The name Barium is derived from the word ‘baros’, meaning heavy. It was discovered in 1809 and its chemical symbol is Ba.
It is a soft, silver coloured metal that oxidises quickly and that is a good conductor of electricity.
The ‘defencelessness’ of Barium is also expressed in its physical properties: it is used as a cathode in televisions because it gives off electrons very easily, it doesn’t offer any resistance so to speak. But this property causes it to oxidise very quickly. In order to protect the t.v. cathode from oxidisation they cover the inside of the tube with a very thin layer of Barium which will catch any small amount of oxygen that might accidentally go through in the tube. This covering layer is coloured white, but when the tube breaks and oxygen enters the system it will immediately turn black, the oxidisation process is extremely fast. And because there is no resistance, there is also no energy released in the process. This is in sharp contrast to the oxidisation of Magnesium where a flame is needed to get the process started and where a tremendously bright flash of light is consequently emitted.
The ease with which Barium lets go of its electrons also shows in its general character: the give whatever is being asked of them, they yield to anyone who happens to be passing by.
Barium nitrate is a substance that is used in fireworks to create a green colour.