Yttrium is a chemical element with atomic number 39. It is a silvery-metallic transition metal chemically similar to the lanthanoids and has historically been classified as a rare-earth element. Yttrium is almost always found combined with the lanthanoids in rare-earth minerals and is never found in nature as a free element. Its only stable isotope, 89Y, is also its only naturally occurring isotope. In 1787, Carl Axel Arrhenius found a new mineral near Ytterby in Sweden and named it ytterbite, after the village. Johan Gadolin discovered yttrium's oxide in Arrhenius' sample in 1789, and Anders Gustaf Ekeberg named the new oxide yttria. Elemental yttrium was first isolated in 1828 by Friedrich Wöhler. The most important use of yttrium compounds is in making phosphors, such as the red ones used in television cathode ray tube displays and in LEDs. Other uses include the production of electrodes, electrolytes, electronic filters, lasers and superconductors; various medical applications; and as traces in various materials to enhance their properties. Yttrium has no known biological role. Exposure to yttrium compounds can cause lung disease in humans.

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Today's selected anniversaries:


Conrad of Montferrat became de jure King of Jerusalem after marrying Queen Isabella.


Dutch explorer Abel Tasman reached Tasmania. He named the island Anthoonij van Diemenslandt after Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies Anthony van Diemen.


On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection by British naturalist Charles Darwin was first published, and sold out its initial print run on the first day.


Irish Civil War: Author and Irish nationalist Robert Erskine Childers was executed by firing squad by the Irish Free State for illegally carrying a revolver.


The 3.2-million-year-old skeleton of an Australopithecus afarensis, nicknamed "Lucy" after The Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", was discovered in the Afar Depression in Ethiopia.

Wiktionary's word of the day:

refute   (v)       To prove (something) to be false or incorrect.

Wikiquote quote of the day:

The law will never make men free; it is men who have got to make the law free.
--Henry David Thoreau