March 23, 1821: Bauxite Discovered

Compared to gold, silver, lead and copper — metals that people have extracted, refined and used for millennia — aluminum is a relative newcomer. Pure aluminum was more valuable than gold when it was first discovered in the early 19th century. It graced the fine china of Napoleon III and was displayed next to the French Crown Jewels at the 1855 Paris Exhibition. Today, aluminum is cheap and plentiful, used in everyday products ranging from soda cans to jets. The transformation of the metal from unknown material to rare metal to ubiquity in fewer than two centuries is due to two pivotal discoveries: an abundant aluminum ore — bauxite — and a process of refining this ore using electricity.
 

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The Washington Monument's Apex

An aluminum pinnacle has graced the Washington Monument since 1884, but subsequent modifications have changed the look of the point. 

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Nate Burgess

Burgess is a writer for EARTH.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - 06:00

Nate Burgess

Burgess is a writer for EARTH.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - 06:00