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Name: Ryan
Status: student
Grade: 9-12
Country: USA
Date: Fall 2012


Question:
If you know the melting point and density of an element can you determine whether the element will be brittle or malleable?



Replies:
I am unaware of any correlation between melting point, density, and whether the element is brittle or malleable. If one does know the melting point and density of an element, they can find out what element it is. They can then look up whether the element is malleable or brittle.

Jeff Grell


Hi Ryan,

There is no connection whatsoever between a metal's density and whether it is brittle or malleable. For example, aluminum is a low density metal that is very malleable, yet beryllium also a low density metal that is quite brittle.

Similarly, there is no connection between a metal's melting point and its malleability. Lead, for example, has a low melting point and is very malleable. Gold has a high melting point and is also very malleable.

Regards, Bob Wilson


The answer to this question depends ... it is sorta a trick question. Since there is a finite (and small) number of elements, if you know the (standard) melting point of some unknown element precisely enough, you can easily "determine" which element it is by looking up the value in a chemistry reference book (or on-line). Density is irrelevant; it is not useful for gases, since this is pressure-dependent; it is not an intrinsic property -- look up 'intrinsic property' if you do not know what this means.

However, if you allow me to interpret your question more generally, such as "is there some fundamental, simple, direct relationship between density/melting point and malleability/brittleness", then the answer is no. Malleability/brittleness are functions of electronic (chemical) configuration, which is largely independent of melting point (which is determined by interatomic/intermolecular attraction) and density (which is determined largely by atomic configuration and physical state).

Hope this helps, Burr Zimmerman


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