Bismuth stone is probably known as the main ingredient in stomach ache remedies such as Pepto-Bismol. Despite being a common mineral across the world, there are a lot of facts about bismuth which are still unknown to many.
- Around 1500, the element bismuth was already present in some scientific treatises. The Swiss scientist Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim (1493-1541), probably better known under his Latinized name of Paracelsus, mentioned over the world “Bisemutum”. He said that the Latin word came from the German term “wissmut”. The word “wissmut” was used because in Saxony, around St. Georges, the mineral was “extracted”, “in the fields” which means “white material” and this is supported by the fact that bismuth is a bright metal of white colour.
- Until recently, bismuth was considered the heaviest element that still had a stable nucleus. However, in 2003, researchers at the Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale in Orsay, France, found that bismuth does decay into thallium, although it has an extremely long half-life at about 20 billion years. However, Lead is now the heaviest stable element.
- Of all metals, bismuth has the highest electrical resistance, the lowest thermo conductivity, and the highest Hall effect. No other element has a higher level of diamagnetism than Bismuth. Diamagnetism is the ability of an object to create its own magnetic field opposing the magnetic field of another source.
- The largest bismuth producing countries are China, Peru, Mexico, and Belgium. In 2013, the US Geological Survey estimated the global world refined bismuth production to be about 17,000 metric tons. Of this, Chinese production accounted for approximately 90 percent. With more than 70 bismuth mines, China also accounts for the vast majority of global bismuth reserves.
When liquid bismuth freezes, it expands rather than contracts because it forms a crystalline structure similar to water. Four other metals expand when they freeze, silicon, gallium, antimony, and germanium.
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