096
MELTING POINT
BOILING POINT
DENSITY
Famous as the raw material for dry cell bat-
teries, manganese is a metal found both on
dry land and on the sea floor. But while man-
ganese batteries have been in use since the
late 19th century, they are gradually being
replaced by the alkali family of batteries
(though actually there isn’t much difference
between the materials used in these two
battery types). Manganese is also necessary
for our metabolism.
A WORKER OF OLD,
THE UNSUNG HERO OF THE
ELEMENTS
DISCOVERY YEAR: 1774
Transition
metal
Fe + Mn = a very
strong compound
Industrial
uses
Often used
in scientific
experiments
Manganese
dioxide
The cables on the
great Seto bridge
are made of
manganese steel.
Solid
H
2
O
2
O
2
MnO
2
097
Get the
lead
out!
Not a
chance.
Iron’s up
next.
Time for a
bathroom
break?
098
The discovery of iron was the turn-
ing point for all humankind, allowing us
to throw away our stone tools and set
out on the path to civilization. The first
people to use iron were the ancient Hit-
tites in 1500 BCE. After their kingdom
fell, the Hittite people spread across the
globe, taking their craft with them and
bringing a gradual but significant change
to people’s lives. Iron still accounts for
THE COGWHEEL OF DESTINY
THAT SET CIVILIZATION IN
MOTION
DISCOVERY YEAR: ANCIENT
Ships
Cars
Trains
Transition
metal
Mineral
Solid
Body
warmers
Tapes
099
MELTING POINT
BOILING POINT
DENSITY
Pots and
pans
roughly 90% of the world’s total metal
production, and since it is incredibly
abundant, easy to work with, strong, and
cheap, it will probably continue to be a
recipe for success far into the future. We
are even more fundamentally dependent
on iron, though, as the hemoglobin that
carries oxygen in our blood also con-
tains iron. It’s all around us, as well as
inside us.
There are just so many
things made of iron.
Knives
Scissors
The red in
blood
Earth’s
crust
Mantle
rock
Solid iron in
Earth’s inner
core
Liquid iron in
the outer core
Weapons
100
MELTING POINT
BOILING POINT
DENSITY
You probably know cobalt from its charming
signature color, cobalt blue, but did you know
that its name comes from the German word
kobold, which means goblin? Silver miners in
18th century Germany simply didn’t know
how to react when they encountered veins
of this ghastly blue metal that gave off toxic
fumes. Nowadays its magnetic and sensitive
properties make it ideal for use in computer
hard disks and many other items.
THE BLUE-CLAD DIGITAL
TECHNICIAN
DISCOVERY YEAR: 1737
Eye drops
No art
without
cobalt
Solid
Industrial
uses
Magnets
Transition
metal

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