H for Hydrogen

Hydrogen was first recognized as a distinct element in 1766 by English scientist Henry Cavendish, when he prepared it by reacting hydrochloric acid with zinc.

French scientist Antoine Lavoisier named the element hydrogen (1783). The name comes from the Greek ‘hydro’ meaning water and ‘genes’ meaning forming – hydrogen is one of the two water forming elements.

Here are 12 interesting facts about hydrogen, the simplest and commonest element in the universe.

About 10 percent of the weight of living organisms is hydrogen – mainly in water, proteins and fats.

Liquid hydrogen has the lowest density of any liquid.

Hydrogen is the only element that can exist without neutrons. Hydrogen’s most abundant isotope, Protium,  has no neutrons. Some recent theories of particle physics predict that proton decay can occur with a half-life of the order of 1036 years.

Antihydrogen is the only antimatter element made so far, with atoms of antihydrogen synthesized at CERN lasting for as long as 1000 seconds (almost 17 minutes). Each atom of antihydrogen contains a positron (positively charged version of the electron) orbiting an antiproton (negatively charged version of the proton).

Hydrogen is believed to be one of three elements produced in the Big Bang; the others are helium and lithium.

We owe most of the energy on our planet to hydrogen. The Sun’s nuclear fires convert hydrogen to helium releasing a large amount of energy.

Hydrogen is the only atom for which the Schrödinger equation has an exact solution.

The first chain reaction discovered was not a nuclear reaction; it was a chemical chain reaction. It was discovered in 1913 by Max Bodenstein, who saw a mixture of chlorine and hydrogen gases explode when triggered by light. The chain reaction mechanism was fully explained in 1918 by Walther Nernst.

Liquid hydrogen is used as a rocket fuel, for example powering the Space Shuttle’s lift-off and ascent into orbit.

Hydrogen’s two heavier isotopes (deuterium and tritium) are used in nuclear fusion.

Large quantities of hydrogen are used in the production of ammonia, hydrogenation of fats and oils, methanol production, hydrocracking, and hydrodesulfurization. Hydrogen is also used in metal refining.

I am really enjoying these posts. They are learning, relearning and “wow, I did not know that”, kind of experiences for me.

References: wikipedia.com, chemicool.com

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