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Chemists unlock secrets of molten salts

A chemist at the University of Cincinnati has come up with a novel way to study the thermodynamic properties of molten salts, which are used in many nuclear and solar energy applications.

A more concise way to synthesize tetrodotoxin

A small international team of researchers has developed a way to synthesize tetrodotoxin (TTX) using far fewer steps than prior methods. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes their process and ...

VY Canis Majoris is dying, and astronomers are watching

Three-dimensional models of astronomical objects can be ridiculously complex. They can range from black holes that light doesn't even escape to the literal size of the universe and everything in between. But not every object ...

Modeling electrolyte transport in water-rich exoplanets

Oceans on water-rich exoplanets may be enriched with electrolytes, including salts such as sodium chloride, suggests a modeling study published in Nature Communications. The research proposes electrolytes can be transported ...

How electric fish were able to evolve electric organs

Electric organs help electric fish, such as the electric eel, do all sorts of amazing things: They send and receive signals that are akin to bird songs, helping them to recognize other electric fish by species, sex and even ...

EPA rule would finally ban asbestos, carcinogen still in use

The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday proposed a rule to finally ban asbestos, a carcinogen that is still used in some chlorine bleach, brake pads and other products and kills thousands of Americans every year.

Road salts linked to high sodium levels in tap water

When snowstorms hit, deicing agents such as road salts and brine help keep streets and walkways open. However, some deicers release sodium and chloride into the surrounding environment. Links between elevated sodium intake ...

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Sodium (pronounced /ˈsoʊdiəm/) is a metallic element with a symbol Na (from Latin natrium or Arabic natrun) and atomic number 11. It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal and is a member of the alkali metals within "group 1" (formerly known as ‘group IA’). It has only one stable isotope, 23Na.

Elemental sodium was first isolated by Sir Humphry Davy in 1806 by passing an electric current through molten sodium hydroxide. Elemental sodium does not occur naturally on Earth, but quickly oxidizes in air and is violently reactive with water, so it must be stored in an inert medium, such as a liquid hydrocarbon. The free metal is used for some chemical synthesis and heat transfer applications.

Sodium ion is soluble in water in nearly all of its compounds, and is thus present in great quantities in the Earth's oceans and other stagnant bodies of water. In these bodies it is mostly counterbalanced by the chloride ion, causing evaporated ocean water solids to consist mostly of sodium chloride, or common table salt. Sodium ion is also a component of many minerals.

Sodium is an essential element for all animal life and for some plant species. In animals, sodium ions are used in opposition to potassium ions, to allow the organism to build up an electrostatic charge on cell membranes, and thus allow transmission of nerve impulses when the charge is allowed to dissipate by a moving wave of voltage change. Sodium is thus classified as a “dietary inorganic macro-mineral” for animals. Sodium's relative rarity on land is due to its solubility in water, thus causing it to be leached into bodies of long-standing water by rainfall. Such is its relatively large requirement in animals, in contrast to its relative scarcity in many inland soils, that herbivorous land animals have developed a special taste receptor for sodium ion.

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