6 May 2019

Copper - essential, in moderation

From Elemental, 8:00 am on 6 May 2019

The metal copper is an important constituent of the human body – in the right amount. It’s involved in enzymes, cellular respiration, and the synthesis of hormones and melanin, but too much or too little is bad for us.

Copper is also why octopuses have blue blood.

It can be found in nature as the pure metal (no refining needed) and the name copper originally meant ‘metal from Cyprus.’ Its chemical symbol is Cu and its atomic number is 29.

On its own it is too soft to be very useful, but combined with either tin or zinc it creates the useful alloys bronze and brass, respectively.

It has traditionally been used as a coinage metal. It is an excellent conductor, which is why it was used in copper phone lines and power lines.

Insights into copper, with Professor Allan Blackman from AUT.

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Photo: RNZ

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The Elemental podcast is celebrating 150 years since the periodic table was first published by Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev.

Find out more about events during the United Nation’s International Year of the Periodic Table.

Nights with Bryan Crump is also celebrating the chemical elements during their Friday night Sonic Tonic and Element of the Week.

Professor Allan Blackman is at Auckland University of Technology.