10 Ultra Expensive Things
Why Does a Rhino Horn Cost $300,000? Because Vietnam Thinks It Cures Cancer and Hangovers.
Only around 15 rhinos a year were poached from 1990 to 2007. But things started changing in 2008, when rumor swept Vietnam in that imbibing rhino horn powder had cured a Vietnamese politician’s cancer. That year, 83 rhinos were killed, followed by 122 the next year. By 2012, that number had hit 688. That rumor persists to this day. This has nothing to do with traditional Chinese medicine as there’s no record of using rhino horn to treat cancer in nearly two millennia worth of Chinese medical texts.
In Vietnam, however, at least some respected doctors vouch for rhino horn’s cancer-curing properties. There is 150,000 new cancer cases a year, the waiting list for radiotherapy is very long, as of 2010 Vietnam had only 25 radiotherapy machines for a population of 87 million. 70-80% of patients at Vietnam’s four cancer hospitals are diagnosed only in late stages. That gives Vietnam a cancer mortality rate of 73%, one of the highest in the world.
150 flowers and substantial labor are needed to produce a single gram of saffron.
Saffron is made from the stigma of the flower of the saffron plant. Saffron crocus bears up to four flowers, each with three vivid crimson stigmas, which are the distal end of a carpel. The styles and stigmas, called threads, are collected and dried. Saffron has a bitter taste and smells like hay. It also contains a dye, crocin, that gives food a rich golden colour.Almost all saffron grows in a belt from Spain in the west to India in the east. Iran now accounts for approximately 90% of the world production of saffron.
The white truffle market in Alba is busiest in the months of October and November.
From the mountains of Italy, these precious gems from the earth abound with a rich aroma and flavor that none other can bring to your dish. The Italian white truffle, Tuber magnatum pico, is popularly known as the White Alba truffle, prized for its superb, unmistakable fragrance.
165,000 metric tons have been mined in all of human history. However there’s enough gold in Earth’s core to coat its surface in 1.5 feet of the stuff.
Jade is a cultural term used for a very durable material that has been fashioned into tools, sculptures, jewellery, gemstones, and other objects for over 5,000 years. It was first used to manufacture axe heads, weapons, and tools for scraping and hammering because of its toughness.
Then, because some specimens had a beautiful color and could be polished to a brilliant lustier, people started to use jade for gemstones, talismans, and ornamental objects. Although most people who think of jade imagine a beautiful green gemstone, the material occurs in a wide variety of colours that include green, white, lavender, yellow, blue, black, red, orange, and grey.
Plutonium is a radioactive, silver metal that can be used to create or destroy.
While it was used for destruction soon after it was made, today the element is used mostly for creating energy throughout the world. Plutonium was first produced and isolated in 1940 and was used to make the “Fat Man” atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki at the end of World War II, just five years after it was first produced.
Crystal was named after the discoverer, A. C. D. Pain.
No cut gems are known. The first discovered specimen is the red crystal in the British Museum in London, weighing 1.7 grams. The color resembles garnet, and the density is that of garnet or ruby. This means that there might be cut gems in existence that have been mis-identified as ruby or garnet. The refractive indices are unlike those for ruby, and the material is so clearly birefringent that it could not be confused with garnet, if tested. Also, a garnet of this color would display the almandine spectrum, a very definitive test.
This is perhaps the rarest of all gem species—not a single cut stone is known to exist, and only a few crystals have ever been identified!
A giant pink diamond has become the most expensive jewel ever sold at auction, fetching $71.2 million at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong.
Clocking in at 59.60 carats, the Pink Star was the largest polished diamond ever to go on the auction block. The winning bid came from Hong Kong jewellery firm Chow Tai Fook. The company’s chairman, Henry Cheng Kar-Shun, phoned in the bid. The final price was 553 million Hong Kong dollars, including the buyer’s premium, or auction house charge. The “Pink Star” weighs 59.60-carats, and is the most valuable polished diamond ever offered at auction. This isn’t the first time the Pink Star has gone up for sale. In 2013, it sold for a record $83 million at a Sotheby’s auction in Geneva, but the buyer, New York-based diamond cutter Isaac Wolf, defaulted on the deal. Sotheby’s ended up saddled with the expensive stone. The most important diamond sales usually take place in Geneva. The Oppenheimer Blue, which previously held the record for the most expensive polished diamond (successfully) sold at auction, fetched $57.5 million at a Christie’s auction in Geneva last May.
Californium is artificially produced metal, first obtained in 1950 at the University of California, Berkeley.
There are two successful methods of preparing it. Both involve the reduction of californium trifluoride with lithium metal at an elevated temperature, then using thorium or lanthanum metal to reduce californium oxide. The largest amount of californium metal produced at one time was about 10 milligrams. It has been suggested that californium may be produced in supernovae stellar explosions. These explosions have characteristic light curves that would agree with the radioactive decay of 254Cf. This suggestion, however, is questioned.
There are 20 reported isotopes of californium ranging in atomic mass from 237 to 256, though the isotopes with mass of 237 and 238 have not yet been confirmed. The element’s most stable isotope is 251Cf, which has a half-life of about 898 years. Either through alpha decay or spontaneous fission, 251Cf decays to 247Cm.
252Cf is a very efficient source of neutrons, which makes it a useful element. Currently, it is used in the oil well industry. Californium can be used in devices called neutron moisture gauges that find oil-and water-bearing layers within the wells. Additionally, it used as a neutron source in a process called neutron activation that can find gold and silver ores through on-the-spot analysis. Many more uses for californium are expected.
Antimatter is not just the fictional fuel powering the Enterprise during its journeys on Star Trek.
Quite the contrary, antimatter is something that scientists are currently utilizing. In fact, antihydrogen was created in 1995 (although it didn’t last long). Antimatter, simply, is matter with its electrical charge reversed. For example, antiprotons are like protons but with a negative charge. Primordial antimatter has yet to be observed in the universe, but antiparticles are being created in particle accelerator labs. They can even be trapped and stored for weeks at a time. For example, positrons (a type of antiparticle) are now being produced for numerous studies thanks to CERN.
Antimatter responds to gravity the same as normal matter (it does not repel material). As was noted, antimatter and matter particles have the same mass but differ in properties, like electric charge and spin. The Standard Model predicts that gravity should have the same effect on matter and antimatter, and we have no real reason to believe otherwise.
The Big Bang should have created antimatter and matter in equal amounts. If that had been so, everything would have been destroyed in, well, a bigger bang. As far as scientists know, there must have been one extra matter particle for every billion matter-antimatter pairs. Physicists are still trying to understand why the universe didn’t annihilate itself and why this asymmetry exists.
Bananas produce antimatter (one positron every 75 minutes). Yes, you can still safely eat bananas. They’re only a little radioactive.
If all the antimatter ever made by humans were annihilated at once, the energy produced wouldn’t even be enough to boil a cup of tea. However, in 2009, antimatter triggered the largest explosion ever recorded in the known universe.