Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
h a l f b a k e r y
Sugar and spice and unfettered insensibility.

idea: add, search, annotate, link, view, overview, recent, by name, random

meta: news, help, about, links, report a problem

account: browse anonymously, or get an account and write.

user:
pass:
register,


                                                                                                                       

Mine the Emperor's Tomb

  (+3, -1)
(+3, -1)
  [vote for,
against]

So, it seems that the Chinese emperor who created the Terracotta Army also had a tomb build for him. It's a vast earth pyramid, and ground-penetrating radar has revealed that it has an inner structure - a vast buried palace.

It's also alleged that this tomb contains unspeakable wealth, which is why the Emperor had an army of 8,000 lifesize terracotta guards built to protect it.

As yet, there are no plans to excavate this tomb.

Howevertheless, it would seem a worthwhile proposition to start digging a surreptitious tunnel from some innocuous shack a mile or two away from the buried palace. Given the prize which can reasonably be expected to lie beneath the earth pyramid, the investment of a few man-years of labour and a couple of wheelbarrows would seem justified.

Obviously, a politely apologetic note would be left for future archeologists.

MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 02 2015

Hg-Au phase diagram https://books.googl...4CQ&ved=0CEQQ6AEwDw
looks like even small quantities of gold in mercury form a solid compound, floating around in the liquid. [Ling, Feb 02 2015]

Excavation of Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum http://www.travelch...rmy/mausoleum_2.htm
China Travel page on the subject. [DrBob, Feb 03 2015]

Raiders dig tunnel into First Emperor's Tomb. http://worldnewsdai...sumed-looters-dead/
Haven't seen this mentioned anywhere else & there are no links to source, so not sure how true this report is (the rest of the site all looks a bit Fortean Times to me), but it looks as though someone has already put this plan into action, Max. Always the bridesmaid! [DrBob, Feb 03 2015]

Mercury submersion http://theodoregray...ents/080/index.html
Picture of a man sitting on mercury and description of submerging an arm in mercury. [scad mientist, Feb 03 2015]

Mission Improbable - the gold-melting episode. http://www.imdb.com...is?ref_=ttpl_pl_syn
[MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 04 2015]

[link]






       I believe so. Hopefully, the plumbing failed and the mercury drained away a long time ago, otherwise you'll just find a huge mess of gold amalgam.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 02 2015
  

       I'm sure it's been done, or at least attempted.
pocmloc, Feb 02 2015
  

       // surreptitious tunnel //   

       What will you do with all the spoil you dig from the tunnel ? Will a vaulting horse be involved ? Is this going to mean groups of tourists wandering round with red dust trailing from their trouser legs ?   

       We fear we detect the signs of yet another ill-concieved and worse- implemented scheme for which the Buchanan family are so rightly notorious, along the lines of Sturton's "Carboniferous Park" me-too visitor attraction, or your Great-grandfather's prototype coal-fired, steam-powered tank, which might have been well received in 1915 but was decidedly anachronistic by the time he revealed it in 1965.   

       Besides, what if it turns out to be the tomb of Ming the Merciless, who isn't really dead, just waiting for some idiot to come and release him from suspended animation ?   

       <aside>   

       [bigs], that was in a Terry Pratchett book, "Interesting Times".   

       </aside>
8th of 7, Feb 02 2015
  

       So, I can't seem to find out in a simple web search: when gold dissolves in mercury, can it remain a liquid if the gold concentration is low enough, or does the amalgam always solidify? Are there other practical ways to dissolve gold so that it can be easily recovered afterwards?   

       For this, or other situations where the need arises to surreptitiously "recover" gold from a closed room, if a small hole could be drilled, and one tube inserted that sprays mercury and a second that vacuums it up, large gold objects could be dissolved and extracted through a very small hole. Assuming that the activity could go unnoticed for quite some time, the slow extraction speed might not be an issue.
scad mientist, Feb 02 2015
  

       //I can't seem to find out in a simple web search: when gold dissolves in mercury, can it remain a liquid if the gold concentration is low enough, or does the amalgam always solidify? //   

       As a [scad mientist], you should have done the thought experiment first. Take an ocean of mercury, and add an atom of gold.   

