A stone who can beat cancer

Joint project of St.-Petersburg Mining museum and Forpost Nord-West.
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This mineral has been known to humanity for thousands of years. However, its unique properties were discovered only five centuries ago through the inquiry of alchemists, which revealed that a non-base metal by nature could turn into gold.

The stone is a real catch and nowadays it is a panacea for doctors in their fight against cancer. This rainbow-coloured metal is called bismuth and it is widely used in medicine and beauty industry, despite its radioactivity.

Ancient Indians used to make weapons from bismuth. In Russia, bismuth was, however, used for peaceful purposes. Women applied white pigment of bismuth. This kind of face powder produced an effect of dense paint and was visible even at a long distance .The downside was that at the end of the day makeup had to be scraped off the face with a knife.

Some might say that bismuth has somewhat resemblance to the Philosopher’s Stone. At the end of the twentieth century, American scientists, with the help of a particle accelerator, managed to turn bismuth into gold. The centuries-old alchemists’ dream finally came true. The problem was that it was too expensive to make gold that way. Over a quadrillion dollars would be required to make just 30 grams of gold.

Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

Over the longest period of time, bismuth has been applied in medicine. Since the start of seventeenth century, it was used to treat diarrhoea and cholera. In this day and age, pharmaceuticals industry is the main consumer of bismuth. Antiseptics, anti-ulcer medications, burn-treating substances, antisyphilitic agents - they all are made of this metal. Bismuth has also found its way into X-ray therapy of malignant tumours, which is now considered to be one of the most promising methods of treating these diseases.

Bismuth can improve a person’s condition not only from the inside, but also from the outside. The mineral is found in numerous beauty products, including lipstick, face powder and nail polish. Despite that bismuth has proven itself quite useful, it is nonetheless a radioactive metal, albeit with a low dose of radiation exposure. These days, bismuth can protect people from fire dangers. The metal is a part of an alloy that melts only under very low temperatures. Sensors made of this alloy respond to the slightest changes in the room temperature.

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In ideal conditions, outer appearance of bismuth is quite unusual. Its crystal shape resembles a pyramid-like figure. For this reason, in ancient times people believed that bismuth could accumulate all of the owner’s negative energy in the stone itself. Bismuth helps people suffering from depression, nervous and physical disorders. In the Middle Ages, the stone was also popular among alchemists and magicians, as this mineral can literally soar into the air. If a piece of it is placed between two magnets, it begins levitating.

When purchasing items made of bismuth, one can be certain of their uniqueness. Each crystal of the stone refracts light in its own particular way and the rainbow patterns on the mineral never repeat themselves.

Bismuth is a rare metal whose content in ores barely reaches thousandths of a percent. It should be mentioned that artificial bismuth, as opposed to the native one, arouses greater interest among buyers. The reason is that lab-grown minerals tend to have more attractive shapes, appearing iridescent in the play of colours.