Chemical Elements


Provide the Symbol and Name of the element described by the following clues:

1. Discovered by Daniel Rutherford in 1772. The most common element in the earth's atmosphere. An essential component of proteins. Combined with oxygen, this element forms "laughing gas," which is used to reduce pain during surgery. This element is a nonmetal.

2. First discovered by Bunsen and Kirchhoff in 1860. Comes from the Latin word meaning "sky blue." Most reactive of all metals. The most accurate clocks are based on the vibrations of the atoms of this element. The hydroxide of this element is the strongest known base.

3. Discovered by Lord Rayleigh and Sir William Ramsay in 1894. Comes from the Greek word meaning "inactive." Produced commercially from liquid air. First inert gas to be discovered. Gives a blue-green color in electrical discharge tubes used in advertising signs.

4. Discovered by Louis Vauquelin in 1797. Comes from the Greek word meaning "color." Used in steel alloys, including stainless steel. Mixed with nickel to form wire for the heating elements of electrical appliances. Used to give glass a green color.

5. Discovered by Sir Humphry Davy in 1808. Comes from the Greek word meaning "heavy." A member of the group of elements know as the alkaline earth metals. The sulfate compound of this element is opaque to x-rays and is used in medical diagnostic tests. At room temperature & pressure, this element is a soft, silvery-white metal.

6. Discovered by J.J.Berzelius in 1828. Comes from the name of the Norse god of thunder. The most abundant of the radioactive elements. In a "breeder" reactor, this element can be transformed to U-233, a fissionable nuclear fuel. The radioactive half-life of this element is about 14 billion years.

7. First identified as an element by Claude Geoffrey the Younger in 1753. Comes from the German words for "white mass." Compounds of this element are used in medications to quiet upset stomachs. Conducts heat less effectively than any other metal except mercury. In early times, in its natural state it was often confused with tin and lead.

8. First isolated by the de Elhuyar brothers in 1783. Comes from the Swedish words for "heavy stone." Known as "Wolfram" throughout most of the world. Has the highest melting point of all metals. The carbide compound of this element is very hard and is used in drill bits and other tools.

9. Chemical symbol for this element comes from its Latin name, "plumbum." Has been used in gasoline to prevent engine knocking. A major component of solder and type metal. Provides an effective shield for x-rays and other radiation. Children are especially susceptible to the effects of this toxic element which collects in the body.

10. Discovered by Antonio de Ulloa in 1735. Comes from the Spanish word for "silver." Prized for its use in jewelry. Does not combine readily with most chemicals. Used as a catalyst in industrial processes and in pollution control devices in cars.

11. Discovered by Glenn Seaborg and others in 1940. This element is radioactive. One of the most toxic substances known to man. Created in nuclear reactors by the irradiation of uranium Used as an explosive in atomic weapons.

12. Discovered by Klaproth in 1789 and isolated by Peligot in 1841. In 1896, Henri Bequerel discovered that this element is radioactive. Most commonly found in an ore known as pitchblende. One pound of this element has the energy value of over 1500 tons of coal. This element has a half-life of 4.5 billion years.

13. Discovered by Marie and Pierre Currie in 1898. Comes from the Latin word for "ray." Compounds of this element glow in the dark. It emits alpha, beta and gamma rays. The curie," a measure of radioactivity, is the amount of emissions from one gram of this element.

14. The chemical symbol for this element comes from its Latin name, "stannum." Used to plate steel in containers which are used to preserve food. When bent, the stressing of this element's crystals makes a squealing noise know as its "cry." When cooled below 13.2oC, this metal loses its strength and becomes gray and crumbly. Combined with lead, this element is used as a solder to join other metals.

15. The chemical symbol comes from its Latin name, "argentum." The most effective electrical conductor of all the elements. Essential in the photographic process. Highly reflective and can be used to create mirrored surfaces. When combined with mercury, forms an alloy which is used to fill teeth.

16. Discovered by Johan Arfvedson in 1817. Comes from the Greek word for "stone." The lightest metal, about half the density of water. In combination with hydrogen isotopes, it is used as a fuel for thermonuclear weapons. Combines rapidly with air or water.

17. First isolated by Johan Gahn in 1774. Comes from the Latin word for "magnet." Used in steel alloys to add strength and toughness. Large deposits have been found in the deep ocean floor in the form of "nodules." Can become magnetic with special treatment or when included in special alloys.

