Day 12: Interesting Facts About Magnesium
Atomic Symbol: Mg; Atomic Number: 12; Atomic Mass: 24.305
- Magnesium is the ninth most abundant element in the universe and the fourth most common element on Earth, composing 13% of the planet’s mass and a large fraction of planet’s mantle. Due to magnesium ion’s high solubility in water, it is the third most abundant element dissolved in seawater.
- Magnesium ions are essential to all living cells, where they play a major role in manipulating important biological polyphosphate compounds such as ATP, DNA, and RNA, thus, many enzymes require these ions to function. Magnesium is also the metallic ion at the center of chlorophyll.
- Magnesium is commonly utilized in jet-engine parts, rockets and missiles, luggage frames, portable power tools, and cameras and optical instruments, pyrotechnics, as a reducing agent in the preparation of uranium and other metals, and in the preparation of malleable cast iron in order to prevent corrosion.
- Magnesium is a highly flammable metal and, once ignited, it is difficult to extinguish, being able to burn in nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and water. This property was used in the firebombing of cities in World War II, with the only practical civil defense being to smother a burning flare under dry sand to exclude the atmosphere.
Image: A chunk of vapor-deposited magnesium crystals produced by the Pidgeon process at a refinery in China.