       //Sturton's "Carboniferous Park"// It wasn't technically his. It was jointly owned by Sturtech Enterprises and Intercalary Trading, Inc. And it was a great success while it lasted. In retrospect, having a cigar bar was a mistake, and perhaps the torchlit parade was not well thought through, but hindsight is is always 20:20.   

       //coal-fired, steam-powered tank// You wait. When the oil runs out, it'll be the Anthracenturion pitched against solar-powered Soviet tanks - then you'll be laughing out of the boot on the other foot.   

       // large gold objects could be dissolved and extracted through a very small hole. Assuming that the activity could go unnoticed for quite some time, the slow extraction speed might not be an issue// Now, if that isn't a movie plot waiting to happen, I don't know what is.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 02 2015
  

       // can it remain a liquid if the gold concentration is low enough, //   

       Yes.   

       // or does the amalgam always solidify? //   

       No.   

       // Are there other practical ways to dissolve gold so that it can be easily recovered afterwards? //   

       Yes.   

       For more information, send an envelope containing $10 in stamps or an equivalent money order, and enclose a letter giving your name, address, and saying "YES ! I want to learn how to dissolve gold in my spare time for fun and profit ! I hereby waive any and all claims that may arise from dissolving or attempting to dissolve gold and that my $10 is non-refundable. I confirm that I am over 18 and not currently receiving any formal treatment for a mental health disorder of any kind". Post it to:   

       BorgCo Metal Recovery Inc.
Behind the right-hand corner of the luggage lockers, next to the Gentleman's Washroom,
Main Concourse,
Grand Central Station,
89 East 42nd Street,
New York, NY 10017,
United States.
8th of 7, Feb 02 2015
  

       // movie plot // I thought of that too, but then couldn't figure out how to make it not as boring as watching gold dissolve. I guess it might be interesting if the thieves set up to acquire half the world gold supply all at once, assuming that once once crime was discovered, the method could never work again. I'm sure an actual movie script would just ignore reality and make the system dissolve an entire gold brick and suck it through a straw in 5 seconds, emptying the safe in an hour between inspection by the guards... Then they'd title it "Ocean's 14".   

       And speaking of oceans... // Take an ocean of mercury, and add an atom of gold // Well, of course, but I don't want to have to evaporate an ocean's worth of mercury for every atom of gold recovered. Even in moderately low concentrations, it seems possible that the gold amalgam might precipitate out of the solution and accumulate along the bottom of the tube, eventually forming clumps that could clog the system. Or a bit of mercury that stayed in contact with the gold too long might form a large chunk that could get stuck. On the other hand, if it stays liquid until a reasonable concentration is reached (say 10 or 20%), then the system might fairly reliable run at half that concentration with little chance of clogging. I found one interesting article on dental amalgams, but of course those are designed to be workable for a short time after mixing then quickly harden and involve a lot of different metals (silver, tin, copper, and zinc). There are pictures online of 3rd world gold miners using mercury and picking chunks of amalgam out of a bucket, but does that mean that the amalgam always forms into clumps, or if the miner accidentally adds too much mercury, do they need to dump in more gold ore before they will be able to get the amalgam to solidify? Curious minds want to know, and searching the web is hard when 99% of the hits are debating the safety of dental amalgams.
scad mientist, Feb 02 2015
  

       [8th of 7] Thanks. How do you ensure that no one is watching when you retrieve the envelopes? I'd rather someone didn't follow you and steal my envelope, making it harder to put this plan into action.
scad mientist, Feb 02 2015
  

       // How do you ensure that no one is watching when you retrieve the envelopes? //   

       To find out, send an envelope containing $10 in stamps or an equivalent money order, and enclose a letter giving your name, address, and saying "YES ! I want you to teach me how to discretely retrieve envelopes in my spare time for fun and profit ! I hereby waive any and all claims that may arise from retreving or faling to retrieve envelopes and that my $10 is non-refundable. I confirm that I am over 18 and am not currently receiving any formal treatment for a mental health disorder of any kind".   

