Illustration of Sulfur

2000 BCE Sulfur

The book of science

Tom Sharp

China, India elements Illustration of Sulfur


Translators of the Torah call it brimstone; classical Grecians used it as a fumigant; the Chinese used it in medicines and gunpowder; Indian alchemists mixed it with mercury; early Europeans made a nice skin cream with it; and, in 1777, Antoine Lavoisier showed it was an element.

Atomic number 16

Sulfur has many allotropes as well as stable and radioactive isotopes. It combines with all elements except the noble gases, including itself, easily forming rings and chains. Four sulfurs and four nitrogens form a cage. Amorphous sulfur could be helical with eight sulfurs per turn.

Ode to allicin

O Allicin, O Allicin, O Allicin, thy aroma has abundant nose! O Allicin, O Garlic, thy bountiful goodness the whole earth knows! Thou art infused with virtue, but what is it due to? Antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, antiviral, antiprotozoal, anti-thrombotic, anti-inflammatory, also an antioxidant, thou art the rustic’s cure-all; helping all endure all. O Garlic, thy alliinase converts alliin into allicin. Whether minced, chopped, mashed, or whole, I thy praises do extol. Garlic-stuffed olives, garlic pies, garlic bread, garlic fries, garlic chicken, seafood, and potatoes, garlic green beans, mushrooms, and tomatoes, once we add our garlic sauce, we are never at a loss, three-garlic pasta with three garlics spiced roasted, diced, and sliced. Smoked, pureed, or granulated good not just flavoring but food. The Greeks placed piles of garlic on piles of stones at crossroads— food for triple-bodied Hecate. Folk in Europe warded off vampires, demons, and werewolves with garlic, and used it to cure a cough. Garlic symbolizes medicine each New Year in Afghanistan— also in Central Asia and Iran. O Allicin, O Allicin, O Allicin, O Garlic O Garlic O Garlic, O, O, O!

Common sulfur is pale yellow and composed of a mixture of elemental sulfur and rings, mainly rings of eight (a.k.a. octasulfur, cyclo-S8) but also rings of seven and six. Elemental sulfur is bright yellow. Sulfur burns with a blue flame and melted sulfur is red. S42+ is deep blue; S192+ is red. Compounds can be blue (lapis lazuli’s radical ion S3-) gold (iron pyrite FeS2), or vermilion (cinnabar’s mercuric sulfide, HgS).

The active ingredient in garlic is 2-Propene-1-sulfinothioic acid S-2-propenyl ester, a.k.a. allicin.

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