Selenium is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Se. It has the atomic number of 34 and an atomic mass of 78.96. Most selenium is produced as a by-product of refining other elements or during the production of sulfuric acid. It is solid at room temperature and can exist in many forms. The most common of these forms is gray selenium, but red selenium is also quite common. It is toxic in high doses, but, in the correct doses, it is an essential nutrient for animals. It also has many other uses including in glass production. If you have ever wondered who discovered this important element, continue reading to find out.
Who discovered selenium?
Selenium was discovered by Jöns Jakob Berzelius in 1817 as a byproduct of the production of sulfuric acid. Jöns Jakob Berzelius and his partner J. G. Ghan were part-owners of a sulfuric acid plant and were studying the chemicals used to make the acid. They found an element that they thought was tellurium, but, after taking it to his laboratory to study, Jöns Jakob Berzelius realized he had found a new element. He named it selenium, from the Greek word for moon.
Later the element came to the attention of the medical profession because of its toxicity to both humans and animals. It wasn’t until 1957 that it was discovered to be an essential trace element in the body.