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Virtuous, but I'm of no form
My seat's right at the very top
Where gangs of many is the norm
My one peer is one that goes 'pop'

Though my uses are many
Lifting is my best known work
At this my one peer beats me
Yet its temper, few dare irk

What am I?

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It's

helium

Virtuous, but I'm of no form

It's a noble (virtuous) gas (Thanks @ChrisCudmore!)

My seat's right at the very top

Top of the periodic table

Where gangs of many is the norm

Gangs of many elements

My one peer is one that goes 'pop'

Hydrogen is the only other in the first period and it makes a 'squeaky pop' when lit

Though my uses are many

Very useful - see here for some of the uses

Lifting is my best known work

Used in balloons

At this my one peer beats me

Only hydrogen is lighter

Yet its temper, few dare irk

Hydrogen is very flammable - (Hindenburg disaster)

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    $\begingroup$ Ach ninja'd.... $\endgroup$ – Mithrandir Jan 5 '17 at 21:10
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First time on the site. Just now created an account to answer this, hope I'm right. Please forgive formatting errors.

Answer:

Helium

Explanation:

Virtuous, but I'm of no form -> gas
My seat's right at the very top -> right-top corner of the periodic table
Where gangs of many is the norm -> Most elements in groups, but H and He alone
My one peer is one that goes 'pop'-> ???

Though my uses are many
Lifting is my best known work -> Helium Baloons
At this my one peer beats me - >H is lighter than He, would lift more efficiently
Yet its temper, few dare irk -> But it's flammable

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  • $\begingroup$ (Welcome!) I just looked it up, and apparently it's not flammable $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Jan 5 '17 at 21:18
  • $\begingroup$ @BeastlyGerbil That's a continuation of the prior explanatory sentence, talking about Hydrogen. "H is lighter than HE, and would lift more efficiently, but it's flammable" $\endgroup$ – Sconibulus Jan 5 '17 at 21:22
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    $\begingroup$ Actually ignore me. I thought it was talking about helium $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Jan 5 '17 at 21:22
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! The flammable part is referring to it's peer, which definitely is very flammable $\endgroup$ – ClamSoapMan Jan 5 '17 at 21:22
  • $\begingroup$ The pop bit is a 'squeaky pop'. See my answer. $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Jan 5 '17 at 21:37
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You are

HELIUM.

The tags cued me to look at

the periodic table, whose top two elements (you and your "peer") are hydrogen and helium. Hydrogen is the one that goes 'pop', so the answer must be helium.

Virtuous, but I'm of no form

A noble gas.

My seat's right at the very top

Alone at the top of the periodic table.

Where gangs of many is the norm

Most elements appear in rows of more than one in the periodic table.

My one peer is one that goes 'pop'

Hydrogen - see above.

Though my uses are many
Lifting is my best known work

Helium balloons.

At this my one peer beats me

Hydrogen is lighter than helium?

Yet its temper, few dare irk

Hydrogen is flammable and appears in nuclear fusion reactions.

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  • $\begingroup$ beat you to it :P $\endgroup$ – Beastly Gerbil Jan 5 '17 at 21:12
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This is a fun answer, because the title brought me here, and I was determined to make it work no matter how much sense it doesn't make. If you'd like to play along, take a minute to think of who, not what.


δῶς μοι πᾶ στῶ καὶ τὰν γᾶν κινάσω

Archimedes

Virtuous, but I'm of no form

As far as I can tell he was an upstanding citizen but prescribed to no 'form' of religion.

My seat's right at the very top

"Generally considered the greatest mathematician of antiquity and one of the greatest of all time."

Where gangs of many is the norm

"Greek mathematics constitutes a major period in the history of mathematics, fundamental in respect of geometry and the idea of formal proof. Greek mathematics also contributed importantly to ideas on number theory, mathematical analysis, applied mathematics, and, at times, approached close to integral calculus."

My one peer is one that goes 'pop'

If Archimedes has but one peer, it would be Sir Isaac Newton, who invented the first practical reflecting telescope, with which Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe was expanding and we therefore now assume must have at some point went "pop".

Though my uses are many

Founder of hydrostatics and statics, explained the principle of the lever, gave us Archimedes' principle, designed innovative machines such as his screw pump, compound pulleys, the odometer, and defensive war machines. User of infinitesimals before modern integral calculus. Employed the method of exhaustion to approximate the value of π. The list goes on.

Lifting is my best known work

"Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the Earth." That's what it says in Greek up at the top. There's also of course, "Archimedes' screw".

At this my one peer beats me

"this" would be The Calculus, the invention of which is formally attributed to Newton.

Yet its temper, few dare irk

"Archimedes died during the Siege of Syracuse when he was killed by a Roman soldier despite orders that he should not be harmed." - "General Marcellus was reportedly angered by the death of Archimedes."

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