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Lithium is the 3rd most common element in the universe

  1. Sep 5, 2016 #1
    I was watching a video on Elon Musk. I believe he is a smart guy and he certainly knows is stuff. However, he said something in this video which I was surprised about and I can't seem to corroborate with various Google searching. Someone asked him whether there was enough Lithium on Earth to fulfil all the battery requirements for the Tesla cars he intends to ramp up to. He then said that Lithium was the 3rd most common element in the universe:

    It doesn't appear in the 10 ten here: http://education.jlab.org/glossary/abund_uni.html
    Not in the top 5 here: http://random-facts.top5.com/the-top-5-most-abundant-elements-in-the-(known)-universe

    So I just wanted to understand, is he incorrect or is there no clear cut answer?

    TIA
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 5, 2016 #2

    mfb

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    I don't want to search the whole video for that statement, but this looks wrong. Oxygen is the third most abundant element, carbon is fourth - at least within our galaxy, and other galaxies shouldn't be too different.

    Lithium was #3 shortly after the big bang, before stars produced the heavier elements.
     
  4. Sep 5, 2016 #3
    Sorry, I added a YouTube link which was set to the specific time but it got converted to an embedded YouTube link which started from the beginning. Anyway, the reference is at 2 hours 59 minute mark.
     
  5. Sep 5, 2016 #4

    mfb

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    Well, the #3 comment looks wrong. The other things are true: there is a huge amount of lithium around.
     
  6. Sep 5, 2016 #5

    Nidum

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    Last edited: Sep 5, 2016
  7. Sep 5, 2016 #6

    mfb

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    The abundance in the crust, the abundance on Earth overall, the abundance in the solar system and the overall abundance are different things. The Earth overall tends to accumulate heavy elements, the crust tends to accumulate intermediate elements.
     
  8. Sep 5, 2016 #7
    In all those different places (or some you may not have mentioned), does Lithium appear #3 in any of them? E.g. did Elon say universe mistakenly when he meant crust?
     
  9. Sep 5, 2016 #8

    mfb

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    I don't see where it would be number 3. Certainly not in the places I mentioned.

    Lithium was the third most abundant element from a few minutes after the big bang to something like hundreds of millions of years after the big bang, not sure where exactly the end was.
     
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