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Published: July 15th 2013
Historical Landmark plaqueYtterium, Ytterbium, Terbium and Erbium
Ytterby Mine's unique position in the history of science has earned it the title Historical Landmark by the ASM International
To most people the four words in the headline probably means nothing. People who have studied science might know that they are four basic elements. These four basic elements have in common that they were all named after Ytterby, a tiny village north of Stockholm in Sweden. Or maybe it is more correct to say that the basic elements were named after Ytterby
Mine from which ore these basic elements were first isolated. To this list we can add another three basic elements namely Holmium, Thulium and Gadolinium. Those three elements where also for the first time ever isolated from ore from this mine.
That seven different basic elements were discovered in ore from one and the same mine is unique of course. The reason this happened is that the ore from Ytterby Mine happened to be rich in so called rare earth elements and that Sweden during a couple of decades in the 18th and 19th century had several talented chemists who managed to extract, isolate and identify these rare earth elements from the ore. Ytterby Mine's unique position in the history of science has earned it the title Historical Landmark by the
The original entrance
The vertical entrance, the original, was plugged with sand and concrete when the mine was shut down.
ASM International, also known as American Society of Metals.
Ytterby is close to Stockholm, only 30 km away. As a tradition the Nobel Prize laureates in physics visit the mine when they come to Stockholm for the Nobel Prize ceremonies. They probably visit Ytterby in December, since the Nobel Prize is awarded on December 10, the same day the founder of the prize, Alfred Nobel, died. I preferred to visit Ytterby in June since the weather is likely to be more comfortable then.
The mine in Ytterby used to have two entrances, one vertical and one horizontal. The vertical entrance, the original, was plugged with sand and concrete when the mine was shut down. Next to that entrance there is a memorial plaque from ASM International recognizing the mine as a historical landmark.
The horizontal entrance is still there but it is locked with a very heavy steel door. So unless you are a very good friend of the caretaker it can not be entered.
Other than the two entrances to the mine there is very little to see in Ytterby to be honest. It is a small village with pretty houses and a small harbor.
The horizontal entrance
The horizontal entrance is locked with a very heavy steel door.
If it hadn't been for the mine I doubt that I would ever have visited this place and not a single Nobel Prize laureate would ever set foot there. But now it is a place that is known to scientists all over the world.
In the end of the blog I have added one photo of a football field. That photo was taken in Ytterby but has nothing to do with Ytterby Mine. I have added it because I want to point out that the grass is very smooth and nice all over the field. When I was a child football fields never looked that good. The grass was always worn down so hard that around the goals there was nothing left but sand and dirt. It was because we used the football field to what it was meant for in the first place, to play football on. I find it sad that children today play so little football that grass can grow.
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