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Nickel? Nickel Who?

Nickel is no ytterbium. It has neither the nebulosity of meitnerium nor the mystery of ununhexium. Even other comparatively boring elements like titanium are more exciting than nickel. While titanium can be found grazing the cheeks of famous athletes in razor blade commercials, nickel coins can be found clanking around in dryers all over America along with some desiccated lint and maybe a few bobby pins. The staggeringly uninteresting aluminum is also more captivating than nickel. For example, in the 19th century, at the height of Napoleon III’s reign, aluminum cutlery was rumored to have been given to the emperor’s most honored dinner guests because of its perceived rarity, while the riff-raff vassalry had to get by with gold utensils. Historically, nickel, like a chump, was more often used by accident than intentionally because it was frequently confused with silver, or it was included in alloys of other, more exciting metals by mistake. Nickel? Nickel who? Continue reading

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