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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fun Facts 3

And the element trivia just keeps coming!
  • There is a lot more europium (Eu, #63) on the moon than there is on earth. So what? Scientists believe this means that the earth and the moon did not form in the same way.
  • Phosphorus (P, #15) comes in two forms. Red phosphorus doesn't react; it is stable. White phosphorus, on the other hand, bursts into flame in air. Match heads contain red phosphorus. When you light a match, you provide enough energy to turn the red form into the white form, which catches fire immediately.
  • Helium (He, #2) was first detected on the sun. It was some time before scientists realized that it existed on earth, too. Helium is usually found trapped under the ground along with natural gas.
  • The red color on your television or computer monitor comes from compounds of yttrium (Y, #39).
  • Wilhelm Roentgen (1845-1923) discovered X-rays. Roentgenium (Rg, #111) was named in his honor, even though he didn't have anything to do with its discovery.
  • The metal tantalum (Ta, #73) is used to make artificial joints, such as hips and knees.
  • Protactinium (Pa, #91) has been used to study the way in which oceans and other bodies of water changed after the last Ice Age.
  • Astatine (At, #85) is the rarest element that occurs in nature. There is only about one ounce of it on the entire earth!
  • A compound of cerium (Ce, #58) is used to treat people who have been badly burned.
  • Poor Element #105! It took a long time for scientists to decide what to call it. Usually, the discoverers of an element name it. But in this case, Russian and American scientists had created it at almost the same time in the 1960's, and it was hard to say who was actually first. Scientists argued about names for #105 and several other elements for over 30 years before deciding that #105 would be called dubnium (Db), after the Russian city where the scientists who discovered it worked.

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