You use Berylium in the house every time you switch your lights on or off. It’s used in alloys for domestic light switches (around 2%), to ensure that when you switch them on you can switch them off too.
For those of you who are golfers, not only are you engaging in an activity that is a good walk spoiled, and possibly spoiling a good walk for others by the profusion of these water-thirsty monstrosities springing up everywhere, but if you are using a titanium headed golf driver, Berylium is also used on the casing. Next time you line up a shot, ready to make contact, perhaps you might consider another big bang, which, during its early phases, the nucleosynthesis of hydrogen resulted in the production of isotopes of hydrogen and helium, as well as very miniscule amounts (around 10-10) of lithium and beryllium.
Berylium is formed from two colliding helium nuclei, and a third helium nucleus colliding with the beryllium forms carbon. A fourth helium colliding with the carbon forms oxygen. Resonances in these nuclei enable these unlikely combinations to stick together, allowing for people such as myself some 10 billion years or more later to comment on the fact, after switching the household lights on and reading up on the anthropic principle.
The United States is the world's largest producer of beryllium-containing ores and concentrates (bertrandite). Most of the beryllium-containing ores and concentrates (beryl) produced outside the United States are from Kaza khstan and Russia. (from U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey Beryllium Recycling in the United States in 2000
By Larry D. Cunningham U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY CIRCULAR 1196–P)
The other main areas where they are found are Brazil, Argentina, Madagascar, Russia (a famous Ural mine is being re-opened) and India. Afghanistan is also opening mines in the Panshir Valley of Hindu Kush, and lower-grade mines have been found recently in Somalia.
The mineral beryl is what emeralds are made of. The green colour in gem quality emeralds is actually about 2% chromium.
Emeralds have been traded from at least as far back as the Ancient Egyptians, and can be found in jewellery across Europe.
When oxygen isotopes have been analyzed in the gems, their source can be identified (the isotope ratio of oxygen -18 and oxygen -16 varies from different deposits). In this way, it’s possible to look back at where the gems were dug up, and where they were traded. The Romans and the Celts got most of their emeralds from Austria, with the remainder coming from farther afield, including Pakistan.
India’s Mogul rulers got some of their emeralds from Colombia, so there may well have been a trade across the Pacific Ocean by the Spanish to their colonies in the Phillipines before reaching India.
Because beryllium was crucial for the manufacture of nuclear weapons, it got caught up in the cold war paranoia of the 40’s and 50’s. As such, attempts to develop standards and protection for workers were seen as potential impediments to ‘defending’ the U.S. against the Soviets. The major user of beryllium right after World War II and into the 1950s was the Atomic Energy Commission. Berylium doesn’t absorb neutrons and can even reflect them. For this reason it is used in nuclear weapons (to help reflect, increase and control yield and in the nuclear energy industry in nuclear reactors as a neutron reflector and moderator.