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Sergey Venezky
STORIES ON METALS

MERCURY

"SILVER WATER"

The exception to the rule. - Distant relatives. - Hammer of mercury. - Surprisingly the weightlifters. - Why Ivan the terrible was terrible? - In the role of witness. - Hobbies of the English king. - The tragedy on "Triumph". - It is forbidden by law. - Reputation restored. - Rome buys mercury. - The"Tricks" Of Genghis Khan. - Inscription in the Palace of the Achaemenids. - Fashionable craze. - Monarchs build the laboratory. - Tricks medieval charlatans. - Possible options. - Underground experiments. - Under the hot hand. - Dodgy Mercury. - Creation Of Montferrand. - Joy is premature. - Green lipstick. - What is happening near zero? - Ferdinand II recommends alcohol. - Difficult tests. - Start in life.

More than two hundred years ago, M.V. Lomonosov gave a simple and clear definition of "metal". He wrote: "the Metal body is hard, malleable, shiny". Indeed, iron, aluminum, copper, gold, silver, lead, tin and other metals, with which we face are fully consistent with this formulation. But as they say, that there are no rules without exceptions. In nature there are about eighty metals, and only one of them under normal conditions is in a liquid state. Of course, you guessed that we are talking about mercury.

For example, mercury and its antipode of tungsten can be sure, as a wide range of properties of metals. If the tungsten melts at 3410°C (for comparison, the flame temperature in the working space of the furnace even in focus combustion does not exceed 2000°C), the mercury when the fierce frost continues to remain liquid, solidify only at the region it was 38.9°C. As you can see, although mercury and tungsten belong to one big family of metals other than distant relatives not call them.

For the first time the mercury was frozen in 1759. In the solid state it is a silvery-bluish metal, resembling in appearance the lead. If mercury be poured into a form having the shape of a hammer, and then quickly cooled to solidification, for example, liquid air, the mercury hammer can be successfully hammer a nail into a Board, but you should hurry, because the instrument is very short-lived and can melt in his eyes.

Mercury is the heaviest of all known liquids: density of 13.6 grams per cubic centimeter. This means that a litre bottle of mercury weighs more than a bucket of water. If any weightlifter had to lower his steel rod is not on the platform, and into a tank of mercury, this heavy equipment is not drowned in it, and would wiggle on the surface of the liquid metal, like a cork in water because iron is much easier mercury.

People familiar with mercury since prehistoric times. It is mentioned in the writings of Aristotle, Theophrastus, Pliny the Elder, Vitruvius and other ancient scientists. Latin name of the metal "hydrargyrum", which means "silver water". That the doctor had in those days to deal with mercury, it is not surprising: even in ancient times were well-known for its medicinal properties. However, sometimes the use of mercury for medicinal purposes has been a very original character. In the literature, for example, when the volvulus patient was infused into the stomach a small amount of mercury (200 - 250g). According to the ancient doctors offering this method of treatment, mercury due to its weight and mobility had traveled the intricacies of guts and spread his weight their perekrestivshis part. You can imagine what the results would lead such experiments.

In our days volvulus eliminate other, more reliable ways, but different mercury compounds, and is now widely used in medicine: the sublimate has disinfectant properties; calomel is laxative; Mercosul used as a diuretic; some mercury ointment use in skin and other diseases.

However, mercury can have on the body is not only beneficial, but also detrimental effects: many connections and pair this item sometimes cause acute poisoning or gradually destroy health and the human psyche. Doctors have found that mercury intoxication usually leads to unnecessary outbursts of anger. This gave rise to historians propose the following hypothesis: as Tsar Ivan the terrible, dropsical pain in the joints, has long been used mercury ointments, they were the cause of his unbridled temper, frequent angry attacks, in one of which the king had killed his son. Symptoms of mercury poisoning were seen in other features of the autocrat - constant hallucinations, suspiciousness, not leaving his feeling of near disaster. Pathologic-anatomic study of the king's remains confirmed the validity of this point of view: in the bones turned out to be the high content of mercury.

