1801 Niobium

The book of science

Tom Sharp

LondonCharles Hatchett elements


Atomic number 41

Technical stuff

The confusion over columbium persisted for sixty-five years and original name continues to be used in the United States. Columbium was named after columbite, named in turn after Christopher Columbus, because it was collected by John Winthrop, the first governer of Virginia.

Heinrich Rose named niobium after Niobe, the daughter of Tantalus in Greek mythology, because of the niobium’s relationship with tantalum, which Anders Gustaf Ekeberg named after Tantalus because the oxide of tantlum was insoluble in acid and metaphorically unable, as Tantalus in Hades, to quench its thirst.

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