What’s Fun About…?: Magnesium through Nobelium

Magnesium (Mg)

  • In small amounts, magnesium is highly flammable. In larger amounts, there’s enough metal to conduct the heat and it isn’t so easily flammable.
  • Magnesium is necessary in human metabolism.
  • It is also necessary for plant photosynthesis.
  • It’s the ninth most abundant element in the universe.
  • Class D fire extinguishers are needed to extinguish magnesium fires, as the carbon dioxide provides fuel for a magnesium fire.
  • 60% of our skeleton is magnesium.
  • About 13% of the Earth’s mass comes from magnesium: more than the mass of Mars!

Manganese (Mn)

  • Dry cell batteries use manganese.
  • Manganese oxide is used in glass to make it colorless.
  • It prevents bone loss and is used for helping treat osteoporosis.
  • It is essential in photosynthesis.
  • Manganese is needed for the body to control blood sugar and for thyroid function.
  • Different ions have different colors, including pink, black, purple, and green.
  • Though necessary for our health, too much manganese can lead to various degenerative and intellectual disorders.
  • Soda cans use manganese to stiffen the aluminum, allowing the cans to be thin.

Meitnerium (Mt)

  • It was discovered by bombarding bismuth-209 with iron-58 nuclei.
  • It is radioactive and has uses only in research.

Mendelevium (Md)

  • It was discovered by bombarding einsteinium-53 with helium nuclei (alpha particles).
  • It is produced one atom at a time.

Mercury (Hg)

  • It is also known as quicksilver.
  • It is the only metal that is a liquid at room temperature, and one of two elements that are also liquid at room temperature (bromine).
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs contain some mercury vapor.
  • Mercury sulfide is known as cinnabar, and it is the main source of mercury.
  • Vermilion pigment is made from mercuric sulfide.
  • The phrase “mad as a hatter” comes from old hat makers. Hats used to be made with mercury, so prolonged exposure to it had some effects on the hatters minds.

Molybdenum (Mo)

  • It is used as a ultra-high-pressure lubricant.
  • Bacteria and plants need molybdenum.
  • It is highly resistant to heat and corrosion.
  • It is used as a catalyst for refining petroleum.
  • It strengthens steel.

Moscovium (Mc)

  • Due to its position on the periodic table, it is expected to act like bismuth.
  • Calcium and americium were smashed together to form moscovium.
  • Its most stable isotope has a half-life of about a fifth of a second (0.22 seconds).

Neodymium (Nd)

  • It’s used in welders hoods and glass blowers goggles.
  • Magnets made with neodymium are very highly magnetic and are resistant to demagnetizing.
  • If placed close enough together, two neodymium magnets can collide hard enough to shatter.
  • They can stay magnetic at high temperatures, even higher than 200°C (about 400°F).
  • A neodymium magnet is the reason for your phone’s ability to vibrate.
  • Neodymium-iron-boron are the strongest magnets in existence.
  • Though notorious for its magnetic abilities, it also colors glass shades of violet, red, and gray.

Neon (Ne)

  • Neon glows orange-red when a current passes through it.
  • As a liquid, it has 40 times the refrigerating capacity as liquid helium and is much cheaper.
  • It is the fourth most abundant element in the universe.
  • 0.0018% of the Earth’s atmosphere is made of neon.
  • Neon does not form compounds with other elements, although there are some gas phase ions.

Neptunium (Np)

  • Various oxides produce different colors, including violet, green, yellow, and pinkish-red.
  • Though it’s mostly produced synthetically, there have been very small amounts found in the Earth’s crust.
  • Alloyed, it can be used as a superconductor.

Nickel (Ni)

  • Plated over iron, it prevents rusting.
  • Most nickel compounds are either green or blue.
  • Some plants use it as a nutrient.
  • Nickel is used in rechargeable batteries and magnets.
  • It is one of four elements which are magnetic at room temperature (other than iron, cobalt, and gadolinium).
  • It’s most commonly used for alloying steels for corrosion and heat resistant purposes.
  • Nitinol, an alloy of half-nickel and half-titanium, “remembers” its shape. When heated, it can be bent into any shape. When heated and bent again, at a lower temperature this time, it will form itself back into the original shape.
  • It’s the fifth most common element on Earth.

Nihonium (Nh)

  • It took 7 years after it was first discovered to verify its existence.
  • Its most stable isotope has a half-life of about 20 seconds.

Niobium (Nb)

  • Niobium titanium superconducting wire is used in MRIs to generate the magnetic fields.
  • It is highly resistant to corrosion and heat.
  • Alloys with niobium are very strong at high temperatures. This makes them useful for rocketry and jet engines.
  • It’s used in arc welding rods.

Nitrogen (N)

  • Nitrogen in ammonia (NH3) is a vital fertilizer – it’s used to feed one third of the world!
  • It’s required to build amino acids.
  • It’s a main component in TNT (trinitrotoluene).
  • Liquid nitrogen boils at -195.8°C (-320°F).
  • All proteins and all living systems contain nitrogen.
  • It’s the seventh most abundant element in the universe.
  • Air is 78.1% nitrogen.
  • The aurora gets its orange, red, violet, blue, and green colors from nitrogen.

Nobelium (No)

  • Only small amounts of it have been produced.
  • It was produced by bombarding curium with carbon.
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