Amazing Facts

Mercury conducts electricity

Mercury is one of the few metals that is liquid at ordinary
temperatures. It is a shiny, mobile liquid, silver-white in color.
Mercury has many properties that make it useful.a mercury thermometer
For example, mercury expands and contracts evenly when heated or
cooled. It also remains liquid over a wide range of temperatures. These
properties make mercury an ideal component of thermometers, barometers,
and other scientific instruments.

Mercury conducts electricity and is used in
some electric switches
and relays to make them operate silently and efficiently. Industrial
chemical manufacturers use mercury in electrolysis cells to change
substances with electricity. Mercury vapor, used in fluorescent lamps,
gives off light when electricity passes through it.

Mercury combines with all the common metals,
except iron and
platinum, to form alloys called amalgams. In one method of extracting
gold and silver from their ores, the metals are amalgated with mercury;
the mercury is then removed by distillation. Another amalgam, with
silver, is used by dentists to fill cavities in teeth. Many dry cell
batteries contain amalgams of zinc and cadmium to prevent impurities
from shortening the life of the battery.

Mercurous compounds include mercurous
chloride, also called calomel,
and mercurous sulfate. Calomel is an antiseptic used to kill bacteria.
Scientists use mercurous sulfate to speed up certain tests on organic
compounds. Mercuric compounds include mercuric chloride, a powerful
poison that surgeons once used to disinfect wounds. Mercuric chloride
is also called corrosive submercuric fulminate of mercury. Most
ammunition uses mercuric fulminate to set off its explosive. Paint
manufacturers use mercuric sulfide in making a red pigment called
vermillion. Several organic mercuric compounds have important medical
uses. For example, some medicines called diuretics, which physicians
use to treat kidney disease, contain these compounds. The antiseptic
Mercurochrome is also a mercuric compound.

Mercury ranks about 67th in natural abundance
among the elements in
crustal rocks. Most of the mercury used by people comes from an ore
called cinnabar. To obtain pure mercury, refiners heat cinnabar in a
flow of air. Oxygen in the air combines with sulfur in the ore, forming
sulfur dioxide gas and leaving mercury behind. Antoine Laurent one
knows who discovered mercury, but the ancient Chinese, Egyptians,
Greeks, Hindus, and Romans knew about the metal, and ancient alchemists
made use of it in their experiments. It was first distinguished as an
element by the French chemist Antoine Laurent Lavoisier in his
classical experiment on the composition of air.

Mercury was named for the swift messenger of
the gods in Roman
mythology. Its symbol, Hg, comes from the Latin word for quicksilver,
hydrargyrum. Its atomic weight is 200.59; its atomic number is 80.
Mercury melts at -37.97° F (-38.87° C) and boils at 673.84° F (356.58°

Related Tags: Mercury  Electricity  Metals  
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