Under normal circumstances, the element barium sounds like another boring element. However, what about emerald fireworks glittering a Fourth of July sky? Or what about exquisite kaleidoscopic designs streaming through elegant glassware? What element can you credit for those wonders?
Your element is Barium.
Although Barium was discovered in 1774 by the pharmacist Carl Scheele, Sir Humphrey Davy extracted the element in 1808. The element has Greek origins, resulting from the word barys, which translates to "heavy."
The symbol for barium is Ba (number 56 in the periodic table). The electron configuration is 2-8-18-18-8-2 or [Xe] 6s^2. It is classified as an alkaline earth metal and is located in group 2 (IIa), period 6.
Out of twenty-nine isotopes, barium has seven stable isotopes. It is found in barite (sulfate). Electrolysis of molten baryta (BaO) was first used to isolate barium by Sir Humphrey Davy in 1808.
Barium metal is used to coat electrical conductors in electronic apparatus and in automobile ignition systems and as a getter in vacuum tubes. Barium sulfate is used as filler in paint, in linoleum and in X-ray examinations of the gastrointestinal tract. Barium nitrate is used in fireworks while barium carbonate is used in rat poisons. Other uses include glass making, bricks, tiles, rubber and oil well drilling fluids.
Barium is a soft, solid metallic element. When pure, it is silvery white. It naturally exists in the environment. However, it is not found freely, but only as a compound since it reacts with oxygen to make barium oxide. Barium is rapidly corroded by moist air. It also reacts with water, which forms barium hydroxide. In order to create hydrogen gas, barium reacts with hydrogen. So, in other words, barium is a highly reactive element.
Barium melts at 1000 K (727 degrees Celsius or 1341 degrees Fahrenheit). It boils at 2170 K (1897 degrees Celsius or 3447 degrees Fahrenheit). It has a specific gravity of 3.5 and is malleable and squeezable.
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