Fun Facts About Boron

Discovered in 1808 by French chemists Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac and Louis-Jaques Thenard, as well as independently in Britain by Sir H. Davy, boron stands as the fifth element on the atomic table. While the act of combining boric acid and potassium initially isolated boron, it is now most commonly produced through the heating of borax with carbon. This brown, crystalline element is not found free in nature by itself, although boron compounds, such as the mineral rasorite, have been present for thousands of years.

What follows are further facts about this incredibly common metalloid:

1.      Boron is placed within groups 13 of the Periodic table as an element with properties of both metals and non-metals.
2.      This element’s atomic number is 5; it holds 5 protons and electrons, as well as 6 neutrons. Its atomic weight is an estimated 10.811.
3.      Boron is considered a semiconductor.
4.      At room temperature, boron presents itself as a solid. If intending to melt it, it could only be done at 3,767 °F; if it were to be boiled, the needed temperature would be 7,232 °F.
5.      The term ‘boron’ was fashioned from the Arabic word buraq and the Persian word burah, meaning borax.
6.      ‘Allotropes’ is the term used to define the remarkable properties of boron is multiple physical forms.
7.      The absorption of neutrons is one of boron’s most profound abilities. This function allows the element to be of use in nuclear reactors and control rods.
8.      The most common natural form of boron, borax, is used in a variety of every-day products, such as laundry detergents, cosmetics, fire retardants, fertilizers, and enamel.
9.      Medically, in addition to deterring the onset of certain bone-deteriorating diseases such as osteoporosis, Boron also gives pause to the progress of arthritis by increasing serum estrogen levels and preserving the amount of calcium and magnesium in the body.
10.     There are a number of mines from which boron is procured, located in regions such as Turkey and parts of the USA.
11.     There is no well-researched information as to how this element affects humans. A few instances of short term exposure reveals that boron may in fact cause irritation of the eye, the respiratory tract, and throat, although all of these symptoms disappear when exposure dissipates. There are no known long-term health consequences.
12.     Sources of boron include the weathering of boron-containing rocks, geothermal activity, seawater, and even from human actions, such as sewage disposal and the use of borate-containing herbicides.
13.     Boron is present in a variety of legumes, fruits, and nuts.
14.     Boron nitride is considered the second hardest known substance.
15.     The cost of this element per gram is $5.
16.     The first reference to a boron compound was found in the 9th century work of the Persian alchemist Rhazes.
17.     Thenard and Gay Lussac’s discovery was a consequence of Napoleon Bonaparte’s concern for France’s role in the scientific realm. In light of England’s successes in metal work, the emperor was prompted to purchase better equipment and encourage research.