- Atomic Number: 80
- Atomic Weight: 200
- Boiling Point: 356.73 °C (674 °F)
- Melting Point: -38.8 °C (-37.9 °F)
- Discovered by: Known to mankind since ancient times
Mercury is liquid at room temperature having an atomic number of 80. It is classified as a transition metal which is silvery white in colour. We are familiar with mercury since it is used in thermometers that doctors use for the purpose of checking the temperature of our body.
Characteristics and Properties
Mercury is a silvery white heavy liquid which can remain in liquid state up to a temperature of -38 °C. Being a volatile metal, it can evaporate at room temperature, and its evaporation rate increases at higher temperatures. Its electronic configuration is similar to that of noble gases which leads to the formation of weak chemical bonds with other elements. Mercury dissolves other metals that come in contact with it and thus forms an alloy with them,which is known as amalgam.
A few more characteristics and properties of mercury are as follows:
- Diamagnetic material
- Does not react with many acids
- Has 35 times less electrical conductivity than aluminium
- Poisonous for the health of humans
Generally, people are aware of mercury on account of its use in thermometers,which are used to measure the temperature of our body. There are a number of uses of mercury in products that are used in our day-to-day life, for example,cosmetics, vaccines and fluorescent lamps.
Because mercury has poisonous effect on human health, it is being replaced by other materials in a number of products. Mercury can be absorbed in the human skin very easily and cause damage to neurons. In addition, mercury can kill a human,if its vapours are inhaled or mercury is in contact with the skin for a very long period of time.
Where is It Found?
On the earth’s crust,mercury is one of the rarest elements,which can be found in its elemental form in so many regions on the earth. Many ores of mercury are found on earth’s crust, which include cinnabar, living stoniteand corderoite. Cinnabar is the most occurring ore among these, and most of the mercury metal is also extracted from cinnabar. Many countries in the world produce mercury, but China, Spain, Italy and Kyrgyzstan are the largest producers of mercury.
Mercury is among those metals,which mankind knows about since ancient times.Ancient Egyptians and Chinese have used mercury, which is suggested by the artifacts from the past civilisations. Besides, historical records suggest that the first emperor of China believed that mercury will make him live forever and thus died due to consumption of mercury.
- Alchemists believed that mercury was the first metal to be found,and all other metals are formed from it.
- Due to mercury poisoning,a few countries like Denmark, Sweden and Norway, have banned its use in manufacturing processes.
- Ancient Greeks had a very good knowledge and understanding of mercury ores. They have used cinnabar (sulphide of mercury) in ointment creams and cosmetics.
- The element Mercury is named for the Roman god Mercury. Mercury is the only element on earth to retain its al chemical name as its modern common name.