What are rare earth elements – and what do they have to do with the environment?

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Rare earths get no respect. Stuck near the bottom of the periodic table of the elements, and given unpronounceable names like praseodymium and ytterbium, they have nowhere near the glamour and popularity that oxygen, nitrogen, carbon and the other chart-toppers do.

from Pocket http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/rare-earth-elements.htm
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