What do catalytic converters, stained glass and third-degree burns have in common? This week's element is cerium, which has the symbol Ce and the atomic number 58. Like its prototype, lanthanum, cerium is a rare earth element, although it is not very rare at all, also similar to lanthanum. In fact, cerium is the most abundant of the rare earth elements, making up about 0.0046% of the Earth's crust by weight. As you can see from the featured image above, instead of showing you yet another picture of a soft, lustrous silvery-grey metal that is ductile, I am showing you one of the minerals that contains cerium. This mineral is allanite. In this image, allanite is the lustrous grey crystals embedded in the smoky quartz crystals. Cerium gets its name from the asteroid, ceres, which had been discovered two years prior to this element's discovery. The asteroid got its...
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