By Michael Duszat.
Oxygen is the most abundant element on earth; under great pressure it becomes a deep red solid. Silicon is a brown amorphous substance, or a crystalline with a metallic grayish luster. Aluminum is a bluish-white metal; it is used for incendiary bombs; aluminum cans last for many centuries. Iron is a silvery-white, hard metal; iron deficiency may cause anemia, weakness, headaches, and shortness of breath. Calcium has a lustrous, silvery color when freshly cut, but soon oxidizes to a dull gray; calcium carbide was once used in coal miners’ lamps. Sodium is a soft, wax-like silvery metal that floats on water. Magnesium is silvery-white; it is found in great quantities in seawater and brines. Potassium is a soft, butter-like, silvery metal; one natural source is bananas. Titanium is harder than steel but much lighter; titanium alloys make excellent armor plates for tanks and warships. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, and the tenth most abundant element on earth; its atom is the simplest of all. Manganese is a gray-white metal similar to iron; pure manganese is found only in meteorites. Phosphorus is white and has a waxy appearance that turns slightly yellow with age; it glows in the dark. Fluorine is widely distributed in many types of rocks and minerals; it is pale yellow in color. Carbon is found in more than a million different organic compounds. Sulfur is usually found as lemon-yellow crystals; it turns reddish-black as it is heated; as a gas, it is orange. Strontium is relatively soft, pale, and yellow; strontium sulfidesmells like rotten eggs and is used as depilatory; strontium nitrate is used to make tracer bullets. Barium is a silvery metal; in powdered form, it will spontaneously burn with a bright green flame. Zirconium is a shiny, grayish, crystal-like, hard metal; zirconium oxideis used for making sanitary ware white and opaque. Vanadium is a silvery, whitish-gray metal ideal for the construction of nuclear reactors. Chlorine is a greenish-yellow, corrosive, and toxic gas. Chromium is a silvery, hard, brittle metal; dust from the mining of chromium ores can cause lung cancer. Rubidium, when it contacts skin, ignites and keeps burning, producing a deep wound; very small traces of Rubidium are found in the leaves of tobacco, tea, and coffee. Nickel is a silvery-white metal; it is mainly recovered from what is thought to be a large meteorite that crashed into the earth eons ago. Zinc dust, when mixed with dry, powdered sulfur, makes an excellent rocket fuel. Cerium is a grayish or iron-colored, very reactive metallic element; cerium oxide is added to glass for aerospace windows. Copper has a distinctive reddish brown color; it is easily formed into many shapes such as ingots, pipes, wires, rods, sheets, and coins. Yttrium is a dark, silvery-gray, lightweight metal used to make artificial diamonds. Neodymium, when it reacts with air, forms a coating with a blue tinge that flakes away. Lanthanum is a soft, silvery-white metal; it is used for cigarette-lighter flints. Nitrogen is colorless, odorless, and tasteless; it is pumped into depleted oil wells to force residual oil to the surface. Lithium is a very soft metal with a bright, shiny, silvery surface; if water is poured on burning lithium, it will burn faster. Cobalt is a bluish, steel-gray metal; for many centuries it was used to color glass, pottery, and porcelain. Niobium is a soft, grayish-silvery metal that resembles fresh-cut steel; niobium alloys are used to make superconductive magnets and jewelry. Gallium is soft and bluish off-white when solid; when held in the hand, it will melt and become mirror-like in color. Lead is a bluish-white, heavy metal. Beryllium is a whitish-gray, lightweight, hard, and brittle metal; it was once used as coating inside fluorescent electric light tubes, until it proved carcinogenic. Thorium is a radioactive, silvery-white metal; it has more energy potential than the earth’s supply of uranium, coal, and gas combined. Boron is either found as a hard, brittle, dark-brown substance with a metallic luster, as an amorphous powder, or as shiny-black crystals. Samarium is a hard, brittle, silver-white metal; it will form a yellow oxide over time. Gadolinium is soft and silvery-white, with a metallic luster. Praseodymium is a silvery-white, soft metal and will form a green oxide coating over time. Scandium is a soft, silvery-white metal and over time turns yellowish-pink. Dysprosium is a dense, soft, silvery metal. Uranium is usually sold as ‘yellow cake’. Ytterbium is a silvery, soft metal with a lustrous metallic shine. Erbium is a soft, malleable metal with a silvery metallic luster. Hafnium is a bright, silvery, shiny metal very similar to zirconium, with which it is always found together, and from which it is almost impossible to separate. Cesium is a soft-solid, silvery metal and is used in military infrared devices and signal lamps and as an antidote for arsenic poisoning. Tin is a soft, silvery-white metal, similar in appearance to fresh-cut aluminum; when polished, it takes on a bluish tint. Holmium is crystal-like and soft and has unusual magnetic properties. Tantalum is very hard, and ideal for making artificial joints, as it does not react with human tissue; it can be drawn into thin wires. Germanium has a gray shine with a silvery-white luster; there was almost no use for it until the transistor was invented. Arsenic is a silvery-gray, brittle, metal-like substance, or an unstable crystalline substance. Molybdenum is relatively hard and, as pure metal, silvery-white. When molybdenum oxide is heated in a vacuum along with some powdered molybdenum metal, extreme forms of compounds are produced. Europium is a soft, shiny, steel-gray metal which looks and feels like lead. Argon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, chemically