Ken grows crystals. Specifically, he grows free-standing crystals made of bismuth, a metal resembling lead. It has some very interesting properties – it crystallises at right angles, and tends to form shell-like “hoppers“, and natural oxidation gives the crystals a very beautiful iridescence. The end result is something that looks like a tiny futuristic city of gleaming metal skyscrapers.
Ever drink Pepto-Bismol? Well if you have, then you’ve swallowed some bismuth. Don’t be afraid. Pharmaceutical applications are one of the main uses of bismuth. Bismuth is the 83rd element on the periodic table of elements. It sits just to the right of lead. Which means it is a bit heavier then lead. Because it is non-toxic, bismuth is now being substituted for lead in shot gun shells. No more contaminating our ponds with lead.