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Essay/Term paper: Mercury

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Science Research Papers

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Mercury


Mercury is a metallic element that is a liquid at room temperature, it
is one of the transition elements. Mercury's atomic number is 80. It is
superconductive when cooled to within a few degrees of absolute zero. Mercury
was once known as liquid silver or quicksilver which was studied by the
alchemists. Mercury was first distinguished as an element by the French chemist
Antoine Laurent Lavoisier in his experiment on the composition of air. At room
temperature mercury is a shining, moving liquid that has a silvery-white color,
and slightly volatile. Mercury remains a liquid over a wide temperature range.
Mercury is a solid when given a pressure of 7640 atmospheres (5.8 million torrs).
It dissolves in nitric or concentrated sulfuric acid but is resistant to
alkalies. Mercury melts at -39C, boils at about 357C,and has a gravity of 13.5.
The atomic weight of mercury is 200.59. Mercury comes in its pure form or
combined with silver in small amounts. It is mostly found in the form of the
sulfide.

Mercury has many uses and is a very important element. A major use of
mercury is in electrical equipment such as fluorescent lamps, and mercury
batteries. Mercury is used in thermometers because the change in volume for
each degree of rise or fall in temperature is the same. The use of mercury in
the thermometer instead of alcohol was done by Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit in 1714.
It was also used in vacuum pumps, barometers, and electric rectifiers and
switches. Mercury is used in a mercury-vapor lamps which are used as a source
of ultraviolet rays in homes and for sterilizing water. Mercury-vapor is also
used instead of steam in the boilers of some turbine engines. Mercury is
sometimes used for amalgamation. Amalgamation is a metallurgical process that
utilizes mercury to dissolve silver or gold to form an amalgam. This process
has been largely supplanted by the cyanide process, in which gold or silver is
dissolved in solutions of sodium or potassium cyanide.

Mercury is a poisonous element. Mercury is semi-hazardous as a vapor and
among the many good things mercury does for people there is a flip side. in the
form of its water-soluble salts. Chronic mercury poisoning, which occurs when
small amounts of the metal are repeatedly ingested over long periods of time,
causes irreversible brain, liver, and kidney damage.

 

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