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November 21st is Hieronymus Theodor Richter's birthday. Richter was a German chemist who discovered the element indium with Ferdinand Reich. They discovered the element using the relatively new technique of spectroscopy. When a substance is heated, the light it emits can be passed through a prism to separate individual bands of color that are unique to each element. They isolated a substance that turned out to be a new element that gave off a vivid indigo spectral line and named it indium.

Indium is a shiny, silver-white metal with element number 49. It is a very soft metal that when bent emits a 'cry' that is a high pitched squeak when bent. It is commonly used in semiconductor electronics, mirrors and as a coating for high performance bearings. It's most common use today is in liquid crystal displays and touchscreens.

Find out more about Richter and what else occurred on this day in science history.


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