Metals are some of the most important materials on Earth. Check out these fun facts about metal.
- The periodic table consists of 118 known elements, and approximately 95 of these are metals, with a small group of about 7 or 8 “metalloids” that are neither one nor the other, but have properties of both. The classification of metals, metalloids, and non-metals varies a bit, depending on the criteria used.
- Most metals are lustrous solids at room temperature. They are malleable and ductile, and able to conduct electricity and heat. They also can be heated and forged or melted and casted.
- Pure aluminum, which is the third most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust, was once considered a precious metal worth more than gold, until cheaper methods for separating it out from ore were invented in the 1800s.
- Due to their strong metallic bonds, most metals have high melting points. Tungsten has the highest melting point of all pure metals at 6192 °F and the highest boiling point at 10706 °F.
- Steel is the most recycled material by far, more than all aluminum, paper, plastic, and glass combined. Steelmaking furnaces in North America recycle nearly 70 million tons of domestic steel scrap each year including cans, cars, appliances, and construction materials, conserving energy, emissions, raw materials, and natural resources.
- Mercury, with the lowest melting point of all metals at −37.89 °F, is the only metal that is liquid at standard room temperature and pressure.
- Some of the tallest buildings built in the 1800s used cast iron and wrought iron to support the upper floors and roof. But once the Bessemer process for making steel was improved for commercial use, steel frames made possible much taller buildings, such as the 10-story Home Insurance Company Building in Chicago (1884-5), considered the first true skyscraper.
- Gold, copper, silver, lead, tin, iron, and mercury, and their alloys, including bronze and brass, were the only known metals up until the Middle Ages.
- The Brooklyn Bridge, which opened in 1883, would not have been completed without the work of a woman, Emily Warren Roebling, after her husband, Washington Roebling became incapacitated. The 1,595-ft. span suspension bridge is held up by 15.5-in. diameter cables each containing 5,434 parallel steel wires connecting the masonry towers.
- Research has proven that copper and its alloys, such as brass, have natural anti-microbial properties and can quickly kill viruses and bacteria. Hospitals and food service institutions use these metals on frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, faucets, hand rails, etc., to help prevent the spread of disease.
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