The crack could have been caused by the way the atoms were arranged within the metal. If the metal is allowed to cool, flaws could develop, ruining the bell.Too much tin, and the copper atoms can't move at all. When the bronze has reached the proper temperature, 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, it's time to pour. Even though the foundry has the technology to precisely control the temperature, and Ralph and his team have decades of experience, bronze remains unpredictable. The bells have to cool for 24 hours, so it's the next day before we can find out if they'll be making music or ending up as scrap. A gleaming chrome, silver magnificent church bell ready for hanging? And now, for the moment of truth: will this bell be good enough to sing? Time to celebrate the millennia-old tradition of bronze. Here, at the Cortez Mine, in Nevada, high-tech prospectors are moving mountains, closing in from above and below. Which raises a question: if the gold is invisible to the naked eye, how do they even know if they're digging in the right place? Eight bars, million, sitting on this unassuming little table. Of all the elements that touch our lives, nothing drives humankind to acts of love or destruction like gold. Copper alone is impressive stuff, but when ancient metallurgists combined it with another element, they invented a much tougher material that went on to conquer the world. Tin; symbol Sn; atomic number 50—50 protons and 50 electrons. If you're like me, you care about the elements and how they go together,… The problem is it's exceedingly rare stuff in the earth's crust, and it's getting harder to find all the time. Mike tells me that each bar represents about a million pounds of rock that had to be moved and processed.This is what can happen if the amount of tin isn't right.No one is certain why the Liberty Bell cracked, but a chemical analysis indicated there was too much tin and perhaps other impurities in the bronze.Using cyanide to react with the gold allows them to gradually reduce 40,000-gallon tanks of pulverized sludge to this: three trays full of mud? This is the first time an outsider has been allowed to pour gold. I'm not sure they entirely know what they are doing, but they are going to let me pour the gold into a gold bar mold. They'll have to throw it away or just let me take it home in my luggage. Once he removes the aluminum and joins the two halves, a bell-shaped space remains on the inside, ready to accept the molten bronze. That's a, that's a mixture, actually, of 80 percent copper and 20 percent tin. A blow causes the atoms to vibrate, but the tin prevents them from moving too far out of position.Tin is good for a bell, but only in the right proportion.
It's a story that begins with the Big Bang and eventually leads to us. Join me as I explore the basic building blocks of the universe… …to the least—manmade elements that last only fractions of a second; strange metals with repellant powers;… So, after all that pulverizing and crushing and weighing and firing, what we're left with is this? Eighteen hundred dollars times…720,000 bucks a truck! The surface mine produces less, about half an ounce per ton. This goes back to the 1800s, the late 1800s, where farmers were looking, actually, for money to plant their next year's crops. We use it for infrastructure; we use it for electronic goods. When times are bad, copper prices tumble, and when times are good, they soar. It's these free-flowing electrons that make metals conductive.
And I wouldn't mind taking a look at these under your magic microscope. Scientists have understood, since the early 20th century, that metals are crystals; that is, they have an orderly arrangement of atoms. They're, they're like a little aerial photo of a planned community. The atoms in our bronze are unusually well ordered.
By bombarding samples with x-rays they were able to create shadowy images of that crystal structure, but the idea that we might one day see actual atoms was beyond imagination. Our bell makers must be true masters of their craft.
Can we crack the code to build the world of the future? By digging, these guys are hoping to strike it rich. I'm on a quest to understand the basic building blocks of everyday matter. These symbols represent the atoms that make up every single thing in our universe: 118 unique substances arranged on an amazing chart that reveals their hidden secrets to anyone who knows how to read it.
It turns out that nature has concealed thousands of pounds of the stuff under billions of cubic feet of earth.