       Post it to:   

       BorgCo Envelope Recovery Inc.
Behind the left-hand corner of the luggage lockers, next to the Gentleman's Washroom,
Main Concourse,
Grand Central Station,
89 East 42nd Street,
New York, NY 10017,
United States.
  

       Please allow 28 years for delivery.
8th of 7, Feb 02 2015
  

       Sp. Mental recovery
pocmloc, Feb 02 2015
  

       You're confusing us with our UK subsidiary, Postal Blackmail (Python) Ltd., franchised to Messrs. D. & D. Piranha & partners.   

       But remember, and this is important, we don't morally censure , we just want the money.
8th of 7, Feb 02 2015
  

       //Take an ocean of mercury, and add an atom of gold.//   

       Done! Now what?   

       You could also surreptitiously heat gold to liquefy it before extracting it through a small aperture. Sort of like siphoning gasoline but just remember to stop sucking at the right moment.
AusCan531, Feb 02 2015
  

       //just remember to stop sucking at the right moment// [marked-for...]
FlyingToaster, Feb 03 2015
  

       Now that you say that, I'm sure there was a film (or program) where they did that. I've got a feeling it was Mission Impossible (the series, not the modern movies). Anyone?
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 03 2015
  

       This sounds like the premise of one of those Preston and Child thrillers. Exotic; unknown, based in fact. Lots of potential for teams of expendible competitors (eg: ruthless gold hunters, Chinese mafia) to be used up by ancient spooky weirdness. River of mercury: yes, yes - with Apocalypse Now type scene man rising out of mercury. Terracotta soliders - both on exhibit and the less... handsome ones not on exhibit. The Shaanzi Normal University. Good stuff!
bungston, Feb 03 2015
  

       // man rising out of mercury //   

       "Rising" ?   

       Mercury has a density of 13.5. Humans have an average density of about 1.   

       Therefore a human would be fully supported when 7.5% of their volume was submerged in mercury.   

       If 15% of the human is submerged, the buoyancy will be equal to twice their weight - gravity in reverse.   

       When released from the hawser and clamps, a fully submerged human is going to rise … quite high.
8th of 7, Feb 03 2015
  

       You might pull this off if you flooded the mound with nitro-hydrochloric acid.   

       However, it's not the easiest stuff to work with.
UnaBubba, Feb 03 2015
  

       // a fully submerged human is going to rise … quite high // How much will that be slowed by the viscosity of mercury? Or is the surface tension going to be the more prevalent effect? Based on <link> it looks like the latter.
scad mientist, Feb 03 2015
  

       /When released from the hawser and clamps, a fully submerged human is going to rise … quite high./   

       That would be so awesome! They would pop out in a silver spray and promptly start with the kung fu! You could still use the super slomo for the Apocalypse Now effect.   

       Hmm... if you took a breath at the surface before winching yourself under, it might be hard to hold your breath for long under the mercury. The weight would collapse down the airspace in your lungs to a minimum. But if you had a submerged air reservoir it should be equally pressurized and so that would work out.
bungston, Feb 03 2015
  

       WorldDailyNewsReport of raiders beating Max to the punch: From their FAQ: "WNDR assumes however all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website – even those based on real people – are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any persons, living, dead, or undead is purely a miracle."
scad mientist, Feb 03 2015
  

       // and so that would work out // You first. I'm going to do a little more research on explosive decompression.
scad mientist, Feb 03 2015
  

       Your planet's atmosphere is equivalent to 760mm of mercury (approx).   

       Initial height of human test subject: 2000mm (this value will no doubt be different after the experiment).   

       If the subject is just submerged, the average pressure will be 1000mm of mercury or about 1.3 Bar, equivalent to 13 metres submergence.   

