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What the name means: Tungsten is an element with two names. The name tungsten derives from the Swedish words tung, meaning "heavy" and sten, meaning "stone". The name wolfram is of German origin and derives from the Latin lupi spuma that was translated into German as wolf ralm which means "wolf's drool".
Who identified tungsten?: It the 18th century tin was difficult to extract because of a white powder that seemed to stick to it and break it up. This white powder was given the name wolframite since it clung onto tin the way that a wolf clings to a sheep. An Irish chemist, Peter Woulfe, analysed wolframite in 1779 and concluded that it might well contain an unknown element.
In 1781 in Sweden, Carl Scheele was analysing heavy, white mineral called tungsten. Scheele concluded that tungsten probably contained a new element. The white mineral became known as scheelite.
Two years later, in 1783, two Spanish chemists, Fausto de Elhuyar and his brother Juan José de Elhuyar, took up the study of both wolframite and scheelite. (Juan José had studied in Sweden and had visited Carl Scheele.) The brothers found that the suspected "new element" in both minerals was, in fact, the same new metal. They called this metal wolfran (symbol W).
There was much disagreement about the naming of the new metal. In some parts of Europe wolfran was used and in other parts of Europe it was known as tungsten. In 1951 the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) decided that the name would be wolframium. This pleased no-one. Wolfram and tungsten continue to be used and the definitive name still has to be decided. It is interesting that in Sweden, where the name tungsten originated, the metal is known as volfram.
STP = standard temperature and pressure.
About tungsten: Tungsten is a white, brittle metal. It is used in alloys, strengthening steel, for example. It is also extremely resistant to high temperatures.
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