Technetium, pronounced tek-nee-shee-uhm, was the first element to be made artificially. But before we figured out how to make it, the search for this sneaky element had been going on for quite some time.
Dmitri Mendeleev (who invented the periodic table) noticed that he had a gap when he drew up the famous table, now decorating Chemistry classrooms throughout the land.
He gave the element that he thought would fill this gap the provisional name ‘ekamanganese‘.
In 1937, about 70 years later, the first element to definitely fill this gap was produced and named ‘Technetium’ from the Greek word for ‘artificial’.
Technetium looks quite like platinum but it is very radioactive, which means that it’s not a good idea to handle it without protective gear on. And it’s definitely not a good idea to make jewellery out of this stuff!
Nowadays most technetium comes from the waste-products of nuclear reactors. We use it in several different medical tests, including bone-scanning.
However, scientists are always looking for ways to safely dispose of waste technetium as we have lots more than we know what to do with!