Illustration of Europium

1890-1901 Europium

The book of science

Tom Sharp

ParisPaul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran, Eugène-Anatole Demarçay elements Illustration of Europium


William Crookes in London and Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran in Paris had noted its spectral lines but Eugène-Anatole Demarçay got credit for discovering europium because he had more special characters in his name. Seriously, Lecoq already had a sample of it contaminating his samarium, which he had previously discovered. But Demarçay isolated the contamination and so he got to name it after Europe, thinking that Europe was not just a fiction.

Atomic number 63

This rare rare earth can make a red phosphor and a blue one.


Chemistry isn’t random. Europium atoms are similar in size and charge to the calcium contained in plagioclase, so if a magma crystalizes into plagioclase then it captures more europium. Biology seems more random. Who’s to say whether the second child will die of old age or cancer? Will he inherit his father’s strength or his mother’s good looks?

Europe is a continent if enough people agree to call it one, and Britain is not part of it if enough people say it is not.

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