Elemental: Barium

A periodic guide to the periodic table

By Richard Luck, December 23, 2011

Barium elemental symbol

Atomic number: 56

Symbol: Ba (as in Baracus)

Discovered: In 1808 by legendary lamp inventor Sir Humphrey Davy when he became the first person to isolate the element which is so reactive it doesn't exist in nature in its, er, natural form

What it looks like: A soft, silvery grey metal. Don't they all?

What it is used for: Barium isotopes have been hugely useful in detecting cancers and stomach ulcers

You might not know, but it's in:
Fireworks, particularly those with a greenish hue

What it does: Reacts with oxygen to a quite ridiculous extent. Barium is so reactive, in fact, that it has to be stored in oil. Like sardines. And Peter Andre

In addition: When you start your car of a morning, the ignition is most likely fashioned from an alloy of barium and nickel

Ba Baracus and Nancy Reagan

Barium Baracas. And Nancy Reagan. On his knee. At Christmas. For which he appears to have given her an action figure of himself. (Alternative caption: WTF?)

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