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What does it look like?
Platinum is a heavy metal that is grayish-white.
It has a melting point of one thousand seven hundred sixty-eight degrees Celsius. This is hotter that a Bunsen burner flame. Heating platinum to this temperature makes it glow a reddish-orange color. Heating it up even more, to three thousand eight hundred twenty-five degrees Celsius, will turn it into a glowing orange gas.
How was it discovered?
It was first discovered by South Americans and used by pre-Columbian Indians. It was taken to Europe in the 1750s.
Where did its name come from?
Its name came from the Spanish word platina (meaning "little silver").
Where is it found?
Platinum is found in South America and Russia. It is obtained as a by-product of nickel and copper mining and processing.
What are its uses?
Platinum is used in jewelry, laboratory equipment, electical contacts, and dentistry. It is also used in the catalytic converter inside cars.
Is it dangerous?
Yes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, short-term exposure to platinum salts "may cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat" and long-term exposure "may cause both respiratory and skin allergies."