       Let us know how that works out for you.
8th of 7, Feb 03 2015
  

       That would be 13 metres of submersion in water. Mercury is around 13.6x heavier than water, from memory.
UnaBubba, Feb 03 2015
  

       //equivalent to 13 metres submergence.   

       Let us know how that works out for you //   

       No probs, I'm good for about two and a half minutes at that depth, including descent and ascent. Someone who takes their training seriously could easily top 4-5 minutes, assuming moderate natural talent.   

       ...I'd love to see someone sketch up their concept of an aqua-regia based gold extraction system. That stuff's heinous.
Custardguts, Feb 03 2015
  

       // including descent and ascent // Sounds like you might know what you talking about. If you ascended from that depth very rapidly (say half a second) after hanging out at that depth for two minutes while your unsuspecting victims walked into the room, would you anticipate any problems? I remember a story about a free diver having to equalize pressure in their ears at various times, but that was in a world record attempt, so maybe not an issue here.
scad mientist, Feb 03 2015
  

       //WorldDailyNewsReport... of raiders beating Max to the punch: From their FAQ//

Thank you Mr scad for reading further than I did. That'll make this idea already half-baked then, won't it!
DrBob, Feb 03 2015
  

       //would you anticipate any problems//   

       Oh, I'm certain there would be problems - just not the ones you're thinking of. I personally don't think the change in pressure would be a big deal internally. Susceptibility to Shallow Water Blackout syndrome would be something to think about, but it's only an issue if you've spent too long down there anyway (you're already dead, you just don't know it yet). Having said that, because you'd surface so quickly, I'm thinking there'd be less risk of SWB, simply because you'd get up and get a breath in, before you could black out - and if/when you did black out, you'd be so buoyant that you'd probably just wake up after a minute or two high and mostly dry on top the mercury, rather than sinking away to your death in water.   

       You'd have to be on top of your equalisation game, sure, but "up is easier than down" - me personally I just hold the old tubes open and away they go. You certainly wouldn't have any time for reverse frenzel's or anything. Hey, if you fucked it up, at least the blood would be sitting on top of the mercury there for you to see it. I'd hate to think of what the affects would be from mercury injection past a ruptured eardrum if you missed an equalisation on the way down.   

       ...Then there would be the issues from being immersed in mercury. I'm not sure what they would be (especially given the surface tension) - but surely it would permeate areas (and perhaps membranes...) where you would prefer it didn't...
Custardguts, Feb 03 2015
  

       //I remember a story about a free diver having to equalize pressure in their ears at various times, but that was in a world record attempt, so maybe not an issue here.//   

       Some folks can keep their Eustachian tubes open continuously so equalization becomes a non factor.   

       That's called VTO or Voluntary Tubal Opening. Not everyone can do it, even with training. I can do it coming up but I'm not strong enough to do it going down.   

       It's the pressure gradient that matters. Between 1-10 metres, you need to equalise, say 5 times. Between 10-20 metres, that drops to 2-3, and from 20-30 it's 1-2 times, etc etc.   

       Even duck diving in a decently deep pool or creek you'll notice the pressure. The gap between "ooh, theres pressure on my eardrums" and "oh fuck that hurts" is very narrow. The gap between "oh fuck that hurts" and "oh that pinched for a second but now my ear feels lovely and warm, but I can't tell which way is up anymore" is even narrower.   

       Equalise early and often.
Custardguts, Feb 03 2015
  

       This shouldn't be in the science category. Otherwise I'm bunning it for evilness.
Voice, Feb 04 2015
  

       // This shouldn't be in the science category //   

       No ? Ok … how about putting it in "Other:General" ?
8th of 7, Feb 04 2015
  

       "Public: Recycling: Separation"? "Public: World Domination"?
hippo, Feb 04 2015
  

       //Now that you say that, I'm sure there was a film (or program) where they did that. I've got a feeling it was Mission Impossible (the series, not the modern movies). Anyone?//   

       The following may be a spoiler, depending on your memory and powers of deduction, so I have rot13'd the salient part.   

