Didymium Glasses

By Anupum Pant

Praseodymium is a chemical element with symbol Pr and atomic number 59. Most have never heard of it. But it is something that’s essential for glass blowers to work their magic. It seems odd to link praseodymium to the art of glass making. However, a strong link exists and here is how it works.

Praseodymium and neodymium (the element used to make really strong magnets) come together in glass to give it a kind of amazing property. These elements when incorporated into glass, gives it a typical green-blue colour, which is used by a glass-blower to see through the yellow sodium flame.

Well, the yellow flame of sodium comes from the sodium that is present in soda glass. And when it is being worked with a hot torch, it vaporizes sodium and makes a bright yellow flame which conceals the details on the soft glass. These have to be seen to be worked properly.

These glasses just block out the yellow light from the sodium and gives the glass-blower a sort of super human ability to see through the flame. What enables these glasses to do block out the yellow is a lot more complex physics. For now, that’s the story of an unheard element, which deserves to be known. An unsung hero element – praseodymium.

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