Guess the Chemist (17)

  • ChemPubSoc Europe Logo
  • DOI: 10.1002/chemv.201300059
  • Author: ChemViews
  • Published Date: 07 May 2013
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
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This chemist isolated and identified a new element. The element was contained within a sample of the mineral Siberian red lead. The reason behind the mineral’s red color was at the time unknown. This chemist boiled the sample in a solution of potassium carbonate. This resulted in the precipitation of lead carbonate from a yellow solution.

The yellow solution was investigated by this chemist who was convinced it contained a new metal. This person found that upon addition of lead salts to the yellow solution, a yellow precipitate formed. However, addition of mercury salts to the yellow solution formed a red precipitate. Addition of tin(II) chloride resulted in the solution changing color from yellow to red.


This chemist isolated the metal by evaporating the yellow solution to dryness and burning the residue to obtain the oxide. The oxide was heated in a charcoal furnace then cooled slowly to give metallic needles, which were probably a mixture of the metallic element and its carbide as it is a strong carbide former.


The colorful chemistry of this new element led to friends and contemporaries of this chemist suggesting he name it after the Greek word for color, which he did.


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