Chapter 5: Elements in Times of War

By: Hunter Carswell

Summary

Throughout times of war people have used many methods in order to kill the opposing side. Almost everyone that ever fought in war has used some type of chemicals. Things like smoke ranging to agent orange. Scientists bonding certain elements together to make deadly fumes.

Chapter 5 talks about elements in times of war. It talks about the terrible effects of certain gases on the skin and lungs. Every element that is mentioned in this chapter is very deadly either by themselves or bonded with another. The elements that were discussed in chapter 5 include bromine, osmium, chlorine, molybdenum, tungsten, scandium, tantalum, and niobium

Bromine

Atomic Number: 35

Atomic weight: 79.904

Classification: Halogen

Electron Configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d10 4s2 4p5

Period 4, Group 17


  • Carl Lowig was the first to produce this right before he went to college in his lab. Today, bromine is commonly found by treating bines from wells in Michigan and Arkansas with chlorine. Because of his school schedule he was unable to finish his work and another scientist, Antoine-Jerome Balard, was credited with the discovery (Jefferson Lab). Balard named it after the Greek word for stench, bromo (Jefferson Lab).
  • Bromine is primarily used for water purification, flame retardant materials and in some cases developing photography (Jefferson Lab).In Chapter 5 the book talks about the French launching bromine shells at advancing German troops in 1914 (Chap. 5, pg. 82)
Bromine is mentioned in the early stages of Chapter 5. On page 82 it talks about in 1914 when the French used bromine shell casings against the German troops (pg 82). It talks about when the Germans "violated" the Hague pact and used bromine shells (pg 85). Bromine is a very dangerous element. Throughout the wars bromine is used in many things in compounds.

Osmium

Atomic Number: 76

Atomic Weight: 190.23

Classification: Transition Metal

Electron Configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d10 4s2 4p6 4d10 5s2 5p6 4f14 5d6 6s2

Period 6, Group 8


  • Osmium was discovered with another element by Smithson Tenant in 1803. When dissolving platinum a black ore was left behind resulting in Osmium (Jefferson Lab). Today, Osmium is recovered from platinum and nickel ore (Jefferson Lab).
  • Powdered Osmium releases osmium tetroxide which is very harmful to breathe (Jefferson Lab).
  • Named after the greek word osme for smell (Jefferson Lab).
Osmium is only mentioned once in chapter 5. When Haber captured nitrogen he needed osmium to add (pg 83).

Chlorine

Atomic Number: 17

Atomic Weight: 35.453

Classification: Halogen

Electron Configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6

Period 3, Group 17


  • Chlorine is never found in Nature.
  • Produced by Carl Wilhelm Scheele when he combined mineral pyrolusite and hydrochloric acid in 1774.
  • Named after greek word for greenish yellow, chloros.
  • Chlorine is mainly used today to treat swimming pool water and make water safe to drink.
Chapter 5 mentions chlorine a couple of times. It mostly talks about what chlorine does to peoples skin. Chlorine turns the skin green, yellow, and black and is very poisonous (pg 86). Chlorine can be used to purify water too.

Molybdemum

Atomic Number: 42

Atomic Weight: 95.96

Classification: Transition Metals

Electron Configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d10 4s2 4p6 4d5 5s1

Period 5, Group 6


  • Molybdenum was discovered by Carl Wilhelm Scheele in a mineral known as molybdenite. It forms in high-temperature environments.
  • Used to make electrodes for electric furnaces (Jefferson Lab)
  • Found Primarily in molybdenite, wulfenite, and powellite.
  • Named after greek word for lead, molybdos (Jefferson Lab).
Chapter 5 mentions Molybdenum a couple of times. Molybdenum and Tungsten were used as hard metals during wars. They were used in making guns and making hard metal even harder (pg 88).

Tungsten

Atomic Number: 74

Atomic Weight: 183.84

Classification: Transition Metal

Electron Configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d10 4s2 4p6 4d10 4f14 5s2 5p6 5d4 6s2

Period 6, Group 6


  • Named after swedish words tung sten, meaning heavy stone (Jefferson Lab)
  • Tungsten was discovered by Juan Jose and his brother Fausto Elhuyar (Jefferson Lab). It was found in wolframite.
  • Is obtained from wolframite and sheelite, today. Tungsten is used in filaments in incandescent light bulbs.

In chapter 5 tungsten is mentioned a couple of times. The Nazi's favored the use of Tungsten. Molybdenum was put out by Tungsten (pg 91).

Scandium

Atomic Number: 21

Atomic Weight: 44.955

Classification: Transition Metal

Electron Configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d1 4s2

Period 4, Group 3


  • Named after Scandanavia (Jefferson Lab).
  • Discovered by Lars Fredrick Nilson while attempting to produce a sample of ytterbia.
  • Some scandium is used with aluminum is sporting equipment such as aluminum baseball bats (Jefferson Lab)
  • Normally obtained through refining uranium.

Scandium was used by the Soviet Union in 1980 to make lightweight helicopter (pg 94). Scandium can be used in things like bikes and baseball bats.

Tantalum

Atomic Number: 73

Atomic Weight: 180.947

Classification: Transition Metal

Electron Configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d1 4s2 4p6 4d10 4f14 5s2 5p6 5d3 6s2

Period 6, Group 5

  • Named after the greek mythological figure, Tantalus (Jefferson Lab).
  • Discovered by Anders Gustaf Ekenburg inside of the mineral ytterby.
  • Used for high power resistors and capacitors.
Chapter 5 talks about tantalum and niobium at the same time. Today, tantalum is obtained from the minerals columbite, tantalite, and euxenite. Tantalum fueled the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1990's.

Niobium

Atomic Number: 41

Atomic Weight: 92.906

Classification: Transition Metal

Electron Configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d1 4s2 4p6 4d4 5s1

Period 5, Group 5

  • Named after the greek mythological figure, Niobe.
  • There is no certain discovery of Niobium. It is very similar to Tantalum and was confused with it during the discovery.
  • Primarily obtained from the minerals columbite and pyrochlore.

In chapter 5, niobium is talked about the same way tantalum is. It fueled the war along with tantalum in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 90's.

Citation

  • Kean, Sam. (2011) The Disapearing spoon :and other true tells of madness, love, and the history of the world from the periodic table of the elements New York :Back Bay Books
  • Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facilty - Office of Science Education. Jefferson Lab, Science Education, retrieved from education.jlab.org