       Depending on what exactly you were referring to, it might have been a book "Pelcgbavzvpba", ol Arny Fgrcurafba.
Loris, Feb 04 2015
  

       Actually, you'd better not equalize at all while submerged in mercury or you will risk rupturing your eardrums.   

       We were treating the whole person as being submerged at an average depth of 1000mm, but we're talking about a person oriented vertically with their head just below the surface. Let's say the diver's eardrums are 200mm below the surface (equivalent to 2.6 meters of water), but their chest/lungs are at 500mm depth (6.5 meter of water). If the diver opened their Eustachian tubes, there would be a 3.9 meter of water (~0.39 bar) over pressure inside the ear. A web search says, snorkeling is only possible down to about half a meter because the lungs aren't strong enough to expand, so if the diver tried to expand their lungs while equalizing, they might be able to reduce the 3.9 meter over pressure by 0.5 meter, probably more with serious training. Based on a web search, it looks like eardrums may sometimes rupture at 0.35 bar (~3.5 meters of water), so I think equalizing while submerged vertically in mercury would have a fairly high risk of causing a rupture.   

       Maybe the best bet would be to equalize when the chest was submerged to 100mm, over pressuring the ears to 1.3 meters of water. When the ears were submerged to 100mm, the pressure on the eardrums would be neutralized, and submersion by another 100mm ought to fully cover the head and only put 1.3 meters of water pressure on the eardrum.
scad mientist, Feb 04 2015
  

       I just Googled and found that it was a Mission Impossible episode from 1968 (linky).
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 04 2015
  

       Oh I'm thinking you'd probably have to be horizontal given those numbers. Actually, head down would be even better - you can easily overpressurise your ears using advanced techniques. The Frenzel technique uses your throat muscles to force air into the eustachian tubes. You have to take it easy, because you could easily rupture your eardrums with a little effort.   

       ...So, I'd go head down, or horizontal in mercury.
Custardguts, Feb 04 2015
  

       //That's called VTO or Voluntary Tubal Opening. Not everyone can do it, even with training.//   

       Yeah, I kind of freaked out my dive instructor a bit the first time we descended. I've always been able to hold my tubes open for as long as I wish with about as much effort as keeping my eyelids open, just like I've always been able to swim an Olympic pool under water on a single breath. <shrugs> Just part fish I guess.
He really freaked out when I taught him how to add a good minute to his free-dive time by gulping in air after hyperventilating and taking in as much air as the diaphragm itself can draw.
  

       I think I'll pass on trying it in a pool of mercury.   

       // Just part fish I guess //   

       Errr, which part, exactly ?   

       Or is this another "Too Much Information" thing ?
8th of 7, Feb 04 2015
  

       Depends on the scale.   

       //add a good minute to his free-dive time by gulping in air after hyperventilating and taking in as much air as the diaphragm itself can draw//   

       ...Red flag dude. Hyperventillating allows you to go closer to the point of blackout more comfortably. It does not increase dive time to blackout.   

       The single biggest contributor to Shallow Water Blackout deaths is hyperventillation. The pure fact of the matter is hyperventillating does not increase oxygen saturation by any significant ammount. What it does is removes CO2, which then sets up a delay in your physiological impulse to breathe (breathing is triggered by CO2 level, not Oxygen for like 99% of the population). So hyperventillating retards your ability to know when you need to breathe. Now combine that with the higher availability of O2 at depth (PPO2) what you get is freedivers, 10 or 20 or so metres down, with blood oxygen concentrations so low they will pass out on the way to the surface. Which is called Shallow Water Blackout.   

       Freediving training is, in addition to increasing lung capacity, and lowering dive metabolism, about acknowledging the requirement to breathe, and being able to live with it within established boundaries (and ultimately, pushing those boundaries under controlled testing).   

       Note the above is for hyperventillating air. There are reasons for hyperventillating concentrated O2 for extended periods in preparation for certain deep diving disciplines. That's not what we're talking about.   

