Wikijunior:The Elements/Uranium

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Shows the position of Uranium on the periodic chart.
Uranium's symbol on the Periodic Table

What does it look, feel, taste, or smell like?[edit]

Uranium ore
Uranium was used in the "Little Boy": the first nuclear bomb used in warfare

Uranium is silvery-white and metallic. Uranium can appear to be slightly blue.

How was it discovered?[edit]

Uranium was discovered in 1798 by Martin Klaproth, a German chemist. Klaproth found uranium while he was analyzing samples of pitchblende, a variety of the mineral uranite, from the Joachimsal silver mines in the Kingdom of Bohemia (now located in the present-day Czech Republic). It was discovered to be radioactive by Henri Becquerel in 1896, and until the discovery that thorium was radioactive two years later, in 1898, it was thought to be the only radioactive element.

Where did its name come from?[edit]

Uranium is named after the planet Uranus, which had been discovered some years before, in 1781, by William Herschel.

Did You Know?

  • Uranium is the highest-numbered element, with a number of 92, to be found naturally in significant quantities on Earth.
  • One ton of natural uranium can create over 40 million kilowatt hours of electricity. This is the same amount of energy that would be created by burning 16,000 tons of coal or the contents of 80,000 barrels of oil.
  • Native Americans living on the Colorado Plateau used the uranium-bearing mineral carnotite to make bright yellow war paint.

Where is it found?[edit]

Uranium is found worldwide in soil and rocks. Australia has the largest known reserves.

What are its uses?[edit]

A nuclear power plant.

Uranium is commonly used in nuclear reactors to make electricity, as well as in nuclear weapons.

Uranium is also used to test the age of very old rocks.

Uranium was used to color paints and glazes, although such use is rare today.

Uranium can also be used to color glass yellow; such uranium glass, or "vaseline glass," glows green under ultraviolet light (also known as a black light.)

Because it is so heavy, uranium is used in armor-piercing artillery bullets.

Is it dangerous?[edit]

Pure uranium can burst into flames.

Compounds with uranium in them are toxic.

Uranium is radioactive, and can lead to cancer.

References[edit]