What is Lead? - Chemical Element
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What is Lead?


Lead is the heaviest atom that is still stable, with 82 protons and 125 neutrons, just a little heavier than mercury. Unlike many other metals, lead does not conduct electricity well.

All of the lead in the universe came originally from inside stars.

Because lead has so much mass, people use it for weights and for bullets. The large mass gives it a lot of momentum. Lead is also very soft and doesn't corrode (rust) very much, so people use it for building, for instance to seal joints in roofs so the water doesn't get in. And people use lead to shield you from radioactivity, because the radioactive particles can't get through the big lead atoms. That's what's inside the heavy aprons they put on you at the dentist before taking x-rays, to protect the rest of your body from the radiation.

Learn by Doing - Lead Fishing Weights
More about Lead and Lead Poisoning

Bibliography and Further Reading about Lead:

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Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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