Mercury played a fatal role in the fate of other European monarchs. In the XVI century Sweden rules the king Erich XIV. In 1568 he was dethroned by his brother John III, who sought to seize power at any cost. In some historical documents, extant, contains hints that Erich XIV was poisoned. Swedish researchers decided to test whether this is so. But how to recreate the picture of events that occurred more than four centuries ago? Thanks to modern methods of analysis, based on the achievements of nuclear physics of the impossible became possible. Because the remains of the king survived, his hair was subjected to careful study. And what was found? The content of mercury in hair were significantly higher than the norm and, thus, the version of the poisoning Erich XIV received convincing scientific evidence.

As established historians who have studied the archives of the XVII century, mercury poisoning was the cause of death and the English king Charles II of the Stuarts. However, in this case, the fault was the victim. Fascinated alchemical ideas, king equipped at the court of the laboratory, where he spent all his free from public Affairs and hunting time, Prokaeva and driving the mercury, who was the alchemists very popular. Scientists were able to find documents that described the symptoms of the disease Charles II: irritability, convulsions, chronic uremia. These diseases are caused by prolonged exposure to mercury vapors. To save the king failed, although the court healers have tried all the most reliable means of contemporary medicine: cupping, quinine, and even attachment to the head of hot irons.

Known fact: in 1810 the English ship "Triumph" over two hundred people were poisoned by mercury, which resulted from the barrel.

It is not surprising that in the USSR and many other countries, some production associated with the use of mercury and its compounds, for example the manufacture of mercury paints, is strictly prohibited by law. In cases where no mercury not do, carry out various preventive measures to protect the health of workers from its harmful effects.

Dogs easily find the main mercury mineral cinnabarNature is not rich in mercury. Sometimes it occurs in the native state in the form of fine droplets. The main mercury mineral cinnabar. It is a beautiful stone, covered with crimson spots of blood. With cinnabar is associated curious episode. You already know that recently geologists have conducted experiments on the use of dogs to search for minerals. When a group of shepherds took a course, they made a sort of exam: among the many samples they had to find cinnabar. Dogs quickly discovered this mineral, but not rest on their laurels: they all, as if agreed, took over cinnabar and even pink calcite. Geologists first condescendingly laughed, but then decided to find out the cause of this common errors examined. And what was it? Inside pink calcite were blotches of cinnabar - the reputation of a four-legged "geologists" was restored.

World's largest mercury mine of Almaden is in Spain, which until recently accounted for about 80% of world production of mercury. Pliny the Elder mentions in his writings that Rome was bought in Spain every year several tons of mercury.

One of the oldest in our country of mercury deposits - Mykytivske - located in the Donbass. Here at different depths (up to 20 meters) discovered ancient mine workings, where you can find tools - stone hammers.

Even more ancient Khaidarkan mine ("the Great mine") is located in the Fergana valley (Kyrgyzstan), which also preserved many traces of ancient works: large production, metal wedges, lamps, clay retort roasting cinnabar, large dumps generated Ogarkov. Archaeological excavations show that in the Ferghana valley mercury was mined for many centuries and only in the XIII-XIV centuries after Genghis Khan and his successors destroyed here handicraft shopping centers, and the population moved to the nomadic way of life, mining in Ferghana was discontinued.

In Central Asia was developed and other deposits of mercury. For example, the inscription in the Palace of the Persian kings of the Achaemenid (VI-IV century BC) in Shushan say that cinnabar, which in those days was used mainly as a dye, brought here from the Zeravshan mountains, located on the territory of the modern republics of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Apparently, mercury was mined here in the middle of the first Millennium B.C.

Heavy and harmful was before the work of miners. In Kipling has these lines: "I have the worst death will prefer to work on mercury mines, where teeth crumble in your mouth...". Still in the maze of mines, where in ancient times was extracted mercury, you can find many skeletons. The expensive price of thousands of lives - had to pay to the mountains for red stone, as if bathed with the blood of those who tried to penetrate to the mercury treasures.

Significantly increased mercury mining in the middle ages - the period of widespread fascination with alchemy. The interest to the mercury of the alchemists, due to the fact that one of their theories, mercury, sulphur and salt were raised to the rank of "original elements". Mercury was attributed to "motherly": "...with heat ice dissolves into the water, then he's out of the water; metals dissolve in mercury, then mercury is a primary material of these metals.

So, alchemists, armed with such a solid scientific theory, it remained only to find the "philosopher's stone" (which could turn mercury into gold) and, rolling up our sleeves to get to work. But here's the problem: the search for the "philosopher's stone" was delayed despite the fact that in their successful outcome were interested in such influential persons as the English king Henry VI, the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II and other European monarchs who created himself at the court of major alchemical laboratory.