       ...That said, "packing" or gulping air is very useful for increasing effective lung capacity. Remember to vent on resurfacing - you normally come up with more air than you went down with. Also be very careful of overdoing it - I can't remember the name for it but you can stretch your rib cage too much, a bit like a muscle strain, but it fucks you for weeks. I don't pack anymore because of it.
Custardguts, Feb 04 2015
  

       Interesting. Thanks for the info.
I wasn't taught, I just learned that hyperventilating while slowing my heart before hand let me stay down longer than if I didn't. I never came close to or even considered that I might black out from it, but I've also never used weights or gone very deep either.
  

       Wow...   

       I just got here...how did we get to here? Not diving these days, but the exchange is entertaining.   

       My personal best is forty feet for forty seconds, so no serious competitor, but the reactions of the fish is worth the effort.
normzone, Feb 04 2015
  

       Sorry, I just can't not say anything when I read someone espousing hyperventillating for freediving. I've known several people, and known of many many more, who have died of SWB. I've personally had a few sambas while pool training (minor temporary loss of motor control - the precursor to blackout) - but that's why you're training.   

       I'm no expert, but I went out and did an accredited course so I could know what was going on.   

       Anyhow, how about all that gold? Can we get it without diving in mercury? I certainly hope so...
Custardguts, Feb 04 2015
  

       It should be in business:crime
Voice, Feb 05 2015
  

       Diving into a pool of mercury would be an interesting way of achieving rapid deceleration …
8th of 7, Feb 05 2015
  

       // Diving into a pool of mercury //   

       sp: onto
Ling, Feb 05 2015
  

       //sp. onto// dunno... you'd sink to probably mid-thigh in a pool of mercury, so even from zero altitude it isn't "onto", unless you're just pancaking in (painful, at least on water you can slow deceleration by displacement).
FlyingToaster, Feb 05 2015
  

       //Remember to vent on resurfacing - you normally come up with more air than you went down with.//   

       Where does it come from?   

       My naive impression is that metabolism is gas neutral: O2 in, CO2 out.
... calculations using figures gleaned online:
  

       gas, mol wt, density at 0degC and 1 atmosphere (kg/m^3)
CO2, 44.01, 1.977
O2 , 32, 1.4290
  

       so for CO2 1000*1.977/44.01=44.92 moles/m^3
and O2 1000*1.4290/32=44.66 moles/m^3
  

       So the volume is going up, by around 0.6%   

       Is that significant? It doesn't look like much.
Loris, Feb 05 2015
  

       // Where does it come from? //   

       The Little Yellow Pixies bring it in paper bags.
8th of 7, Feb 05 2015
  

       //Where does it come from? //   

       They spoke about this in the course. I can't remember, but I think it's got to do with solubility and saturation in bodily tissues. ...eh I dunno.. Firsthand, there's no way that if you pack your lungs, and dive down for a couple minutes, that you can get all the way back up to the surface without letting some air out. Feels like your chest is about to explode. It might also have something to do with muscle tension and fatigue for all I know.
Custardguts, Feb 05 2015
  

       Of course in the grand scheme of things, there's a 1:1 exchange of O2 and CO2. But it isn't a swap meet: the brachiolae (or whatever) will still pump out CO2 for awhile even if no O2 is entering.... no ? So you could end up with more gas in your lungs than you started with.
FlyingToaster, Feb 05 2015
  

       Whales.
8th of 7, Feb 05 2015
  

       No, China. Do try to keep up, [008].
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 06 2015
  

       //But it isn't a swap meet: the brachiolae (or whatever) will still pump out CO2 for awhile even if no O2 is entering.... no ? //   

       No - no pumping; it's passive diffusion.   

       It could be a secondary effect of increasing CO2 or decreasing O2 I suppose.
Dissolved carbon dioxide is slightly acid, so the blood pH will go down slightly - maybe that affects the solubility of other gasses as Custardguts suggests.
Loris, Feb 06 2015
  
      
[annotate]
  


 

back: main index

business  computer  culture  fashion  food  halfbakery  home  other  product  public  science  sport  vehicle