Experiments You Can Do at Home - But Probably Shouldn't

Chapter 5
Heavy Metal » Casting About from A1 to Zinc

Casting About from A1 to Zinc

The best metal for the job isn't always the ideal one. The Great corn breeder John Laughnan used to say that the soil and climate of Champaign County, Illinois, were the best in the world for growing corn, but that they were not ideal. That is, given a chance, he could design a plot of land and a climate that would grow corn even better.

I feel the same way about elements. Iron is the best for building bridges, because it's very strong and very cheap, and it's easy to weld and machine. But it's not ideal: It rusts. The fact that iron is reactive and unstable in air is one of the great lousy breaks in chemistry. Given the chance, I would design a world in which aluminum was as cheap and easy to weld as iron.

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