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Is mercury a liquid or solid metal?  Science responds!

Is mercury a liquid or solid metal? Science responds!

Most solid metals, such as iron, aluminum, copper, and lead, It can reach a melting point of thousands of degrees Celsius; Since then, they are considered liquids. For example, tungsten needs to reach a remarkably high temperature of 3422°C to turn into a liquid. However, there are minerals on Earth that can melt in very cold climates.

Some substances with a relatively low melting point turn into liquids at temperatures that are considered freezing even for humans and animals. In the case of cesium, the melting point is reached at only 28.4°C. but, There is one metal that is completely liquid at room temperature, with a melting point of -38°C: mercury.

Simplest answer Is that mercury can exist in solid and liquid states, and this depends on the climate in which the substance is found. For example, if it is found in any natural area around Brazil, it will always be in a liquid state. But if you are in Russia, the metal will turn solid during the harsh winter – depending on the temperature, but there are cities that reach temperatures below -42 degrees Celsius.

According to Craig Carter, professor of materials science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the specific melting point of each metal is related to the bonds of the atoms that make up these materials.

Although it is not a good conductor of heat, mercury is a good conductor of electricity.source: Getty Images

He uses the game of baseball to explain what happens inside these minerals. For example, if a pitcher hits the ball, it will be thrown away in one direction and speed; but, If there are several microspheres, they will move in different directions, but at the same speed. This happens due to kinetic energy.

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“The metal is full of bonds between the atoms of which it is composed. What determines the melting point of a substance has to do with the energy associated with the bonds. The formation of bonds converts part of the kinetic energy into binding energy. The bond energy in mercury is very low,” Carter said in an official MIT publication. “And it tends to become disorganized at low temperatures.”

Mercury is a liquid and a solid

Some of the metal's kinetic energy is converted into bond energy, but bond energy is so low in mercury that not much movement between atoms is required. In other words, the distances between the atoms of the substance decrease when placed in an environment below -38 degrees Celsius, so they stop moving and the mercury turns into a solid.

Water also passes through liquid, solid and gaseous states. The metal will become liquid when it reaches higher temperaturesAs atoms become more disorganized – this chaos tends to be favored, causing metals to become liquid. In cold climates, atoms are more organized and therefore in a solid state.

Mercury's neighbors in the periodic table, gold and thallium, typically reach their melting point at 1,000 and 300 degrees Celsius, respectively.Mercury's neighbors in the periodic table, gold and thallium, typically reach their melting point at 1,000 and 300 degrees Celsius, respectively.source: Getty Images

“Liquids are more unstructured than solids, so at lower temperatures, solids tend to be favored. If you want to process materials, you need to know how metals behave at different temperatures. Before the advent of composite resin fillers,” Carter adds. “Dentists were filling cavities with a substance that had a very low melting point.”

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Melting point It is not the same for all minerals on Earth; If you mix different metals and create a molten alloy, the melting point will also change and the behavior of the material will change. then, Although mercury is liquid at -38°C, if mixed with silver, tin, or copper, the substance can remain solid at normal temperatures.

In addition to mercury, Scientists point out that bromine also has good melting point resistance; It melts at -7.2 °C – however, bromine is a non-metallic element of the halogen group.

Two other transuranic elements, called copernicium and flurvium, may also be liquid at room temperature on Earth. Neither exists naturally on the planet, but can be produced artificially.

Did you like the content? So, stay tuned for more scientific curiosities here at TecMundo. If you wish, take the opportunity to discover how the periodic table came to be.