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Featured Börse Bündnis 90Die Grünen Geschichte texttospeech Christian Thiel

The hottest fabric of the new year

The crimson in the New Year's fireworks comes from lithium, the third element on the periodic table.

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The hottest fabric of the new year

The crimson in the New Year's fireworks comes from lithium, the third element on the periodic table. Lithium is the stuff of the hour. Mobile humanity sees its future in the lithium-ion battery. The electric car is intended to slow down global warming caused by fossil emissions.

But even this utopia has its price: During lithium mining in the Atacama Desert, 20 million liters of groundwater are pumped out of an area as big as Berlin with the rock every day. The whole of Chile lives from the ore and lets its drinking water evaporate in return. And the world suddenly has a lithium debate.

"Lithium" by Nirvana was released on the 1991 album "Nevermind" and also as a single in 1992. Kurt Cobain sang that he was happy today because he had new friends, they were in his head. "And I'm not scared / Light my candles in a daze / Cause I've found god": He is not afraid and lights a candle in the twilight because he has found God.

"Lithium" is anything but a revival anthem. The salvation for Kurt Cobain lay in the lithium itself, which only provides the title of his song and is no longer mentioned in the lyrics. God is lithium, after hydrogen and helium the third building block of matter from the sun's atomic meltdown.

Late Romanticism already knew about the effectiveness of lithium salts against melancholy. Lithium carbonate did not come onto the market as an antidepressant until 1967. To this day, chemistry and pharmacy do not know exactly why a simple element regulates biorhythms and reduces depression.

Poet Robert Lowell was famous for his lithium literature, but even more so for his bi-polar, non-lithium poetry. Before he died in 1977, he wrote in a letter: "It is a terrifying thought that everything I have suffered and all the suffering I have caused could possibly be explained by a tiny lack of salt in my brain. "

In his verses, Kurt Cobain sings about the suffering and the relief provided by lithium. In the chorus he only screams maniacally "Yeah!" 13 times "Yeah!" At an award ceremony for the video for the song, a collage of concert scenes, he smashed his own instruments with Nirvana in the tradition of the artist Gustav Metzger and the band The Who. Two years later he took his own life.

"Lithium", like any great song, is bigger than whoever wrote and sang it - and it's only getting bigger. When you hear it today at the beginning of 1923, you don't just think of lithium as a remedy. It is an element of hope: lithium forms isotopes that can be converted into tritium, heavy hydrogen, for nuclear fusion.

This is how the old year came to an end: in the Livermore laboratory in California, such a nuclear fusion took place as the foreshadowing of a brave new world that no longer knew energy worries. Mankind would have their own little solar power plants. "Sunday morning is everyday for all," Kurt Cobain sings in "Lithium." Every day would be a Sunday morning.

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