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General : Columns : The Elements Last Updated: 12, Nov 2008 - 09:55


Magnificent Magnesium
By Bowser
14, Jun 2002 - 23:16

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Well actually it was hard to figure anything magnificent about magnesium but it's a good alliteration. Milk of magnesia, antacid tablets, liver salts, Epsom salts are the first things that come to mind when I think of the 12th element. Very much associated with the intestines and bowel misfunctions generally so perhaps we can skip magnesium altogether? I remember the tea lady in a place that I used to work spiking the afternoon coffee of an eminent scientist person that she didn't like with magnesium sulphate (Epsom Salts) and watched him run. A bit like the painted lady in Drew Carey she was.

According to the magnesium deficiency website, however, Mg does a lot more than cure tummy upsets. What appears to be a big campaign to add magnesium to drinking water in an effort to fight such problems as - it actually gives this list: Ageing, Aggressive Behavior, Alcoholism, Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Alzheimer's Disease, Arrhythmia, Asthma, Attention Deficit Disorder, Autism, Cancer, Cerebral Palsy, Cerebrovascular, Chemical Sensitivity, Chronic Fatigue, Cluster Headaches, Cocaine-related Stroke, Constipation, Cramps, Diabetes, Fibromyalgia, Fluoride Toxicity, Head Injuries, Central Nervous System Injuries, Heart-Related Conditions, HIV, AIDS, Hypertension, Kidney Stones, Magnesium Deficiency, Menopause, Migraine, Mitral Valve Prolapse, Multiple Sclerosis, Nystagmus, Osteoporosis, Peripheral vascular disease, Pregnancy-related problems, Eclampsia, Premenstrual Syndrome, Psychiatric Disorders, Repetitive Strain Injury, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sickle Cell Disease, SIDS, Sports-related problems, Stress, Tetanus, Tinnitis, Sound Sensitivity, TMJ, Toxic Shock, Violence.

There's even a book entitled "Magnesium The Nutrient That Could Change Your Life". So there - and 213794 people had already visited the magnesium deficiency website when I got there.
savannah2-300.jpg

I remember as a youngster being very impressed with the idea that there were whole sections of the seafloor covered with incredibly valuable magnesium nodules. All you had to do was scoop them up. But because they were only found at great depths, a special ship, the Glomar Explorer, was built by Howard Hughes to recover these valuable nodules (presumably the idea being that lots of people around the world looking for more stomach medicines and there was lots of money to be made). I am shocked to find out that this was all just a dirty lie. I have just discovered this on - of all places - the Enterprise Oil website (yes the very same Bellanaboy Gas People) that the Glomar Explorer was a secret Howard Hughes - CIA operation to recover nuclear launch codes from a Russian Sub that sunk in the Pacific in 1968. You learn something new every day.

Come to think of it this happened around the same time that the world's first nuclear powered merchant ship, The Savannah, was being heavily promoted to small boys as well as anyone who felt guilty about Hiroshima and Nagasaki to show that nuclear power was a GOOD THING. I feel quite cheated because I actually had a postcard of this ship on my wall as a kid. It was a total failure and was mothballed after 10 years. Basically an excuse to continue the arms race and spend billions on lining the pockets of those who produced components for weapons of mass destruction.

Next up:
Amazing Aluminium

Previous element: Sodium the Salt of the Earth


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