Originally posted 11/02/2020

Today’s element is copper, associated with Venus, the planet and the Roman goddess of love. You might think this would have been better posted in three days’ time but today is International Day of Women and Girls in Science and you will recognise the symbol as that used in biology to denote females. 

It is also the alchemical symbol for copper and is thought to have been derived either from the looking-glass of Venus, or from a sistrum – an Egyptian musical instrument associated with the goddess Isis, who came to be linked with Venus. Either way, it has come to represent the female sex or gender and so seems appropriate for today.

Copper gives me my first complete group – Group 11, consisting of copper, silver, gold and roentgenium. The first three of these occur naturally in elemental form so have been known since ancient times. In contrast, roentgenium was first synthesised in 1994 and little is known about its chemistry as it is expensive to produce, is unstable and decays quickly.

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