22. Titanium: Dignity Over Dentures

Titanium is an element valued as much for its beauty as its strength — provided you can find a genuine sample of the stuff.

Featured above: The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, clad in titanium and designed by Frank Gehry. By PA, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Show Notes

It’s Time To Play The Music: I’m delighted to include in this episode original music by Josh Crowley, a long-time friend of mine who has many talents in addition to composing. Previously, he was my fellow co-author on Seinfelt, a collection of more than 1,000 short stories of surreal horror set in the Seinfeld universe, but he’s since gone on to bigger and better things, including authoring one novel you can buy today, and another in the works. See more of his work at joshcrowley.com.

Stronger Than Strong: I needed to specify that titanium has the best strength-to-weight ratio of any metal on the periodic table, rather than any element, because carbon actually blows it out of the water. At least in carbon nanotube form, it’s the strongest, lightest stuff out there. Before their discovery, spider silk held that title.

Out, Damn Spot: Our brains are hilariously flawed tools outside of the very specific use of hunting and gathering. That could actually be an entirely separate series in itself, but one example similar to the “weight = importance” issue is called the Lady Macbeth Effect: People with unclean consciences, so to speak, wanted to clean their bodies.

Click To Read Transcript


  1. Discover, Holding Heavy Objects Makes Us See Things As More Important. Ed Yong, August 25, 2009.
  2. Gizmodo, Are Beats Headphones Really Designed To Trick You? Mario Aguilar, July 10, 2015.
  3. Dermnet NZ, Jewelry Allergy. Vanessa Ngan, 2012.
  4. Journal Of Periodontal Implant Science, A Tribute To Dr. Per-Ingvar Branemark. Tae-Il Kim, December 31, 2014.
  5. The New York Times, Per-Ingvar Branemark, Dental Innovator, Dies At 85. Tamar Lewin, December 27, 2014.
  6. The Chemical Educator, The Story Of Nitinol: The Serendipitous Discovery Of The Memory Metal And Its Applications. George B. Kauffman, Isaac Mayo, June 1997.
  7. The Los Angeles Times, Two Decades After Gehry’s Guggenheim Bilbao, Where Does Architecture Stand? Christopher Hawthorne, October 12, 2017.
  8. Arch Daily, The Unexpected Low-Tech Solutions That Made The Guggenheim Bilbao Possible. Ashley Mendelsohn, October 18, 2017.
  9. PeriodicTable.com, Titanium. Theodore Gray.
  10. Popular Science, Titanium Or Plain Ol’ Steel? Theodore Gray, December 19, 2007.

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