BBC World Service

Mercury: "The quixotic bad boy of the periodic table"

Marketplace Contributor Dec 26, 2013
HTML EMBED:
COPY
BBC World Service

Mercury: "The quixotic bad boy of the periodic table"

Marketplace Contributor Dec 26, 2013
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Now that all of the packages have been opened, folks in parts of the country that enjoyed a white Christmas may be staring at their thermometers hoping for some relief from winter’s bite — begging for a rise in the mercury.

Mercury: The element that countless children have abused by putting a thermometer against the bedside lamp is not only used to tell us the temperature. It has some real industrial uses as well. 

Our every-now-and-then contributor from the BBC, Justin Rowlatt, is working on a series called Elementary Business, all about the actual chemical elements that make the gobal economy work.

And he says that Hg, as its referred to on the table of the elements, has been fascinating people since the beginning of time.

“It has an extroardinary relationship with gold. It’s used by artisanal miners, the guys you see panning and sloshing for gold in rivers, to purify gold. Mercury is one of the few elements that combines with gold. It creates a solution with gold and what you can do then is burn the mercury off and you’re left with a residue of pure gold.”

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.