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by 23acarter
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Chemical Elements

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What is Mercury?



Societal Applications

Mercury (Hg) is a metal with atomic number 80, and atomic mass 200.59amu (201). Further reffered to as 'quicksilver', mercury's element symbol is derived from the Latin word 'Hydragyrum' -meaning "liquid silver". Mercury is a heavy , silvery transition metal that exist as a liquid at or near room temperature and pressure. It is located in the Periodic Table of Elements at Group 12, Period 6.

Intriguing because of its silver hue and liquid state at room temperature, elemental mercury was known to the ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Hindus by 2000BC. Each civilization had its own legends about mercury, and it was used as everything from a medicine to, sadly enough, cosmetics. Mercury's chemical symbol, 'Hg', comes from the Greek 'hydrargyrum' meaning "liquid silver"; however it was also reffered to as 'quicksilver'. Speed and mobility were characteristics of the Roman god, Mercury, who served as a messenger to all the other gods, and shared his name with the planet nearest the sun. Further on in history several mistakes were made with the use of mercury, such as the Roman mines. Slaves were sent to extract the hazardous substance, continuously working for days on end. Eventually labourers begun die, due to mercury's toxicity, and the unsafe working environments. In the 17th century a felt hat industry in France begun to strengthen fibres with the use of human and camel urine. As one worker's hats were produced oddly superior to the others, the company realized his fibres had been treated with a mercury compound. This soon lead to poisoning and the death of many, and mercury was banned from felt industries. Like this, mistakes arose in history and many suffered due to the cluelessness of man. Eventually, safer manners of handling mercury were invented, just as we use today.


MERCURYa metal in its own "state" of mindBY: ARYAN TREHAN

Physical Properties

• Melting/Freezing point: -38.87 °C• Boiling/Condesnsing Point: 356.58 °C• Density: 13.456 g/cm3 • Colour: Silver • Ductile: Yes• Viscosity: 1.526cP • Conductivity: poor conductor of heat but fair conductor of electrictiy• Malleable: Yes

Chemical Properties

• Reactions to Halogens: F, Cl, Br, I• easily forms alloys with most metals (except iron) • Reactions to acids: oxidizing acids (HNO3, H2S04)• Valence States: elementar (Hg0), mercurous (Hg+1), mercuric (Hg+2)• forms a precipitate with many substances (Sulphide, Fluoride, etc.)• emits light in glow sticks when an electrical current is passed through mercury vapour

Mercury serves several purposes in our day to day lives. It is used in several scientific and medical products, including thermometers (due to its constant thermal expansion over a wide temperature range), as well barometers and manometers (as a result of its high density). In terms of industrial purposes, mercury is used as a liquid electrode in the manufacture of chlorine and sodium hydroxide. It is also quite often used in some electrical gear, such as switches and rectifiers. We also see mercury in our lifestyle as a key contributor to lighting. This is because as electricity proceeds through the mercury vapor, it produces short waves of UV light, which is cause the phosphor to fluoresce (make visible light). Similar to The medical industry also makes/made use of mercury for things like dental restoration (fillings) and cures for diseases such as Syphilis. Mercury compounds also play a huge role in terms of everyday uses, as they can be used as medicines, insecticides, rat poison, etc. Some mercury salts and organic mercury compounds, including mercurous chloride (used in electrolysis) and mercuric sulfide, also contribute to the composition of materials such as paint and ink.

Did you know that some fish, such as swordfish and sharks, can contain high levels of mercury?

Did you know that the term "mad hatter" was given to hat makers who went crazy breathing in mercury vapors from chemicals they used in making hats?


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