Monarchs too fond of alchemy

However, some fruits of these studies still brought: court alchemist of Henry VI have found that rubbed mercury copper acquires a silvery hue, and the king promptly introduced this discovery in the life: he released under the guise silver large quantity of copper coins, covered with mercury, primarynav solid amount.

From time to time in different countries appeared persons who allegedly possessed the secret of the "philosopher's stone". Sometimes they were mistaken, scientists, and more - the charlatans who knew many ways to "get" artificial gold. One of them was as follows. In the eyes of those present alchemist was stirring his in the crucible of molten lead or mercury wooden stick, which were previously hidden pieces of gold. This is partly the gold dissolved in the molten metal. After the "experiment" in the crucible, of course, it was possible to detect traces of gold, which testified, but rather gave false testimony about the wonderful transformation. However, rumors about these magicians sooner or later reached the ruler of the country, and then they either had to admit the deception, or to organize at the court of the mass production of gold, and here a wooden stick was a bad assistant.

Caught in a lie alchemist usually executed as of counterfeiters, on a gilded gallows, clothing, studded with sequins. However, there were other ways of execution. In 1575, for example, the Duke of Luxembourg burned alive in an iron cage female alchemist Mary Tigerin for refusing to tell him part of the "philosopher's stone", which she understandably didn't know, but claimed its trouble otherwise.

After some time alchemy was devoted to curse the Catholic Church and officially banned in England, France and other countries. But underground alchemical experiments did not stop, and continued execution. Under the hot hand got a French chemist Jean Barilla, who was executed only for the fact that he studied in his laboratory chemical properties of the elements. His experiments seemed suspicious, and the fate of the scientist was immediately solved.

In extant alchemical recipes mercury is often called mercury. This name was given to the metal in Ancient Rome for the ability of the droplets of mercury to run fast on a smooth surface than it, according to the Romans, reminded clever and resourceful God mercury, the patron of Commerce. By the way, and other elements in alchemical literature were encrypted: gold was marked by the symbol of the Sun, iron - Mars, copper - Venus, etc. So the alchemists hide their knowledge from outsiders who were not familiar with their symbolism.

The ability of mercury to dissolve many metals, forming a so-called amalgam, was spotted before our era. Amalgam has helped English scientist Humphry Davy was the first in history to highlight in free form barium, strontium, magnesium: he first received an amalgam of these elements, and then separated from the mercury.

Amalgam used to cover the copper Church domes thin layer of gold. This method was gold plated, for example, the magnificent dome of St. Isaac's Cathedral, created in 1818-1858 years in St. Petersburg, designed by Auguste de Montferrand.

More than 100 kilograms of gold was applied amalgamated copper plates, of which made a giant, with a diameter of about 26 meters, the dome of this Cathedral. The surface of the copper sheets were thoroughly cleaned from grease, polished and polished and then covered amalgam - solution of gold in mercury. After that, the sheets were heated at a special brazier up until the mercury is evaporated, and the sheet thus remained thin (several microns) film of gold. But a light bluish-green smoke vapors of mercury, who seemed to have vanished without a trace, he managed to poison workers who were engaged in gold. And though the rules then safety gold enjoyed a glass caps, this "clothing" could not save from poisoning. People died in terrible agony. According to contemporaries, the gilding of the dome claimed the lives of tens of workers.

With amalgams are not only sad facts, but funny stories. It is said that in the beginning of our century, one researcher tried to get the gold from mercury, influencing her a pair of powerful electrical discharges. A lot of time and labour spent it, and finally had success in mercury, the first traces of gold. The joy of the experimenter knew no bounds. What was the disappointment when it turned out that the gold came in mercury... the gold rim of his own points. Adjusting from time to time spectacles hands, which were small droplets of mercury, scientist endured gold in the form of amalgam in the study mercury.

Amalgam and is now used in some cases for gilding metal products (of course, it goes without victims), in the manufacture of mirrors, dental fact, in laboratory practice. Of mercury salts explosive acid (explosive mercury) produce explosives.

