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In Connecticut, a Push for an Official State Element

Wikimedia Commons
A titanium crystal bar. Lawmakers in Connecticut are considering a propsal to make titanium the offical state element.
In case you're wondering, Connecticut doesn't have any titanium in the ground.

A high school science club wants Connecticut lawmakers to name titanium as the state’s official element.

You probably think about titanium in the context of sports: golf clubs, things like that. But former Yale researcher and author Ainissa Ramirez said titanium has a lot of uses off the field, too.

“Titanium is very, very strong, but it’s not very heavy. That’s perfect for something like jet engines and missiles and things that are related to the military,” Ramirez said. “We have quite a bit of industry that does that.”

Ramirez said the element is also often used in medicine -- like as a replacement for the ball-and-socket joint in your hip. “That ball usually wears down as you get older. Well, we can now replace it with titanium,” she said. “The great thing about titanium is it does really well in the body; it doesn't corrode. It doesn't rust. So grandma might have a titanium hip.”

Credit Wikimedia Commons
High-purity (99.999%) titanium with visible crystallites.

In case you’re wondering, Connecticut doesn't have any titanium in the ground. To find it, Ramirez said you’d have to go to places like South Africa, Australia, Florida, or Georgia.

“But I think the reason why it’s significant for Connecticut is it relates to a lot of the industry that uses titanium and that seems to make sense,” Ramirez said. “Silicon Valley is over in California, and silicon is actually made from sand. I don’t think California has the most amount of sand compared to other countries, or other parts of the United States, but it uses silicon the most.”

Ramirez said she hadn't heard of any other states naming an official state element, but she said loved that the idea came to legislators from students.

But what if she had to pick her own element to represent Connecticut?

“It'd probably have to do with money,” Ramirez said. “There's iron oxide -- that's inside of money to make sure that people can't counterfeit it, so maybe iron oxide would have been a better choice. But I think in terms of the industry we have, titanium makes sense.”

The proposal now goes before state lawmakers.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached by phone at 860-275-7297 or by email: pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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