General, Research, Technology

The most interesting metals on Earth

Millions of years ago, our distant ancestorsmade tools from wood and stones, but after millennia they learned to use metals. From this moment, mankind began to develop at an unbelievable pace and it all went so far that most of the objects around us are made of iron, aluminum and other varieties of this material. Almost all metals conduct electricity and heat well, under certain conditions they are ductile and are excellent for manufacturing various parts for electronics, and also have a characteristic metallic luster. But there are metals in the periodic table that have unique properties that everyone else cannot boast of. They are amazing in their own way, and once upon a time these metals were almost given magical qualities. So, let's list them, and also learn about properties and other interesting features?

Take a look around - we are surrounded by metals


  • 1 The most liquid metal
  • 2 The most refractory metal
  • 3 The hardest metal
  • 4 The most radioactive metal
  • 5 The heaviest metal
  • 6 The most resistant metal
  • 7 The most expensive metal
  • 8 The rarest metal
  • 9 The lightest metal
  • 10 The most expensive industrial metal

The most liquid metal

Mercury is considered the most liquid metal and, at the same time,time, one of the most dangerous for the human body. It is almost always in a liquid state, because its melting point is -38 degrees Celsius. That is why this metal is used in thermometers - with increasing temperature, the liquid expands. Since the thermometer is made in the form of a glass tube, it can expand in only one direction. To prevent other conditions like atmospheric pressure from affecting the thermometer, air is pumped out of the duct.

Despite its danger, mercury is used even in everyday things.

In the Middle Ages it was believed that when mixedmercury, sulfur and the mysterious “philosopher's stone” can be obtained pure gold. Therefore, a lot of attention was paid to this metal. Since the Middle Ages, nobody managed to get gold from mercury, but this was done by scientists in 1947 - they placed 100 milligrams of mercury in an atomic reactor and received 35 micrograms of gold. Here is the second amazing property of mercury - it can be turned into gold, but this is too expensive a process.

See also: 65 million years ago, the Earth’s atmosphere was contaminated with mercury

The third feature of mercury is thatwhen inhaling its vapors, a person gets severe poisoning - hazardous substances settle in the lungs. Symptoms of poisoning include weakness, loss of appetite, pain when swallowing, gum swelling, and severe abdominal pain. Due to its toxicity, mercury is among the ten chemicals that pose a danger to public health.

The most refractory metal

Now let's talk about the fullthe opposite of mercury, a metal called tungsten. While mercury can melt in the human palm, a temperature of 3422 degrees Celsius is needed to melt tungsten.

From German “Wolf Rahm” can be translated as “wolf cream”

Tungsten itself is not dangerous, but products, inwhich it is used can kill. This metal is often used as the tip of cartridges that can pierce even body armor. Only it is added quite a bit, because tungsten is a very heavy metal.

In 2018, my colleague Ilya Hel wrote interesting material about the US Secret Weapon, where he reflected on what the American military might hide from us. I advise you to read.

Due to its refractoriness, tungsten is difficultdeformable, therefore, in its pure form it is used very rarely. As a rule, tungsten products also have other impurities - they make it more pliable and significantly reduce weight.

Hardest metal

The hardest and yet lightest metal on ourthe planet is considered titanium. Due to its properties, it is actively used in aviation and shipbuilding - the material is excellent for the manufacture of aircraft hulls and ships. In addition, due to their strength and lightness, body armor is made from titanium. This metal is safe for the human body, therefore it is often used in medicine for the manufacture of tools and even prostheses - artificial parts of the body.

Due to its outstanding properties, the word “titanium” refers to video cards and other electronics to emphasize their power

When heated, titanium begins to absorboxygen, chlorine, nitrogen and other gases. Due to this amazing property, metal is used in various filters - by passing various gases through titanium tubes heated to 600 degrees Celsius, you can clean them of impurities. In the same way, oxygen can be purified from water, which is especially useful in the food industry. It is believed that the oxygen in water impairs the quality of some products - at a minimum, it can shorten the shelf life of beer.

The most radioactive metal

The only metal that canused as fuel in nuclear reactors, is uranium. Many people consider it very dangerous due to its high radioactivity. However, natural uranium is safe for human health, and a variety called U-235 is a danger - it is used in nuclear reactors.

Uranium-235 was used in the Hiroshima nuclear bombing, in the bomb "Kid"

Once upon a time from natural uranium evenmade dishes. For example, fragments of yellow glass containing uranium were found in the Italian city of Naples - according to scientists, glass was made in 79 AD. It was safe for people and no hints of radiation like a glow were observed.

