If there’s a gem of an element to be found in your collection it might be this solid osmium ball. This rare metal vies with cousins iridium and rhenium as the rarest naturally occurring, stable element in Earth’s crust. The lustrous precious metal is also the densest and least compressible of all materials. Melting it takes Herculean efforts and it is deadly poisonous when finely powdered making working with it a task only suitable for the most hardy.
It’s most commonly used in alloys to create super tough materials. It is a good choice for the tips of fountain and ballpoint pens, durable electrical contacts and for instrument pivots that are subject to high stresses and frequent wear and tear. It is also used to produce osmium tetroxide for fingerprint detection and as a chemical catalyst. The bluish-gray metal is unaffected by air, water or acids but does have a distinctive pungent smell from its toxic compound osmium tetroxide.
YouTuber Jesse Moynihan set out to see if he could make the ball of osmium float inside ferrofluids activated by a neodymium magnet. He was successful and the result is not only fun to watch but a great demonstration of buoyancy. Check it out below.