Origins of the Element
Names Derived from Mythology or Superstition
Arsenic (As = #33): Arsenikos
(Greek) means brave, male. The
alchemists related metals to gender. Copper objects were made more
masculine (harder and stronger) by adding arsenic as early as 2000
BC. Adsorption of Arsenic caused loss of life to many of the slave
miners. But the Greeks and Romans had a different concept of
Their Arsenic were sulfide ores, orpiment and sandarac
rather than the elemental metal. The first isolation of the metal
element is unknown. The German Dominican scholar and alchemist,
(1193-1280 at right→), in his book
described obtaining the metal by heating orpiment with soap. This
and all other metals were considered compounds until
(1743-1794) established a new definition for
vaguely mentioned in his 1658
Book of Minerals
Kobald, a troublesome and
worthless mineral found in large quantity in mines on the borders of Saxony and
Bohemia. Miners disliked it because of the labor of removing it and because it often
accompanied Arsenic which imperiled their health.
Cobalt (Co = #27): Kobold
(German) meant evil sprite. The Kobolts by German superstition delighted in destroying
the work of miners, causing them endless trouble. Miners prayed in churches for
deliverance from the power of these malicious spirits.
Bohemia, about the middle of the sixteenth century found that cobalt ore colored glass
and pottery more intensely blue than copper. Low grade Cobalt ore could be used for
bluing to counteract natural yellowing of laundry.
Cobalt metal. Brandt helped his father, an operator of a copper smelter and iron-works.
He studied chemistry and medicine with Boerhaave in Leyden and receiving the degree
of doctor of medicine at Reims. Returning home to Stockholm, he took charge of the
Bureau of Mines laboratory and later the Royal Mint. About 1741 he wrote:
are six kinds of metals, so I have also shown with reliable experiments.
.. that there are
also six kinds of half-metals: a new half-metal, namely Cobalt regulus
in addition to
Mercury, Bismuth, Zinc, and the reguluses of Antimony and Arsenic. He gave six ways
to distinguish Bismuth and Cobalt which were typically found in the same ores: