In the mind of most people 'metal' is a pretty mundane word. If you were asked to imagine something metal, you would likely picture something hard, something magnetic, something rusty, something grey; possibly something silver or bronze. But as there are over 90 metals on the periodic table, believe it when we say that there is a lot more to metal than you may think; in fact you may be surprised to learn that there are:
1 – Metals That Are Liquid At Room Temperature
Before we can talk about the metals that are liquid at room temperature it is probably best that we establish what we mean when we say 'room temperature'. Scientifically speaking, room temperature is regarded as roughly 23 degrees Celsius, 73.5° Fahrenheit or 296° Kelvin; depending on what measurement of temperature you would prefer to use.
Using this definition of room temperature, Mercury, with a melting point of -7.3°C (19°F / 266°K), is the only metal which is liquid at room temperature. Mercury, also known as Quicksilver, is commonly used in thermometers, barometers and fluorescent lamps; and if ingested results in 'Mercury Poisoning' which is incredibly harmful to the human body.
There are three other metals which become liquid when placed just above room temperature, these metals are:
Not all elements and metals that appear on the periodic table occur naturally, some have to be created synthetically. The elements listed below, whilst not necessarily discovered by the scientist they are named after, named after famous scientists out of reverence or in recognition of their accomplishments.
3 – Metals That React With Water … Violently
Known as 'Alkali Metals' or the 'Group 1 Metals – because they appear in the first group / column on the periodic table of elements – Lithium, Sodium, Potassium , Rubidium, Caesium and Francium will all burst into flames (or potentially explode!) should they come into contact with cold water.
The vigour of the reaction increases as you go down the column, so lithium's reaction is the most mellow, followed by sodium's, then potassium's and so on, until you reach Francium; which is incredibly volatile.
4 – Metals That Can Be Easily Cut With A Knife
When most of us think of metals we think of Iron and Steel, Platinum and Titanium, Gold and Silver; all of which can safely be described as hard or solid. However there are some metals which are so soft, that you can easily cut a block of them with a steel knife.
Metals making a reappearance in this category are Gallium and the Alkali Metals, which in addition to having a low melting point and being highly reactive, respectively, are also extremely soft. Other metals that can be easily cut with a knife are Calcium and, oddly enough, Lead – which many may find rather surprising considering it's renowned for being dense and heavy.
5 – Metals That Resist Oxidation
When metals react with the oxygen in the air or in water, the process is called oxidation. The most well-known form of oxidation is rust, which affects iron and other ferrous metals; however whilst not all metals rust, there are very few that do not react with oxygen in some way.
There is only one metal that is so resilient that it will not react; except under the most hostile circumstances; and that metal is Iridium. In fact iridium will stubbornly remain non-reactive unless it is exposed to excessively high temperatures; and to give you an idea of just how hot we're talking, Iridium has a melting point of 2445.9°C (4434.53°F / 2719°K), the tenth highest amongst all 118 elements.
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