Search This Blog

Friday, June 11, 2010

Calcium Oxide and hogging limelight

Everywhere people try to garner attention and be the centre of attraction. Perhaps Sir Goldsworthy Gurney could not, as not many would remember / recognize him of date. Being in the centre or being somebody is ‘hogging the limelight’. In present day context, politicians, sports persons, cine actors and many are on stage and are reported to be in the limelight. Clearly, it was the Actors who were the centre of attention on stage who were said to be in the limelight. The figurative use to people or things has been in vogue for many years. Do you know its origin ?

Limelight is a 1952 comedy film written, directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin. The film score was also composed by Chaplin. This came at a time when Chaplin was refused admittance to United States. The film subsequently was screened in many theatres and in 1972 received wide US release and honoured at the Academy Awards.

This is not to be bone of this article but a chemical which is thought of to have been a component of Greek fire is. It is quick lime used as armament for blinding and destroying the French fleet by English Navy. Upon contact with water, quicklime would increase its temperature above 150 °C and ignite the fuel.

Calcium oxide (CaO), commonly known as quicklime, is a widely used chemical compound. It is a white caustic and alkaline crystalline solid at room temperature. As hydrated or slaked lime, Ca(OH)2 (chemical name calcium hydroxide) (mineral portlandite), it is used in mortar and plaster.

Hydrated lime is very simple to make as lime is a basic anhydride and reacts vigorously with water. Lime is also used in glass production and its ability to react with silicates is also used in modern metal production industries (steel in particular) to remove impurities as slag. It is also used in water and sewage treatment to reduce acidity, to harden, as a flocculant, and to remove phosphates and other impurities; in paper making to dissolve lignin, as a coagulant, and in bleaching; in agriculture to improve acidic soils; and in pollution control, in gas scrubbers to desulfurize waste gases and to treat many liquid effluents. It has traditionally been used in the burial of bodies in open graves, to hide the smell of decomposition, as well as in forensic science, to reveal fingerprints. It is a refractory and a dehydrating agent and is used to purify citric acid, glucose, dyes and as a CO2 absorber. It is also used in pottery, paints and the food industry. In ancient India, before the discovery of soap, it was mixed with sand and used to clean one's body; it was also used to build houses.

THERE IS ONE ADDITIONAL USE which brought quicklime into LIMELIGHT.

Limelight is a type of stage lighting once used in theatres and music halls. It was an intense illumination created by using an oxyhydrogen flame directed at a cylinder of quicklime which can be heated to 2572°C before melting. The light produced by a comination of incandescence and candoluminescence brought out a very special effect.

Because of being in this lighting, people or actors in public eye came to be called as ‘being in limelight’. Though electric lights and focus lamps have long since replaced this quicklime, the expression continues.

The limelight effect was discovered in the 1820s by Goddsworthy Gurney. Limelight was first used in public in the Covent Garden Theatre in London in 1837 and enjoyed widespread use in theatres around the world in the 1860s and 1870s. Limelights were employed to highlight solo performers in the same manner as modern followspots. Sir Goldsworthy Gurney (1793–1875) was multifaceted – a surgeon, chemist, lecturer, consultant, architect buildger and inventor. Amongst many accomplishments, he developed the oxy-hydrogen blowpipe.

Now that what ‘being in the limelight’ is !!!!

Regards – Sampathkumar S


  1. Howdy! I could have sworn I've visited this website before but after going through a few of the articles I realized it's new to me.
    Anyways, I'm definitely delighted I stumbled upon it and I'll be bookmarking
    it and checking back frequently!

    Also visit my webpage :: sparkle paper towels

  2. Hurrah, that's what I was seeking for, what a data! existing here at this website, thanks admin of this web page.

    Here is my homepage - homemade laundry detergent

  3. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article.
    I'll be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will certainly comeback.

    Here is my site paper plates