Science: New Wrinkles

Germanium Hunt. The best ore of germanium, the scarce metal that goes into the magic electronic transistors (TIME, Feb. 11), may prove to be ordinary coal. Last week the Pennsylvania Coal and Coke Corp. was asking coal operators all over the Appalachian region to send in samples of coal for germanium assay.

Geologists say that coal has the property of extracting germanium from water or gases that come in contact with it. For this reason, the top and bottom six inches of the seam generally contain the most germanium. Since the pure metal sells for about $350 a pound, a strike of...

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