About the Element
To call Calcium ubiquitous would only be a minor stretch—it is one of the most abundant metals in the Earth's crust, in our oceans (as a dissolved ion) and in most animals living on this planet. Through its many compounds, Calcium's abundance is surpassed only by its impressive utility. In the human body alone, it is essential to the formation of bones, teeth and eye lenses; and while the lion's share of Calcium resides in the skeleton (approximately 1190 out of 1200 grams for the average adult), the remaining grams oversee cell division and adherence, blood coagulation and pH balance; enable muscle contraction and impulse conduction through nerves, and trigger the release of hormones. All land-based animals, marine life and plants rely heavily on Calcium - with the exception of a few insects and bacteria, life would not be possible without it.
Calcium's name is derived from Calx, the Latin word meaning lime; and it is through Lime (CaO), that Calcium has provided mortar for buildings since Roman times. But Calcium as a builder doesn't stop there - among the several forms of mined Calcium ore is gypsum -which is used to make cement and plaster. Alabaster, a crystalline form of gypsum, is prized by sculptors for its carvability and luster.
In 1823 Thomas Drummond of Britain sought to discover a far-reaching light source to help land surveyors. Drummond came upon his solution by aiming a jet of hydrogen, burning in oxygen, at a block of lime. When focused by lenses, limelight shone over 60 miles. Lighthouse keepers naturally seized upon it - as did theater managers for their performances - giving birth to the notion of being "in the limelight."
A fine selection of foods rich in Calcium: cheddar cheese, milk chocolate, soymilk, broccoli, kale, dandelions, almonds, sardines, kelp, blackstrap molasses, almonds, oranges, figs...
About the Print
About the Printmaker
by Marian Short
Atomic number: 20
Atomic weight: 40.078