Widely used in the technique of mercury in its pure form. In the chemical industry, for example, it is involved in the production of chlorine, caustic soda, synthetic acetic acid. Very reliable and durable mercury valves used for rectifying alternating current. In automatic and measuring equipment used mercury switches, which provide instant and closing the electrical circuit. Mercury-quartz lamps allow you to get intense ultraviolet radiation. In medicine, these lamps are used for decontamination of air in operating rooms, for irradiation of the human body for therapeutic purposes.

Sparse mercury vapor with the addition of argon-filled glass tube fluorescent lamps. Before the war an attempt was made to use mercury lamps for lighting Gorky street in Moscow. But soon these lamps had to be abandoned because they radiate deathly pale light gave people unattractive ashy hue, and lipstick, for example, from the red turned to green. In the future, managed to develop special structures - phosphors, which, being deposited on the inner surface of the lamp, allow you to receive light of different colors, in particular white light, very close to daylight.

Mercury was involved in one of the most important scientific discoveries of our century - the discovery of the phenomenon of superconductivity. In 1911, the Dutch physicist and chemist Heike kamerlingh-Onnes, studying the properties of various substances at low temperatures, found that near absolute zero, more precisely when 4,1, mercury completely ceases to provide resistance to an electric current. Two years later, the scientist was awarded the Nobel prize.

So highly were noted in 1922 scientific merits of the Czech chemist Jaroslav Heyrovskeho, opened the polarographic method of chemical analysis in which the mercury plays a role.

Mercury is the main character in many physical instruments, manometers, barometers, vacuum pumps. But perhaps the most common mercury devices is the thermometers.

Ferdinand II, who proposed to use in thermometers alcohol, apparently, was very well acquainted with him!In the XVII century, when the first devices for measuring the temperature of the working fluid in them was water, but in the cold it froze, the glass broken and the thermometers were failing. Tuscan Duke Ferdinand II, apparently quite familiar with wine alcohol, suggested to use it instead of water - thermometers have become more reliable, but because the quality of alcohol was not always the same, the instrument readings were observed noticeable differences. The first who began to measure the temperature using mercury, was a French physicist Amonton. A few years later, in 1724, German physicist Fahrenheit created my mercury thermometer with a scale that is still used in England and the United States.

In our time, mercury thermometers are the most diverse purposes. Depends on the design of the thermometer, in particular the thickness of the capillary, which moves the mercury. The thin capillary medical thermometer is only 0.04 mm . To this thin column of mercury could be seen with the naked eye, capillary doing in the shape of a triangular magnifying prism, and on her back put "screen" strip of white enamel.

Because mercury should not fall until you shake, you need some place the narrow channel, but without the narrow trihedron narrow anymore. So to it from the bottom you solder a small cylindrical tube and do the like.

Used mercury thermometers should differ particularly clean because the slightest impurities can significantly distort the readings. This is why mercury is subjected to special treatment, washed, distil and only after that fill his glass capillaries.

By the way, despite the fragility of glass, it is still essential material. To use instead, for example, transparent plastic cannot: it is like a sieve, skips detrimental to mercury oxygen.

Filling the capillary with mercury is a very important operation: the receiver should not be exposed to the air. Earlier, when this process was performed manually, masters had several weeks heat up in turn one, then the other end is filled with mercury glass tubes, ridding it of air bubbles. Now with this case quickly and successfully handle the machine.

Before you get to the place of his future work, thermometers are still a lot of tests and inspections. Alas, some of them waiting for the sad sentence: "Marriage". Life path that loser immediately ends up in the waste basket. But it is possible not to doubt the accuracy of those thermometers that have passed all the exams and got some sort of GCSE - factory mark. Impartial a drop of mercury enclosed in a glass capillary, will serve science, industry, agriculture, medicine.

During its long history the production of mercury has passed a long way. Once mercury ore was burned in clay pots, and evaporating while the mercury condensed on the green leaves of trees, set about pots in the brick chambers. Now factories are automatic machines for continuous receipt of mercury. Desktop just press the remote control button, and tons of mercury concentrate to fill the hopper huge electric furnace. It at a temperature of hundreds of degrees, the mercury begins to evaporate from concentrate. The pair then cooled, and the formed mercury enters into a special tank.

Further, the metal is subjected to final cleaning and poured into steel cylinders containing 35 pounds . Highly pure (refined) mercury highest quality poured into porcelain cups - 5 pounds each. In this form, it arrives at the warehouse of finished products.

Here "silver water" gets a start in life.

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