The name is derived from Niobe, the Greek daughter of Tantalus, who was punished for her pride and changed into a weeping stone. Until 1950 this metal was sometimes called Columbium, because it was first discovered in America, in 1801.
It is used in jet engines and in the atomic industries. It has a very high melting point. Niobium alloys increase the heat resistance and the tensile strength of metals.