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Californium is a highly radioactive, silvery metal named after the state of California where it was discovered. This synthetic element is produced from plutonium through a series of fusion reactions in nuclear reactors. Californium is attacked by oxygen, steam, and acids, but not alkalis.
Californium-252 has been used in cancer therapy research, for radiographic purposes, and as a source of neutrons in the analysis of planetary surfaces. In the future, other isotopes of californium could be employed in deep drilling operations.
Like other Actinides, exposure to radioactive californium tends to harm the skeletal system by damaging the body's red blood cell forming mechanisms.