Science was always a fascinating subject in school, mainly because it’s directly applicable to life in general. Everything we do every day involves science of some kind, and this is why it matters so much. Now, whether or not you enjoyed science, or were good at it, we’re fairly certain you haven’t memorized the periodic table. As such, there may well be elements that you have limited knowledge about.
Cobalt is one of the most interesting chemical elements and one that so many people know close to nothing about. But, it’s an element that can actually be found in plenty of everyday objects that we use and encounter without realizing it. These are some of the interesting facts you never knew about cobalt.
Pure cobalt can’t be found on Earth
Hold on, you say. Cobalt can’t be found on Earth? But what about the fact you find it in batteries, in minerals, or even in the ground? While it’s true that cobalt can be found on Earth, it’s not actually pure cobalt. The cobalt we have here is always combined with other minerals and elements like nickel, iron, and copper. Cobalt is usually found as a result of mining for other metals, in particular, copper.
It has a blue hue
Though it has the appearance of a burnished gray color when it is finally purified, cobalt is actually best known for its rich blue hue. And people have been using it for this very thing for a good number of years. In fact, even as far back as the Bronze Age, it is believed the Persian’s used cobalt to dye their neck beads with that beautiful blue color. The Egyptians and Chinese were also famed for using cobalt compounds to make blue glass. So it’s clear that cobalt was discovered and used for many years before it actually got its name – people just weren’t aware of what it was.
Today we use it for magnets
Magnets are a wonderful invention, and a hugely important part of modern science, in both a learning and research capacity. Cobalt remains highly magnetic, even at extreme temperatures, and this makes it an essential element for the powerful magnets needed in hard drives and generators. It can also help to create superalloys, materials often used crucially in jet engines. As you can see, cobalt has a lot of uses and is a pretty important and versatile element.
It can become hugely important in the industry
There is speculation that, in the future, cobalt could well end up replacing precious metals such as platinum and iridium in the world of industry. These metals historically make good catalysts and play an important role in adhesives and pharmaceuticals. However, these metals are not cheap or easy to get hold of, and they can also be toxic to humans. Cobalt is looking more and more like the right kind of alternative.
These are just some of the awesome things we bet you never knew about cobalt. It’s one of the most fascinating elements and has proven useful and versatile over the years. Though we never learned much about it in school, this should not be an excuse to discount its importance as an element.