable, bright red compound. Strong oxidizer. Decomposes with release of Oxygen. Reacts vigorously with water. Highest known oxide of Cesium, at the opposite end of the spectrum from Cs7O. Prepared by reacting Cesium or its lower oxides with ozone.
  • Uses: Curiosity, Exploding red ink.
  • Etc. etc. etc.

    Q11. What are some popular Cesium products?


  • Cesium Crispies (snap, crackle, Kaboom!!!)
  • Cesium Shake (Two scoops of vanilla ice cream, 1/4 cup Cesium, blend)
  • Cesium Condoms (for a bang-up good time)
  • Cesium Salad (Be careful when tossing)
  • Cesium Cooler (eutectic mix of Cesium, potassium and sodium, 14.5% Cs, 57.5% K, 28% Na, melting point -78 degrees Celsius - the lowest melting metallic composition known.
  • Bottoms up!!!

    Q12. What should I do if I meet Cesium in dark alley?

    A12. You do do what I do. Run!!!!!!!!!

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