has also been known as quicksilver and hydrargyrum. The symbol for the metal mercury was sometimes the same as the astrological symbol for the planet Mercury. The element could be represented by a stylized snake or serpent. Alchemists would heat elemental mercury with nitric acid to prepare mercuric oxide. The reaction produced a thick red vapor which hovered over the surface of the solution, while the mercuric oxide precipitated and fell to the bottom of the liquid in the form of bright red crystals. Mercury was believed to transcend the liquid and solid states. The belief carried over into other areas, as mercury was thought to transcend life/death and heaven/earth.
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