A question from my dad

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by TrainNut, Dec 16, 2007.

  1. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Hey everybody, my dad emailed this to me and asked that I post it on here to see if anybody could help him identify these objects...
    as follows...

    A friend of mine was out hunting by Monte Carlo Road the other side of Ashfork (east), AZ, and he found these spheres. They range from maybe 3/8” diameter up to ¾” diameter and they are kind of greasy grey/dark grey/black. They are hollow and you can crush them. If you rub them across a piece of paper, they leave a grey streak, like graphite or carbon. Since I was taking Geology at the time, I took a half dozen or so in to my teacher, Beth. Well, they baffled her, she did not have a clue. We were guessing meteorite, tektites, lightning strike (fulgurites) all sorts of crazy things. So we decided to give them to the chemistry lab and see if they couldn’t deduce what they were made of. They are still working on that. BUT! Someone in the lab remembered walking along the railroad tracks when they were young, back in Maryland and they used to pick them up and use them for slingshot ammo. These things turn whatever touches them black, so I bet his slingshot pocket was black. Well, I searched all over the internet, but I must not be choosing the right words to search for. And the BNSF does run sort of through that area by Ashfork. So, now you know my quandary, do you perchance have an answer?
  2. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    Are they possibly organic? Like a cocoon of some kind? I have seen many gray, hollow spheres attached to plants, and they are created by some kind of insect or spider. Not being a biologist or having a good memory for names, I can't remember what makes them.

  3. scubadude

    scubadude Member

  4. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    Jumping Galls

    Something like this is what I was thinking of. Except what I have seen are gray spheres, usually a little less than a marble, but often attatched to plants. The walls are really thin, and some kind of larve grows in there.

  5. puddlejumper

    puddlejumper Member

    I'm assuming you think it may be a commodity like ore or something?
    Pics would be helpful.

  6. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I seem to recall seeing something similar, though not quite so large, in cinder ballast, although there weren't very many that were still intact. Most of them were black or very dark grey, and were shiny and metallic-looking. I didn't pay too much attention to them after I realised how easily they were crushed. :rolleyes: I had always assumed that they were somehow formed when coal was burned, but that was merely a guess.

  7. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    That's what I would assume as well as opposed to something biological. I agree that pics would be most helpful. My father is working on getting us some.

    What you are talking about makes sense except for the part about how easily they crush. According to the person in the lab, they used to use them for slingshot ammo which gives me the assumption that they were probably denser and less destructable. Still, my father did say that you could crush them. Hmmmmm....
  8. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Well I went looking based on some clues from doctorwayne and found something called a Cenosphere.

    "CENOSPHERES are hollow ceramic microspheres found in fly ash, a natural by-product of coal combustion during the generation of electric power. Small and hollow, microspheres are used as functional fillers or extender in the manufacture of plastics, paints, resins, thermal coatings, epoxies, mastics; light weight aggregate for cement, ceramics and other construction products. Because cenospheres often replace mined materials, they can significantly lower production costs. Simultaneously, cenospheres can benefit finished product properties by increasing durability and functionality. Cenospheres are environmentally: 100% recycled."

    However, they only tend to be from 1 to 500 microns in size. How big is a micron? There are 25,400 microns in one inch. That means for this thing to be big enough to use in a slingshot, it would have to be a gargantuan cenosphere at least 10,000 microns in size to be of any use to a slingshot.
  9. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    To convert microns to inches, multiply by about .00039 (or 3.9 x 10 to the minus fifth). So 500 microns would be less than 1/4".
  10. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    From my father...

    I am reasonably certain they are not plant or insect related. There are no exit (hatch) holes, nor stem attachment marks. The entire outside is smooth, although slightly irregular, no patterns like oak galls or seed pods.
    When I say I crushed one, I used my Leatherman, a type of pliers, but I am not sure I would say they were easy to crush. I think the one I crushed was thick enough to make crushing by hand difficult, maybe 1/16" thick walls? But Wayne (Thanks, Wayne) has at least given me a new direction to search, cinders and clinkers. Doncha jus' love a good mystery?
  11. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    Sometimes a material called "pozzolan" is mixed with cement. It is also called "fly ash"

  12. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I meant that, because there were so few intact ones, they were easily crushed, perhaps during shipment to the site or during placement. If we found intact ones, we put 'em on the rail and stomped 'em. :-D


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