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The Reactivity of A Metal and When it Was Discovered. Alia Al-Khater. Introduction.

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The Reactivity of A Metal and When it Was Discovered

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The reactivity of a metal and when it was discovered

The Reactivity of A Metal and When it Was Discovered

Alia Al-Khater



Although most metals are usually electropositive in nature and lose electrons in a chemical reaction they do not react with the same vigor or speed. Metals display different reactions towards different substances. The greater the ease with which an element loses its electrons and acquires a positive charge, the greater is its reactivity. Further, the greater the number of shells and lesser the number of valence electrons, the greater is the reactivity of the metal.

Reactivity series of metals

Reactivity Series of Metals

Discovery of metal

Discovery of Metal

Currently there are 86 known metals. Before the 19th century only 24 of these metals had been discovered andof these 24 metals, 12 were discovered in the 18th century. Therefore, from the discovery of the first metals - gold and copper until the end of the 17th century, some 7700 years, only 12 metals were known.

The 12 metals

The 12 Metals

  • Gold

  • Silver

  • Copper

  • Lead

  • Mercury

  • Iron

  • Tin

  • Platinum

  • Antimony

  • Bismuth

  • Zinc

  • Arsenic

Timeline of the discovery of different metals

Timeline of the Discovery of Different Metals

First discovery of metal

First Discovery of Metal

  • The first metal that was discovered was Gold and it has been used since 6000 BC.

  • Gold is effectively placed at the bottom of the reactivity series.

  • Gold has many special properties.

  • The properties and the facts about gold in the next slide will explain why gold is at the bottom of the reactivity series.

The reactivity of a metal and when it was discovered


  • Gold is Recyclable: Gold is almost indestructible which implies that it is immune to physical destruction of any kind and can be recycled and used as many times by the owner.

  • Gold is Soft: Gold considered easy to work with because it is relatively soft compared to other metals. Where hardness is desired, gold is mixed with other metals to form alloys. Gold is ductile and malleable due to which it can be relatively easily drawn into thin and long wires and can also be formed into sheets which are so thin that they allow the passage of light.

Gold continued

Gold (Continued)

  • Conductivity of Gold: Gold is one of the best conductors of electricity. Because of that the fact about gold is that it has many industrial uses. Gold is especially used where high conductivity and resistance to corrosion is needed, such as in mission critical electronic circuits. Among the industrial applications are in computer chip connectors, and circuits of motor vehicles, satellites and aircraft.

  • Gold is Highly Reflective: Since this metal completely reflects infrared rays, it is used widely for radiation reflection and is a good conductor of thermal energy.

Second discovery of metal

Second Discovery of Metal

  • Copper was the second metal that was discovered and it has been used since 4200 BC.

  • The first metallic tools and weapons were made from copper.

  • Copper is mainly used in tubing, pipes, wires, sheets, cookware, cutlery, electromagnets and components of coins.

  • Copper is placed at the bottom block of the reactivity series.

Metals of antiquity

Metals of Antiquity

  • What are they?

    - Metals of antiquity refers to the seven metals which humankind had identified and found use for in prehistoric times. These seven metals, gold, copper, silver, lead tin, iron, and mercury, are the seven metals upon which modern civilization.

Metals of antiquity continued

Metals of Antiquity (Continued)

  • Of these seven metals, five can be found in their native states (gold, silver, copper, iron, and mercury). The other two, tin and lead, must be smelted from ore; however, both smelt at low enough temperatures that a simple campfire is sufficiently hot to do so, at least with the ores that were available in ancient times.

Metals of antiquity continued part 2

Metals of Antiquity (Continued Part 2)

  • The seven metals of antiquity are all found in the lower level of the reactivity series except for iron which is in the middle level of the reactivity series.

18 th century

18th Century

  • The next 12 metals that were discovered are:

  • Cobalt (1735)

  • Nickel (1751)

  • Manganese (1774)

  • Molybdenum (1781)

  • Tellurium (1782)

  • Tungsten (1783)

  • Uranium (1789)

  • Zirconium (1789)

  • Titanium (1791)

  • Yttrium (1794)

  • Beryllium (1797)

  • Chromium (1797)

18 th century continued

18th Century (Continued)

  • Theses 12 metals all appear at an appropriate area in the reactivity series, mainly around the middle level.

  • Research has shown that the lower the reactivity of the metal, the earlier it was discover.

19 th century

19th Century

  • In the 19th century 41 metals were discovered.

  • These 41 metals include metals which are shown at the top of the reactivity series.

  • The metals that are shown at the top of the reactivity series are Potassium, Calcium, Sodium, Aluminum and Magnesium (5 of the metals that are highly reactive).



  • After reading all of this you should now understand that a metal that was reactive was bound to occur in a compound state. This would have made it harder for man to extract the metal from its ore. If the metal was highly reactive it would even become a harder challenge. But over the years scientists have came up with a solution using tools to make extracting a highly reactive metal from its ore easy.



  • "Reactivity Series." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 10 Nov. 2010.

  • "History of Metals." Department of Materials Science & Engineering. Web. 10 Nov. 2010. <>.

  • "The Reactivity Series Of Metals, Metals And Non-metals, Science Help |" - Online Tutoring, Homework Help for Math, Science, English from Best Online Tutor. Web. 10 Nov. 2010.

Bibliography continued

Bibliography (Continued)

4) "Histiry of Metals." METAL WEB NEWS. Web. 10 Nov. 2010. <>.

5) "Metals Timeline." Web. 10 Nov. 2010. <>.

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