Mercury is the only metal which is a liquid at room temperature — it only becomes a solid when the temperature is below -39°C. Nicknamed ‘quicksilver’ because of the unusual way in which it flows, mercury is also one of the most poisonous elements.
Mercury is particularly sensitive to changes in temperature — expanding when it is heated and contracting as it cools. This makes mercury ideal for use in thermometers and barometers. Metal alloys containing mercury are known as ‘amalgams’. Amalgams are often used to make fluorescent lights because they withstand high temperatures and are long-lasting.
Underwater thermometer detects changes in temperature caused by a geothermal vent.
Powerful mercury vapour lamps are used to light up sports stadiums.
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