22 Jul 2019

Magnesium - loved by everyone and everything

From Elemental, 8:00 am on 22 July 2019

Magnesium is a crowd favourite, loved by everything from plants to people suffering from constipation, as well as boy-racers.

Magnesium (symbol Mg, atomic number 12), is an essential element for most living things. In plants, a Mg²⁺ ion is at the heart of the chlorophyll molecule, putting the element at the base of the food chain.

In the human body, it is involved in the synthesis of ATP, DNA and RNA.

Magnesium ribbon burns with a brilliant white light and continues burning even after the oxygen in the air is used up. It can burn in an atmosphere of carbon dioxide and even in water.

It is often alloyed with aluminium to make a strong, light alloy that is used in mag wheels as well as bikes, cars and aircraft. These alloys are able to be cast, resulting in items that are very strong, says 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.

Professor Allan Blackman is at Auckland University of Technology.