Character – GdGao Ding

Mr Gao Ding works for accounts payable in the Sino English Translation and Interpretation Agency (SEITA). He is irritatingly good at his job, pursuing Jaq long after her return from China over the matter of an unpaid bill.

From little acorns, mighty oak trees grow..

Extract from The Chemical Detective

As the train thundered over the river Tweed and entered Scotland, Jaq made a decision. Time to move on, put the vanishing factory behind her. The Krixo job was done, finished, over with. She’d never know what happened to the factory in China or why it disappeared, but the fact that Frank was involved with its owner was a compelling reason to steer clear. An unresolved mystery, but she could control her curiosity for once. Curiosity had led to trouble in the past. What she needed now were some straightforward engineering challenges to throw her energy into. Shetland beckoned. Work to do, money to earn, bills to pay.

She admired the bridges as the train crossed the Firth of Forth and then the river Tay. As the train hugged the coast at Montrose, her phone buzzed. Jaq answered without checking the number.

‘Dr Silver?’ A foreign accent.

‘Yes, who is this?’

‘Mr Gao Ding, from SEITA in Shanghai.’

For a company that was so inefficient at providing interpreters, they were irritatingly persistent when it came to collecting debts they were not owed.

‘I’m trying to clear up a misunderstanding. When you cancelled—’

‘I didn’t cancel. You cancelled!’

‘That is the misunderstanding. We received a call just before your interpreter was due to leave the office, cancelling the contract.’

‘Who called?’

‘You did, Dr Silver.’

‘I most certainly did not!’ Wait. ‘Someone called from this number?’

‘No, a local number. I have it here.’ He rattled off a number.

Jaq opened her silver card holder to check. Merda. Of course.


Emperor Qianlong treasure – jade brush pot

Jade brush pot

17cm diameter carved spinach green jade brush pot, Qing dynasty, 18th century,

Gadolinium metal – Atomic number 64, atomic mass 157.25

Our friend with the wonderful name, Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran – a self-taught French chemist, first isolated pure gadolinium in 1886, although credit for discovery goes to Swiss chemist Jean Charles de Marignac, who detected it by spectroscopy in 1880 and named it after the the Finnish chemist Johan Gadolin who identified the minerals in which gadolinium is found.

Gadolinium compounds are used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), particularly useful in diagnosing cancerous tumours

It is also used in data storage disks and added to iron and chromium metal alloys to improve properties, and as a neutron absorber in the core of nuclear reactors. 

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The Chemical Reaction by Fiona Erskine is published by the PointBlank imprint of Oneworld and is available here