A bovine's least favorite drink


Coming in at an atomic weight of 24.31, with 12 protons and two electrons, give it up for the alkaline earth, MAGNESIUM! (Now with three stable isotopes!) Magnesium is a very interesting metal, and, you guessed it, common (8th most abundant in the world). This metal is used in many things from standard-issue sharpeners to your grandpa's antacids.

Magnesium, or Mg, was discovered in a rather strange way by a farmer. During a drought back in 1618, a farmer saw his cattle avoiding a certain pool of water, a strange thing in a drought. Henry Wicker, the farmer, tasted the water, finding it bitter. He decided to let a vial of it evaporate, and saw that it left some crystals, later known as Epsom salts, as tribute to the town where they were found. Some other people in the town found that it helped ease sore muscles, and that it was a good laxative too. about 140 years later, it was integrated into the periodic table, and isolated 50 years after that by Sir Humphry Davy. But seriously, do not taste water from random pools animals don't like.

Now to marketing! Magnesium is a rather useful element, for everyone no less! Are you in school? Have an iron-magnesium compound sharpener! It helps keep the blade sharp for you! Another useful thing about magnesium; it helps us survive! It helps us synthesize DNA and RNA, as well as helping structural bone development, so basically, no magnesium means that you might get terribly ill, with symptoms like muscle twitches or leg cramps. You might also experience personality changes or abnormal heart rhythm. Other symptoms include increased stress levels and a craving for salty things. Another interesting little tidbit is that the modern flash cameras started because of magnesium. In ye olde days, they would light magnesium, which emits a very bright flash of light, as it is rather reactive, and immediately cool it. For an example, which I would do myself if it wasn't so dangerous, watch the video at the bottom of the page.

Some compounds with Magnesium are rather interesting, one of them, magnesium oxide, is used as the active ingredient in many antacids. Another is Magnesium sulfate, used in fertilizers, and commonly known as Epsom salts. This works by enriching the soil, the same way it helps with skincare. Yet another compound of this good metal is magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. this is used in many cosmetics products, with a concentration of 10% to smoothen skin and make it healthier. Without magnesium, we wouldn't have supermodels the way we do, imagine a world without covergirl, or at least a not-so-easy-breezy beauty.

To extract magnesium, you can use electrolysis or silicothermia. Silicothermic is the only one I shall be explaining today. At a temperature of 1400 degrees Celsius, they use Ferrosilicon to melt magnesium oxide slag, then the metallic magnesium, evaporated upon formation, condenses again in the cooler areas, to be remelt and cast at a purity of 99.95%.

*There are no good magn


Magnesium, by Edward Willett


A Bohr model of magnesium.

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