From Stonehenge to house painting to C&EN’s Top 50 US chemical producers

Solve the Stonehenge puzzle

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That rocks: Scientists may have finally found out where the Sarsens for Stonehenge came from.

In Stonehenge, “the banshees live and they live well,” according to the fictional rock group Spinal Tap.

While this is likely true, it has been unknown for centuries where the rock for the giant megaliths – each 6 to 7 meters high and 20 tons massive – was mined from the time Stonehenge was mined around 2500 BC. Was established. The common wisdom for more than four centuries has been that builders sourced the sarsenstone from Marlborough Downs, England, some 30 km north.

In a study published in Science Advances, a team led by David J. Nash of the University of Brighton identified another likely location (2020, DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.abc0133).

The scientists recorded X-ray fluorescence spectrometry data for 52 Stonehenge-Sarsens. All but two have almost identical chemical compositions – more than 99% silica with traces of other elements such as aluminum, iron, and titanium – and therefore likely come from the same place.

Nash et al’s breakthrough came through the analysis of inductively coupled plasma mass and atomic emission spectrometry of a core that was removed from one of the stones during a restoration in the 1950s. The core had been believed lost until it showed up in the hands of a former restoration worker in the United States in 2018.

The scientists compared the signature of trace elements in the core with those in deposits across England. They pointed out that West Woods, about 15 miles north of Stonehenge, not far from Marlborough Downs, is the next game. The team is calling for further investigation, perhaps to identify the exact pits from which the Stonehenge megaliths came.

People quarantined at home to contain the progression of COVID-19 have done their own construction projects, albeit on a more modest scale than Stonehenge. Just as people wrote toilet paper and learned how to make their own bread, so too have people spiced up their homes – especially painting.

Sherwin-Williams CEO John G. Morikis described the demand as “unprecedented” in a recent conference call with financial analysts. The company hasn’t specified the increase in sales, but it sells more paint to consumers than a year ago. The company even rerouted the production of 5 gallon pails that contractors use to the single gallons preferred by consumers.

“It’s often referred to as the COVID project in our branches,” he said. “Where people have been home for a while and maybe have a bedroom that they never really repainted. And they realize that it’s very affordable and a very powerful project. And they tackle it. “

The effect has affected the chemical raw materials used in paint throughout the supply chain. Chemours reported that sales of titanium dioxide, a white pigment used to increase paint haze, remain healthy in this sector. Dow said similar things about acrylic paint resins.


Photo credit: Alex Tull / 100 & EN

Old School: This nearly 50 year old table was used to prepare the top 50 US chemical producers from C&EN.

The Newscripts gang recently found a piece of C&EN history. This is a table used to create the C&EN Top 50 US Chemical Producers feature published on April 26, 1971. It is not an Excel spreadsheet. It is a real paper book with a top 50 draft organized in pencil.

It must have been tedious putting this function together – tabulating data by hand, writing everything down, and correcting data manually. Not to mention, the author likely had to submit annual reports from each company rather than finding the primary sources on the internet.

As for the ranking itself, DuPont took first place that year with chemical sales of $ 3.2 billion in 1970. By our count, there were 12 names left in the ranking this year, including DuPont. The other 38 companies were lost over the years due to name changes or mergers.

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