Ta is the periodic table symbol for tantalum, an element whose atomic weight is 73. Distinguished by its exceptional anti-corrosive and conductive capacity, tantalum’s presence becomes more common every day; it is crucial in the production of ever-smaller, ever more durable electronic devices, from cell phones to laptops to all varieties of consumer and industrial electronics. Tantalum makes possible our lives of power, portability, and networked sociality.
Its name derives from the Greek mythological figure, Tantalus. A covetous figure in more ways than one, Tantalus was exiled from Mount Olympus after daring to steal ambrosia and nectar. In punishment for that desire, he was permanently condemned to another: Tantalus was consigned to stand in knee-deep water for eternity, surrounded by succulent fruits that dangled from a tree just beyond his reach. The first discoverer of tantalum, Anders Ekeberg, wrote in 1802 "This metal I call tantalum ... partly in allusion to its incapacity, when immersed in acid, to absorb any and be saturated."