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Metal

element, compound, or alloy that is a


good conductor of both electricity and
heat

Some chemical elements are called


metals. They are the majority of
elements in the periodic table. These
elements usually have the following
properties:

1. They can conduct electricity and


heat.
2. They can be formed easily.
3. They have a shiny appearance.
4. They have a high melting point.

Most metals are solid at room


temperature, but this does not have to be
the case. Mercury is liquid. Alloys are
mixtures, where at least one part of the
mixture is a metal. Examples of metals
are aluminium, copper, iron, tin, gold,
lead, silver, titanium, uranium, and zinc.
Well-known alloys include bronze and
steel.

The study of metals is called metallurgy.

The ways that metals are


alike (properties of metals)
Most metals are hard, shiny, they feel
heavy and they melt only when they are
heated at very high temperatures . Lumps
of metal will make a bell-like sound when
they are hit with something heavy (they
are sonorous). Heat and electricity can
easily pass through a metal (it is
conductive). A lump of metal can be
beaten into a thin sheet (it is malleable)
or can be pulled into thin wires (it is
ductile). Metal is hard to pull apart (it has
a high tensile strength) or smash (it has
a high compressive strength). If you push
on a long, thin piece of metal, it will bend,
not break (it is elastic). Except for
cesium, copper, and gold, metals have a
neutral, silvery color.
Not all metals have these properties.
Mercury, for instance, is liquid at room
temperature, Lead, is very soft, and heat
and electricity do not pass through iron
as well as they do through copper.

Use of metals

A bridge in Russia made of metal, probably iron or


steel.

Metals are very useful to people. They


are used to make tools because they can
be strong and easy to shape. Iron and
steel have been used to make bridges,
buildings, or ships.

Some metals are used to make items like


coins because they are hard and will not
wear away quickly. For example, copper
(which is shiny and red in color),
aluminium (which is shiny and white),
gold (which is yellow and shiny), and
silver and nickel (also white and shiny).

Some metals, like steel, can be made


sharp and stay sharp, so they can be
used to make knives, axes or razors.

Rare metals with high value, like gold,


silver and platinum are often used to
make jewellery. Metals are also used to
make fasteners and screws. Pots used
for cooking can be made from copper,
aluminium, steel or iron. Lead is very
heavy and dense and can be used as
ballast in boats to stop them from
turning over, or to protect people from
ionizing radiation.

Alloys of metals
Many things that are made of metals
may, in fact, be made of mixtures of at
least one metal with either other metals,
or with non-metals. These mixtures are
called alloys. Some common alloys are:

Steel (iron and carbon) (Carbon is a


non-metal)
Brass (copper and zinc)
Bronze (copper and tin)
Duralumin (aluminium and copper)
Gunmetal (copper, tin, and zinc)

People first began making things from


metal over 9000 years ago, when they
discovered how to get copper from its
[]ore. They then learned how to make a
harder alloy, bronze, by adding tin to the
copper. About 3000 years ago, they
discovered iron. By adding small
amounts of carbon to iron, they found
that they could make a particularly useful
alloy – steel.

Metals in chemistry
In chemistry, metal is a word for a group
of chemical elements that have certain
properties. It is easy for the atoms of a
metal to lose an electron and become
positive ions, or cations. In this way,
metals are not like the other two kinds of
elements - the nonmetals and the
metalloids. Most elements on the
periodic table are metals.

On the periodic table, we can draw a


zigzag line from the element boron
(symbol B) to the element polonium
(symbol Po). The elements that this line
passes through are the metalloids. The
elements that are above and to the right
of this line are the nonmetals. The rest of
the elements are the metals.

Most of the properties of metals are due


to the fact that the atoms in the metal do
not hold onto their electrons very tightly.
Each atom is separated from the others
by a thin layer of valence electrons.

However, some metals are different. An


example is the metal sodium. It is soft,
melts at a low temperature, and is so
light, it floats on water. People should not
try this though, because another property
of sodium is that it explodes when it
touches water.
Most metals are chemically stable, and
do not react easily but some do react.
The reactive ones are the alkali metals
like sodium (symbol Na) and the alkaline
earth metals like calcium (symbol Ca).
When metals do react, they often react
with oxygen. The oxides of metals are
basic. The oxides of nonmetals are
acidic.

Compounds, which have metal atoms


combined with other atoms to make
molecules, are probably the most
common substances on Earth. For
example, common salt is a compound of
sodium.
Metals in history

A lump of pure copper found as native copper

The use of metals is said to be the thing


that makes people different from
animals. Before they used metals, people
made tools from stones, wood, and
animal bones. This is now called the
Stone Age.

No-one knows when the first metal was


found and used. It was probably what is
called native copper, which is sometimes
found in large lumps on the ground.
People learned to make this into copper
tools and other things, although, for a
metal, it is quite soft. They learned
smelting to get copper from common
ores. When copper was melted over fire,
people learned how to make an alloy
called bronze, which is much harder and
stronger than copper. People made
knives and weapons from bronze. This
time in human history, after about
3300 BC is often called the Bronze Age,
that is, the time of bronze tools and
weapons.
Around the year 1200 BC some people
learned to make iron tools and weapons.
These were even harder and stronger
than bronze and this was an advantage
in war. The time of iron tools and
weapons is now called the Iron Age .
Metals have been very important in
human history and civilization. Iron and
steel were important in the making of
machines. Gold and silver were used as
money in order to allow people to trade,
that is, exchange goods and services
over long distances.

Metals in astronomy
In astronomy, a metal is any element
other than hydrogen or helium. This is
because these two elements (and
sometimes lithium) are the only ones
that form outside stars. In the sky, a
spectrometer can see the signs of
metals and show the astronomer the
metals in a star.

Related pages
Metallurgy
Money
Mining
Gold Rush
History
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