One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The chemical element of atomic number 73, a hard silver-grey metal of the transition series.
Tantalum is rare in nature and usually occurs in association with niobium, which it resembles. Tantalum alloys have some specialized uses, and the metal was formerly used for electric light filaments
- ‘With the cell phone industry booming, the park's resources and wildlife are under massive strain from miners seeking colombo-tantalite, also known as coltan or tantalum.’
- ‘A second element, tantalum, is always present in these minerals along with niobium.’
- ‘The initial spark was a press release from the Tantalum-Niobium International Study Centre calling for a boycott of tantalum mined illegally in world heritage sites in the Congo.’
- ‘Many rare but technologically important elements, such as tantalum and uranium, continue to be mined from poor regions of the world under conditions that some consider pernicious and hazardous.’
- ‘Magnesium, titanium, zirconium, niobium, tantalum, molybdenum and tungsten may be soldered if they are plated with a solderable metal coating such as silver.’
Early 19th century: from Tantalus, with reference to its frustrating insolubility in acids.
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