As promised, I will now regale you (or really, just post for your reading enjoyment) with my EAS 111 (Geology) report on graphite. I am pretty sure this is also an extra credit assignment, because reading through it, there is no way a University would accept this with anything better than a C, and I’m pretty sure I aced this class.
Or maybe it was a real assignment, and I was just counting on my inexhaustible supply of charm and wit to get me through. Yeah. That’s probably it.
Graphite – It’s Not Lead!
But it is, a little bit.
Well, Sort of.
Remember in the olden days of elementary school, when you were probably “accidentally” stabbed in the hand (or other extremity) with a (probably sharpened) No. 2 Dixon Ticonderoga pencil? And you worried for days and days that you would get Lead Poisoning? Well, the good news is that piece of pencil lead still imbedded in your palm (or ear) won’t give you lead poisoning. Of course, having a piece of graphite stuck in your hand probably isn’t the best of ideas, either. That’s right. Graphite – it’s not lead, and it probably will never be.
So why call it lead? Why not call it “pencil graphite”? Well, according to www.pencils.com, the name comes from the time when people would find clumps of graphite on the roots of trees, and they called it names like “plumbago” and “Blacklead”. I have no idea how they got “Lead” from “plumbago”, though. It is a mystery, it is a mystery.
The “lead” in your pencil isn’t actually a chunk of graphite chiseled into a round shape, however. It is actually a mixture of graphite and clay. The clay is added to make the “lead” harder, stronger, and darker. Basically, the process involves pulverizing the graphite into a powder, and then mixing it with clay and water to make a paste. The paste is then dried and shaped into slim cylinders. These are sandwiched in between two sections of grooved wood, which are glued together, cut into sections, and shaped into pencils, erasers optional. It’s actually a very interesting process. Early pencils were just pieces of graphite wrapped in string. The problem with this was that graphite crumbles easily, so these early writing tools didn’t last long. The holders advanced to wood, and experiments with clay were made, and the modern marvel called a Pencil was formed.
Graphite can be found all over the world. There once was a significant source near Ticonderoga, New York (hence the name of the stabby-pencil of your youth), but it has since shut down. China is currently the leading producer of graphite, and other countries include Sri Lanka, Brazil, and even Canada. An interesting tidbit about this wonder mineral is that it is a form of carbon. Another form of carbon is diamond, which, as we all know, is an extremely hard mineral. It’s a good thing graphite isn’t, because we’d all have to go around burning wood to write with charcoal, and no one wants to burn wood. No one.
Now, the pencil is an integral part of human society. How many times have you ransacked the drawers of your house looking for a pencil? Without pencils, we’d have to fill out a bubble exam sheet with pen, and then the computers wouldn’t be able to read them! Without pencils, we would be very hard pressed to do everything perfectly the first time, because everyone knows you can’t erase pen. (Unless you buy those “erasable pens”, which aren’t erasable, and which suck anyway.) And everyone knows that mistakes are important learning experiences in life, and we must all learn from them. So without pencils, we would never learn.
Graphite is also used as a lubricant in places where liquid lubricants can’t go, like places of extreme heat, etc. Who knew? I didn’t.
Okay, I did. But I might not have, and that makes all the difference.
In this paragraph, I shall try to stall for time and space, as my report on the wonder material known as graphite is lacking in length, and length, being one of the requirements of this paper, is very important. Very important indeed.
Speaking of graphite, it is a very good conductor of electricity, which is sort of odd because it is a non-metal. This probably has something to do with electrons. I could research this further, but I have come under a sudden attack of Last-Semester-itis, and it is seriously hampering my schooling ability.
In conclusion to this very uninformative, yet hopefully amusing paper, it is clear that graphite is a very important mineral to our society. Writing is an integral part of any society, and graphite was an enormous help in that area. Once again, without pencils, all of society could come crashing to a halt. And halts are bad news for people who like good news.
Well. Someone was listening to Modest Mouse when he wrote this. And look at all those parentheticals! Man, this is some high-powered writing. And did you see that in-text citation? How totally correctly done was that? What? You can’t just put a URL in a paper and call it a day? The A+++ I got on this paper says otherwise. You can’t tell, but this paper was double spaced, and used Arial 12.5 font. Oh yeah. Gotta sneak that extra .5 in. Don’t you know anything about college?