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Scientists Are Tweeting About The Strangest Experiments They've Ever Done

Lead ( Pb ) is one of the most infamous elements in the periodic table. Though it's been widely known as the source of lead poisoning, humans have been using the heavy metal for thousands of years. It's soft, has a relatively low melting point, is easy to shape, and does not corrode much, making it incredibly useful. It's so relatively abundant and easy to extract. But lead is so much more than just no. 82 on the periodic table. Here are 10 facts about the element lead.


One reason people have been using it for so long is because it's so easy to extract from galena, or lead sulfide. Thanks to lead's low melting point of 621

.4 ° F, all you have to do is to put the rocks in a fire, then extract the lead from the ashes once the fire burns out.

Galena is still one of the major modern sources of lead. Missouri, the largest producer of lead in the U.S. Galena is also the state mineral of Wisconsin, where it has been mined since at least the 17th century. Several towns across the U.S. Galena, Illinois, one of the Centers of the American "Lead Rush" of the 19th century.


The oldest smelted lead object ever found in Israel in 2012. Researchers have dated the wall-shaped tool-potentially a spindle whore-to the late 4000s BCE, tracing its origins to lead ores in the Taurus mountains of what now is Turkey.

3. Lead poisoning can be fatal.

Lead has a similar chemical structure to calcium. Both have two positive charges. Because of that, inside the body, the toxic metal can bind to the same protein as the vital mineral. Over time, lead poisoning occurs as the element crowds out the minerals of your body needs to function, including not just calcium, but iron, zinc, and other nutrients.

Leading the body in the same way that those minerals can , passing through the brain-blood barrier and into the bones. As a result, exposure to lead-through-paint, pipes, contaminated soil, or any other means-can be very dangerous, especially for children, for whom , Scientists believe there is no safe threshold for lead exposure.

4. Ancient Romans really loved it.

Leading reached new heights during the Roman Empire. Ancient Romans used to make cookware, water pipes, wine jugs, coins, and so much more. Lead acetate as a sweetener, most often in wine. As a result of ingesting a little bit of food and drink or wine, modern researchers have argued that two-thirds of Roman emperors (as well as plenty of common folk) exhibit symptoms of lead poisoning. A 20th-century examination of the body of Pope Clement II, who died in 1047, showed that he was poisoned by the religious leader's sudden demise, too-there's still some speculation too much lead-sweetened wine.

5. Lead is a very stable element.

Lead atoms are "doubly magic." In physics, the numbers 2, 8, 20, 28, 50, 82, and 126 are considered "magic" because of those numbers of protons or neutrons completely fill up the atomic nucleus. Lead has 126 neutrons and 82 protons-two magic numbers. As a result, lead isotopes are incredibly stable. Lead-208 is the heaviest stable atom.

6. Lead made car engines quieter at a high cost.

It's not surprising that we no longer add lead to gasoline ( TIME magazine called it one of the world's worst inventions back in 2010). In 1921, a General Motors researcher discovered that adding "engine knock" in cars, when pockets of air and fuel exploded in the wrong place and time in.

a combustion engine. In addition to producing a loud sound, it also damages the engine.

Unfortunately, it came at a low rate, and it did not rek of garlic

In the 1960s, geochemist Clair Patterson Was Trying to Become a High Cost for the Refined Workers The exact age of the Earth is tested in his lab and everything he tests, from his tap water to dust in the air to his skin and samples of his dandruff. A common gasoline additive.

Patterson would later become the driving force in the United States. Government to ban leaded gasoline. (You can never hear about it in our feature, "The Most Important Scientist You've Never Heard Of.")

7. Lead was used in paintings …

Historically, lead was not just prized for easy-to-shape metal; so what's valued for its color. Though most of us know that this is what historically used in house paint, it is a popular ingredient in thousands of years.

Produced since antiquity, lead Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt van Rijn.

"For two millennia, white leads – basic lead carbonate and sulfate "Pigment experts Juergen H. Braun and John G. Dickinson wrote in the third edition of Applied Polymer Science: 21st Century in 2000. You can buy quietly, but you can still buy it it today, but it has been replaced with the safer titanium white.

Lead white is not the only lead paint in many famous paintings from history. Dutch artists like Vermeer also favored lead tin yellow, which you see in his masterpiece The Milkmaid .

8. … and in makeup.

During the 18th century, both fashionably ghostly complexions, although it was known to be toxic. They powdered their hair with white lead powder, too. The dangerous trend caused eye inflammation, tooth red, baldness, and eventually, death. To top it off, using lead powder over the skin black over time, wearers needed to apply more and more of the powder to achieve their intended look. Queen Elizabeth I, who lost most of her teeth and much of her hair.

Researchers have hypothesized that several other famous historical figures have died from poisoning , including painters Vincent van Gogh and Francisco Goya. Caravaggio's bones have shown very high levels of lead in several cases, and they have proved to be very dangerous. Hair and skull fragment to Ludwig van Beethoven (1965). Lead is a superconductor.

Which means that if it is cooled, it loses all electric resistance. 7.2K (-446.71 ° F), it would conduct that current without losing any energy to heat.

10. Like other superconductors, lead is diamagnetic-it is repelled by magnetic fields. On Venus, it snows lead.

Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system, with an average surface temperature of 867 ° F. That's far above lead's 621.4 ° F melting point. In 1995, scientists discovered "snow" on the mountains of Venus-a planet too hot to have water ice. In 2004, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis discovered that Venusian "snow" was probably a mixture of lead sulfides and bismuth sulfides.

This "snow" forms because Venus's high temperatures vaporize minerals on the planet's surface, creating a child of metallic mist that when they reach the planet's tallest peaks.

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