Anne Helmenstine Biography 4


Anne Helmenstine

Anne Helmenstine

Anne Helmenstine is a science writer and scientist with multidisciplinary training. She holds bachelor of arts degrees in physics and mathematics from Hastings College (Hastings, Nebraska) and a doctorate of philosophy in biomedical sciences from the University of Tennessee (Knoxville, TN).

Dr. Helmenstine is the owner of the Science Notes website, started in 2013. From 2001 to 2017, she was the chemistry expert for About.com. In 2017, About became ThoughtCo. She wrote articles for ThoughtCo until 2020 and still edits work for them. She has been writing science articles for websites since 2001.

Dr. Helmenstine has been a college professor and scientist. She is also a musician and jewelry design artist. Interests include travel, water sports, and amateur astronomy.

She is presently a full-time freelance science writer, illustrator, and photojournalist, working out of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.


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4 thoughts on “Anne Helmenstine Biography

  • Ace Sarich

    Hello Anne,

    I am in the process of co-authoring an updated version of “Life Support Systems Engineering Design.” The book is an engineering textbook and reference book for the diving systems industry. I would like permission to use your excellent periodic table in our book.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Ace Sarich, P.E.

    • Anne Helmenstine Post author

      You’re welcome to use the table for your book. All we ask is credit to the author and website. Best wishes, Anne

  • Bob Nair

    Hello, Dr. Helmenstine!

    I’m a science enthusiast assisting in the development of a video game and I was hoping to ask a few questions regarding a few metals.

    I saw an article you wrote about Electrum where you said it was a excellent conductor of both electricity and heat. My questions relate to that:

    1) How can I calculate the electrical conductivity of Electrum?
    2) How can I calculate the thermal conductivity of Electrum?
    3) If calculating those is too difficult or impossible, how can I best estimate those values for Electrum?
    4) If someone were wearing armor made of a metal or alloy, how would the metal’s thermal conductivity result in damage resistance/vulnerability for the wearer? Phrased differently, would high thermal conductivity transfer more or less heat to the wearer?
    5) Same question as #4 but with cold weather effects.

    I understand the #4 may require some further clarification of why I want this info, so here’s that paragraph. Skip if you don’t care about the game stuff. Basically, in the game, the player should be able to forge and wear armor of multiple different elements and alloys, and each armor will have a different effect on the player’s ability to withstand damage from different kinds of environments and enemies (heat, electrical, frost, corrosion, and magic). I’d like to base these values on what makes sort of intuitive sense, but I’d also like to have some basis in the real world so someone could look up the properties and get a bit of an idea.

    Thanks for your time! I appreciate all the work you do and I hope you are well!

    • Anne Helmenstine Post author

      Hi Bob,
      Electrum is a gold alloy that contains at least 20% silver, plus assorted other metals. Because it doesn’t have a fixed composition (i.e., there is no set “formula” for the alloy), you can’t really calculate it. My advice: Use the values for 14k gold for ballpark values (14k gold typically contains copper in place of silver, but both are excellent electrical and thermal conductors, so the values should be close).

      If you had a particular sample of electrum, you could find electrical and thermal conductivity. Electrical conductivity comes from the resistance using the equation: ρ=l/AR, where where ρ is conductivity, l is length, A is cross sectional area and R is resistance. So, the dimensions of an item determine its conductivity. Thermal conductivity is more complicated (https://www.intechopen.com/books/insulation-materials-in-context-of-sustainability/the-review-of-some-commonly-used-methods-and-techniques-to-measure-the-thermal-conductivity-of-insul).

      Personally, I would not want to wear thermally conductive armor in either the heat or the cold. This comes from my experience wearing metal jewelry opening the oven door and going outside in winter. The wearer will feel the temperature change very quickly. Also, because electrum is mostly gold, it’s very heavy! On the plus side, it confers some radiation protection 😉