These, along with osmium, rhodium, iridium and ruthenium, are are known as the platinum group metals (pgm‘s). Then thought of as a kind of silver platinum was taken by the Spanish from South America and sold in Europe where it was initially used in the manufacture of counterfeit coins plated with gold.
Although platinum had been recognised and isolated in the 1700’s it was the chemist William Wollaston who separated platinum and palladium at the very beginning of the nineteenth century. Uses as catalysts and in electronics have been and are increasingly found for them. Currently the main source for platinum is South Africa and for palladium the Russian Federation.
PGM’s are also mined along with nickel in what is reckoned to have been the site of an asteroid or comet’s prehistoric impact in Ontario, Canada and they are also known to be an above-average constituent of meteors so the words of the song telling us to catch a falling star and put it in your pocket might have deeper meaning.
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