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Is mercury a liquid or a metal and why?

MATERIAL WORLD: Arla Bennett, aged 8 from Oakura School, Taranaki asked this question

Mercury is both a liquid at room temperature (as it has a very low melting point of -39C) and a metal.

We tend to assume metals are all solids but they are not. The alkali metals are further examples of relatively low melting point metals, with values decreasing from lithium (180C), sodium (98C), potassium (63C), rubidium (39C) and caesium (29C) - the last of these being low enough for caesium to be a liquid on a hot summer day.

Check out more interesting information on mercury at the Royal Society of Chemistry's website: http://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/element/80/mercury.

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Professor Sally Brooker answered this question. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society Te Apārangi, which means she’s one of the top experts in her field. She is based at the University of Otago's chemistry department. See her profile.