In the spirit of Halloween, we found the scariest metals with strange, spooky qualities. And if you did not know about them prior to seeing them you may be frightened by what they can do!
We found 4 metals with very weird physical properties, that under the right conditions, can act really bizarre whether they react with other metals or to variations in their environment.
Copernicium – A ghostly metal that vanishes into thin air!
Imagine for a moment that you are in a laboratory… A mad scientist just created a new type of radioactive metal by fusing lead and zinc atoms in an ion accelerator. But you can’t even see it because it it is a gas at room temperature! Well, Copernicium is just that… we think! It has a half-life of approximately 29 seconds, which is the amount of time it takes to lose half of its radiologic activity. Only a few atoms of Copernicium have ever been made and it’s considered more of a noble gas than a metal because of its strange characteristics. Really weird!
Gallium – Franken-Metal that melts in your hand and has a heartbeat!
A young Frankenstein would be proud! If you want to see something really strange, search YouTube videos for ‘Make A Gallium Beating Heart’. Gallium will start pulsating like a beating heart when exposed to sulfuric acid and potassium dichromate. This is because the gallium sulfate that formed increases surface tension. And if that is not strange enough, it has a melting point of 86 degrees Fahrenheit, which means it can melt in your hand! Gallium also acts like a predator and attacks other metals it interacts with. Just one drop of Gallium can demolish an entire soda can, making it feel like tin foil instead of metal. That’s an odd one!
Did you get cold chills yet?
Ruthenium – The metal torch that never stops burning.
Is it hot in here, or is it just me? Yanartes, a geographical phenomenon in Southern Turkey is home to what is known as ‘fires that never go out’. The flames have supposedly been active for millions of years and no one knew why until recently. Ruthenium was discovered beneath rocks at the site of the flames, acting as a catalyst to allow methane gas to form at lower temperatures – which is perfect for breathing life into fire. It is surely one fire that you can’t put out!
Beryllium – An invisible metal with a trick up its sleeve.
This metal can actually be found in missiles, spacecraft, satellites and even gemstones. It has a low density and atomic mass (very small atoms)…which means it is capable of absorbing X-rays – or rather being invisible to them. Given that this is a unique and useful characteristic to have, it is also very dangerous since it is so small and practically invisible. People exposed to smelted electronic scrap can inhale dangerous chemicals and metals, including Beryllium. Once it’s inhaled into the lungs, it causes lung lesions and a respiratory disease which is incurable and potentially fatal. So this metal can essentially be a silent killer!
Well, that concludes our spooky Halloween story. We hope that you have learned that not all metals are created equal and many of them can surprise, if not scare you! We hope you have fun telling scary stories about metallic elements around the campfire.
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