Just forget about Einstein as a violinist for a minute, how about Mozart as a nuclear physicist?

April 3, 2014 at 01:48 AM · Shouldn't he have been awarded a posthumous Nobel Prize for all those massively heavy potassium isotopes he produced, which, unusually for heavy isotopes, haven't yet reached their half-life? (For instance, K366, otherwise known as Iodinomeneo ... )

Replies (26)

April 3, 2014 at 11:29 AM · The young Mozart, when he was in Salzburg in 1767, was responsible for the discovery of the three naturally occurring isotopes of potassium, K39, K40 and K41, which he allocated respectively to three early piano concertos in Bb, D and G respectively. K40, which is rarely found in nature, is radioactive with a half-life of godknowshowmany billions of years, so is going to be with us for quite some time yet.

In his continuing research in Salzburg Mozart was also responsible for radioactive isotopes K37 and K38, which are remembered in piano concerto no. 1 in F, and that rarity - an opera in Latin ("Apollo et Hyacinthus").

Further intensive research in Wien in 1768 resulted in radioactive isotopes K42-K47 which were celebrated with symphonies, two more operas, lieder, piano sonatas, a trumpet concerto, Masses, and other religious works.

There is also the intriguing potassium-vanadium alloy KV, over 600 examples of which are known in Germany. Its metallurgical properties do not seem to have been reported in the literature, but we may assume it is advisable to keep it well away from water.

April 3, 2014 at 12:03 PM · These Mozart works are also referenced in Beethoven's "Ode To Bipolar Disorder" Symphony.

April 3, 2014 at 12:03 PM · Trevor, there's also the misattributed K1, originally suspected to be hydrogen in a highly excited state with the electron somehow stabilized in the fourth orbital. It turned out that the person who made this misattribution misread Mozart's handwriting. What Mozart had written was in fact KI, which is as stable isotopically as, and stabler chemically than naturally occurring potassium.

Sander, Beethoven only decided to set Schiller as an afterthought - The original intention was to set Robert Burton (Actually he was only returning to a theme he had already explored in Op 18 No 6). Incidentally, you do know, don't you, what's worse than a polar bear with a sore head?

April 4, 2014 at 12:51 AM · Didn't Mozart also discover Burmesquik?

April 4, 2014 at 07:03 AM · The greatest discovery of all was when he created the alloy with Yttrium. Unfortunately, it slipped away from him - probably stolen by Salivatory - and he never benefitted from its commercial success.

April 4, 2014 at 12:54 PM · About Yttrium, "shavings or turnings of the metal can ignite in air"; so the alloy was probably suppressed as being too inflammatory (Incidentally, the Wikipedia article on Yttrium doesn't mention its use as an implant for irradiating pituitary tumours - Maybe it's no longer used for that?).

I thought the thief was spelled "Salivateri" - am I wrong?

Actually, Elise, could you please remind us of the exact formula for this alloy?

April 4, 2014 at 01:09 PM · its very simple:


Did that slip past you?

April 4, 2014 at 01:18 PM · It did - I missed the intact hyphen (Thank you Wikipedia).

April 4, 2014 at 01:38 PM · it is, of course, a univalent bond but it has considerable flexibility, at least as an alloy

April 4, 2014 at 01:57 PM · Just realized, we can't attribute absolutely everything to Mozart. Doesn't the intact hyphen mark it out as having originated with Giles Farnaby and his virginals (though I didn't see it in Wikipedia, so I could be wrong)?

A while ago it was pointed out in the New Scientist that the discovery of the einsteinide (We don't have to forget about that guy ENTIRELY) was the inspiration for a twentieth century novel.

April 4, 2014 at 02:41 PM · Let's not forget that Mozart had as a pet Schrodinger's cat.

April 4, 2014 at 03:07 PM · Well, that just about proves the point doesn't it - Anyone that can keep hold of THAT one ...

Let alone the fact that he kept the rain off it with de brolly.

But I suppose, remembering Haydn Berg, etc., there still has to be SOME uncertainty involved?

April 4, 2014 at 03:19 PM · "...might or might not have had as a pet Schrödinger's cat..."

Very recent investigation indicates that Mozart may have investigated the possibility of making Potassium Vanadide, which he would doubtless have referred to as KV, although the correct nomenclature would have been KnV where n is 2,3,4,5, depending on the valency of vanadium. If unequivocal documentary evidence of his research ever comes to light it might possibly have repercussions on the validity of a US Patent of 1970 by General Electric on the general subject (that patent has of course long expired, so it is a moot point).

April 4, 2014 at 03:39 PM · Mozart was often bohr-ed.

He loved to play dice with his beloved gravitational Constanze and usually won.

He was the first to apply strings - theory to

quartet playing dirac-tly.

April 4, 2014 at 04:02 PM · The elderly Head of the Maths Department at my old school once told us he taught young Paul Dirac at the same school several decades previously. Paul Dirac's father taught French there, so it was not unexpected. Many years later I found out the truth was that the said Head had in fact joined the staff at the school 2 years after Paul Dirac had left. Alas, how one's recollection of past events becomes indeterminate with the passing years!

Anyway, returning to the matter in hand, Mozart was one of the first, if not the first, to make the initial inroads into the computerized composing of music. Even though he didn't have today's advanced technology he nevertheless managed to devise a system that worked. This was in Wien (Vienna) in 1787.

Listen to the evidence (in English):


April 4, 2014 at 04:58 PM · Clearly your Head had a hole or two in his memory.

April 4, 2014 at 10:20 PM · Gee, how did I miss that, Mozart WAS an alloy - of Tungsten and Americanum.

April 5, 2014 at 12:04 AM · You're clearly suffering from Molybdenum deficiency.

April 5, 2014 at 01:13 AM · try again... molybdenum is responsible for Motown, not Mozart...

April 5, 2014 at 10:07 AM · Elise, did you mean Americium? A transuranic element with abbreviation Am.

April 5, 2014 at 10:07 AM · Americium is used in some smoke alarms.

April 5, 2014 at 10:26 AM · Elise, you underestimate Molybdenum. In addition to these two responsibilities there's a third one featured in a short novel by a well-known mathematician that I read in my late teens, in which molybdenum is at the centre of a major cult (This novel was later published in 1979 in Turkish translation with the phrase "Suburb of Satan" added to its title).

April 5, 2014 at 11:49 AM · Trevor - yes, sorry for the typo, kinda made it difficult:

Tungsten, W; Americium, Am



April 5, 2014 at 12:00 PM · What finished this alloy off so quickly? The half-life of americium is something like ten times the whole life of Mozart.

April 5, 2014 at 12:46 PM · It was used for an incandescent bulb. Burnout.

April 5, 2014 at 01:33 PM · I thought tungsten was used in Phili(dor)ments!

I don't think Mozart and Philidor ever met. If they had and Philidor had taught Mozart chess, he might not have remained the greatest chess player of his age. Indeed, instead of all the other people who've been called "The Mozart of Chess", the Mozart of Chess might be ..... Mozart!

I don't know how much Philidor would have learnt from Mozart about composing - perhaps a little, though we don't know how much, if any of Mozart's music Philidor came across anyway.

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