Metal Facts

  • Molten gold is poured into moulds at a smelting plant. When the bullion cools, it forms bars that are 99.99% pure. These are stored in strong vaults.
  • Mercury, sometimes known as quicksilver, expands by a relatively large amount when warmed, and so is widely used to measure temperature.
  • 75% of all known elements are metals.
  • Most metals ring when hit. A typical metal is hard but malleable, which means it can be hammered into thin sheets.
  • Metals are usually shiny. They conduct both heat and electricity very well.
  • Metals do not form separate molecules. Instead atoms of metal knit together with metallic bonds (see chemical bonds) to form lattice structures.
  • The electron shells of all metals are less than half-full. In a chemical reaction metals give up their electrons to a non-metal.
  • Most metals occur naturally in the ground only in rocks called ores.
  • Gold, copper, mercury, platinum, silver and a few other rare metals occur naturally in their pure form.
  • Mercury is the only metal that is liquid at normal temperatures. It melts at –38.87°C.
  • A few atoms of the new metal ununquadium (atomic number 114) were made in January 1999.