N for Nitrogen

Nitrogen is a common element in the universe, estimated at about seventh in total abundance in the Milky Way and the Solar System. On Earth, the element forms about 78% of Earth’s atmosphere and as such is the most abundant pure element. The element nitrogen was discovered as a separable component of air, by Scottish physician Daniel Rutherford, in 1772.

The English word nitrogen (1794) entered the language from the French nitrogène, coined in 1790 by French chemist Jean-Antoine Chaptal (1756–1832), from the Greek nitron and the French -gène, “producing” from Greek -genes, “producer, begetter”.

One of the most important nitrogen compounds is ammonia (NH3), which can be produced in in the so-called called Haber process, in which nitrogen is reacted with hydrogen.

The nitrogen cycle, in which atmospheric nitrogen is converted into different organic compounds, is one the most crucial natural processes to sustain living organisms. During the cycle, bacteria in the soil process or “fix” atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia, which plants need in order to grow.

Liquid nitrogen is frequently used as a refrigerant, for instance, to store sperm, eggs and other cells used in medical research or fertility clinics.

Nitrogen gas plays a role in the formation of an aurora, a natural display of light in the sky that can be predominantly observed Arctic and Antarctic regions. It occurs when fast-moving electrons from space collide with oxygen and nitrogen in our atmosphere.

Nitroglycerin, a violent explosive used in the production of dynamite, is an oily, colorless liquid that contains nitrogen, oxygen and carbon.

Clover, beans, alfalfa and even peanuts are some plant groups that are excellent at fixing nitrogen into the soil that these plants obtain from the earths atmosphere. These types of plants are known as legumes. Legumes are great plants to grow to improve soil fertility by building up levels or organic nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen fixing plants are perfect for improving soil in vegetable gardens. Nitrogen fixing plants are one of the most important components of organic and sustainable farming.

References: Livescience. com


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