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Who discovered lanthanum?

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Quick Answer

Lanthanum was discovered in 1839 by a Swedish chemist named Carl Gustaf Mosander. He also discovered the elements erbium and terbium. The name lanthanum originates from the Greek word "lanthaneis," which means "to lie hidden."

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Full Answer

Mosander was looking for impurities in cerium when he found lanthanum. Classified as a metal, lanthanum is part of the lanthanide group. This rare-earth metal has the atomic number 57 and the symbol La. It is used to make carbon arc lights, and a form of it is used in camera lenses. This silver-white element is soft and ductile. It is highly reactive for a rare-earth metal and oxidizes in the air quickly.

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