Chemical Element: beryllium

(Modern Latin: chemical element; from Latin, beryllus, and Greek, beryllos, gem; metal)

Chemical-Element Information

Symbol: Be
Atomic number: 4
Year discovered: 1798

Discovered by: Nicolas Louis Vauquelin (1763-1829), a French chemist.

  • Emeralds and beryl were both known to early Egyptians but it was not realized until the end of the 18th century that they are the same mineral, now called beryllium aluminum (aluminium) silicate.
  • The element was recognized by Nicolas Louis Vauquelin in 1798 in beryl and emeralds.
  • The metal was isolated much later in 1828 by Friederich Wöhler and independently by A. B. Bussy.
  • The low atomic weight of beryllium makes it useful for windows of X-ray tubes because they readily pass through them.
  • Date line, March 30, 1999- DEADLY DUST? A published report claims a material used to make U.S. defense equipment is giving workers a deadly lung disease. The rare metal beryllium is lighter than aluminum and more rigid than steel, but The Toledo Blade (Ohio) says a 22-month investigation found about 1,200 Americans have contracted a potentially fatal lung disease and hundreds have died after inhaling the metal’s dust. From the United Press International (UPI).

  • Name in other languages:

    French: beryllium

    German: Beryllium

    Italian: berillio

    Spanish: berilio

    Information about other elements may be seen at this Chemical Elements List.

    A special unit about words that include chemo-, chem- may be seen here.