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Its weak metallic character is illustrated by its amphoteric nature; lead and lead oxides react with acids and bases, and it tends to form covalent bonds.Compounds of lead are usually found in the 2 oxidation state rather than the 4 state common with lighter members of the carbon group.
These properties, combined with its relative abundance and low cost, resulted in its extensive use in construction, plumbing, batteries, bullets and shot, weights, solders, pewters, fusible alloys, white paints, leaded gasoline, and radiation shielding.
Lead is soft and malleable, and has a relatively low melting point.
When freshly cut, lead is bluish-white; it tarnishes to a dull gray color when exposed to air.
Lead production declined after the fall of Rome and did not reach comparable levels until the Industrial Revolution.
In 2014, annual global production of lead was about ten million tonnes, over half of which was from recycling.
The four stable isotopes of lead could theoretically undergo alpha decay to isotopes of mercury with a release of energy, but this has not been observed for any of them; their predicted half-lives range from 10 Three of the stable isotopes are found in three of the four major decay chains: lead-206, lead-207, and lead-208 are the final decay products of uranium-238, uranium-235, and thorium-232, respectively.