An A to Z Quiz of Chemical Elements (Part 1)

Published: 23rd December 2013 09:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd December 2013 09:46 AM   |  A+A-

A. Element 18: This gas is the third most common gas in the Earth’s atmosphere. Its name is derived from the Greek word meaning “lazy” in reference to the fact that it undergoes almost no chemical reactions. But perhaps the most exciting use of this element these days is in astronomy.

B. Element 4: This is a relatively rare element in the universe. The James Webb Space Telescope will have 18 hexagonal sections of this alkaline earth metal for its mirrors. It never occurs naturally in a pure state, but it is found in rare and valuable gemstones, emeralds and aquamarines.

C. Element 55: Two German chemists, Robert Bunsen and Gustav Kirchhoff, discovered this element in 1860 by flame spectroscopy. In 1967, a specific frequency from the emission spectrum of an isotope of this element was chosen to be used in the definition of the second by the International System of Units. It is widely used in atomic clocks.

D. Element 66: This was first identified in 1886 by Paul Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran. Its name is derived from Greek meaning ‘hard to get’. It is used for its high thermal neutron absorption cross-section in making control rods in nuclear reactors.

E. Element 68: This rare earth element was discovered by Carl Gustaf Mosander in 1843 and named with two other elements after the village of Ytterby in Sweden. The oxide of this element adds a pink hue to glasses and porcelain enamel glazes

F. Element 9: In 1886, French chemist Henri Moissan succeeded in isolating this halogen using low temperature electrolysis. Its largest market use is in refrigerant gases. Although it has no metabolic role in mammals the ion form, when directly applied to teeth, reduces decay; for this reason it is used in toothpaste.

G. Element 79: This metal with an attractive yellow lustre has been a valuable and highly sought-after precious metal for coinage, jewellery, and other arts since long before recorded history. Most of the Earth’s supply of this element probably lies at its core.

H. Element 2: It is the second lightest element and is the second most abundant element in the observable universe. It was first detected in 1868 by French astronomer Jules Janssen and is named after the Greek god of the Sun. The gas is used in cryogenics and if inhaled, can make your voice sound funny

I. Element 53: Its name is from Greek meaning violet or purple, due to the colour of its elemental vapour. It is the heaviest essential element utilised by life in biological functions and its deficiency leads to lack of thyroid hormone production. Deficiency of this affects about two billion people and is the leading preventable cause of intellectual disabilities.

J. This is the only letter of the alphabet that does not find a representation in the chemical symbols of any element in the Periodic Table!

K. Element 19: The English name of this element refers to the method by which it was obtained — leaching the ash of burnt wood or tree leaves and evaporating the solution in a pot. It is important for nerve conduction in animals. Its nitrate form known as saltpetre was also used for making gunpowder and fireworks.

L. Element 82: The largest preindustrial user of this element was the Roman Empire. It was used for plumbing (a word that gets its name from the element!). Yellow, orange and red pigments made from this element were used in paint glazes but have been discontinued due of the dangers of poisoning.

M. Element 12: The name of this element originates from a Greek district called Thessaly. The metal is obtained mainly by electrolysis of salts from seawater. It is used in the aerospace industry.


A. Argon

B. Beryllium

C. Caesium

D. Dysprosium

E. Erbium

F. Fluorine

G. Gold

H Helium

I Iodine


K Potassium (Kalium)

L Lead

M Magnesium

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