Nitrogen And Its Effect On Earth Essay

1147 Words Feb 26th, 2016 5 Pages
Nitrogen (N₂) is a colorless, odorless, largely inert gas with a hexagonal structure that is essential to life on earth. This nonmetal is number seven on the periodic table; in its neutral state, it has seven protons, seven neutrons, seven electrons, and an average atomic mass of 14.0067 amu. The electron configuration of this element in ground state is 2-5. Its discovery, safety, availability, and uses are important in understanding this element and its significance.

Nitrogenous compounds are present in all living things and fossil fuels. However, it took years for humanity to discover the element. Nitrogen had been manufactured in the days of Ancient Egypt in the form of ammonium chloride, (NH4Cl) or sal ammonia as it was known to alchemists, by applying heat to a mixture of dung, salt and urine. Humans had yet to realize that nitrogen was present in the air until 1772. Prior, John Mayow demonstrated that air is composed of different elements in 1674, and multiple people had removed oxygen and carbon dioxide from air (i.e. Joseph Black, Henry Cavendish, and Joseph Priestley). Henry Cavendish and Joseph Priestley found nitrogen in the 1760s and called it 'burnt air.’ They noted it was lighter than common air, insoluble in water & alkali solutions, unable to support combustion or living organisms alone, and able to extinguish a lighted candle. Neither man deduced that it was an element nor published their findings. Thus, neither Henry Cavendish nor Joseph Priestley are…

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