Summary: Discover how magnesium got its name and the man who discovered it.
Tags: How did magnesium get its name, who discovered magnesium, Joseph Black, magnesium element
Magnesium was named for a region in Greece called Magnesia, which has an abundant supply of magnesium.
More Info: Magnesium is an element that is part of a group known as the alkaline earth metals that make up Group 2 on the Periodic Table of Elements. Magnesium's chemical symbol is Mg, and it does not occur naturally as an element in the earth's crust, but combined with other elements including oxygen and chlorine.
Magnesium the Element
Magnesium is the eighth most plentiful element in the earth's crust and the third most common dissolved in the world's seas in the form of magnesium chloride. People have known about and used magnesium for centuries. Ancient Greeks used magnesium for easing migraine headaches and as healing salts. Modern people use magnesium compounds and alloys in fireworks, to line ovens and furnaces and in medicine. Epsom salts is a popular magnesium compound.
Joseph Black Experiments with Magnesium
Joseph Black, an 18th century Scottish doctor studied and experimented with magnesium compounds, but he never discovered how to split them into pure magnesium. In 1808, Humphry Davy, an English chemist, finally isolated pure magnesium from its compounds by passing an electric current through magnesium oxide. He named his newly isolated element magnium, but that name caused some confusion. Another element, manganese also came from the same area in Greece, so Humphry Davy decided to rename his newly extracted element Magnesium instead of magnium. He wanted to be sure that everyone could tell his discovery, magnesium, from manganese!