M for Mercury

Mercury is the only metal element liquid at room temperature. It would be great fun to play with if it weren’t so poisonous.The modern element symbol for mercury is Hg( Atomic number 80). Hydrargyrum comes from Greek words for “water-silver” (hydr- means water, argyros means silver).The element Mercury is named for the Roman god Mercury. Mercury is the only element to retain its alchemical name as its modern common name.

Known to the ancient Hindus and Chinese. Mercury has been found in Egyptian tombs dating to 1500 B.C. Chinese alchemists believed mercury promoted health and extended life and included it with several medicines.

Mercury is used in thermometers, barometers, manometers, sphygmomanometers, float valves, mercury switches, mercury relays, fluorescent lamps and other devices. Concerns about the element’s toxicity have led to mercury thermometers and sphygmomanometers being largely phased out in clinical environments

It is used in lighting: electricity passed through mercury vapor in a fluorescent lamp produces short-wave ultraviolet light which then causes the phosphor in the tube to fluoresce, making visible light.

Cell phone or MRI radiation shortly after dental work with amalgam can accelerate the release of mercury.

Mercury generally is not allowed on aircraft because it combines so readily with aluminum, a metal that is common on aircraft. When mercury forms an amalgam with aluminum, the oxide layer that protects aluminum from oxidizing is disrupted. This causes aluminum to corrode, in much the same way as iron rusts.

References: about.com

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