Magnesium

1755,1808

Magnesium

The book of science

Tom Sharp


Glasgow, LondonJoseph Black, Humphry Davy elements

Magnesium

Atomic number 12

Stuff that burns


Joseph Black discovered carbon dioxide, which he called fixed air or just air. He wrote, “It is therefore probable, that, had we also a method of separating the fixed alkali from an acid, without, at the same time, saturating it with air, we should then obtain it in a caustic form; but I am not acquainted with an instance of this separation in chemistry.” It took another 53 years and the invention of the electric battery for Davy to use electrolysis to separate the metal from magnesium oxide.

The invention of magnesium flash powder in 1887 let Jacob Riis photograph the dark side of New York City.

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