The name ruthenium comes from the Latin name for Russia, ruthenia, as this is where it was first discovered. Ruthenium was the final one of the six members of the platinum group to be discovered.
Russian chemist Gottfried Osann thought he discovered three new platinum metals in 1828, which he named polinium, pluranium and ruthenium. However, in 1944, another Russian chemist named Karl Klaus proved that Osann had only discovered a very impure form of ruthenium. As he was the first to isolate the element in its pure form, he is generally given credit for the discovery. However, he still chose to use the name thought up by Osann due to the fact that the original platinum ores the ruthenium was derived from were mined in Russia.
Ruthenium is only found with other platinum metals in a few places in the world, including the Ural Mountains in Russia. Specimens are also found in nickel mining operations in Ontario, Canada and in South African pyroxinite deposits.
Ruthenium is a very hard, silvery-white colored metal that quickly and sometimes violently oxidizes when exposed to air. Although it is extremely brittle, this metal is often used as a hardener that is added to other platinum metals. It is also sometimes added to titanium to make it more corrosion resistant.