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Pere Renom

“We have given you, O Adam, no visage proper to yourself, nor endowment properly your own, in order that whatever place, whatever form, whatever gifts you may, with premeditation, select, these same you may have and possess through your own judgement and decision […] We have made you a creature neither of heaven nor of earth, neither mortal nor immortal as the free and proud shaper of your own being, fashion yourself in the form you may prefer.”
Oration on the Dignity of Man – Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

The mobile’s chemistry

published on 20.02.2020

The mobile is such a powerful device that it attracts us with a special chemistry. We have it with us even when we go to the bathroom. But its chemistry has deeper bonds. In fact, it contains an important part of the periodic table. The Russian chemist Dimitri Mendeleev conceived it in 1869 by observing certain regularities in the properties of different chemical elements. It is one of the most relevant milestones in the history of science not only because it describes the fundamental pieces that make up the Cosmos, but also because it served to predict the existence of chemical elements that had not yet been discovered. The most notable elements that we find in the mobile phone are Fe and C, for the steel of the case, or H and C, when the case is made of plastic (hydrocarbons), Li for batteries, Cu, Ag and the Au for the electrical connections, the Si for the microchips, the Ta for the capacitors, and the rare earths (Eu, Dy, Nd) for the magnetic elements of the speakers and microphones. Some of these elements such as Au or Ta, obtained from the famous mineral called coltan, are extracted from mines located in areas of Africa where there are armed conflicts. That is why the Fairphone initiative is interesting, a fair mobile, which manufactures ensuring environmental and social sustainability. And besides, it sells the components separately to avoid programmed obsolescence. It is a mobile with which you can maintain a chemistry for life.

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