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What the name means: Tantalum derives its name from Greek mythology. The element was named after King Tantalos who had been foolish enough to upset Zeus. When he died and went to Hades, Tantalos was made to stand up to his neck in water. Every time he tried to drink the water, it sank away from his mouth. Since the compound tantalus oxide does not react with water, it was named after poor Tantalos who could never drink the water around him.
Who identified tantalum?: In 1802, a Finnish chemist called Anders Gustaf Ekeberg identified a new element in minerals from Ytterby in Sweden and Kimito in Finland. He called this new element tantalum. However, seven years later, William Hyde Wollaston announced that tantalum was the same element as the one identified by Charles Hatchett in 1801, that Hatchett had called columbium. This conclusion was accepted for the next forty two years.
Wollaston's conclusion was proved incorrect by Heinrich Rose in 1846. He showed that there were two different elements involved. He kept Ekeberg's name tantalum, but called the other element niobium since, in Greek mythology, Niobe was Tantalos's daughter.
STP = standard temperature and pressure.
About tantalum: Tantalum is a dark-looking metal that does not react with water or with most acids. It is used to make resistant alloys.
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