Mandatory reading: What is Tokamak? Just about a fusion reactor

Natural uranium U-235 suitable foruse in nuclear reactors, today there is very little in nature - for many years it simply disappeared. But, billions of years ago, there were a lot of it, and nuclear reactions could be launched directly in nature, without human intervention. So, in the territory of the African country of Gabon, about 1.8 billion years ago, a natural reaction of fission of uranium nuclei took place. Uranium burned for hundreds of years, but in the end the reaction ceased due to depletion of metal reserves.

The heaviest metal

The heaviest metal from the entire periodic tableconsidered osmium. Its amazing property is that, being the heaviest, in air it becomes a volatile, poisonous substance. The name "osmium" from the ancient Greek language can be translated as "smell". This name was given to the metal for a reason - in 1803, the English chemist Smithson Tennant felt from his own experience that the metal smells of chlorine and is so unpleasant that it irritates the throat.

Osmium, by the way, is very beautiful

Due to its hardness, osmium is oftenused in mechanisms, namely in places where strong friction occurs. It is also used in the manufacture of filaments for incandescent lamps. Poisonous properties occur only in the open air - the metal turns into a toxic substance, osmium tetroxide, which causes eye irritation, upper respiratory tract damage and even kidney inflammation.

The most resistant metal

The most resistant metal is iridium - itsimpossible to dissolve in any acid. Due to its durability, this metal is used in the International Bureau of Weights and Measures - a kilogram standard is created from it. This cylinder of iridium is necessary so that all countries have a unified idea of ​​how much a kilogram should weigh. This is important because any deviation can cause a malfunction in aircraft and ships and, subsequently, a serious disaster.

Iridium - an indicator of how much a kilogram should weigh

Iridium is also used in making money. For example, in the African country of Rwanda, an iridium coin of 10 Rwandan francs was issued. We can say that this is the most chemically resistant coin. It can be damaged only by throwing it into a vessel with fluorine - the strongest oxidizing agent. But a destructive reaction will begin only when heated to 450 degrees Celsius.

The most expensive metal

Many people invest in metals and one ofthe most expensive today is gold. According to the exchange rate for June 2020, a gram of gold costs about 4,000 rubles, while the price of the same mass of platinum barely reaches 2,000 rubles. A little higher we already found out that extracting gold from mercury is a very expensive process. Therefore, employees of refineries are engaged in obtaining gold - roughly speaking, they extract gold from mixtures of other metals.

Gold has driven people crazy for millennia

Since the staff works with a very expensivemetal, the plants have strict controls. If a person, for example, has a golden tooth, the guard always checks to see if he is in place. And then suddenly a person will get rid of a golden tooth and decide to carry a piece of precious metal, placing it in the free space between the teeth? In some refineries, workers go inside naked and put on work clothes inside.

The rarest metal

France is the rarest metal. According to scientists, in the earth's crust its concentration is only 340 grams. You can get more uranium artificially, but for this you need to start nuclear reactions.

France is very rare and in little use

France is very radioactive, so for nowmoment it is almost never used. However, sometimes scientists still use varieties of France in the course of scientific research. Attempts have also been made to diagnose cancer using technologies where France has also been involved.

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Lightest metal

The title of the lightest metal, rightfully goes tolithium. It is painted silver-white and so soft that it is easily cut with a knife. Since it is the lightest metal in the periodic table, when it enters water, it floats to the surface.

And here he is - lithium

For many, this may be a revelation, butYou can hold a device with lithium right now in your hand - this is your smartphone. Mobile devices use lithium batteries, which are compact, but ensure that the devices work on a single charge only for several days. Scientists are trying to improve the performance of lithium-ion batteries, but so far they have not succeeded.

Perhaps in the future, completely different batteries will be used instead of lithium-ion batteries. What kind? Read in this article.

The most expensive industrial metal

Finally, it's worth mentioning about California -metal, which in its pure form cannot be found in nature. It is produced in nuclear reactors in Russia and the USA, and in very small quantities. According to scientists, in one year they manage to create only 40-80 micrograms of this unusual metal. Due to the difficulty of mining and rarity, a gram of this metal costs up to $ 27 million.

California - radioactive handsome

This metal is very radioactive, so noyou can’t make crafts from it. But scientists need it during serious tests. Although, in theory, it can be used to create an atomic bomb. But the aforementioned uranium is much cheaper, so everyone uses it.

There are many more in the periodic tableinteresting elements, but these are, in my opinion, the most interesting metals. It is noteworthy that scientists are still engaged in the development of metals with interesting properties. In 2019, my colleague Vladimir Kuznetsov talked about material that does not sink in water - I recommend reading it!