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niobium (Nb)

Term: niobium (Nb)
Literally meaning: “pertaining to Niobe”
Origin: Anc Greek
Niobe was a daughter of  Tantalus, the mortal son of Zeus and nymph Plouto. According Greek mythology Tantalus was the son of Zeus and king of Sipylos (Phrygia) untill he stole nectar and Ambrosia to take to his people (according Pidar) or he decided to test the gods’ observation by killing his son Pelops and serving him to them. His punishment was to be in Tartarus(underworld) thirsty and hungry forever. Whenever he tried to drink , although he had to stand knee deep in water, water flowed from away him. Over his head hanged fruit, but whenever he reached for it, the wind blew the fruit beyond his reach. Tantalus was the father of Niobe and Pelops. His daughter, Niobe, married with Theban king Amphion by whom she had fourteen children (seven daughters and seven sons). In a ceremony in honor of  Leto Niobe mocked Leto, who only had two children: god Apollo and  goddess Artemis. Leto in retaliation sent her children in order to slaughter all of Niobe’s children. At the sight of his dead sons, Amphion commited suicide. Then Niobe turned to stone and from the rock formed a stream from her ceaseless tears a symbol of eternal mourning.  


The element was discovered in 1801 by  Charles Hatchett who named it Columbio (Cb), the poetical name for America,  because it had been sent to England as a mineral sample from United States in 1734. The final name was given to the element in 1846 by German chemist Heinrich Rose (1795-1864) because he noticed that niobium properties were similar to tantalum. Swiss chemist De Marignac (1817-1894) was the first to prepare the metal in 1864 and the name niobium was adopted internationally in 1950.
Niobium is a chemical element with atomic number 41 and atomic mass 92.90638. It is a grey-white, soft and ductile metal in group 5 of the periodic table. Its physical and chemical properties resemble tantalum. Niobium is used for the production of high-temprature-resistant stainless steels. 

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