inert noble gas. Terbium is a silvery metal that resembles aluminum and feels like lead, but is much heavier. Tungsten is a very dense metal with a whitish-to-silvery-grayish color; tungsten carbide is used in high-speed cutting tools and as a substitute for diamonds for drills and grinding equipment. Thallium feels and looks like lead; as a poison, it acts slowly. Lutetium has a silvery-white color; it is used as catalyst in the refining process of crude oil and to determine the age of meteorites. Thulium is a bright, silvery metal. Bromine is a thick, dark-red liquid with a high density; bromine chloride is an irritating, red, smelly liquid used to treat industrial and sewage waste. Antinomy in its pure form is rather hard and brittle with a grayish crystal structure; antinomy sulfide was once used to darken eyelashes. Iodine in its pure state is a black solid that changes from a solid to a gas at room temperature, producing a deep purple, irritating vapor. Cadmium is a soft, blue-white metal and is also found as a grayish-white powder; cadmium and many of its compounds are carcinogenic. Silver is a soft, white, lustrous metal; in the past, the eyes of newborn babies were swabbed with dilute silver nitrate to prevent blindness. Selenium burns with a blue flame and has the ability to produce electricity directly from sunlight. Mercury is a noncombustible, heavy, silvery-colored metal that evenly expands and contracts with temperature; in the past, waste mercury was deposited in the oceans. Indium looks like aluminum or tin; in the form of a sheet, when bent rapidly, it will emit a shrieking sound. Bismuth is a heavy metal that can be polished to a bright gray-white coat with a pinkish hue. Tellurium is a silver-white, brittle crystal with a metallic luster; if inhaled, it produces a garlic-like odor on one’s breath. Gold can be beaten and pounded into thin sheets only a few molecules thick and can be used as a thin coating on glass in skyscrapers to reflect the heat of sunlight; one ounce of gold exists in every ton of seawater; gold teeth usually last longer than the person wearing them. Helium was discovered on the sun before it was found on earth; some amount of earth’s helium continually escapes into space. Ruthenium is a silvery-white metallic element similar to iron and is used to treat eye diseases. Platinum is used in highflying aircraft to convert high altitude ozone into oxygen. Technetium is grayish-silver and looks much like platinum; it is usually produced artificially, but has also been identified in the light spectrum from stars. Palladium is a soft, silvery-white metal similar to platinum; it is able to absorb nine hundred times its own volume of hydrogen gas. Rhenium ranges in color from silvery-white to gray to a black powder and can be used to measure the age of the universe. Rhodium is a hard shiny-white metal that resists corrosion; its powder and dust are flammable. Osmium is a hard, tough, brittle, bluish-white metal; it produces an objectionable smell when it isolated from platinum ores with aqua regia; osmium tetraoxide is a yellow crystal and it is used to detect fingerprints. Krypton is a rather dense, tasteless, colorless, and odorless gas; it is only found in space, though there are traces of krypton in some minerals and meteorites found on earth. Neon is colorless, tasteless, and odorless; it glows bright red when electricity is passed through it in an enclosed gas tube; it was once believed that it was fully inert, but it has since been forced to form a compound with fluorine. Iridium is a hard, brittle, white, metallic substance and is the most corrosive-resistant metal known; most of the iridium on earth comes from the meteors that extinguished the dinosaurs. Xenon is colorless, tasteless, and odorless; when excited electrically, it produces a brilliant white flash of light; it has been found in meteorites, but not in amounts great enough to exploit. Radium is white, radioactive, and luminescent; in the past, women painted clock and watch dials with luminous radium paint that was a mixture of radium salts and zinc sulfide, placing the brushes between their lips to make the bristles more pointed, but over the years, they developed cancers that resulted in badly eaten-away and disfigured lips and jaws. Radon is the radioactive decay product of radium, thorium, and uranium ores; as a solid, it glows with yellow light, and as it decays, it is transmuted into polonium and finally lead. Astatine is present in very small quantities that exist only for extremely short periods of time; it has been demonstrated that astatine causes cancer in laboratory animals. Francium exists for about twenty-one minutes only. Promethium does not exist naturally on earth, but the spectral lines of promethium can be observed in the light from the constellation Andromeda. Actinium is an extremely radioactive, silvery-white, heavy metal that glows in the dark with an eerie bluish light. Protactinium is a relatively heavy, silvery-white metal and one of the scarcest and most expensive elements known. Polonium is found in minute amounts in cigarette smoke. Plutonium has a silvery color that becomes yellowish as it oxidizes in air. Neptunium is a silvery-white radioactive, heavy metal. Americium is a bright-white heavy metal somewhat similar to lead and does not exist in nature. Curium is a silvery-white, heavy metal; there is no natural curium on earth. Berkelium is produced by the bombardment of americium with helium ions. Californium can be used in devices to find water or supplies of underground oil. Einsteinium and fermium were discovered in the residue from the explosion of the hydrogen bomb that wiped Eniwetok Atoll off the face of the earth.
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