Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Arizona Centennial Commission’s copper chopper is not made of copper

The Arizona Centennial commission website ( now features the “copper chopper”.  Large pictures of this custom motorcycle are supported by text bubbling about how this bike will travel the state and stimulate excitement over the upcoming centennial.

The website features an article by Blanca Esparra-Pap entitled “Arizona Centennial gets its own mascot, Copper Chopper”.  The article describes how this “precious metal is giving Arizona new luster” and says “the Copper Chopper is a real motorcycle …. crafted from real Arizona copper…”.

Unfortunately, neither statement is true.

Copper is not a precious metal, and the copper chopper is not made out of copper.

Anyone with a bit of technical education, either formal or from experience, would know that a functional motorcycle cannot be built out of copper.  The physical and engineering properties are completely unsuitable.

Anyone who doubts that can simply look at the builder’s website ( and see that the “copper chopper” is built out of steel and aluminum, just like any other motorcycle.  According to Paul Yaffees own words on the youtube link, there will be one solid copper part on the motorcycle: the air cleaner.  There is also a chance that the gas tank will be replaced with a copper one before the bike is finished.  Other than some trim pieces, that’s it. All the other parts are merely copper plated or painted to look like copper. This is not said to denigrate Paul Yaffee’s work is any way.  His craftsmanship is obviously superb.

The problem is the Arizona Centennial Commission posting misinformation about the motorcycle on their website.  As reported in the Sep 17th post on this blog, Arizona already ranks dead last in science education.  The misinformation about the copper chopper will
make Arizona children a bit more ignorant.  That will help tighten Arizona’s grip on last place in science education.

The Arizona Centennial Commission is also promoting the elimination of the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum to replace it with the Arizona Centennial Museum (another history museum). That will not be helpful either.

The commission is diluting science education in Arizona, and actually providing kids across Arizona with misinformation about copper.

A precious metal is a rare, naturally occurring metallic chemical element of high economic value; …. Chemically, the precious metals are less reactive than most elements, have high luster, are softer or more ductile, and have higher melting points than other metals. ….
The best-known precious metals are the coinage metals gold and silver. While both have industrial uses, they are better known for their uses in art, jeweler and coinage. Other precious metals include the platinum group metals: ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, and platinum, of which platinum is the most widely traded.[1]
The two paragraphs above are from  Copper is not rare, and is much more chemically reactive than the precious metals.

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