由于神秘和实际的原因，水星过去受到高度重视。在我们生活中处理的物质中，汞非常奇怪而且令人惊叹。拉丁文名“hydrargyrum”，其化学符号Hg来自，意为水银。英语使用者习惯称之为水银或活银。中世纪的炼金术士认为，汞必须具有强大的魔力，一些过剩的精神可以被驯服，因为他们将贱金属转化为金的伟大工作。我记得小时候玩过水银。他们过去常常制作带有液态金属的小玩具迷宫。 1937年，亚历山大·考尔德（Alexander Calder）在小时候创造了他的精彩“水星喷泉”时，或许还记得他的魅力。它纪念Almadén矿工在西班牙内战期间遭受的苦难，并在巴塞罗那的FundaciónJoanMiró占据荣誉之地。今天。当喷泉首次创建时，人们欣赏自由流动的金属液体的美丽，但不了解它的毒性。今天，它位于保护玻璃板后面。实际上，汞做了一些非常有用的事情。它溶解其中的其他金属，以制造即时合金或汞合金。用汞制成的金或银汞合金是填充牙腔，快速硬化和磨损良好的优质材料。 （牙科当局不认为这对患者有危害。）它溶解了矿石中的贵金属 – 然后可以像酒精一样容易地蒸馏，仅在几百度沸腾，留下金或银。水银极其密集，用于制造小型实验室设备，如血压计或标准气压计，如果使用水代替，它将高10米，而不是0.8米。如果只有汞更安全！考虑到在日常用品中使用时可能存在的危险性，但使用更安全的替代品才有意义。
Mercury used to be highly regarded, for reasons both mystical and practical. Among the substances we deal with in our lives, mercury is pretty odd and amazing. The Latin name “hydrargyrum,” from which its chemical symbol Hg comes, means water-silver. English speakers used to call it quicksilver, or living silver. The medieval alchemists felt that mercury must have a mighty mojo, some excess of spirit that could be tamed for their great work of turning base metal into gold. I can remember playing with mercury as a kid. They used to make little toy mazes with a glob of the liquid metal in it. Perhaps Alexander Calder had one as a child and remembered his fascination when he created his wonderful “Mercury Fountain” in 1937. It honors the Almadén miners for their suffering during the Spanish Civil War and occupies a place of honor at the Fundación Joan Miró in Barcelona today. When the fountain was first created, people appreciated the beauty of the free-flowing metal liquid but did not understand its toxicity. Today, it sits behind a protective pane of glass. As a practical matter, mercury does some very useful things. It dissolves other metals in it to make instant alloys or amalgams. A gold or silver amalgam made with mercury is an excellent material for filling tooth cavities, hardening rapidly and wearing well. (Dental authorities do not consider this a hazard to patients.) It dissolves precious metals found in ores—and then can be distilled almost as easily as alcohol, boiling at only a few hundred degrees, to leave the gold or silver behind. Being extremely dense, mercury is used for making small lab apparatus like blood-pressure gauges or the standard barometer, which would be 10 meters tall, not 0.8 meters, if it used water instead. If only mercury were safer! Considering how potentially hazardous it can be when used in everyday items, though, it just makes sense to use safer alternatives.