Saturday, August 24, 2013

Countdown to Opening Night by the Elements: Number 38

Fearless is down to number 38 on his curious countdown to opening night through the chemical elements.  What’s he got in the lab for this one?...


Strontium is a rather unassuming, silver-white or yellowish metal that looks rather common, at least at first sight.  But it is a highly reactive element, especially with oxygen and water (things you might find, say, at an ice rink).  In its powdered form it will ignite spontaneously in air, which makes it a valuable commodity (when combined with other elements) in fireworks.  And, in that application strontium gives off a deep red color as part of the show.  It occurs naturally only in compounds.

It is also referred to as a “bone-seeker” in that it behaves similarly to calcium, which when ingested is taken up in bones and bone marrow.  Its radioactive isotope, (referred to as “Strontium-90”) has a half-life of 28 years, and it decays into Yttrium. 

So, Strontium occurs naturally only in compounds, sort of like a defensive pair.  It’s highly reactive, especially in the presence of oxygen and water.  It is a rather common element, but it is uniquely a “bone-seeker.”  Sounds like a former journeyman defenseman who might be more than a bit feisty on the ice, who hits opponents so they feel it down to their bones, who has a teammate relationship with the “Yttrium” of the Capitals, and who will turn 28 half-way through the 2013-2014 season.

Guess you could say Strontium is the “Steve Oleksy” of chemical elements.