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metal

Introduction

metal, chemical element displaying certain properties by which it is normally distinguished from a nonmetal, notably its metallic luster, the capacity to lose electrons and form a positive ion, and the ability to conduct heat and electricity. The metals comprise about two thirds of the known elements (see periodic table). Some metals, including copper, tin, iron, lead, gold, silver, and mercury, were known to the ancients; copper is probably the oldest known metal.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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