MadSci Network: Science History

Re: What is the origin of the name Titanium

Date: Wed Apr 9 17:43:17 2003
Posted By: Eric Maass, Director, semiconductors / communication products
Area of science: Science History
ID: 1049913428.Sh

Here are the sites where I found the origin of the name Titanium:

The name, Titanium, come from the Titans in Greek Mythology - in which 
the Titans were the first sons of the earth. 

Titanium was discovered by William  Gregor in 1791 and was named by 
Martin Heinrich Klaproth four years later. Here is his explanation for 
choosing the name:

"Whenever no name can be found for a new fossil which indicates its 
peculiar and characteristic properties (in which situation I find myself at 
present) I think it best to choose such a denomination as means nothing 
of itself, and thus can give no rise to any erroneous ideas. (Lavoisier had 
suggested similar precautions for naming new elements.) In 
consequence of this, as I did in the case of Uranium, I shall borrow the 
name for this metallic substance from mythology, and in particular from 
the Titans, the first sons of the earth. I therefore call this new metallic 
genus Titanium." "

Nonetheless, with its unusual strength,  the metal Titanium does seem to 
fit its name.

 It was nearly a hundred years later (1887) when impure titanium was first 
prepared by Nilson and Pettersson. 

Titanium is the ninth most abundant element in the earth's crust and is  
found in meteorites,  in the sun, in the ash of coal, in star sapphires and 
rubies (it is TiO2 that gives them their asterism - a highly valued 6 ray 
"star" effect seen in some sapphires and rubies when viewed with a 
single light source such as a pen-light),  in plants and even in the human 

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