18. Discovered by William Gregor in 1791. Comes from the name of the giants of Greek mythology. The only element which will burn in nitrogen. Important in making strong, lightweight alloys for aircraft and rockets. This element is the strongest metal.

19. The name comes from the German language. Added to copper it forms a more durable alloy called brass. Used for the outer canister of flashlight batteries. A coating is applied to steel to prevent rust in the process called "galvanizing." The oxide of this element is used as a white pigment and a common skin ointment.

20. Discovered by Axel Cronstedt in 1751. Comes from a German word for "the devil." This element is somewhat magnetic. When powdered, it is used as a catalyst for hydrogenating vegetable oil. Combined with cadmium, it is used to make rechargeable batteries.

21. Discovered by Georg Brandt around 1735. Comes from the German word for "evil spirit." Compounds of this element are used to provide bright blue pigments. Vitamin B12, or cobolamin, is an essential nutrient containing this element. A radioactive isotope of this element, atomic weight 60, is used in medicine and research.

22. First discovered by Sir Humphry Davy in 1807. Comes from English words for "ash left after burning wood." Will burn when exposed to air and must be kept under oil or kerosene. Essential for plant growth, and its compounds are important in fertilizers. The second lightest metal known, after lithium.

23. Friedrich Woehler is generally credited with having isolated this metal in 1827. Oxidizes rapidly in air, forming a hard, tight coating which prevents further corrosion. Bauxite is the most common ore of this element. Lightweight alloys of this metal are used in airplanes and rockets. An oxide forms naturally as ruby, sapphire, and corundum.

24. First isolated by Sir Humphry Davy in 1808. Comes from the Latin word for "lime." One of the major components of limestone, marble, chalk and gypsum. Compounds of this form the basis for whitewash, mortar and cement. The carbonate compound of this element forms the shells or skeletons of many animals.

25. First isolated in element form by Sir Humphry Davy in 1808. Comes from an ancient city in Asia Minor. Chlorophyll (a green pigment plants use to produce their own food) is based on an atom of this element. Fine wires of this element ignited electrically provide the bright flash of light in flash bulbs. Found in the minerals basalt and dolomite.

26. First isolated in elemental form by Sir Humphry Davy in 1807. The chemical symbol comes from its Latin name, "natrium." Its name comes from the English word "soda." A component of the most commonly used base, caustic soda or lye. A component of common table salt, baking soda and washing soda.

27. Comes from the Greek word for "moon." Discovered by J.J.Berzelius in 1817. Used to produce photoelectric and solar cells, which convert light to electricity. Plants growing in soils rich in this element become poisonous and are sometimes known as "locoweed." Traces of this element in the diet may help prevent cancer. Larger amounts are toxic.

28. Discovered by J.J.Berzelius in 1824. Comes from the Latin word for "flint." Some creatures, such as diatoms and sponges, use this element to build their skeletal systems. Forms the basis for micro-electric circuits and micro-chips in the electronics industry. The main ingredient in the manufacture of glass.

29. Discovered by Bernard Courtois in 1811. Comes from the Greek word for the color violet. Lack of this in the diet causes goiter, a disease of the thyroid gland. Seafood is a good source of this element. Small amounts are added to table salt for nutritional purposes.

30. Discovered by Antoine Balard in 1826. Comes from the Greek word for "stench." Sometimes produced by extracting it from seawater. The only liquid nonmetallic element. Use of this element in pest control compounds is being reduced because of health hazards.

31. Discovered in 1669 by Hennig Brand. Comes from the Greek word meaning "light-bearing." Will catch fire spontaneously when exposed to air. Widely used in the production of matches, flares, pesticides and ammunition. Needed by the body, especially in nerve and bone cells.

32. Discovered in 1808 by Sir Humphry Davy. Comes from an Arabic word, "Buraq." Borax, a compound of this element, is often used as a water-softening agent in detergents. An acid compound of this element is often used as a mild antiseptic and eye treatment. The most important source of this element is the mineral razorite, found in the Mojave Desert.

33. Discovered in 1898 by Sir William Ramsay & M.W.Travers. Comes from the Greek word meaning "new." One of several gases used in making gas lasers. Used in manufacturing small, low-energy electric lights called "glow lamps." In its liquid form is finding important application as an economical cryogenic refrigerant.


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Copyright 1995 James R. Fromm (jfromm@3rd1000.com)