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Radioactive thorium retains its silvery lustre for months due to a protective oxide coating. The 90th element was discovered in 1829 by J.J. Brezelium and named after the Scandinavian god of thunder, Thor.
This element is attacked slowly by water, but it does not dissolve readily in most acids, with the exception of hydrochloric acid. An important compound formed by this actinide is thorium oxide that has a melting point of 3300°C. Laboratory glass and crucibles subjected to high temperature applications are often made from this compound.
Thorium is a source of nuclear energy, and scientists believe that in the Earth's crust there are large amounts of energy available from minerals containing thorium.